- Controversy engulfed both the Jets and Chiefs, as both teams were stripped of second round draft picks for illegally videotaping opponents “in the first month of the 2012 NFL season.” While not known for sure, most observers believed the team that blew the whistle were the Bills, who played the Jets and the Chiefs in the first two weeks. While Chiefs owner Clark Hunt was furious, firing both Scott Pioli and Josh McDaniels, Jets owner Woody Johnson not only stood behind Bill Belichick, but also brought both Pioli and McDaniels back to New York. Desiring a clean start, Hunt hired Packers director of football operations John Dorsey, who then in turn hired Eagles quarterbacks coach Doug Pederson.
- A rock-bottom hitting season in 2012 spelled the end of Jaguars GM Gene Smith, and with him went head coach Mike Mularkey after just one season. Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley would replace Mularkey.
- The Mike Holmgren GM experiment also didn’t go over well, as he and Pat Shurmur were swept out, with Ray Farmer and Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski replacing them.
- AJ Smith and Cam Cameron would be fired in San Diego, with the Chargers replacing them with Tom Telesco and former Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt.
- The Bears also finally gave up on their GM/HC pair in Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith, and they were replaced with Ryan Pace and Marc Trestman.
For the first time since 1996, there were no quarterbacks taken in the first round, which led to one of the most unusual and lowest rated drafts in recent memory. With little suspense, any interest centered around several players that went higher than expected (the biggest shocks being DJ Hayden to the Raiders at #10, Kawann Short to the Panthers at #19, Larry Warford to the Eagles at #22, Travis Frederick to the Cowboys at #28, and Jamie Collins to the Jets at #29) and other players that stumbled down the charts (Dee Milliner fell all the way to the Ravens at #25 despite being considered before as a top ten pick).
- Patriots 30, Texans 14
- 49ers 37, Eagles 27
- Packers 24, Rams 3
- Steelers 42, Bengals 35
Although they took a step back in record, the Texans still won a weak AFC South and Andy Dalton had a strong season with the help of rookie sensation DeAndre Hopkins—but they were still nowhere on the same level as Aaron Rodgers and the Patriots. Tom Brady and Alex Smith both had high passing numbers, but the former didn’t turn the ball over while the latter did multiple times leading to a 49ers win at Philadelphia. Jay Cutler was even worse with the turnovers in an embarrassing loss for the Rams at Green Bay. But the real fireworks came in the final game, with Antonio Brown and AJ Green both catching multiple touchdowns in a shootout between Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Palmer that ended with the Steelers having the ball and scoring last.
- 49ers 23, Panthers 10
- Jets 45, Patriots 23
- Steelers 34, Broncos 24
- Seahawks 27, Packers 16
One of Peyton Manning’s most statistically successful seasons continued its march as the Jets humiliated their hated rival. But Ben Roethlisberger was making his own case for an outstanding season, as he was able to crack a Broncos defense that suffered a decline from last season’s dominating performance in the defensive backfield with the retirements of Champ Bailey and Ed Reed. And this time Russell Wilson got the best over Andrew Luck in the playoffs as the headlines wrote, but once again it was the defenses that set the tone in this game.
- Steelers 28, Jets 24
- Seahawks 23, 49ers 17
Yet another bitter defeat by Peyton Manning in the postseason marked 14 seasons since he and the Jets had won a Super Bowl, leading many to believe if any more were going to come despite another outstanding season at his age. Others argued that Manning was simply outplayed by a Steelers offense that was coming into its own as one of the most powerful in the league. Meanwhile, the intense 49ers/Seahawks rivalry wrote another classic chapter, defined by an inability for Tom Brady and the passing game to make plays in the second half when they needed them after the Seahawks defense focused on stopping Frank Gore.
Super Bowl XLVIII
- Seahawks 23, Steelers 11
Controversy surrounded this win by the Seahawks, as multiple Steelers receivers complained in postgame comments that the Seahawks got away with a lot of physical play in the defensive backfield that should have been called for holding or illegal contact. Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman brushed off those accusations as he accepted the Super Bowl MVP award for a key pick six off Ben Roethlisberger.