The Philadelphia Eagles would have never made a list like this last season. They were, by all accounts, the "favorites" of the media to grab the Lombardi Trophy in 2011.
That was obviously presumptive of everyone, Vince Young included.
Now the Eagles are looking to rebound after a disastrous performance last year. Physical and mental mistakes cost Philadelphia an opportunity at a postseason berth in 2011.
Their linebackers were among the worst in the entire league in terms of tackling and coverage. Michael Vick made a ton of mistakes at the least-opportunistic times, and the result was a .500 record.
Fast forward a few months, and the Eagles are once again on the brink of contention for the Super Bowl. No, this is not media-created propaganda to boost page views and site visits. Rather, it is an indication that Philadelphia recognized these shortcomings and fixed them in the offseason.
General manager Howie Roseman and the front office didn't go out and spend a great deal of money like what we saw prior to the 2011 season. Instead, they focused on finding veterans to fit their scheme and adding a cast of young players via the draft.
In doing so, Philadelphia aced the NFL draft in April by collecting top-of-the-line players in nearly every round. The Eagles addressed key weaknesses, recognized who was going to fit their scheme, saw players drop into their laps and made a rather impressive trade.
Fletcher Cox, who Philadelphia selected in the first round, was one of the most talented defensive players in the draft. He is going to help the Eagles a great deal as a force both at defensive tackle and defensive end.
They also received tremendous value at a need position in the form of second-round pick Mychal Kendricks. The Cal product is already slated to be the Eagles' starting strong-side linebacker after impressive showings throughout the offseason. He can go sideline to sideline in a heartbeat, understands how to draw out plays and is solid at the line of scrimmage against the run.
It is the next two picks, Vinny Curry and Brandon Boykin, that put Philadelphia over the top in regards to the draft. Curry, a Marshall product, will provide Philadelphia with immediate pass-rush ability off the edge in the 4-3 defense. He is going to be a fine rotational player as a rookie and could surprise some people. Boykin, a third-rounder from Georgia, is considered a strong challenger for the nickel corner job as a rookie in 2012.
Philadelphia also went out and picked up DeMeco Ryans in a trade with the Houston Texans. The veteran linebacker will immediately be plugged in up the middle and represents a major upgrade over what the Eagles had last season.
Talent isn't everything. This was proven throughout the 2011 season as it relates to the Eagles. They boasted one of the most "talented" rosters in the league, but just couldn't get out of their own way on game day.
Now that Philadelphia has gotten more talented, critics will raise alarm to their performance last season, and for good reason.
That being said, this is an entirely new season. If the Eagles can play up to their level on Sundays, there is no reason to believe they can't knock off the New York Giants in the NFC East and contend for a conference championship.
It all comes down to execution.