Training camp is less than a week away, and all the NFL teams couldn't be more ready to get back to work. Especially the teams who came so close to championship status such as the 49ers, Patriots, and the Green Bay Packers. However each team has that different "thing" driving them as a group, something that serves as motivation other than winning it all. It's the reputations they hold so dearly in the NFL. Whether your opponents cringe when they see your next on the schedule or if they chuckle at your very existence it is important. So I'll be discussing the top 5 teams with the most to prove this upcoming season, enjoy.
1. The Green Bay Packers are the most obvious choice for number one. Now I know you may be asking why them ? Well if your team goes 15-1, is heavily favored to win it all, and then loses to a team in the playoffs that went 9-7 in the regular season thats all i have to say. To make matters worse for the "Cheese heads" that same 9-7 team went on to win the Superbowl. The Packers did grasp the Lombardi Trophy in 2010, however one is not enough. Last years MVP Aaron Rodgers is regarded as the best in the game, but until he gets his squad back to the mountain top they have a rep to defend. Are they or are they not on the brink of becoming a Dynasty ? That's the question they have to answer this season, and it won't be easy with the NFC looking very much improved this year.
2. The New England Patriots and their fearless leader Tom Brady for the last 5 years have had it rough. Almost every year, this team is the unanimous AFC favorite to get to the Superbowl, and most of the time they deliver. However the last two times at the grand stage for the Brady bunch have ended with bitter defeat at the hands of the Eli Manning led New York Giants. With those loses under his belt, it has taken a toll on the status of Tom Brady on the NFL QB ladder. The Patriots have a lot of questions to answer going into this season, Are they still the premiere team in the NFL ? Can Bill Belichick and Tom Brady win one more ring ? Is Tom Brady still the "golden boy" of the NFL ? It'll be fun to see how it all turns out.
3. The Philadelphia Eagles are top 5 because they put the pressure on themselves. "Dream Team" was the label players put on themselves. Even though Michael Vick down played the "Dream Team" title the sense of urgency to get it done is more alarming than ever. The Eagles put together a great team in 2011, and improved even more with a great free agency/draft. So now it's put up or shut up time for Phily's prized jewel, and it won't be easy with the NFC as tough as it is. Things are even more interesting with NFC east rival the New York Giants winning it all twice in the last 5 years. Mike Vick who has changed his life for the better has a lot of pressure on him this year, and coach Andy Reid shares the burden. Should be an exciting season in the NFL's toughest division.
4. The Baltimore Ravens continue to be one of the NFL's most feared, and dominant teams. Ray Lewis has continued to lead his team by example, and with stern voice seeming to never age. However don't judge a book by it's cover, Ray is getting older and his quest for a second championship dwindles down by each season's end. The same goes for veteran safety Ed Reed, who also leads that team. The thing about the Raven's that kills me is as of recently they have been coming close, meaning AFC championship close. Still it is always something bizarre that ends up derailing them on the track of success. Quarter back Joe Flacco has proven to be a sound leader, and pretty good QB. However with the added pressure of calling himself the best QB in the NFL, and AFC rivals such as the Pittsburgh Steelers looking to be in the way it'll be interesting to see how things end up for the purple and black. Will the Ravens, and their aging leaders get it done ?
5. The New York Giants still have something to prove in the NFL for some odd reason. Yes they did win the Superbowl, yes Eli Manning with a couple of other teammates is a two time champion, and yes they are the team to beat going into this season. However it seems that they still can't get that respect from their peers, Vegas (odds makers) and NFL analyst. Many NFL analyst have predicted that the defending champs will miss the playoffs, let alone lose in the playoffs. With another cheap shot the yearly top 100 poll conducted by NFL players listed only one Giant in the top 25, that being emerging star Jason Pierre-Paul at #24. Eli Manning who is still questioned by many was ranked a lowly 31, despite being in a small class of multiple championship winning QB's such as Joe Montana, Bart Starr, John Elway, and Terry Bradshaw. There are also questions on whether breakout star Victor Cruz is a one hit wonder and if the production the Giants will get out of veterans Justin Tuck, and Osi Umenyiora will be the same. Going into this upcoming season the Giants will be the defending champs, Eli will have to prove that his career best year and his team's success wasn't a fluke, but the beginning of a pattern.
These 5 teams all go into this season with much to look forward to, but also a lot of questions. They are all talented, and want nothing less than a championship. It should be exciting to see these teams fight week in and week out to prove they are among the NFL's very best. With many other teams who are just as talented in the running to do the same, it'll be must watch TV from the NFL this season yet again. Thanks for reading everyone.