After a very exciting NFL season that saw the Giants take home the Lombardi Trophy, fans are licking their chops at the prospect of having another amazing story in the year of 2012.
We're off to a good start
With the NFL draft just two months away, we've already seen the amazing running ability of quarterback Robert Griffin III
. After RG3's time at the combine teams are looking to trade up in order to get the Heisman Trophy winner.NFC West is a one team race
For those of you looking to pick the divisional winners, this is a slam dunk as the San Fransisco 49ers defense can shutdown anyone in the NFL at any given time. Although Eli Manning is a better quarterback than Alex Smith, the 49ers held Eli and the Giants offense in check in the latter stages of the NFC Conference Championship Game.
Alex Smith is a late bloomer. At one point people thought that he was a complete bust
but he has turned out to be a respectable NFL quarterback as his 3144 yards with 17 TD and 5 INT of last years show. Players to watch:Frank Gore:
This running back was the anchor for a 49'ers team that was 8th in the league in rushing offense. Gore was consistent all season and had 1211 yards rushing and 8 TD's. During one stretch of last season, Gore ran for 5 consecutive 100 yard games. This is a punishing runner that can take some of the pressure off Alex Smith and the 49'ers passing offense.Michael Crabtree:
Crabtree is still a young player that has a lot to work on. He was non-existent in the post season but led the 49'ers in receiving with 874 yards and 4 TD.Vernon Davis:
Davis is the heart of the San Fransisco offense from his high forehead to his dragging pants that show his crack. Davis is emerging as one of the best tight ends in the league. Vernon Davis came up huge at the time where it counted most; in the post season. In the two post season games that he played, Vernon Davis caught 10 passes for 292 yards and 4 TD's. Look for a big season out of this very emotional player.Ted Ginn Jr.:
A very underrated player in special teams as he set's up the San Fransisco offense in good field position most of the time and is always a threat to break one.San Fransisco defense
This is a defense that only gave up 229 points all season. When push came to shove, the Super Bowl Champions couldn't move the ball on them. This is the strength of the team.St. Louis Rams
Emotions have gotten the best out of me and I want to talk about the worst team now. The St. Louis Rams aren't going to win the division, that's a guarantee but what they do possess is the precious second overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
We know where Andrew Luck's going but as I predicted in my NFL Draft article
, the Rams will be looking to trade this pick away and move down a bit. They can get a lot for this pick as Robert Griffin III is a hot commodity.2011 was inury plagued
The Rams aren't as bad as their 2-14 record tells you as many key players such as Sam Bradford, Brandon Lloyd, Danario Alexander, and Danny Amendola were injured. There first touchdown of the season was a basic "lead in" to the rest of the season. Running back Stephen Jackson runs the ball for a 40 yard TD against the Philadelphia Eagles and is injured on the play.
There's no reason for the Rams to pick in this spot as Sam Bradford passed 3512 yards with 18 TD and 15 INT in his rookie season. By trading the pick, the Rams can surround themselves with major talent.Players to watchSam Bradford:
If this guy is healthy and his targets are healthy (with some possible added talented from the draft), this guy can throw the ball well.Stephen Jackson:
At 6 foot 2, 240 pounds, the guy is a beast that produces for the Rams on a consistent basis. He's had 7 consecutive seasons of over 1000 yards and can catch out of the backfield. What more is there to say?
A rookie receiver: The Rams are very deep at the receiving position without a definitive star. Last season, luck wasn't on their side with all of the injuries. Look for St.Louis to make it a priority to pick up a big name receiver in the draft.James Laurinaitis:
I can't believe how many teams passed up on this stud in the draft when he came out of Ohio State. I've always been intrigued due to the fact that he's the son of a professional wrestler. Never mind that, Laurinatis is one of the best defensive players in the league as his 142 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 INT, and 7 pass defenses can attest to. This is a bigtime player in a small market.Arizona Cardinals
The Kevin Kolb experiment didn't quite turn out the way the Cardinals had planned at 8-8. It's been rumored that although Kolb has potential, the Cardinals are shopping around for a new QB. (Peyton Manning perhaps?)Throw me the damn ball!
Sorry Keyshawn, not to take the words out of your mouth when you were with the Jets but wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has the most natural talent in the NFL and although he caught 80 passes for 1411 yards and 8 TD's, I still think that the Cardinals are underutilizing him. Fitzgerald either need's to ask for a trade or a legitimate quarterback.Bright Spots
Running back Beanie Wells was a popular fantasy league player because he had no reputation and was underpriced but still put up good numbers. The Cardinals can definitely manage with Beanie at back as long as he stay's away from the fumbles and injuries.
In 14 games, Wells ran for 1047 yards and 10 TD. Look for another solid season from Wells, especially if the problems persist at QB for Arizona.Early Doucet:
I already mentioned Larry Fitgerald and receiver Early Doucet is a reliable role player. He caught for 689 yards and 5 TD's last season.
Arizona really need's to make the most of their draft picks and look towards free agency to make them a winning team or you could expect more 7-9 and 8-8 seasons.Seattle Seahawks
This is a team that I'm just not high on. When you're complacent with having Tavaris Jackson as your starting quarterback, you have a problem.
The Seahawks are always in the middle of the pack like they were in 2011 with a 7-9 record and it hurt's them in the drafting order.Marshawn Lynch:
Lynch is the entire running game. This is a very young talented football player that can come up with the big play. Last season, Lynch ran for 1204 yards and 12 TD. The one knock to his game is that he's not a Stephen Jackson type back that can catch out of the backfield but nonetheless, the Seahawks have a major asset in this former Buffalo Bill.Can Sidney Rice stay healthy?
Except for one season in his NFL career, Rice hasn't managed to be able to accomplish this goal. Rice is rehabbing both shoulders in the offseason. What does this mean? Don't count on 1312 yard receiver from this former Viking. Seattle will have to look elsewhere in the forms of Doug Baldwin (788 yards, 4 TD), Ben Obomanu (436 yards, 2 TD), and Golden Tate (382 yards, 3 TD).
Cornerback Brandon Browner and undersized linebacker David Hawthorne had great seasons on the defensive side of the ball but except for a few players, this team need's a complete overhaul and a good draft.What to expect?
Expect complete domination by the San Fransisco 49'ers if Alex Smith can avoid the mistakes. Other than that, St. Louis will be a team to keep your eye on (for total amount of wins props) as players become healthy and they become a better team from the draft.
San Fransisco is at 14/1 in the NFL odds
to win the Super Bowl. I don't know if they're ready for that just yet.