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The 5 Most Pleasant Surprises From the 2013 NFL Season

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5 Pleasant Surprises From the 2013 NFL Season

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

Sports are sometimes like life, in that you never know what you're going to get. It's true in many sports, but especially in the NFL. Compared to other leagues, the NFL seems to have things figured out in the competitive department. Because of its draft system and the nature of player contracts, more teams seem to be competitive year in and year out.

In the NFL, it's not the same five teams or just the big market teams that are good every year. There are no doubt elite teams like the Patriots that seem to stay near the top every single year, but there are always playoff teams from a season ago, that don't make it in back-to-back years.

One big reason why is the massive turnover on NFL teams. Players are cut and new players join teams constantly. If you go back five years and look at any given team's roster, you'll be lucky to find 10 names that you recognize. It's because of the turnover and the 'what have you done for me lately' culture of today's NFL, that the window to win has become incredibly small for many teams. It's just hard to keep a group of guys and a real team together for an extended period of time.

So with the ever-changing landscape in the NFL of course comes many surprises. There are teams and players that emerge from nowhere to become successful, even though they might not have been on the radar a year ago. It's with that in mind that we'll take a look at the five most pleasant surprises of the 2013 season. All of these surprises have been of the positive nature, unlike the Atlanta Falcons who went from 'Super Bowl or bust' to last place in the NFC South:

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Kansas City Chiefs Starting 9-0

Kansas City Chiefs
USA Today Sports

We all thought the Chiefs would be improved this season under Andy Reid, but no one had them going 9-0 to start the season. KC has come back down to Earth over the last three weeks, but they're still one of the most pleasant surprises of 2013.

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New York Jets Being Respectable

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

Many people had Rex Ryan getting fired by the halfway point of 2013. But as we sit here today getting ready for week 14, Ryan still has his Jets in contention for a playoff spot. Considering that this was a team predicted to win two or three games, their current record of 5-7 isn't too shabby.

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Nick Foles' Emergence

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

After it seemed like the Eagles were headed for another disappointing finish this season, Foles burst on the scene with a seven-touchdown performance in week nine. Now, he's been declared the Eagles' starter for the rest of the season as Philadelphia gets prepared to fight hard for a spot in the NFC playoffs.

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Cleveland Browns Being Relevant

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

Who would have thought the Browns would have been competitive in 2013? If it wasn't for an injury to Brian Hoyer, we might still be talking about Cleveland as a potential playoff team. Clearly, they're still a year or two away from being real contenders, but you have to give the Browns credit for the way they've played this season.

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Panthers Winning Eight Straight Games

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

After a 1-3 start, it appeared the Panthers were again headed to the NFC South cellar. But after 13 weeks, they're now in direct competition with the Saints for a top seed in this year's playoffs. Can the Panthers keep their win streak going in week 14? If so, they'll be in first place. Who would have thunk it...