NFL: Predicting the Most Aggressive Teams in 2011
Every team enters the season with one thing on their mind, the Super Bowl. Along with that goal comes endless dedication, commitment and an overall relentless team.
As the great Vince Lombardi would put it, "The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual."
There is a lot more that goes into football than what is shown. All we as fans see are the games on Sundays. But what we don't see are the months of practice, training and studying that goes into it. For a team to reach their ultimate dream of holding that Lombardi Trophy, they must work for it.
Aggressiveness is something a lot of teams lack. They may play well, but playing aggressive is a different story.
Amongst all 32 teams in the NFL, here are five teams and two wild-card picks that I feel will play the most aggressive football in 2011.
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Coming of a 13-3 year, the Falcons had their best season since their last Super Bowl run in 2004.
With Matt Ryan taking the team to a higher level, the Falcons had an explosion on offense which proved to dominate defenders. Ryan threw for a career-best 3,705 yards and 28 touchdowns in 2010, and I expect those numbers to increase this year.
But why will they be so aggressive? Losing to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Semi-Finals is not how the team wanted to close their season, and it left a bitter taste in everyone's mouth.
On paper, they were Super Bowl material. Receiver Roddy White caught 10 touchdowns with 1,389 yards last year while Michael Turner ran in 12 touchdowns for 1,371 yards. Their only problem was the defense, which let up too many big plays when it mattered most.
As a result, the Falcons took it to the NFL Draft. Trading some valuable picks to the Cleveland Browns to move up to the sixth pick. The Falcons took Julio Jones out of Alabama. Jones is a standout receiver and will make this offense even more unstoppable.
When the lockout is lifted, if they can sign some free agents to help out the D, then they will be golden.
Going 13-3 is a tough thing to do in this league, and the Falcons have already accomplished that. I think this team will not let up until they are flaunting a Super Bowl ring. Expect them to be very aggressive in 2011.
New York Jets
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The Jets have really turned the franchise around the past couple of seasons, and they are making a good argument for being the most dominant team in the AFC.
The Jets are a team that can quickly get on some hot and cold streaks; but when this team is hot, it's hot. Not too many teams can beat the New England Patriots in Foxboro in the AFC Divisional game.
Mark Sanchez is starting to get his game together. He was criticized his first two years for not being able to lead an offense, but I have the feeling he's starting to get it under control. Yes, the Jets only put up nine points in two games against the Patriots and the Dolphins, but that is one of those cold streaks I mentioned.
Sanchez may not have a cannon for an arm, but at the end of the day, he finds a way to get the job done. The team was 22nd in the league last year in passing yards per game with 202.6, which really isn't much for a team. Making up for that is their running game and their defense.
The Jets have the third best defense in the league, and even though their leading defender had only three interceptions, they know what they're doing.
For the past two seasons, the Jets have found their way into the AFC Conference game, but have failed to come away with a trip to the Super Bowl. They remind me a lot of the Eagles and how they choked for consecutive years until they made it to the big game in 2004.
Rex Ryan does a lot of talking, so it's time he follows through.
With that being said, I think it is their time. They are on the verge of finally making it, so I have a feeling the Jets will be playing extra aggressive this year.
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This may seem like a biased pick due to me being an Eagles fan, but try finding someone else who thinks the Eagles aren't an aggressive team.
The Eagles burst onto the scene as soon as Vick took over. They have recently been contenders with Donovan McNabb, but Vick gives the team a spark that the city of Philadelphia hasn't seen from them in quite some time.
With the second-best offense in the league, the Eagles finished out the season 10-6. They lost in the Wild Card game against the Packers, and Vick was left responsible. While many focus on the flaws, it is what he brings for the team that is truly amazing.
The Eagles averaged 145.3 yards on the ground last year which was fifth-best in the league. Can anyone remember when the Eagles were actually a dominating team on the ground? Certainly not under Andy Reid, because everyone knows Reid is a "pass first" kind of guy.
Granted, Vick being a scrambler is a large reason for the team to have numbers like that.
As soon as the Eagles destroyed the Redskins on Monday Night Football 59-28, they were favored to win the Super Bowl. As weeks went on, teams found out Vick doesn't play well against the blitz.
The Eagles kept that in mind by drafting an offensive tackle in Danny Watkins with their first pick.
The Eagles have a lot of young talent. DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy, Brent Celek and Jeremy Maclin are all young guys that are a huge reason for this team's success.
Backup quarterback Kevin Kolb is also expected to be dealt away for a quality player or draft pick.
If the Eagles can pick up a solid guy at the corner spot, then this team has the weapons to take it to February.
I think the Eagles will play very aggressive football in 2011, and it won't stop there.
New England Patriots
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Nobody wants to see the Patriots on their teams' schedule. Although we men might hate Tom Brady for his perfect looks and the fact that he is married to a supermodel, we all have to admit that he also has the skills.
As much as I hate to say it, Tom Brady is good. Who do you know that can throw 36 touchdowns and just four interceptions? Brady can. That is just unbelievable.
The Patriots are a good team, and have been for a while. In fact, the Patriots only missed the playoffs twice in the past decade. Once in 2002 with a 9-7 record, and again in 2008 when Brady missed the entire season to an injury, but still managed to finish 11-5.
The coaching of Bill Belichick does wonders for his team, resulting in them being one of the best teams in the league for years.
However, as good as they are, there is a lot of pressure on the team.
They haven't made it to the Super Bowl since the famous 2007 season when they went 16-0 only to lose to the Giants in Super Bowl XLI.
Their defense needs some serious upgrading, being the third-worst in the league last year. Jerod Mayo did have a league-best 175 tackles though.
Also, is it just me, or do you think that Brady is starting to feel like he may be replaced? The Patriots took Ryan Mallet in the draft, and it shocked a lot of people. I certainly don't see Mallet starting over for Brady, but Brady's days in New England may be numbered.
But that is the future. I think the Patriots will play their hearts out in 2011 for yet another ring. They play like a team that has been together for 50 years, and seeing them play a little more aggressive in 2011 will not be a surprise.
Green Bay Packers
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Mike McCarthy certainly has a reason to smile. So will the current World Champions when they play in 2011?
The fact they just won the Super Bowl doesn't mean anything, because that was 2010, and this is 2011. They will look to do the exact same thing they did last year and that's win it again.
The Packers caught fire late in the season, seemingly right after Aaron Rodgers bounced back from his concussion. Yeah, people can say the Chicago Bears laid down for them to make it into the playoffs, but that's beside the fact.
The Packers took the opportunity given to them and did the most with it. They beat the Eagles, they beat the Falcons, they beat the Bears and they beat the Steelers when it mattered the most.
That roster is jam-packed with stars in Rodgers, Jennings, Hawk, Matthews and Williams just to name a few. No matter what they did, everything just fell their way.
Rodgers threw for 3,922 yards last season while throwing 28 touchdowns. Assisting him in that was receiver Greg Jennings who hauled in 12 touchdown for 1,265 yards. Even though Ryan Grant went down early in Week 1 for the entire year, they managed to survive and find a replacement in Brandon Jackson and James Starks in the postseason.
On defense, they have it all. Clay Matthews, Desmond Bishop and AJ Hawk lit it up, combining for 274 tackles. Tramon Williams led the team with six interceptions and showed up big time in the playoffs.
So will they be aggressive in 2011? Yes, simply because this team has the best shot at a repeat. They have one of the most talented squads in the league, and they know it.
I think they'll approach the 2011 season with that in mind.
Wild Card Picks: Cincinnati Bengals and Denver Broncos
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First off is the Denver Broncos. Let me start out by saying I absolutely love the way this team is going. Tim Tebow will bring this team in the right direction.
The Broncos were a 4-12 team in 2010 and had a disappointing year. They just looked a mess and couldn't seem to get any sort of rhythm going. However, I think things are looking up.
Tebow will most likely take the role of starting quarterback for the Broncos and hope to start right where he left off. In only three games as a starter, Tebow threw five touchdowns and ran six in. He has a lot of potential and I think will have an amazing year.
With Brandon Llyod and Knowshon Moreno on his side, you will see a different Broncos team in 2011.
The Broncos will also be playing with aggression. They are like a 2-13 team against the Patriots in Week 17, they're going to go crazy and give it their all.
Now for the Cincinnati Bengals. This was a very rough team also last year, going 4-12 as well. They go along with what I previously said about the Broncos, they're going to give it their all and never look back.
Really, what does a 4-12 team have to lose?
The Bengals may not end the season over .500, but this article isn't about winning. It's about playing with aggression. The new men in town in Andy Dalton and AJ Green will walk into Cincinnati with their heads high and their weapons drawn, because they're ready for the NFL.
As this team is having a lot of offseason chaos, the young players brought in will have their time to shine. They already have a beast on the other side of the ball with Dhani Jones, and playing aggressively is what they're aiming for.
They may go 4-12 once again, but they'll send a message that they're on their way to the top.