2012 NFL Stat Predictions for 13 Biggest Names in NFL
After 2012 free agency, all kinds of moves have happened, and like every year, the upcoming season is going to be completely different from the last one. Because of all the changes, a lot of the big names in the NFL are going to have bigger years, while some others are going to stumble.
So, here's a list of some of the biggest names in the NFL who enter 2012 in a different situation than previous years, along with an analysis of what their 2012 season will look like and predicted stats.
1. Mario Williams
Mario Williams got an enormous paycheck to move up to Buffalo. On the one hand, he left a team that could have immediately contended for a Super Bowl. On the other, he's back to playing as a 4-3 defensive end.
Williams did fine in a 3-4, but his true place is in the 4-3 defense, which Buffalo runs. He also has Mark Anderson playing across from him, so opposing teams can't just focus on stopping him.
Williams was averaging a sack per game last season before his injury. I expect his injury to nag him a little this season, so he may see a slight drop off from that, but I still think he's going to do very well for the Bills.
He ought to get his total tackles back up as well, since he'll be back to stopping the run when it comes.
Projected 2012 Stats: 12 sacks, 60 total tackles, two forced fumbles
2. Clay Matthews III
With Nick Perry on the other side, Clay Matthews, like Mario Williams, will have some pressure off of him.
Last season, Green Bay's defense was one of the league's worst in pass defense, and you know what the best pass defense is? A good pass rush.
With Perry and Matthews both on the outside, the Packers will be rushing the passer like crazy this season. They'll have to since Charles Woodson isn't getting any younger and Nick Collins' career appears to be over.
Look for Clay Matthews to be doing his sack dance way more often next season as Green Bay tries to re-establish its defense.
Projected 2012 Stats: 10 sacks, 40 total tackles, five defended passes
3. Asante Samuel
Now that he's been traded to the Falcons, Asante Samuel will be looking at a completely different defense. He already made news by picking off two interceptions in practice, and he's always been a ball hawk, so that shouldn't change much.
Samuel's downside is that he takes a lot of risks to create those turnovers. That results in big plays being given up, but that's just the kind of corner Samuel is.
Samuel has led the league in interceptions numerous times, and he may very well do it again next season in the pass heavy NFC South.
Projected 2012 Stats: Six interceptions, 10 passes defended, 30 total tackles
4. Brandon Carr
Brandon Carr just signed a big payday with the Dallas Cowboys, and to make things even better for him, he's going to have Morris Claiborne playing opposite him.
That means quarterbacks won't be able to just ignore him and throw to the other side, which results in pretty numbers for Carr.
Like Samuel, Carr has a nose for the ball, but unlike Samuel, Carr is more balanced, and doesn't take as many risks for the big plays. That's why Samuel was traded for a seventh rounder and Carr was paid $50 million.
Being matched up against guys like Hakeem Nicks, DeSean Jackson and Victor Cruz will make Carr constantly tested, but I think he'll make Rob Ryan pretty happy when all is said and done.
Projected 2012 Stats: Four interceptions, 18 passes defended, 50 total tackles.
5. Chris Johnson
Everyone knows how bad Chris Johnson's 2011 was in comparison to what the Titans have come to expect from him.
Just two years removed from a record breaking season where he rushed for over 2,000 yards, Johnson was on pace to not even break 1,000. He started to look more like himself at the end of the season, but he still had a pretty bad year.
The Titans have added seven time Pro Bowler Steve Hutchinson to the offensive line now, so run blocking should be a little better. Chris Johnson is also showing up to team workouts and from all accounts, is working hard to return to form.
Will he get another 2,000 yard season? Not at all, but he will be much better than in 2011.
Projected 2012 Stats: 12 touchdowns, 1,600 total yards.
6. Adrian Peterson
Will Adrian Peterson start for the Vikings in week one? I very much doubt it.
Peterson has consistently been one of the best running backs in the league, year in and year out. When he does return to the lineup, he'll be out to make his fifth Pro Bowl (before the league gets rid of it).
However, he is going to miss some playing time, which will put the pressure on Christian Ponder to step up and lead the team in his absence. When Peterson returns, teams can go back to stacking the box against him.
Projected 2012 Stats: 10 touchdowns, 900 total yards.
7. Rob Gronkowski
What will Rob Gronkowski do next? Even with his broken foot, he's going to be a force when he plays next season.
However, I don't expect him to be as good as he was last season in 2012, if for no other reason than the fact that defensive coordinators are going to be making entire game plans around him.That will reduce his effectiveness.
Then there's his injury, which will affect his ability to do what he did so well in his record breaking 2011season.
And finally, the Patriots added some receivers in free agency. With Brandon Lloyd in the mix, I wouldn't be shocked to see a lot more receptions going toward receivers instead of Gronk.
Projected 2012 Stats: 70 receptions, 1,000 yards, 10 touchdowns.
8. Andre Johnson
Andre Johnson is one of the best receivers to ever play the game, but he's getting older and he already has an injury.
Like Peterson, he's going to enter the season with a nagging injury and will likely miss some playing time because of it.
To make matters worse, the Texans have a tough schedule chock full of tough defenses. The Jaguars may not be the best team, but their defense is top ten. Then there are the Titans, Patriots, Jets, Packers, Lions and Bears to worry about.
2012 will not be Johnson's best.
Projected 2012 Stats: 40 receptions, 450 yards, six touchdowns.
9. Calvin Johnson
If you're a big believer in the Madden curse then you're not going to agree with my assessment of Calvin Johnson's upcoming season.
For my money, Calvin Johnson is the best receiver in the NFL today. Better than Andre, better than Fitzgerald, and definitely better than Moss (at least now).
The Lions are quickly becoming a force to be dealt with, and if they played in any other division, they'd start to become a playoff staple. With an improved offensive line, the Lions will finally have a run game to keep teams honest.
That's good news for Calvin Johnson, since defenses can't just focus on him.
Projected 2012 Stats: 110 receptions, 1,300 yards, 11 touchdowns.
10. Tim Tebow
The Broncos were the story of the regular season last year, as a result of the Tebowmania craze that swept the nation.
Now, Tim Tebow has been traded to the Jets, where, if you ask me, he'll get the starting job.
I am not a big believer in Tebow, I am just that big a doubter of Mark Sanchez's ability to play consistently. He's proven over and over again that just because he's looking good now doesn't mean he will in two weeks.
However, he'll only be getting the reins at around midseason, so don't expect the numbers to be enormous.
Projected 2012 Stats: 800 passing yards, 400 rushing, 12 touchdowns, 8 interceptions.
11. Cam Newton
Will there be a sophomore slump for one of the greatest rookie quarterbacks of all time? Panthers head coach Ron Rivera doesn't seem to think so.
Still, I don't expect Cam Newton's numbers to match the awe inspiring ones he put up in 2011. What he will do is win more games for his team.
With the Saints in trouble, the Buccaneers under new management and the Falcons stagnant, the NFC South is ripe for the taking, and don't be shocked if Cam Newton and co. are the ones to take it.
I am very excited to see what this kid will do with an entire offseason under his belt.
Projected 2012 Stats: 3,200 passing yards, 800 rushing yards, 25 touchdowns, 15 interceptions.
12. Peyton Manning
For the first time in his career, Peyton Manning will be playing for a team that isn't the Colts. He's also coming off of a year where he didn't take a single snap, so it's hard to say how he's going to do.
Personally, I think he's going to come out without showing any rust. Manning is a pro's pro. He knows every aspect of the game, and he has engineered more fourth quarter comebacks then I care to count.
In a weak division, Manning will excel, but I do think he'll keep throwing more interceptions than he used to, and the Broncos defense will probably allow him to do more with less.
Projected 2012 Stats: 3,900 yards, 30 touchdowns, 20 interceptions
13. Andrew Luck
So after being perhaps the most hyped quarterback prospect in over a decade, what will Andrew Luck's rookie season look like? He is the guy that unseated Peyton Manning, after all.
On the one hand, Andrew Luck is the best quarterback prospect in over a decade, and lesser prospects like Sam Bradford and Andy Dalton have come in and had great rookie outings. On the other hand, the Colts are a horrible team.
Then there's the fact that Andrew Luck is going to be playing against three of the better defenses in the NFL twice a season.
With few weapons around him, I think Andrew Luck is going to struggle a bit more than people expect in his rookie year. Peyton Manning did too, so don't make too much of it.
Projected 2012 Stats: 2,800 passing yards, 300 rushing yards, 20 touchdowns, 14 interceptions.