This NFL Season has been one of record-breaking proportions, as Bronco's QB Peyton Manning threw for 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns, both NFL Records. Additionally, the Denver Broncos broke the record for most points scored in one season with 603 points, and their Kicker Matt Prater made a record-breaking 64 yard field goal earlier in the season. However, aside from Denver's multitude of records, we saw many other outstanding performances in games and over the course of the season. As the year comes to an end, I would first like to summarize my highlights of the regular season.
Tom Brady's Late Game Heroics
Nick Foles' Unbelievable Improvement
The Carolina Panthers showed great promise in the 2013 season, finishing with a record of 12-4, 5 more wins than their previous season. Strides made by a number of players on both ends of the field earned the team 5 Pro Bowlers, including Cam Newton and 2 year linebacker Luke Kuechly. If we are to believe that defense wins championships, then the Panthers are a prime candidate to win this year's Super Bowl, as they are ranked 2nd overall in points allowed, and 2nd overall in total yards allowed.
Horrible Head Coaches
5 NFL Coaches were fired on "Black Monday" were fired immediately following the end of the regular season: Rob Chudzinski, Cleveland; Jim Schwartz, Detroit; Leslie Frazier, Minnesota; Greg Schiano, Tampa Bay; Mike Shanahan, Washington. Other than Chudzinski, each of these coaches were given legitimate opportunities to win this season, but none of them capitalized. Cleveland does not have a winning personality, Detroit is a non-opportunistic underachiever, Minnesota and Tampa were plagued by bad quarterback play, and Washington's season was ruined by injuries. There are 6 total Vacancies, as Gary Kubiak was fired before the season ended, and it will be very interesting to see how the coaching carousel plays out over the next month or two.
RG III & 13
Robert Griffin III entered the 2012 season as the most hyped player in the NFL, and he did more than live up to the hype. However, a knee injury derailed his season and offseason, and that rehab was seemingly cut short by preparation for the 2013 season. As the season wore on, the Washington team got off to a 3-6 start, identical to the previous year's start before their 7 game winning streak to finish the season. This year, that was not the case, and as the team continued to lose, Griffin was mocked as RG III and however many losses they had at the time. Unfortunately, they continued to lose and finished the season 3-13, one of the biggest dissappointments of the season.
Now, we all know that the NFL season is indeed composed of three parts: Pre-Season, Regular Season, and Post Season. This post season is shaping up to be one of the finest in recent years, because there is great competition without any clear cut favorites. Each team has a weakness that could potentially be detrimental to their hopes of winning the Super Bowl.
Playoff Power Rankings
2. Patriots - Tom Brady has no pro bowl caliber weapons on offense, and that is a legitimate problem.
3. Seahawks - Percy Harvin may return next week, but without him team's can put 8 in the box to slow down Mr. Beast Mode himself.
4. Panthers - Their inexperience worries me, but there is no arguing that they are not ready for this stage.
5. Packers - The return of Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb makes Green Bay a legitimate Super Bowl Contender. Beware of the underdog.
6. Bengals - The Bengals have been content with making the playoffs and losing as of late.
7. 49ers - Super Bowl Jinx does a number on most teams, so be cautious in picking the 49ers to advance.
8. Saints - No running game, but Drew Brees is due for another playoff run.
9. Colts - The injury to Reggie Wayne has left the Colts receiving core lost as of late.
10. Eagles - Foles is hot, but the Eagles have not had the best competition in the NFC East.
11. Chiefs - After losing 5 of their last 7 games, who knows which Kansas City team will show up this week.
12. Chargers - Inconsistency has plagued them not only this season, but since the beginning of the Phillip Rivers era.
Super Bowl Prediction
Before the season started, I picked the Colts to play the Seahawks in the Super Bowl. With the injuries to Percy Harvin and Reggie Wayne I would like to make a new pick, but that would go against all logic. It carries much more weight to choose a team from the start of the season (32 options), than the start of the playoffs (12 options). That being said, I am staying with the Indianapolis Colts as my pick to win Super Bowl XLVIII. This post season holds the opportunity to coronate an Heir to Brady and Manning, and Andrew Luck looks to make the most of it.
P.S. Happy New Year to all of my readers. To celebrate, here are my 13 Most Memorable Sports Moments of 2013:
1. Boston Marathon Bombing.
2. Auburn's 109 yard field goal return vs. Alabama. (Listen to the Radio Call)
3. The Lights go out at the Superdome.
4. With fans leaving the AAA, the Miami Heat score 5 points in 28 seconds and win in OT.
5. Chicago Blackhawks score 2 Goals in 17 seconds to win the Stanley Cup Finals.
6. Miami Heat 27 game win streak.
7. Puigmania takes over baseball; Historic month of June.
8. Biogenesis Scandal and A-Rod's 200+ game suspension.
9. Aaron Hernandez is charged with the murder of Odin Lloyd.
10. Manti Te'O's Girlfriend Hoax.
11. Kevin Ware's compound fracture that shocked the world and inspired a championship.
12. Tiger Woods takes a drop at the Masters; Golfer alerts PGA of broken rule.
13. Oscar Pistorious 'Blade Runner' is charged with the murder of his wife.