Even though we are in the midst of another exciting NFL playoffs, it's never too early to start looking ahead to next season. After all, this season gave us two examples of why every NFL fan base should have hope for 2013.
The Indianapolis Colts and Minnesota Vikings had a combined record of 5-27 last season. The Colts drafted Andrew Luck, hired Chuck Pagano, started a multitude of rookies on offense and made the playoffs at 11-5. The Vikings drafted Matt Kalil and Harrison Smith, Adrian Peterson had an unbelievable season and Minnesota made the playoffs at 10-6. Even though both teams lost during wild-card weekend, not many people expected they would make it to the postseason.
Anything can happen in the NFL, and that's what makes it so special. With that in mind, here are my very early predictions for the top five teams that can make the playoffs in 2013 after missing out this season.
As I wrote earlier this season, the Cowboys are a talented team. There's no question about that. Tony Romo played a bad game in Week 17, but Dallas has a lot of pieces in place on both sides of the ball, including a talented cornerback duo in Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne. Claiborne took his lumps this season, as all rookie CBs do, but he's got a bright future in this league. Plus, Dallas' defense was significantly weakened with the loss of four defensive starters to injured reserve, most notably rising star middle linebacker Sean Lee.