The 2010 NFL season is in the books. Assuming the NFL works out a new CBA, who are some of the early favorites to play in Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis? John Clayton of ESPN has seven teams on his short list of favorites. Where do the Saints rank?

3. New Orleans Saints -- The union of Sean Payton's mind and Drew Brees' ability to execute plays will keep the Saints in the Super Bowl hunt for the next several years. Free agency, though, could make the journey tough next season. Four of the team's top six offensive linemen -- as well as safety Roman Harper -- are free agents. The schedule won't help the Saints, either, with eight games against the NFC North and AFC South. They also draw the New York Giants and a St. Louis Rams team that is being built around quarterback Sam Bradford.

If there is a lockout, how long will it last? Once that question is answered, free agency becomes a little more clear. For instance, if the lockout is lifted a few weeks before the season, free agents won't have the luxury of an entire offseason of negotiations.

 Also, what will the new CBA stipulate in regards to the salary cap, franchise tags, transition tags, restricted vs. unrestricted, guaranteed money, etc?

John Clayton is correct in assessing the important free agents the Saints have. He did not even mention Lance Moore, Heath Evans, Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush, and Dave Thomas. The Saints face many questions this offseason. How they answer those questions will determine how much of a favorite they will be for Super Bowl XLVI.