It has been an exciting offseason for the Philadelphia Eagles, and the 2011 NFL season promises to give Philadelphia fans something to watch.
Already loaded with some of the most exciting weapons in football in Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy, the Eagles have added Ronnie Brown, Vince Young, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha in hopes that 2011 will finally be the year that the Eagles win that elusive Super Bowl.
Whether they win the Super Bowl or not, though, this certainly promises to be an entertaining football team. But will it be one of the most entertaining NFL teams of all time?
Let's have a look at the top 20 to find out.
With Hall of Famer Bart Starr under center, a dominant Jim Taylor in the backfield and an extremely opportunistic defense led by Herb Adderly, the 1962 Green Bay Packers led the NFL in offense and defense and cruised to a 14-1 record and an NFL Championship.
Five years removed from Hurricane Katrina and 40-plus years into their tenure as one of the most pathetic sports franchises of all time, the New Orleans Saints put it all together, jumping out to a 13-0 start on the strength of an amazingly complex offense with no fewer than seven weapons, an opportunistic defense that forced over 40 turnovers and scored seven touchdowns and a special teams unit that could put the ball in the end zone at any time.
Riding the wave of one of the great made-for-Hollywood narratives of all time, the Saints and their fans went to the Super Bowl and, not content to be "happy just to be here," overcame early jitters to hand one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time his hat.
The 1990 Los Angeles Raiders featured Bo Jackson at the height of his powers and a rejuvenated Marcus Allen, along with high-flying Willie Gault, Mervyn Fernandez and a young Tim Brown.
Combine all that with a nasty Raiders defense and the 12-4 Raiders represent a tease of what could have been if Bo's career had not been cut short in the playoffs that season.
In 2006, Michael Vick, one of the most exciting athletes in professional sports history, rushed for over 1,000 yards while throwing for 2,400 more plus 20 touchdowns.
And on the way to a 7-9 record, Vick did some amazing things.
The Falcons were not a great team, but they sure were fun to watch.
The best of the 1970s Pittsburgh Dynasty, the 1978 team featured Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Lynn Swann and John Stallworth all in their primes, plus the Steel Curtain at its stingiest.
The high-flying Steelers cruised to a 14-2 record and a Super Bowl win over the Dallas Cowboys.
They did not seal the AFL-NFL merger (that had already been done a couple of years earlier), and they did not invent high-octane passing offenses (the Colts and Johnny Unitas had been taking to the air for years).
But in 1968, at the height of American counter-cultural fascination, Joe Namath and the New York Jets loudly announced that there was a new law in this town when Namath boldly predicted that the Jets would upset the Colts in Super Bowl III, and then the Jets did just that.
With Jon Gruden, a.k.a. "Chuckie," walking the sidelines for his new team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers established themselves as one of the most menacing defenses of all time behind high-profile superstars John Lynch, Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks and Simeon Rice.
The Bucs waltzed into the Super Bowl and then dismantled Gruden's former team, the Oakland Raiders, by a score of 48-21 on the strength of five interceptions of Rich Gannon, including three returned for touchdowns.
There is something fascinating about a team that can go five straight games without scoring a touchdown and lose only three of them.
There is something even more fascinating about a team with an in-your-face defense that convinces you that they are more likely to score when you have the ball than when they do.
The Baltimore Ravens were one of the great terrifying defenses of all time, led by a young middle linebacker named Ray Lewis and an aging superstar safety in Rod Woodson who looked better at 35 than most guys look at 25.
On offense, the Ravens had bruiser Jamal Lewis, and that was all they needed as they went on to a dominant win over the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.
Perhaps the most dominant team of all time, the 1972 Miami Dolphins rated first in the NFL in both offense and defense.
The Dolphins shut out the Colts in the final game of the regular season to finish the year 14-0, and then cruised to a Super Bowl championship, finishing the season with an unmatched 17-0 record.
How important is winning a Championship to NFL posterity?
Put it like this: In 1980, Dan Fouts threw for a then-unheard of 4,700 yards and the San Diego Chargers had three 1,000-yard receivers in John Jefferson, Kellen Winslow and Charlie Joiner.
But because they lost to the Oakland Raiders in the AFC Championship that season, somehow no one remembers this team.
In 1989, the Dallas Cowboys sunk to an all-time low of 1-15.
In the next few years, the Cowboys traded away a few component parts for a wealth of draft picks, and then deftly turned those draft picks into the building blocks of one of the most perfectly constructed and talent-rich football teams of all time.
The peak of that team came in 1992, when Jimmy Johnson led the 'Boys to their first Super Bowl win since the 1970s.
In 2004, Peyton Manning enjoyed his best year and one of the greatest quarterback seasons of all time as he threw for 4,500 yards, 49 touchdowns and posted a 121.1 quarterback rating.
The Colts featured three 1,000-yard receivers in Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne and Brandon Stokley in 2004, and also saw Edgerrin James run for 1,500 yards.
In the playoffs, the juggernaut was upended by the eventual Super Bowl champion Patriots.
The 1992 Philadelphia Eagles would treat you to two shows at once.
On offense, they featured two of the most freakishly gifted athletes in professional football history in Randall Cunningham and a past-his-prime Herschel Walker. Cunningham's combined athleticism meant that on any given play he could take off running with blazing speed or wing the ball 50 yards down the field with his cannon arm.
Then, on defense, the Eagles had one of the most blood-thirsty squads in memory, led by Reggie White (14 sacks), Clyde Simmons (19 sacks), Byron Evans (175 tackles), Seth Joyner (121 tackles, 3 forced fumbles) and Eric Allen (four interceptions).
Somehow, this was not one of the greatest teams of all time, or even the best in its own division, but it was certainly one of funnest.
Jim Brown, possibly the most dynamic player in the history of the NFL, was buttressed at the height of his powers by a capable quarterback in Frank Ryan and a stingy, opportunistic defense and it all added up to an NFL Championship for the Cleveland Browns in 1964.
In his first full season as a starter, Dan Marino threw for a record 5,084 yards and 48 touchdowns, and the Marks Brothers, Clayton and Duper, each had over 1,300 yards receiving on their way to leading the Miami Dolphins to a 14-2 record and a Super Bowl appearance.
Prior to the 2007 NFL season, the New England Patriots became embroiled in the Spygate controversy when coach Bill Belichick and his staff got busted for secretly recording other teams' practices.
In the wake of the accusations of cheating and assertions by certain members of the media that Belichick and the Patriots were "frauds" who cheated their way to three Super Bowl wins, the Patriots went into what Bill Simmons has called "full eff-you mode," and made it their goal to decimate their opponents.
Randall Cunningham had been completely out of football in 1996 before making a comeback with the Minnesota Vikings in 1997.
Then, in 1998, Cunningham combined with a rookie wide receiver that no one believed in named Randy Moss and NFL veterans Robert Smith and Cris Carter to form one of the most lethal offensive attacks in football history.
The 1998 Vikings went 15-1 and finished with an NFL record for points scored in a season with 556.
Only a stunning upset at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship game has kept this from being remembered as one of the greatest teams of all time.
Maybe the most perfect NFL team ever assembled (have I already said that?), the San Francisco 49ers featured several players who were the best players in the league at their position and three--Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Ronnie Lott--who may have been the greatest of all time at their positions.
The 49ers were fun to watch because they never looked like they were trying hard.
They cruised to a 14-2 record on the strength of league-leading offense and opportunistic defense, and then outscored their three playoff opponents by a combined score of 126-26 en route to a Super Bowl championship.
One year after going 4-12, the St. Louis Rams lost Trent Green, their starting quarterback, to an early season injury and were forced to turn to an unknown journeyman (and former grocery store shelf-stocker) named Kurt Warner.
The Rams featured a high-octane offense fueled by four elite wide receivers and Marshall Faulk, one of the greatest double-threat backs of all time in his prime. Warner threw for over 4,000 yards and 41 touchdowns, Faulk had 1,000 yards rushing and receiving and the Rams blew the league away on the way to a last-minute Super Bowl win over the Tennessee Titans.
Has America ever bought into a team as much as they did the 1985 Chicago Bears?
The '85 Bears went 15-1 on the strength of dominant defense, efficient offense and high-profile everything.
Quarterback Jim McMahon became an overnight celebrity with his brash attitude and ever-changing headbands. Coach Mike Ditka became an NFL coaching icon because of this season.
William "the Refrigerator" Perry, a young but enormous defensive lineman, became a household name with his clever nickname and his cameos on offense as a blocker and later touchdown-scoring fullback. The Fridge would eventually get his own...G.I. Joe figure?
This is a team that in November filmed a rap video called the Super Bowl Shuffle. In November!
But this team was not just style; it also had substance. On offense, it still had Walter Payton, one of the greatest runners in NFL history. Buddy Ryan's 46 defense baffled offenses all season, and Mike Singletary, WIlbur Marshall, Richard Dent and Otis Wilson all had dominant years.
In the playoffs, the Bears did not allow a single point until the Super Bowl, and outscored their opponents 91-10.
It was fun for the whole family. Surely, we have never been as entertained as we were by the 1985 Chicago Bears.