With the lockout over, NFL teams are working out contracts and preparing for training camp. Owners, players, coaches and fans are getting pumped up for the 2011 season.
But there are some who are better than the rest.
The most aggressive teams have gone out and acquired some of the best free agents, assembling stellar offenses and defenses. This is a list of the five who will dominate this year.
Key Additions/Signings: WR Plaxico Burress, WR Santonio Holmes, CB Antonio Cromartie
With the improved offense and Rex's stellar defense, the Jets will most likely end up second in the AFC East, behind the Patriots, and take the Wild Card.
The Jets are counting on Mark Sanchez to deliver again—signing Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress gives him the confidence to do just that.
But the defense will win them games.
Re-signing Cromartie was huge to accompany Revis Island. Drafting the huge Muhammad Wilkerson was key for the D-line. Rex Ryan will work his magic. AFC Wild Card.
Key Additions/Signings: CB Ike Taylor, OT Willie Colon, OT Jonathan Scott
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. The Steelers haven't done all that much in this free agent frenzy. Frankly, they don't need to.
They resigned key guys and cut some old ones—Flozell Adams, Antwaan Randle El—to get under the cap. With such a powerful team coming back from last year, the defending AFC champs needed only to make minor adjustments.
They have also started to plan ahead. Drafting DE Cameron Heyward to add to an awesome veteran defense will give him great experience.
The Steelers also need to figure out whether or not they'll be locking up Troy Polamalu to help the cap situation, which would keep him wearing black and yellow for the rest of his career.
Steelers on top of the Ravens in the AFC North.
Key Additions/Signings: WR James Jones, FB John Kuhn, K Mason Crosby
The defending Super Bowl champs are out to do it again.
It looked like James Jones was a goner, but The Pack were able to re-sign him. Re-signing Kuhn, who was excellent last year, and Crosby—he made field goals of 56 and 52 yards last year—will help the team for years to come.
Almost everything else looks the same on offense and defense of this championship team, so why change it?
Well, except for the fact that DE Cullen Jenkins decided to leave Green Bay for the "Dream Team."
Losing Jenkins and three linemen could be huge, but adding rookie OT Derek Sherrod could prove otherwise. Look for The Green and Gold finish first ahead of Da Bears in the NFC North.
Key Additions/Signings: CB Nnamdi Asomugha, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, DT Cullen Jenkins
They're now being called the "Dream Team." Let's not jump the gun here though—we know what happened with LeBron and the "Big Three."
However, unlike the Heat, this team is deep. They have some sort of threat at every position. If Asante Samuel stays, the Eagles defense will be incredible. If Asante gets cut or traded, the defense will still be incredible.
This defense is arguably the best ever composed. Shutdown corners, massive defensive lineman—you get the point.
What about the offense?
Well let's see. They have Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin—the list goes on and on.
Stellar offense, incredible defense. First in the NFC East, no questions asked.
Oh, they signed Vince Young too.
Key Additions/Signings: WR Chad Ochocinco, DT Albert Haynesworth, G Logan Mankins
This team always seems like they're up to something. After losing to the Jets in the playoffs, the Patriots are out for blood. Unloading Haynesworth from the Redskins and acquiring Chad makes this team more frightening. Now Brady has another weapon and there's a 330 pound defensive end waiting to clobber anyone who comes in his way.
Did you forget that this 330 pound man is joining forces with the 325 pound Vince Wilfork?
So now this team will have a wall for their defensive line to go along with their already great defense, a quarterback who can pick apart defenses even better now with another treat, and a coach who never seems to smile.
Unfortunately for fans, Chad said, "You won’t get the same Chad you’re used to. I probably won't be talking to the media much—probably not at all really." He'll be doing things the "Patriot way."
Look for the Pats to be on top of the AFC East.