Dallas Cowboys – The Eagles narrowly defeated their bitter rivals in Week 17 in a winner-take-all game to decide the NFC East title and clinch a playoff berth. It was just another epic chapter in the shared history of the two teams. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was unable to play in that game because of back surgery but is expected to be healthy in time for Training Camp. The Cowboys finished 16th (341.1 yards per game) in total offense and last in total defense (415.3 yards allowed per game).
New York Giants –The Giants started the season 0-6 but finished 7-3, splitting against the Eagles in the process. Eli Manning had the worst season of his career, posting a quarterback rating of 69.4 and leading the NFL in interceptions with 27. While the offense sputtered and finished 28th at 307.5 yards per game, the defense continually improved following the addition of linebacker Jon Beason and finished eighth in the NFL in yards allowed at 332.3 per game. They will pick 14th in the upcoming NFL Draft.
Washington Redskins – The Redskins are coming off a disastrous season that started with immense promise but quickly spiraled out of control en route to a 3-13 finish that saw Robert Griffin III regress before getting benched and head coach Mike Shanahan fired. The franchise, whose 2014 first-round pick (second overall) belongs to the St. Louis Rams, is in a state of transition once again as it searches for a new head coach who can provide stability and help Griffin return to form.
Carolina Panthers – The Panthers just capped their most successful season since 2008 behind a ferocious defense that ranked first in the league in sacks (60) and second in yards allowed (301.3 per game) and helped buoy the performance of franchise quarterback Cam Newton, who finished with 3,379 yards passing, 24 touchdowns and an 88.8 rating to go along with 585 yards rushing and six touchdowns. After starting 0-2 and 1-3, the Panthers won 11 of their last 12 games to finish 12-4, win the NFC South and clinch the second seed in the NFC.
Jacksonville Jaguars – The Jaguars hired Gus Bradley as head coach in 2012 and went to work building a foundation for the future. After starting 0-8, Bradley's team showed there is hope on the horizon by turning things around in the second half of the season and going 4-4. While low on high-end talent, the Jaguars roster boasts a lot of young, hungry players looking to prove themselves at the NFL level and will add to that crop with the third overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Both sides of the ball still need significant improvement, but this is a franchise headed in the right direction.
Seattle Seahawks – The Seahawks have risen to become an NFC juggernaut in short order thanks to a dominant defense, star quarterback (Russell Wilson), strong running game and a home-field advantage unmatched by any other in professional sports. All-Pro safety Earl Thomas and cornerback Richard Sherman highlight a secondary that led the league in pass defense and is the envy of every team in the NFL. Luckily for the Eagles, they get to play the Seahawks in Philadelphia, away from CenturyLink Field. Head coach Pete Carroll's team went 13-3 in 2013, securing the NFC's top seed and ranking first in the NFL in offensive points allowed (13.6 per game), total defense (273.6 yards per game) and turnovers forced (37), all by wide margins.
St. Louis Rams – The Rams were 3-3 and coming off a two-game winning streak when franchise quarterback Sam Bradford tore his ACL and, in effect, sunk their 2013 season. The team continued to fight for head coach Jeff Fisher, however, and behind a tenacious defense that ranked third in the NFL in sacks and featured the league leader in Robert Quinn (19.0), the Rams managed to finish 7-9 in the ultra-competitive NFC West. The offense found an effective running back in rookie Zac Stacy and an explosive weapon in fellow rookie Tavon Austin. The Rams have a stable of young, ascending talent that will only get deeper since the organization owns the Redskins' 2014 first-round pick (second overall) as a result of the Robert Griffin III blockbuster trade.
Tennessee Titans – The Titans went through a rocky 2013, in which franchise quarterback Jake Locker sustained multiple injuries – hip and Lisfranc – that ruined what was at one point turning into a breakout season. A middling defense didn't help matters, either. Ryan Fitzpatrick filled in for Locker, but the Titans lost eight of 10 games after a 3-1 start and finished 7-9. Running back Chris Johnson continued his downward trajectory, rushing for 1,077 yards (with a long of just 30) and six touchdowns on 3.9 yards per carry, though second-year wide receiver Kendall Wright was a bright spot and put up 1,079 yards on 94 receptions. Head coach Mike Munchak was fired, and the team is currently in search of new leadership.
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