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Top 15 Sports Surprises of 2013

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The Biggest Surprise Teams and Players of 2013

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

It's hard to believe that another year has come and nearly went, but there are only a few days left in 2013. It's been another great year for sports fans around the world, as they're able to get more coverage than ever on their favorite teams via social media and through technology. You could also argue that the home viewing experience is at an all-time high because of HD televisions and the quality of surround sound systems.

As with any year, certain players and teams stood out most. Some of those teams and players we expected to do well and others, not so much. But it's the surprises in sports that keep us coming back. Most people love them a good underdog story with many layers. It just wouldn't be the same if all the teams projected to do well, did so. But as we've seen time and time again, money doesn't necessarily buy championships. It doesn't hurt anything, either.

So to qualify as a surprise, there had to be a different perception of the player or team at one point in time. Some of the examples you'll see on this list will involve teams that were thought to be dead in the water and players that were thought to be no good. A solid surprise will make you go: I didn't see that coming.

So if you can think all the way back to January, we'll take a look at the top surprises in sports all the way up to here in December. Anything can happen in the world of sports, but it doesn't mean that we're always ready for it. Here are 15 surprise teams and players from 2013 that still have us talking:

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3 Rookie Quarterbacks Start Playoff Games

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

Rookie quarterbacks are having more of an impact than ever in the NFL. In the 2013 playoffs we saw Russell Wilson, Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck all start games.

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Spurs Choke Away a Championship

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

Missed free throw, missed rebound, and the next thing we knew, the Spurs had blown their fifth title under Greg Popovich.

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Panthers Winning Eight Straight

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

Ron Rivera was about to get canned when the Panthers decided to go on a tear and win eight straight games. Can they finish what they started and make a run in the postseason?

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Cavs Take Anthony Bennett No. 1 Overall

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

So far in 2013 Bennett is averaging 2.2 PPG. Yeah...

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Cardinals Contending in NFC

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

We thought the Cardinals would be better this year under Arians, but barely anyone had them still in the playoff hunt heading into week 16.

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Houston Texans' Collapse

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

The Texans were projected to fight for the AFC title this season, but they came out and took a crap in Houston. The only good news is that they're now likely to pick first in next May's draft.

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Grizzlies Getting Swept in the WCF

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

It seemed like the Grizzlies were finally ready for the next level, when all of a sudden the Spurs swept them out of the playoffs in the WCF.

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Chiefs Big Turnaround

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

From two wins in all of 2012, to nine straight wins to start 2013. Can the Chiefs finally win their first playoff game since 1993?

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Nick Foles Emergence for the Eagles

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

After Michael Vick went down again this season, Foles finally stepped up and took control of the Eagles' QB situation. To date, he's thrown 23 TD and only 2 INT in eight starts.

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Dodgers Hot Streak

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

Don Mattingly was almost fired until the Dodgers became the hottest team in baseball for a couple months last summer.

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Trent Richardson Trade

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

At the time, the fact that the Browns were willing to trade Richardson was shocking. Now, it's just shocking how bad he's played in Indy.

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Debacle in Washington

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USA Today Sports

RG3 wasn't projected to have a great season following his ACL tear, but few predicted things would get so bad in Washington, that he would be riding the pine for the final three weeks.

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Ending To Iron Bowl

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

Nick Saban's decision to kick a 57-yard field goal without the proper personnel on the field to cover a possible return, will be talked about for many Iron Bowls to come. The Tigers shocked the college football world by taking the missed kick to the house and ending Alabama's chances of a three-peat.

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Boston Red Sox Entire 2013 Season

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

After a terrible season under Bobby Valentine in 2012, no one knew quite what to expect from the Red Sox in 2013. A few beards and clutch wins later, they were World Series champs for the third time in ten years.

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Baltimore Ravens Run to the Super Bowl

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

Ray Lewis came back for his 'last ride' just weeks after suffering torn triceps, but he and Ravens managed to bring home the Lombardi trophy for the second time in team history. Like him or not, it was a storybook ending for the legendary linebacker.