The Super Bowl is over. The Seattle Seahawks are the world champions. It was a not-so-dramatic culmination to a great season, but it's time to let the dust settle. Free agency and the draft are basically like tomorrow. It's time to move on and get ready for the 2014 NFL season.
We need 2014 power rankings. The Shield doesn't sleep, people.
1. Philadelphia Eagles - NFL pundits spent the first nine months of 2013 prewriting Chip Kelly's NFL coaching obituary. The only logical answer is a massive over-correction. If DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper (yes, he'll be re-signed), holding the Lombardi Trophy together can't heal this wounded nation, I don't know what can.
2. Seattle Seahawks - I'm still buying it.
3. Green Bay Packers - We know now all we need to know about Aaron Rodgers: his collarbone is going to be fine for 2014. Mike McCarthy stood by Dom Capers, so this is probably as good as it gets for the Packers in 2014.
4. New England Patriots - Not even Father Time is counting out Touchdown Tom... yet.
5. Chicago Bears - Just wait until Marc Trestman aims his giant brain at the defense.
6. Carolina Panthers - There was more to the Panthers season than Riverboat Ron's sudden embrace of fourth down existentialism. The defense actually got good. Give Cam Newton some weapons, and change the lock on Mike Shula during the offseason.
7. Atlanta Falcons - I picked the Falcons to be playing the Broncos in the Super Bowl this year. Dammit. Still debating whether or not double down on my stupidity.
8. Indianapolis Colts - Are you ready to be disappointed all over again?
9. New Orleans Saints - Drew Brees had the kind of numbers you expected him to have, except when they were playing the Seahawks. Imagine this team if Jimmy Graham doesn't come back.
10. Kansas City Chiefs - Alex Smith joins the 5,000-yard club. Mark it down. Andy Reid would have wrapped up the Coach of the Year award if he'd changed into the Kool-Aid Man suit at halftime of the Chiefs' Week 15 game against the Raiders.
11. Cincinnati Bengals - Could this team go further without Andy Dalton than they can with him? I guess it doesn't really matter for 2014, because they're standing by their man. Expect Mike Brown to reinvest the savings from Dalton's salary into the local economy.
12. San Francisco 49ers - It's Week 9, and the Niners are still undefeated. Suddenly, Jim Harbaugh's $8 pants give way; the seat rips out. The FOX crew zooms in; he hasn't changed his underwear after a week of sleeping in his office. Scandal ensues, and whatever focus the locker room had is gone. Also, Colin Kaepernick's hat is a distraction.
13. Arizona Cardinals - A surprise last season, this is the team that everyone will be picking to win 14 games in 2014 and possibly the NFC. Nothing ever turns out well for those teams.
14. Pittsburgh Steelers - For the third season in a row, Mike Tomlin, Todd Haley and Ben Roethlisberger will put together one of the league's most thrilling 8-8 efforts, punctuated by late-season wins over slumping playoff contenders.
15. Detroit Lions - Jim Caldwell spent his coaching interview going over what he'd do for Matthew Stafford. Hint: it involves a rigid program of Peyton Manning audio cassettes delivering subliminal messages while Stafford does keg stands.
16. Houston Texans - I'm going to go ahead and reserve the right to change this if the Texans follow through on Bob McNair's threat to skip Teddy Bridgewater with the first pick. On the other hand, I think it could be a lot of fun to watch what AJ McCarron's mom tweets when fans are burning her son's replica Texans jersey outside Reliant Stadium.
17. Baltimore Ravens - Is it possible to be too ELITE?
18. New York Jets - Hours before the Super Bowl, the New York media was filing stories about anonymous sources saying Geno Smith is "too soft" to be a franchise quarterback. So everything is on track for a normal Jets season this year.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - I'm sure Lovie Smith will be very successful with the Bucs. However, everyone knows that there's a period of unrest after toppling a tyrant like Greg Schiano. Adjusting the thermostats, going barefoot in the showers again, no longer having Schiano haunt their dreams like an angrier Freddy Krueger... players are going to need some time to get used to the changes.
20. Buffalo Bills - Maybe this is the year that we're rewarded for thinking the Bills are actually going to be good. Maybe.
21. New York Giants - Tom Coughlin brings in Jim Tressel to help put the fake game-used memorabilia scandal behind them. His Up With People-esque motivational speeches don't translate.
22. Tennessee Titans - The Tennessee Titans are a football team. A lot of people forget that.
23. Minnesota Vikings - I really wish I could have been a fly on the while the Vikings had the franchise-killing "Matt Cassel is good enough to bridge the gap" conversation.
25. Miami Dolphins - Without Jeff Ireland's honesty and foresight, this team isn't going anywhere.
26. St. Louis Rams - Someday, the check down is going to be the "it" offensive innovation in the NFL. Fortunately for the Rams, they have Sam Bradford under contract until the year 2021 (approximately).
27. Jacksonville Jaguars - Well, they were in contract extension talks with Chad Henne, so they should probably be lower on this list. However, Gus Bradley did a great job coaching one of the Senior Bowl squads, a team which most definitely could beat the Jags. Roll Tide.
28. Denver Broncos - Sorry folks, Peyton Manning isn't getting any younger, and this Global Warming thing may not be a factor in his outdoor games next December.
29. Washington Redskins - On the one hand, this team gets points for making a needed coaching change. On the other hand, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett was somehow able to convince Dan Snyder that he could totally make RGIII like him more.
30. Oakland Raiders - The best thing to happen to the Raiders has been the Browns.
31. Cleveland Browns - Joe Banner and Michael Lombardi really need to draft the country's top corporate fraud lawyer on behalf of Jimmy Haslam. They'll probably pick AJ McCarron instead. Only the FBI can save the Browns.
32. Dallas Cowboys - Does Jerry Jones still run this team and call the shots? Well, they hired Scott Linehan to put a third offensive cook in the kitchen. If the solution to your problem is Scott Linehan, you're already sunk.