The New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers pulled off a stunning trade less than two weeks before the regular- season opener, with the Pats sending six-time Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins to the Bucs in exchange for tight end Tim Wright.
Given the battles the club will go through as it attempts to climb to the top of the hill in the division, it is no surprise that the Cardinals bulked up on both sides of the ball. They added massive offensive tackle Jared Veldheer, a big blocking tight end in rookie Troy Niklas, and two physical defenders in cornerback Antonio Cromartie along with safety and first-round pick Deone Bucannon.
Panthers head coach Ron Rivera was on the hot seat prior to the season and his job status looked bleak after a 22-6 loss at Arizona in Week 5. That's when the Panthers stepped up for their head coach and emerged as a contender in the NFC. Included in the eight-game winning streak were big wins over San Francisco, which got revenge when it counted most, and New England.
Brees and the Saints finished 11-5 last season and made it to the Divisional Round of the postseason, where they lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. All five of the Saints' losses came on the road, but they exorcised their demons as the visitor by defeating Philadelphia in the opening round of the playoffs.
Atlanta is hoping last season was just an aberration and enters 2014 on a clean slate with high expectations. One of the biggest reasons for Atlanta's demise was the foot injury to Julio Jones, perhaps one of the best wide receivers in the game today.
The Redskins and their success is tethered to the right arm and legs of Griffin, and they're hoping a healthy offseason, a new head coach in Jay Gruden and a fresh culture within the organization can breathe life back into the team in 2014.
Not many gave Kelly a chance in his first season and it was believed he would struggle from the jump. That was true through Week 8 of the 2013 season with the Eagles at 3-5 and an unsatisfied fan base already impatient with Kelly and his gridiron IQ.