Could they be Super Bowl contenders? Well with Tom Brady as the captain nothing is impossible, but as for their defense - I don't think its quite up to par yet but I hope I'm wrong.
Here is some info on linebacker positions:
Position: Outside linebacker. For the past eight years, this was Mike Vrabel's spot in the Patriots' 3-4 defense. Working from the outside linebacker spot, Vrabel helped lead New England to four Super Bowl appearances by serving as an opportunistic pass rusher and an above-average LB in pass coverage. With him in Kansas City now, his spot is up for grabs in New England.
Front runner: Pierre Woods. With Tedy Bruschi and Jerod Mayo manning the middle and Adalius Thomas at the other outside linebacker spot, the right outside linebacker will be expected to keep his end of the deal in ensuring the Patriots maintain one of the best LB units in the league. Woods is a four-year veteran out of Michigan who saw some time and excelled when given the opportunity last year. He's also a special teams demon.
Contender: Tully Banta-Cain. Banta-Cain knows the system well, having played for the Patriots in a past life. After a forgettable tenure in San Francisco, he's back in Belichick-world and ready to compete for a starting role. He's a veteran presence.
Long shot: Shawn Crable. Crable's a second-year man out of Michigan who hasn't made any impact in the league yet. He'll likely back up Adalius Thomas at the left outside linebacker spot.