NFL Training camp season is always a time for irrational exuberance. Every team thinks it can win the Super Bowl, even though 31 of those teams will end up being horribly wrong. And so, to preview the upcoming NFL season, which could be the most unpredictable ever, we now give you five reasons why your favorite team could win the Super Bowl. Today, it's the Philadelphia Eagles.
1. Because they better. GM Howie Roseman can talk all he wants about how the moves he made this offseason weren't just for short-term glory, but you don't bring in seven zillion free agents and pay Mike Vick over $35 million guaranteed and then settle for an NFC title game appearance. In fact, the inherently dangerous manner in which Vick throws himself around the field makes the urgency all the more pronounced. Vick is just a bad hit or bad decision away from being unable to help this team, and every time he takes a bad hit it seems like he's living on borrowed time. Vick, along with DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, and the thankfully cancer-free Jeremy Maclin represent an offensive corps that is peaking right at this very moment. The additions of Ronnie Brown and Steve Smith add depth at the skill positions, but the reason people are giddy to watch this Eagles team is to see Vick throwing the ball 70 yards down the field to Jackson and Maclin and to see this offense score 40 points a game. That's a daydream that feels nearly set in stone at this point. Quite a bit to live up to.
2. It's not always a curse to be the offseason favorite. Typically, being the NFL preseason favorite has been something of a dubious honor, bestowed upon the likes of the 2010 Cowboys (Whoops!). But you know who else was a chic Super Bowl pick last season? Green Bay, who promptly tore a hole through the rest of the playoff field on route to their first title since 1996. It's not always a bad thing to have high expectations placed upon you, especially when...
3. Everyone thinks Andy Reid will screw it all up anyway. Pretty much every assessment of this year's Eagles comes with two caveats: 1) Vick stays healthy and 2) Andy Reid doesn't ruin it all. Because Andy Reid has an awfully long track record doing jussst well enough to fail at the worst possible time. Slow play calling. Poor clock management. Poor scoreboard management. For someone who runs such a consistently winning franchise, Reid's occasional lapses are both baffling and nauseating. But perhaps this outfit is so talented, it's practically Reid-proof at this point. The offensive line needs some work, but former Colts o-line mastermind Howard Mudd is here and working with a cupboard that is anything but bare. The Eagles may end up barnstorming the league and outscoring everyone by 20 points a game, rendering Reid's questionable endgame skills irrelevant. I don't think the NFL works that way, but if any team were to tear off a run like that, you're looking at a fine candidate.
4. You won't have Sean McDermott to kick around anymore. Last year's defensive coordinator, Sean McDermott, was tasked with filling the shoes of the late Jim Johnson, who stands beside Dick LeBeau among the finest defensive coordinators in history. McDermott didn't have Johnson's flair for making playmakers out of unheralded prospects, but his successor, Juan Castillo, will be working with the best set of corners in football (including new arrival Nnamdi Asomugha) and a d-line that now boasts Jason Babin and Cullen Jenkins. Those ain't lemons he's been given. Castillo will have the luxury of blitzing any which way he likes, knowing that his three corners will be able to cover. If the Eagles get leads on people, this defense is built to exploit that to the hilt.
5. Because everyone thinks they're gonna win it anyway, so you may as well buy into it. It's very easy to nitpick a superteam (just ask Phillies fans), but the overall impression going into 2011 is that this team is loaded. And ready. They can win it all. Like I said, they better.