STEVE CORKRAN'S FINAL 2013 NFL RANKINGS

1. Seahawks (16-3)

The Seahawks show that, more times than not, a good defense trumps a good offense in rolling past the seemingly unstoppable Broncos en route to their first Super Bowl victory; this team is young, energetic, talented and built for sustained success

2. Broncos (15-4)

Quarterback Peyton Manning's legacy intact despite a lackluster showing against Seahawks; what's in question is, just how many more times can the Broncos make a spirited run at another Super Bowl title before Manning's body breaks down?

3. 49ers (14-5)

They won 41 games over the past three seasons and advanced to the NFC Championship Game for the third straight season this year; a season-ending loss tastes bitterer in light of the NFC West rival Seahawks parlaying that 23-17 outcome into a Super Bowl title

4. Patriots (13-5)

Coach Bill Belichick and QB Tom Brady did some of their finest work this season, given the dearth of star players and rash of injuries; in the end, the Patriots went out with a whimper for one of few times during Belichick-Brady Era

5. Panthers (12-5)

They boasted Coach of the Year (Ron Rivera), Defensive Player of the Year (LB Luke Kuechly) and a first-round bye in the NFC Playoffs, yet failed to win a playoff game; on bright side, a strong foundation is in place for years to come

6. Colts (12-6)

QB Andrew Luck once again almost single-handedly willed Colts to a playoff berth, but he needs more help for Colts to get further; not relying upon WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, RB Trent Richardson would be a nice start

7. Saints (12-6)

The takeaway from this season is: find a way to secure home-field advantage throughout playoffs or learn to win away from the SuperDome; Saints almost unbeatable at home in 2013, oftentimes unwatchable on the road

8. Chiefs (11-6)

Won first nine games, lost six of final eight — all came against playoff teams; coach Andy Reid, QB Alex Smith turned around team that went 2-14 previous season and established Chiefs as legitimate Super Bowl contender

9. Chargers (10-8)

QB Philip Rivers enjoyed a resurgence and carried the Chargers into second round of playoffs; rookie WR Keenan Allen emerged as a dynamic player and the face of a youth movement in San Diego

10. Bengals (11-6)

Sexy pick by some to represent AFC in Super Bowl did face plant in playoffs, at home, and go into offseason searching for what went wrong; Bengals might start by doing in-depth study into why QB Andy Dalton performs so poorly in postseason

11. Eagles (10-7)

First-year coach Chip Kelly succeeded where many thought he would fail in adapting his up-tempo college philosophy to NFL; Eagles finally found their long-term answer at QB in Nick Foles and no longer feel compelled to chase Michael Vick mirage

12. Packers (8-8-1)

QB Aaron Rodgers returned from broken collarbone — he missed seven games -- in time to get Packers into playoffs, where they got vanquished by 49ers for second straight season; not going anywhere until they figure how to beat the 49ers

13. Cardinals (10-6)

Finished with record better than or equal to three of 12 playoff teams, yet they watched from home; first-year coach Bruce Arians helped Cardinals develop into playoff contender by trading for QB Carson Palmer, signing LB John Abraham and instilling hard-nosed attitude

14. Ravens (8-8)

It's no surprise Ravens suffered post-Super Bowl letdown after losing key players such as WR Anquan Boldin, LBs Daniel Ellerbe and Ray Lewis and DL Paul Kruger; injury to TE Dennis Pitta, career-worst season by RB Ray Rice further doomed Ravens

15. Dolphins (8-8)

Team managed to keep things together despite ugly alleged incident midseason that cost Dolphins starting left side of offensive line; in the end, Dolphins no different than two other Florida-based NFL teams — out of the playoffs, with more questions than they had a year ago

16. Bears (8-8)

WRs Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery and RB Matt Forte formed perhaps most imposing trio in league this season; Bears lacked healthy QB Jay Cutler — veteran backup Josh McCown performed well in Cutler's absence — and reliable defense

17. Cowboys (8-8)

There's no shortage of those who blame QB Tony Romo for everything that ails Cowboys, but he can do only so much; Cowboys undoing came as a result of one of worst defensive showings in league history

18. Steelers (8-8)

This is about what one might expect of a team in the midst of an on-the-fly rebuild, though the Steelers won't admit to as much; Steelers just don't look the same without punishing rushing attack, aggressive defense

19. Rams (7-9)

Team's stockpiling of draft picks, mining talent starting to pay dividends — DEs Robert Quinn, Chris Long, RB Zac Stacy, RB Tavon Austin — and more help is on the way, with Rams holding two of first 13 picks in May's draft; went 1-5 in rugged NFC West, which won't be any easier next season

20. Lions (7-9)

Watch Matthew Stafford throw, watch WR Calvin Johnson catch, watch RB Reggie Bush run, watch Lions find way to self destruct; there's 2013 in a nutshell for the Lions and aptly describes five-year tenure under recently fired coach Jim Schwartz

21. N.Y. Jets (8-8)

Coach Rex Ryan isn't making many brash predictions these days; he's just thrilled he survived a season with inconsistent rookie Geno Smith as the full-time QB and fans raining down non-stop criticism

22. Titans (7-9)

Coach Mike Munchak fell on sword for subpar season rather than be forced to fire assistants at season's end; it's also time for one-time mainstays such as RB Chris Johnson and WR Kenny Britt to go, among others, if Titans hope to close gap on Colts and other playoff teams

23. Bills (6-10)

LB Kiko Alonso finished second in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting in one of few bright spots for Bills; rookie QB E.J. Manuel showed promise after being rushed into starting role

24. N.Y. Giants (7-9)

Giants had a decent season, if you ignore their 0-6 start; QB Eli Manning looked and played like a rookie as a result of one of league's worst offensive lines. Coach Tom Coughlin has gone this route before, and he will remake his roster in short order

25. Buccaneers (4-12)

Coach Greg Schiano quit on QB Josh Freeman midseason, Buccaneers management quit on Schiano at season's end; Lovie Smith inherits what's left of a team regarded a year earlier as an up-and-comer

26. Browns (4-12)

New regime canned coach Rob Chudzinski after one season, even though Browns front office traded away Richardson early on, failed to give coach Chud front-line quarterback and much talent; further evidence as to why the Browns seldom are relevant

27. Vikings (5-10-1)

Disappointing season gives new coach Mike Zimmer a huge question to ponder, as in Christian Ponder: Is he the quarterback of the future? One thing is certain, RB Adrian Peterson takes you only so far as one-man wrecking crew

28. Falcons (4-12)

Early season-ending injury to WR Julio Jones, lack of lead running back, porous offensive line and little defensive pressure resulted in precipitous drop from NFC Championship Game in 2012 to this; a quick rebound in 2014 seems likely

29. Redskins (3-13)

Losing permeated the franchise this season, with coach Mike Shanahan losing his job and QB Robert Griffin III losing some credibility; new coach Jay Gruden has his hands full turning around this mess

30. Raiders (4-12)

General manager Reggie McKenzie called this season's 4-12 record different than his team's 4-12 finish in 2013; whatever that means, owner Mark Davis made it clear that there aren't any more free passes for McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen

31. Jaguars (4-12)

First-year coach Gus Bradley made great strides with a roster bereft of talent, even if it didn't manifest itself in victories; Jaguars go into the offseason upbeat about where they're headed, for a change

32. Texans (2-14)

It's a long fall from Super Bowl contender to the league's worst team, at least in terms of won-loss record; however, the ride back up is made easier by having the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft in May, along with the likes of Arian Foster, J.J. Watt, Brian Cushing and Andre Johnson.

Follow Steve Corkran on Twitter at twitter.com/CorkOnTheNFL.