NFL Nation: 2013 NFL All-Division Team

All-AFC West: Oakland Raiders

January, 2, 2014
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NFC Teams: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


Tracy Porter and Lamarr Houston are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents. The Oakland Raiders would be wise to re-sign both as the cornerback and defensive end were named to our all-AFC West first-team defense in a vote by the four ESPN.com NFL Nation reporters who cover the division.

That the Raiders were the lone team in the division to not qualify for the playoffs should speak volumes for Porter, who also slid into the slot on nickel defense and whose 67 tackles ranked third among AFC corners, and Houston, whose 69 tackles led the division’s defensive ends.

Still, Houston, who had a team-high six sacks after moving to the right side after playing the first three years of his career on the left, raised many eyebrows following the Raiders’ 34-14 season-ending loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday when he said he did not expect to return to Oakland.

“I believe that Dennis Allen and the Raiders might be looking to move on and have me go to another team and find something more what they want for their system and their scheme,” Houston said. “Who knows? It’s a rough business, and nothing’s guaranteed, and everything changes from day to day.”

Later that night, though, Houston took to Twitter to blame the Fourth Estate for taking him out of context.

“I would love to b back in Oakland if they will take me,” Houston tweeted. “best fans in the league…u listen to the media u a fool.”

So there.

“I did see that quote, and that’s not the case,” Allen said of his purported desire to move on from Houston. “Obviously, I sat down with Lamarr today and had a nice discussion with him. We’d love to have him back. We think he fits our system and what we’re trying to do and we think he’s a guy that we can build with.”

There has been no such drama with Porter, who had two interceptions, including a pick-six of the New York Giants’ Eli Manning, becoming the only player in league history to return an interception for a touchdown against both Manning brothers.

Porter said during the regular season he was not necessarily thinking about next year ... yet.

“I’m not saying I don’t want to come back,” Porter said in mid-December, “I would. Otherwise I wouldn’t have come here from the start.”

A case could be made that two other Raiders players should have been named all-AFC West in fullback Marcel Reece and punter Marquette King.

Despite being underutilized in Oakland’s offense, Reece was named to his second consecutive Pro Bowl. He also started at tailback at the New York Jets when Rashad Jennings and Darren McFadden were injured. He rushed for a career-high 123 yards, including a career-long 63-yard touchdown run. On the year, he averaged 4.6 yards per rush and scored two TDs while also catching 32 passes for 331 yards and two scores.

So how was Reece snubbed? The voting system asked us to vote for three receivers and no fullbacks -- and with the season turned in by Jamaal Charles, there you have it. I’m sure Reece will be fine, though, lounging in the Honolulu sun for the NFL’s reimagined all-star game.

King, meanwhile, led the NFL in gross average (48.9 yards) in his first year replacing Shane Lechler and had an AFC West-long punt of 66 yards this season.

Then there was middle linebacker Nick Roach, who led the NFL’s MLBs in sacks (5.5) and forced fumbles (4).

All-NFC North: Minnesota Vikings

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NFC Teams: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

 The Vikings had five players named to the All-NFC North team, which was the second fewest in the division. Of those, only running back Adrian Peterson is headed to the Pro Bowl (though kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson probably would have earned a spot if the NFL hadn't curtailed kickoffs from the game).

Other than Patterson -- who is a rookie -- and Brian Robison, it's tough to say that any of the selections played better in 2013 than they did in 2012. Offensive tackles Matt Kalil and Phil Loadholt round out the Vikings' representation.

Even if several players got spots because they were the best options in a mediocre division, the Vikings' group of all-division players did provide highlights. Patterson was the best kick returner in the NFL, leading the league with a 32.4-yard return average and becoming the only player in the league to return two kicks for touchdowns. Peterson finished fifth in the NFL with 1,266 rushing yards, despite carrying only 18 times in the final four games and missing two with groin and foot injuries. And Robison had the best year of his career, finishing with nine sacks and ending the year second in the NFL with 81 total pressures, according to Pro Football Focus.

It's tough to find too many snubs on the Vikings roster. The biggest one might be punt returner Marcus Sherels, who surged at the end of the season and finished third in the NFL with a 15.2-yard return average. Sherels, though, was up against a strong field; every punt returner in the NFC North had a touchdown this season.

 

All-AFC North: Cincinnati Bengals

January, 2, 2014
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NFC Teams: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A trio of defensive stars, two Pro Bowl offensive players and an injured specialist comprised the Cincinnati Bengals' six selections to the ESPN.com All-AFC North team that was released Thursday. The four reporters who cover the teams in the division made the picks.

Linebacker Vontaze Burfict, the NFL's leading regular-season tackler, was joined by defensive ends Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson on the defensive side of the all-division team. They were all part of a unit that finished the year ranked third in total defense, and one that was second in the league in limiting third-down conversions. Last Friday, Burfict was named to his first Pro Bowl as an inside linebacker. The second-year player, who was originally signed as an undrafted rookie, finished the regular season with 171 tackles, a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and an interception. Dunlap recorded a career-high 58 tackles and had 7.5 sacks. Johnson, who could be heading toward free agency in the coming weeks, had a career-high 56 tackles and led the league with eight batted balls at the line of scrimmage.

Cincinnati's offensive selections were led by receiver A.J. Green. He was selected to the team after catching a career-high 98 passes for another career-high 1,426 yards. He finished just 15 yards shy of a franchise record. He was joined on the all-division team by offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth, who made it as a left tackle. Across the last five games, Whitworth shuffled between left tackle and left guard as injuries depleted the Bengals' offensive line. Particularly, it was left guard Clint Boling's ACL injury against the Chargers in Week 13 that caused the shifting to occur.

Another injured Bengal was included on the All-AFC North team. Punter Kevin Huber, who had an average net of 40.5 yards before a season-ending jaw injury in Week 15, made it as the division's top punter. He had punts of 75 and 70 yards this season ahead of the blindside hit against the Steelers that broke his jaw. The NFL later said a flag should have been thrown for the hit, but since one wasn't, Huber and his coverage team allowed their only punt return touchdown of the season.

Despite winning the AFC North, the Bengals were outpaced on the all-division team by the Browns and Ravens. Both teams had seven players selected. Like the Bengals, the Steelers also had six. One of Pittsburgh's selections, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, made it when the Bengals' Andy Dalton didn't. Dalton had more wins, yards, touchdowns and a higher QBR than any other quarterback in the division. He also finished the season setting a pair of Bengals records. In addition to Dalton, a case for inclusion could have been made for rookie running back Giovani Bernard, receiver Marvin Jones, defensive tackle Domata Peko and cornerback Adam Jones.

All-AFC South: Houston Texans

January, 2, 2014
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NFC Teams: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

The odd thing about the Houston Texans' nine Pro Bowl selections last season was how under-represented the defense was. Seven of the nine Texans who went to Hawaii last season were offensive players, including quarterback Matt Schaub, who told me upon arrival that he was confident he could lead the Texans to the Super Bowl.

This year's All-AFC South team -- voted on by Jaguars reporter Mike DiRocco, Titans reporter Paul Kuharsky, Colts reporter Mike Wells and I -- has a similar tilt. Five Texans offensive players are represented -- receiver Andre Johnson, guard Wade Smith, center Chris Myers, left tackle Duane Brown and running back Ben Tate. Meanwhile, defensively only ends J.J. Watt and Antonio Smith made the cut. Texans punter Shane Lechler kept the special teams portion from being an all-Jaguars affair.

My biggest disagreement with my colleagues is on the inside linebacker. I think Brian Cushing is the best inside linebacker in the division, even though he suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 7. Until he got hurt, Pro Football Focus consistently ranked him as one of the best run-stoppers in the NFL.

All-NFC North: Detroit Lions

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NFC Teams: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Despite their collapse in the second half of the season, the Lions were well-represented on the ESPN.com All-NFC North team, placing four players on the offense and six on its defense.

This, though, might speak to the overall rough nature of the NFC North, where injuries took a lot of stars on other teams away. Every player I felt that should have made it for the Lions did, other than maybe punter Sam Martin.

But even for some of those who did make it from the Lions, it was more a case of limited pickings in the division than anything else. That has to be why Matthew Stafford was named as the division’s quarterback -- due to injuries to Jay Cutler and Aaron Rodgers, along with the dysfunction at quarterback in Minnesota.

The other surprise to make it was Louis Delmas, but there was a lack of safeties in the division and Delmas was the only player other than Glover Quin to receive a vote, so he made the team.

Otherwise, status quo for the Lions, who expectedly had Calvin Johnson, Dominic Raiola and Larry Warford join Stafford on the offense. And they had Ndamukong Suh, DeAndre Levy, Stephen Tulloch and Willie Young join Quin and Delmas on the defense.

All-NFC East: New York Giants

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NFC Teams: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

 
There are four New York Giants on this year's All-NFC East team, and it's no surprise that all four of them play defense. The Giants finished the year ranked eighth in the league in total defense and 28th in total offense. There was no offensive player on their team worthy of any consideration other than wide receiver Victor Cruz, and there's no way to argue that he should have cracked the division's top three ahead of DeSean Jackson, Dez Bryant or Pierre Garcon.

So the defensive players who made it were defensive end Justin Tuck, defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins and safeties Will Hill and Antrel Rolle. Unlike past years, when I ran the NFC East blog and picked the team myself, this year's team was voted on by the four team reporters who cover the NFC East's teams -- myself, Todd Archer in Dallas, Phil Sheridan in Philadelphia and John Keim in Washington.

I approve of the choice of Tuck, who had a fine year and finished with 11 sacks thanks to the six he got in December against the Redskins. And I voted for Hill and Rolle as the division's starting safeties. Rolle gets (and attracts) the attention and played well, but I think Hill was the better player this year once he was back from his season-opening four-game suspension. The two of them function very well together in the Giants' system at safety, and that was a concern after they let go of Kenny Phillips -- finding a partner who could switch off with Rolle during the games and depending on the situations. Hill has done it and done it well.

The Giants were very strong at defensive tackle this year, and Jenkins is a worthy pick. I think Linval Joseph is the better and more impactful all-around player at the position, but Jenkins played well all year against the run and helped with the pass rush. He should be back next year, and you can't say the same with certainty for Joseph as he hits the free-agent market. I can't make a case for anyone else on the Giants to have made this team except maybe Joseph.

All-AFC South: Tennessee Titans

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans account for seven of 23 spots on offense and defense in ESPN.com’s All-AFC South Team for 2013.

The team was pieced together by a vote of the four writers who cover the division. That’s Mike Wells on the Indianapolis Colts, Tania Ganguli on the Houston Texans, Mike DiRocco on the Jacksonville Jaguars and me on the Titans.

Receiver Kendall Wright, running back Chris Johnson and right guard Chance Warmack are on the All-AFC South offense.

Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey, cornerbacks Alterraun Verner and Jason McCourty and strong safety Bernard Pollard are on the 12-man defense; the extra spot helped us meld 4-3 and 3-4 defenses.

I didn’t vote for Warmack, as I thought he was too inconsistent. I would have preferred we left a guard slot, or even both guard slots, blank. Offensive line play in the division was generally poor.

I don’t like having two running backs on the team. No one uses enough fullback to warrant one here, but that doesn't mean we should have a second tailback. I pushed for three wide receivers instead, but was overruled by the editor overseeing the project and putting together the balloting.

Receiver T.Y. Hilton of the Colts is a huge omission here, and he’d be on my team ahead of Ben Tate or Johnson. If not three-wide we should have gone two-tight. But even with one tight end, I voted Delanie Walker ahead of Coby Fleener.

All-AFC East: Buffalo Bills

January, 2, 2014
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It was all about defense this season for the Buffalo Bills.

The arrival of defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and his pressure-based scheme turned around a defense that had ranked 22nd in the NFL last season, allowing 5.57 yards per play. Pettine's group this season jumped up the charts to No. 6, allowing 4.9 yards per play. It was no surprise then that the Bills sent three defensive players to the Pro Bowl: defensive end Mario Williams, defensive tackle Kyle Williams and safety Jairus Byrd.

It's also no surprise that those three players were among the four who were voted to the All-AFC East team by ESPN.com's NFL Nation. The writers for each AFC East team recently nominated and voted for an all-division team, and four Bills made the cut. Linebacker Kiko Alonso joined Mario Williams, Kyle Williams and Byrd as those making the cut for Buffalo. No offensive players were voted into the group.

It's tough to have any Bills honored as All-AFC East on offense, given Buffalo's performance this season. The Bills ranked 29th offensively, averaging 4.85 yards per play. However, there were still standout performers for Buffalo. Running back Fred Jackson leads that group, rushing for 896 yards, while adding 387 yards as a receiver. He had 10 total touchdowns. Making the cut in place of Jackson was New York Jets running back Chris Ivory, who ran for 833 yards. I think Jackson was more deserving.

Defensively, it was a tough break for Marcell Dareus, who had a strong season. He set a career high with 7.5 sacks but was edged out by two stronger candidates: Williams and Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, who is a candidate for rookie of the year. A case could also be made that cornerback Leodis McKelvin was deserving of all-division honors, but it was tough to top New England Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib and the Miami Dolphins' Brent Grimes, who both had four interceptions.

All-AFC North: Cleveland Browns

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The new coach of the Cleveland Browns will have three of the five best offensive linemen in the AFC North.

This may come as a surprise to those who watched the Browns all season, but three linemen were elected to the ESPN.com All-AFC North team (the vote was taken by the four division writers): left tackle Joe Thomas, center Alex Mack and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz.

Thomas has been a perennial Pro Bowler, but Mack’s press has improved as the season has wound down. He was elected to the Pro Bowl, and now has been named the best center in the division.

Schwartz’s selection is a bit of a surprise given his slow start, but the other right tackles in the division are not dominant players.

The Browns put five players on the offense, two on the defense. Wide receiver Josh Gordon, Mack, tight end Jordan Cameron, defensive tackle Phil Taylor and cornerback Joe Haden were unanimous picks.

Interestingly, the Browns put five players in the Pro Bowl but only seven on the all-division team.

Which would seem to indicate the Browns have a few talented players, but hardly a plethora.

All-NFC East: Washington Redskins

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NFC Teams: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


The Washington Redskins won only three games, so it’s no surprise that they landed only three players on the All-NFC East team, two of whom might not be with the team next season.

Washington saw the fewest number of players named to the team, which is exactly as it should be. The Philadelphia Eagles led the way with 11 members followed by the Dallas Cowboys (eight) and New York Giants (four).

Running back Alfred Morris was the only Redskin on the first-team offense, which was deserved. He and receiver Pierre Garcon were the two most consistent offensive players on a bad team. Morris was more targeted by defenses this season, and the passing game was inconsistent. But he still managed to rush for 1,275 yards, averaging 4.6 yards per carry. He was joined on the first team at running back by Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy, the best runner in the division. I did agree with Jason Peters and Tyron Smith being named the top two offensive tackles in the division; with those two and Trent Williams, it’s an excellent division for tackles. Garcon had a terrific year, but he was not more dangerous than the two who made it ahead of him.

The Redskins’ defense had a bad season, but they still managed to land two defensive players -- both pending free agents -- on the team: linebacker Brian Orakpo and corner DeAngelo Hall. I have no problems with either player being on the list; corner play in the division was inconsistent and Hall had a solid season. At outside linebacker the choices weren’t great, either. But Orakpo’s finish certainly helped.

NFC Teams: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

 
SAN DIEGO -- The Chargers finished with four players on this year’s All-AFC West team, voted on by ESPN reporters who cover teams in the AFC West.

On offense, center Nick Hardwick and rookie receiver Keenan Allen made the cut. Hardwick has been the anchor of a surprisingly productive offensive line for the Chargers. The 10-year veteran did not miss a game this season. Allen broke a franchise record for receiving yards, finishing with 71 receptions for 1,046 yards and tied for the team lead in touchdown receptions with eight.

Quarterback Philip Rivers deserved to be on the first team, but he plays in a division that includes Peyton Manning, who had perhaps the best season statistically by a signal-caller in the history of the NFL, so it’s understandable why he was left off.

Antonio Gates is another matter. Yes, Julius Thomas put up some big numbers, but he’s more of a glorified slot receiver than a true tight end. Gates had a nice bounce-back season, leading the team with 77 receptions. Gates also totaled 872 yards and four touchdowns. His ability to command double-teams on a consistent basis opened things up for other players on San Diego’s offense.

Eric Weddle led San Diego’s defense with 115 tackles, and deservedly earned a spot on the team as a free safety. Defensive end Corey Liuget could have been a consideration for the defensive line, but his production in terms of sacks tailed off the second half of the season.

Nick Novak was a nice surprise as the first-team kicker. Novak finished with a team record for field goal percentage, making 34 of 37 (91.9 percent). Novak also had five tackles on special teams. Denver’s Matt Prater made a league-record 64-yard field goal and was voted to the Pro Bowl, but was not as consistent away from the thin air of Denver.
 

All-NFC West: Seattle Seahawks

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Six of the eight Seahawks who made the Pro Bowl also made the All-NFC West team, as you would expect, along with two other Seattle players.

Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner and kicker Steve Hauschka, who were not Pro Bowl selections, made the all-division team, which was voted on by the four team reporters for ESPN.com.

The six Pro Bowlers on the All-NFC West team are quarterback Russell Wilson, running back Marshawn Lynch, center Max Unger and three members of the Legion on Boom -- cornerback Richard Sherman, free safety Earl Thomas and strong safety Kam Chancellor.

Sherman and Thomas, two players who will be in the running for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors, were easy choices. Chancellor, one of the game's biggest hitters, made it after what coach Pete Carroll said was his best season.

Sherman led the NFL this season with eight interceptions. He also has the most interceptions (20) and the most passes defensed (60) over the past three seasons.

Thomas had five interceptions this season and is the emotional leader of the Seattle defense. He led the team in solo tackles with 75.

Wilson certainly was no surprise with the season he has had in leading the Seattle offense. Wilson has more victories than any second-year quarterback in NFL history with 25. He also is one of only three quarterbacks in league history to throw for more than 50 touchdown passes in his first two seasons, joining Dan Marino and Peyton Manning. Wilson has 52.

Lynch rushed for more than 1,000 yards for the third consecutive season and the fifth time in his career. His 1,257 yards rushing in the second-best total of his career to last season’s 1,590 yards. Lynch has the most TDs in the NFL since 2011 with 39, including 35 rushing and four receiving. He has a career-best 14 TDs this season.

Also making the All-NFC West team on offense was Unger, who was voted to the Pro Bowl for the second consecutive year. Russell Okung, considered Seattle best offensive lineman and one of the best left tackles in the game, didn’t make the all-division team because he missed eight games with a toe injury.

Okung is a Pro Bowl alternate, as is Hauschka and receiver Golden Tate (as a punt returner).

Hauschka has made 33 of 35 field goal attempts, but one miss was a blocked kick at Indianapolis. He is 14-of-15 from 40 yards and beyond.

Wagner earned his spot with an outstanding second half of the season. He got off to a bit of a slow start this season and missed two games with a high-ankle sprain, but has played the best football of his career over the last seven games.

Wagner leads the team with 119 tackles, but also has five sacks and two interceptions. He had 12 tackles in the 27-9 victory over St. Louis Sunday and was a big reason the Rams rushed for only 13 yards.

No one made it from the Seattle defensive line, but part of the reason could be that no man plays more than 70 percent of the snaps. The Seahawks have a seven-man rotation up front, but Michael Bennett has 8.5 sacks and Cliff Avril has eight sacks.

All-AFC North: Pittsburgh Steelers

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NFC Teams: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

 
The Steelers placed six players on ESPN.com’s All-AFC North team, including unanimous selections in wide receiver Antonio Brown and outside linebacker Jason Worilds. First, some background on how the team was selected. All four ESPN NFL Nation reporters who cover the respective teams in the AFC North on a daily basis voted on the squad, and we voted based on players’ specific positions in the case of the offensive line. That is why David DeCastro and Marshal Yanda are not the guards on the team. Both play right guard, and DeCastro got the nod over Yanda even though the latter has been voted to the Pro Bowl.

Wide receiver and inside linebacker were clearly the strength of the division. Brown, A.J. Green and Josh Gordon were all unanimous picks at wide receiver. All three are headed to the Pro Bowl and deservedly so. Lawrence Timmons had a Pro Bowl-caliber season, but he didn’t make the All-AFC North team because of the depth at inside linebacker. I voted for Timmons but can’t quibble with the selections of Daryl Smith and Vontaze Burfict. Each had outstanding seasons. Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham makes the team in most other divisions but had no chance against Justin Tucker. Cameron Heyward stated his case at defensive end with a breakout season. But he didn’t become a starter until the fifth game of the season, and Bengals defensive ends Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap were the picks at the position.

Rookie Le’Veon Bell justified his pick at running back with a strong finish that included 214 of his 860 rushing yards in the Steelers’ final two games. He is one of the main reasons why the Steelers are so excited about their offense heading into the offseason. Ben Roethlisberger was the obvious choice at quarterback. The 10-year veteran played every snap and had one of the best statistical seasons of his career. Roethlisberger is almost a lock to be added to the Pro Bowl squad, assuming a couple of the quarterbacks voted to the team bow out because their team has made the Super Bowl or are nursing an injury.

NFC Teams: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


There can be no complaints from the Baltimore Ravens after placing seven players on the All-AFC North team. This tied the Cleveland Browns for the most representation on the team. Not bad for the defending Super Bowl champions who failed to make the playoffs and finished a disappointing third in the division.

Not surprisingly, five of the Ravens players on the All-AFC North team are on defense. A big reason why the Ravens ranked in the top 10 in defense for most of the year was the contribution from two new veteran starters. Inside linebacker Daryl Smith, who replaced Ray Lewis, filled up the stat sheet with 123 tackles, 5 sacks, 19 passes defensed, 3 interceptions and 2 forced fumbles. Safety James Ihedigbo, a special-teams player for most of his career, stepped up in a starting role to finish second in tackles (101) and interceptions (three).

The Ravens' defense also got a boost from two former draft picks who elevated their games. Art Jones emerged as the Ravens' best defensive lineman, leading that group in tackles (53) and sacks (four). Jimmy Smith made a case for not only being the Ravens' top cornerback but the second best in the division. He held his own this year in matching up with four of the top five receivers in the NFL: Cleveland’s Josh Gordon (first), Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown (second), Detroit's Calvin Johnson (third) and Cincinnati's A.J. Green (fifth). Besides Smith, the only Ravens selection on defense who wasn't a unanimous pick was linebacker Terrell Suggs, who led the division with 10 sacks.

The Ravens' other two players on the All-AFC North team were on special teams. A first-time Pro Bowl player, kicker Justin Tucker made 33 straight field goals this season, the longest streak of the year, and hit three game-winning field goals this season, including a 61-yarder in Detroit. Jacoby Jones was the most dangerous returner in the division, averaging 28.8 yards on kickoffs (fourth in NFL) and 12.5 yards on punts (fifth in the NFL).

The Ravens didn't have any players on the all-division offense, and rightfully so. Baltimore ranked 29th in total yards (307.4), and the rest of the division's offenses finished in the top 20.
NFC Teams: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Just like it played out in the NFC South standings this season, it was a neck-and-neck battle for supremacy between the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers when it came to ESPN.com’s All-NFC South team. Ultimately, the Panthers edged the Saints with 10 representatives, compared to New Orleans’ nine.

I don’t have many arguments with the list. The two Saints I would add are safety Kenny Vaccaro and guard Ben Grubbs, but I understand why it was a close call with both players. I think the safety position was the hardest to judge by far, with four candidates in a virtual deadlock for two spots (Vaccaro, Tampa Bay’s Mark Barron, Carolina’s Mike Mitchell and Atlanta’s William Moore). The outside linebacker position was also ridiculously stacked, with the Saints’ Junior Galette missing out only because Tampa Bay’s Lavonte David and Carolina’s Thomas Davis were so sensational. Galette was easily a top-10 defensive player in the division, but he played the wrong position.

I was glad to see that Saints end Cameron Jordan, cornerback Keenan Lewis and inside linebacker Curtis Lofton received proper recognition for the Saints’ remarkable defensive performance this year -- especially since the defense overall was much more stacked than the offense in the NFC South this year (with a total of 12 players to account for various fronts).

I was pretty stunned at the lack of dominant skill-position players this season. Carolina’s DeAngelo Williams was the division’s leading rusher with just 843 rushing yards. The Saints who made the list on offense -- quarterback Drew Brees, tight end Jimmy Graham, receiver Marques Colston, right tackle Zach Strief and guard Jahri Evans -- were all worthy selections. The same for punter Thomas Morstead.

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