Predicting Every NFL Team's Record in 2013-14

Nick Kostos@@thekostosContributor IFebruary 5, 2013

Predicting Every NFL Team's Record in 2013-14

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    The dust has settled on the 2012-13 NFL season, and the Baltimore Ravens claimed the Lombardi Trophy with a heart-stopping, scintillating 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

    By the way, I predicted that the Ravens would win and Joe Flacco would win MVP here and forecast Flacco's ascent back in November.

    There is obviously much to be done before the 2013-14 season kicks off in 212 days (who's counting?), but it's never too early to forecast the fortunes of each NFL team.

    With the caveat being a multitude of events that can and will radically change my thoughts, here are my initial 2013-14 predictions for all 32 teams, in alphabetical order.

Arizona Cardinals

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    It was a rough 2012 in the desert, and both head coach Ken Whisenhunt and general manager Rod Graves paid with their jobs. 

    While I felt that Whisenhunt deserved the opportunity to return in 2013, I loved the team promoting Steve Keim to general manager and thought Keim made a terrific hire when he tabbed Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians to be the team's next head coach.

    I don't love the hire of Todd Bowles as defensive coordinator, but there is significant talent on that side of the ball. The challenge will be coaxing productivity out of a quarterback position that was the worst in the history of the NFL in 2012. 

    I still think Kevin Kolb has potential to be an above-average NFL starting quarterback, but you have to think the Cardinals will look to bring in competition at the position, whether in free agency or the draft. They simply must have a quarterback who is capable of getting star receiver Larry Fitzgerald the ball.

    At this point, I think the Cardinals will improve on last year's 5-11 record, but there's no way I can predict them to finish above .500.


Atlanta Falcons

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    The Atlanta Falcons finally got the monkey off their backs by virtue of winning their first playoff game in the Thomas Dimitroff-Mike Smith-Matt Ryan era, a 30-28 thriller over the Seattle Seahawks in the divisional round, but their season ended in heartbreak in the NFC title game, where they blew a 17-0 lead and lost to the 49ers.

    There's no reason to believe that the Falcons won't be back in the mix for the Super Bowl in 2013. Atlanta obviously hopes tight end Tony Gonzalez returns, but the offense is going to be explosive with or without the future Hall of Famer.

    Both coordinators, Dirk Koetter on offense and Mike Nolan on defense, will return, and both did a spectacular job in 2012.

    Can the Falcons get to the Super Bowl next season? That remains to be seen. But I'd be stunned if they didn't advance to the tournament.


Baltimore Ravens

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    The Ravens won their second Super Bowl championship, and Joe Flacco ascended into the "elite" category at the quarterback position.

    But the team will have many questions to answer. If he returns, can Dannell Ellerbe replace a retiring Ray Lewis in the middle of the Ravens defense? Will the team be able to bring back pass-rushing demon Paul Kruger? What kind of contract will they dole out to Flacco? Will all-world safety Ed Reed retire?

    Even so, the Ravens have an excellent head coach in John Harbaugh and arguably the best front office in football, spearheaded by Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta. Plus, they have an elite quarterback. In the NFL, that's enough to win double-digit games every season.


Buffalo Bills

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    The Bills slammed it out of the park with their hiring of former Syracuse coach Doug Marrone to the same position. Marrone then made an excellent hire at defensive coordinator by bringing in Mike Pettine, who ran the Jets defense under Rex Ryan.

    The Bills have the talent to achieve a winning record in 2013, but they must replace Ryan Fitzpatrick if they are to do so. Simply put, Fitzpatrick is not a quality starting quarterback in the NFL. The Bills, and no other team, will ever win with Fitzpatrick. 

    Early scuttlebutt has the Bills reaching in the draft to take Marrone's college QB, Ryan Nassib. Even if it's not Nassib, it'll be another young signal-caller that Marrone will have to groom.

    While the Bills will be set up for success during Marrone's reign, they'll be held back in 2013 by their quarterback situation.


Carolina Panthers

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    The Panthers made the right call when they brought back head coach Ron Rivera for next year, and the hiring of Dave Gettleman as their new general manager was a good one.

    But this is a team in significant need of a major talent infusion, and the team's salary-cap situation is an absolute mess.

    As of right now, I don't feel good about the Panthers' chances to contend in 2013. Cam Newton is a terrific quarterback, but there's no way that he can do it all by himself. The Panthers seem destined for yet another sub-.500 record.


Chicago Bears

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    I am so impressed with the job that Bears general manager Phil Emery has done since taking over for the hapless Jerry Angelo. I heard from many NFL sources that coaches who interviewed for the Bears' head coaching vacancy had never met with someone as detail-oriented and prepared as Emery.

    With that said, I loved the hire of Marc Trestman as the team's next head coach. While some pooh-poohed the hire because of Trestman's time coaching the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL, I believe Trestman has the knowledge and wherewithal to succeed on the NFL level.

    I work with former Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon on a daily basis, and Gannon raves about Trestman's ability to run an offense.

    I also liked the hire of Mel Tucker to run the defense, which is still stacked with playmakers.

    The question is, can Trestman fix Jay Cutler? Can he correct Cutler's tendency to throw grotesque interceptions? Can he turn Cutler into the MVP-level quarterback that he certainly has the potential to become?

    I believe Trestman can, and will. I expect the Bears to be a force, both in 2013 and beyond.


Cincinnati Bengals

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    Although the Bengals rebounded nicely from their 3-5 start to finish 10-6 and claim a wild-card spot in the AFC, I'm concerned about the long-term ability of the team to contend for Super Bowl championships, and it's because of quarterback Andy Dalton.

    I like Dalton. He's a good quarterback. But can he be great? He was atrocious in Cincinnati's wild-card loss in Houston, missing a wide-open A.J. Green by a country mile in the end zone late, when a touchdown could have advanced the Bengals to the divisional round.

    But with both fantastic coordinators, Jay Gruden on offense and Mike Zimmer on defense, set to return, the Bengals will once again be in the mix for a playoff spot.

    I just worry about their ability to make the next step and advance deep into January.


Cleveland Browns

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    Of all the coaching hires made this offseason, I'm the least enthused about Rob Chudzinski in Cleveland.

    But you have to give credit where credit is due, as "Chud" has put together an outstanding coaching staff, bringing in Norv Turner to run the offense and Ray Horton to coordinate the defense. 

    There are definite building blocks on both side of the ball, particularly on offense, with tackles Joe Thomas and Mitchell Schwartz, running back Trent Richardson and wide receiver Josh Gordon. In addition, Horton should have the defense playing at a higher level.

    The lingering question that remains is at quarterback. Will Brandon Weeden turn out to be a fit in Chud's offense, or will the Browns hit the reset button at that position yet again?

    If the Browns played in an easier division, I'd be more inclined to push them towards .500. But since they play in the AFC North with Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, I can't do it.


Dallas Cowboys

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    The Dallas Cowboys are a mess.

    First, there was the ugly, season-ending loss to the Washington Redskins on Sunday Night Football in Week 17 that knocked them out of a playoff spot.

    Then, the team fired defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. I had no issue with that move, but I found the decision to replace him with former Buccaneers defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin to be quizzical, considering Kiffin runs the "Tampa-2" defense and the Cowboys have the defensive personnel for a 3-4.

    Most stunning was Cowboys owner Jerry Jones' outright neutering of head coach Jason Garrett when he removed his play-calling duties in favor of Bill Callahan. If Jones wanted to fire Garrett, he should have just done so. This move lessens Garrett's already suspect authority in the locker room.

    There's also the Tony Romo conundrum. I've long been a proponent of the Cowboys quarterback, but I no longer believe he has the ability to be a Super Bowl-quality signal-caller.

    As always in Dallas, things won't get better until Jerry Jones the owner fires Jerry Jones the general manager, and we all know that isn't happening anytime soon.


Denver Broncos

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    It was a spectacular regular season for Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, as Manning played at an MVP level and the team finished 13-3, good enough for home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

    Unfortunately, they ran into the Ravens buzz saw in the divisional round and were a one-and-done team in the tournament.

    Even with that loss, the Broncos have the requisite pieces in place to contend for the Super Bowl in 2013. The AFC West isn't exactly murderers' row, and Denver's schedule looks to be easy yet again next season.

    It'll be up to Broncos executive VP of football operations John Elway to fill in the blanks on the roster, notably on defense, to push the team towards Super Bowl XLVIII.


Detroit Lions

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    The Detroit Lions were arguably the biggest disappointment in the NFL in 2012, finishing 4-12 after securing their first playoff berth since 1999 following the 2011 campaign.

    Neither head coach Jim Schwartz nor quarterback Matthew Stafford had an exemplary year, as the team had a series of late-game failures that ultimately led to the horrendous record.

    I have serious questions about the long-term viability of Schwartz as the team's coach. The Lions were extremely undisciplined last year, and it appeared Schwartz was unable to control some of the problem children on the team—most notably ex-receiver Titus Young, who was rightly cut recently.

    But the Lions have too much talent to not bounce back in 2013. Whether it's enough to save Schwartz's job is another story entirely.


Green Bay Packers

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    While the Packers' season didn't end the way they hoped, with a thrashing at the hands of the 49ers in the divisional round, the fact that the team finished 11-5 and won the NFC North despite a host of injures was remarkable.

    General manager Ted Thompson fronts one of the best front offices in football, and Mike McCarthy is one of the very best coaches in the league.

    Oh yeah, they've got that Aaron Rodgers guy at quarterback, and he's pretty good too.

    Green Bay does have some areas of concern, notably on defense. I have faith in Thompson to add more talent on that side of the ball.

    As long as the Packers have Rodgers, they'll be a threat for double-digit regular-season wins and to advance deep into the tournament.


Houston Texans

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    While the Texans finished 12-4 and won their second consecutive AFC South title, the season must be considered a disappointment, as the team crashed out of home-field advantage by losing three of their final four contests.

    Yes, they beat Cincinnati in the Wild Card Round, but that was more because of the poor play of Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton than anything Houston did. Then, the team went to New England and was eviscerated by the Patriots for the second time in a month.

    I expect Houston to contend for the playoffs again in 2013. The defense will receive a lift with the return of linebacker Brian Cushing, and the offense appears to be in good hands with quarterback Matt Schaub and head coach Gary Kubiak.

    I don't think Schaub and Kubiak are good enough to win a Super Bowl for Houston, but they're good enough to shepherd the team to another season of double-digit wins, albeit with postseason failure.


Indianapolis Colts

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    The Indianapolis Colts were the league's biggest surprise in 2012, finishing with an 11-5 record and earning a wild-card berth in the AFC playoffs, and even though they lost to Baltimore in the Wild Card Round, the season must be considered a rousing success.

    The best part for Colts fans? The team is built to succeed for the foreseeable future. Chuck Pagano has proven to be a head coach who has the pulse of his team, and quarterback Andrew Luck is going to be a superstar.

    Plus, the team is flush with salary-cap space, and general manager Ryan Grigson is the reigning NFL Executive of the Year.

    As it was for so many years with Peyton Manning under center, the Colts appear to be set for the long haul. I expect 2013 to be no different.


Jacksonville Jaguars

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    First, the positives: I loved the team's hire of new general manager David Caldwell. He was very well-respected in Atlanta and chose to work for the Jaguars over other teams.

    Caldwell made a nice hire with Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley as the team's next head coach. Caldwell and Bradley should bring excitement to a team desperately in need of it.

    But in order to win in the NFL, you need a talented roster, and the Jaguars just don't have one, as former general manager Gene Smith left the cupboard bare, which cost former head coach Mike Mularkey his job.

    The biggest question mark is obviously at quarterback, as no team with hopes of a winning record can employ Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne at the position. I expect the Jaguars to draft a "quarterback of the future" and try to rebuild a defense that finished 30th in the NFL a season ago.

    While I believe Caldwell and Bradley can eventually turn things around in Jacksonville, it won't happen next season.


Kansas City Chiefs

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    I give Chiefs owner Clark Hunt all the credit in the world for firing head coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli, both of whom ran the team into the ground last year, bottoming out at 2-14.

    While I didn't love the hire of Andy Reid as head coach, John Dorsey is an excellent fit at general manager. With the Chiefs holding the No. 1 pick in April's draft, the opportunity to stack the cupboard is certainly there.

    Plus, it isn't a roster completely devoid of talent. There's obvious work to be done, but there are pieces in place for the Chiefs to contend in 2013.

    While I have serious questions about Reid's ability to coach a team to a Lombardi Trophy, I do have confidence that the Chiefs will bounce back in a major way under his stewardship in 2013. Expect the Chiefs to target 49ers quarterback Alex Smith if he's released by the team.


Miami Dolphins

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    I'm a huge fan of Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin and quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The fact that the team went 7-9 last season with holes all over the roster was incredible.

    While general manager Jeff Ireland has been rightly criticized in the past, he definitely nailed it with Philbin and Tannehill. Tannehill had an exemplary rookie campaign and will only get better in Mike Sherman's offense.

    As long as Ireland makes smart personnel moves and improves the quality of the roster, especially at wide receiver, the Dolphins will contend for a playoff berth in 2013. I believe that will happen.


Minnesota Vikings

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    The Vikings' 2012 season was all about running back Adrian Peterson, who rushed for 2,097 yards en route to his first MVP trophy and carried the team into the playoffs.

    Last season showed that head coach Leslie Frazier is capable of winning in the NFL, and quarterback Christian Ponder finished the year in strong fashion despite not playing in the team's wild-card playoff loss at Lambeau Field.

    The Vikings must bring in a better backup quarterback option than Joe Webb, who struggled mightily against the Packers. I'm still not totally sold on Ponder, so it's imperative to have a solid second option at the position.

    As long as the Vikings have a healthy Peterson and a solid defense, they'll contend in the NFC.


New England Patriots

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    The 2012 season was a familiar refrain for the Patriots: another season with double-digit wins, a first-round bye and an earlier playoff exit than they'd have liked, as they got bounced by Baltimore in the AFC title game.

    There's no reason to believe 2013 will be any different. Bill Belichick is still one of the best coaches in the game, and the team still employs Tom Brady at the quarterback position.

    It remains to be seen if next year's team will be capable of winning it all, but I'll be picking the Patriots to win the AFC East yet again.


New Orleans Saints

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    It will be hard for history to judge the 2012 New Orleans Saints, who faced unprecedented sanctions in the wake of the bounty scandal, including losing their head coach, Sean Payton, for the season.

    Payton's first act after returning to the team was to fire defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who oversaw the worst defense in football and one of the worst statistical defenses in history. Whoever is the next Saints DC must do better if the team is to return to the postseason.

    The offense will hum yet again in 2013, with quarterback Drew Brees serving as the trigger man for the explosive unit.

    The Saints will be better next season, and I believe they'll be in the mix for both the NFC South title and a playoff berth.


New York Giants

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    There's no sugarcoating it: The 2012 New York Giants were a disappointment.

    Coming off their Super Bowl XLVI win in 2011, the Giants were expected to return to the postseason but fell short of that goal by flaming out in the season's final quarter, finishing 9-7 and out of the tournament.

    I expect the Giants to bounce back in 2013. Quarterback Eli Manning had a down year, but he was often without weapons on offense—especially wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, who was barely healthy.

    Giants general manager Jerry Reese is among the best in football, and he will reload a defense in need of talent in the back seven.

    As long as the team employs head coach Tom Coughlin and Manning, Big Blue will contend for both the NFC East title and a playoff berth.


New York Jets

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    The New York Jets' 2012 campaign was nothing short of a dumpster fire, an embarrassing confluence of events that would make Lindsay Lohan blush.

    I believe owner Woody Johnson made a grievous error when he fired general manager Mike Tannenbaum and kept head coach Rex Ryan. If one was going to go, the other needed to be fired as well.

    Ryan has proved to be clueless, both in game management and in dealing with his fractured locker room. I don't have confidence in his ability to lead the team.

    New general manager John Idzik is, by all accounts, a nice man, but he wasn't making decisions in Seattle, and that's worrisome for a team in need of a 53-man roster makeover.

    As if all that wasn't enough, there are serious questions about Mark Sanchez's viability as an NFL starting quarterback.

    The Jets are a mess, and I think they'll bottom out in 2013.


Oakland Raiders

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    The 2012 season was a disappointment for the Oakland Raiders, as they finished with a miserable 4-12 record and major questions on both sides of the ball.

    I don't believe quarterback Carson Palmer is good enough to win anymore, and the Raiders must make a decision about injury-prone running back Darren McFadden. The team doesn't have enough weapons on offense to contend in the AFC. 

    I liked that Allen fired offensive coordinator Greg Knapp but was unimpressed with his hire of Greg Olson to replace him. I expect the Raiders offense to struggle yet again in 2013.

    If Dennis Allen can get the defense up to snuff, Oakland could be decent next season. I don't think that will happen, and the Raiders might be looking for yet another head coach in 2014.


Philadelphia Eagles

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    The Philadelphia Eagles are the most difficult team to project for 2013 because of their new head coach Chip Kelly.

    I believe Kelly will eventually be a smash hit in the NFL. Elements of his offense have been seen throughout the NFL, and there's no reason to believe his iteration of the spread option won't succeed.

    The team has talented players in place, and I'm a fan of general manager Howie Roseman.

    The Eagles will bounce back in 2013 and be in the mix for a playoff berth in the NFC.


Pittsburgh Steelers

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    This was a down year for head coach Mike Tomlin, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers, who finished 8-8 and out of the postseason in 2012.

    While the team has work to do to improve the roster, Pittsburgh has one of the league's best general managers in Kevin Colbert, and I have confidence in his ability to get things right.

    As long as the team has Tomlin and Roethlisberger, it will contend for the postseason.


San Diego Chargers

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    While I very much like new head coach Mike McCoy and general manager Tom Telesco, there's no questioning that they have their work cut out for them in San Diego.

    Former general manager A.J. Smith did a horrible job with the roster in the past few years, and the 53-man squad just isn't up to snuff. It'll take at least a year for Telesco to reload in a sufficient manner.

    As for McCoy, his primary charge will be to fix quarterback Philip Rivers, whose play has significantly declined in the past two seasons.

    The Chargers will eventually get back on track, but it won't happen in 2013.


San Francisco 49ers

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    An amazing season in San Francisco ended in heartbreak, as the 49ers lost the Super Bowl in thrilling fashion to the Baltimore Ravens.

    Don't expect the team to experience a "loser's hangover" of any kind, as head coach Jim Harbaugh is simply too good to allow that to happen.

    Plus, the team will have a full offseason to groom quarterback Colin Kaepernick as "The Guy," and there's no reason to believe that the freakishly talented Kaepernick won't have a big year in 2013.

    The defense is excellent, and the offense will only become more dynamic as Kaepernick evolves. The 49ers are set to contend for years to come and will certainly be one of the favorites to represent the NFC in Super Bowl XLVIII.


Seattle Seahawks

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    It was an incredible season in the Pacific Northwest for head coach Pete Carroll, general manager John Schneider and quarterback Russell Wilson, who came oh-so-close to a conference championship matchup with the 49ers.

    Make no mistake about it: This Seahawks team is for real. Schneider is one of the best evaluators in football, and Carroll has turned the defense into a dominant unit.

    But more so than anything else, Seattle will contend in 2013 because of Wilson, its excellent quarterback. He inspires confidence and has the ability to win games single-handedly.


St. Louis Rams

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    The Rams overachieved in 2012, finishing 7-8-1, including a 4-1-1 record in the vastly improved NFC West.

    With the haul received in the Robert Griffin III trade with Washington, St. Louis general manager Les Snead will be able to repair a roster still in need of talent on both sides of the ball.

    I have questions about Sam Bradford's viability as a franchise quarterback, but he's good enough to keep the team in the hunt for a playoff berth.

    Depending on the events of free agency and the draft, I might project the Rams to finish better than 8-8, but they play in a division with juggernauts San Francisco and Seattle, so I just can't do it at this juncture.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    I'm worried about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers moving forward, and it's because of issues at quarterback.

    Head coach Greg Schiano said after the season that he needed to "evaluate" Josh Freeman, which indicates that the team has internally considered other options at the position.

    Freeman wasn't horrible last season, but he turned the ball over too many times for Schiano's liking.

    The Bucs play in a division with Atlanta and New Orleans, so it's hard for me to be bullish on Tampa Bay.


Tennessee Titans

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    The 2012 campaign was not a good one for Titans quarterback Jake Locker, who failed to impress in his second season, as the team finished 6-10.

    Then, when running back Chris Johnson joined the SiriusXM Blitz live in New Orleans at radio row, he claimed the team needed "offensive linemen." That wasn't exactly a ringing endorsement for the Titans' group of blockers.

    Tennessee does have playmakers on offense, but the defense is suspect. It remains to be seen if recently minted assistant head coach Gregg Williams can have a positive impact on Jerry Gray's unit, but the team must field a more talented unit in 2013 if they're to succeed.

    I have serious questions about Locker's long-term viability as an NFL starting quarterback, and I fear that will cost head coach Mike Munchak his job at the conclusion of next season.


Washington Redskins

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    It was an unbelievable 2012 season for the Redskins, who won their first NFC East title since 1999.

    Quarterback Robert Griffin III, the Rookie of the Year, was nothing short of majestic during the regular season but tore his ACL in the team's wild-card playoff loss to Seattle. Whether or not the Redskins can seriously contend in 2013 is contingent upon his health.

    That being said, Kirk Cousins is a viable option for the team at quarterback if Griffin isn't healthy enough to start the year, and the team's defense should be improved as injured players Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker return to the lineup.

    Expect head coach Mike Shanahan to have the Redskins contend for the NFC East title yet again in 2013.