Predicting Each NFL Team's Stat Leaders on Offense in 2013
They say you can make the numbers do anything you want them to do.
So we’ll take advantage of their generosity and take a crack at making predictions on how each team will do in terms of their key skill performers and what their numbers could look like by season’s end in 2013.
Call us Stat-trodamus
Just a few ground rules. For clarity sakes, touchdowns mean total touchdowns scored by the player (rushing, receiving and returns). For instance, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice runs for a dozen touchdowns and catches three passes for scores, that’s 15 touchdowns. If Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson throws 30 touchdown passes and runs for eight scores that would be eight touchdowns for Wilson.
By the way, while we’re forecasting what the team’s 32 quarterbacks will do in terms of passing yards and scores through the air, we won’t be so bold as to predict numbers of interceptions and fumbles and how many times each would be sacked.
So sit back, take some notes and thank us for giving you a heads up on what kind of final stats you could be looking at this upcoming season...
Passing yards, touchdown passes: Carson Palmer (3,484 yards, 20 TD)
Rushing yards: Rashard Mendenhall (812)
Receptions: Larry Fitzgerald (80)
Receiving yards: Larry Fitzgerald (1,289)
Touchdowns: Larry Fitzgerald (11)
When you consider that Carson Palmer threw for 4,018 yards with the Oakland Raiders last season and that the Arizona Cardinals four quarterbacks last season combined for 3,383 yards in 2012 and it appears that head coach Bruce Arians and company have upgraded the position.
Hence, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald should bounce back after a season in which he totaled just 71 catches for 798 and four scores. And now more than a year removed from his knee injury, Rashard Mendenhall should bring something to the Arizona ground game.
But a lot depends on how much progress the Cardinals offensive line makes this off-season.
Passing yards, touchdown passes: Matt Ryan (4,523 yards, 35 TD)
Rushing yards: Steven Jackson (1,012)
Receptions: Roddy White (93)
Receiving yards: Julio Jones (1,475)
Touchdowns: Tony Gonzalez (14)
The one thing you can count on with Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is that he’ll throw more touchdown passes than he did the previous season. Look for the Pro Bowl signal-caller to set yet another career high via 35 scores through the air.
While both Roddy White and Julio Jones should hit the 1,000-yard mark once again, ageless tight end Tony Gonzalez will reap the benefits from the duo’s downfield exploits and lead the team in touchdowns.
The Falcons ground game disappointed a year ago but at the very least, look for new running back Steven Jackson (St. Louis Rams) to make it nine straight seasons of 1,000 or more yards rushing.
Passing yards, touchdown passes: Joe Flacco (3,498 yards, 25 TD)
Rushing yards: Ray Rice (1,235)
Receptions: Dennis Pitta (78)
Receiving yards: Torrey Smith (1,301)
Touchdowns: Ray Rice (16)
It’s been well documented that Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco threw 11 touchdown passes without an interception during his team’s successful four-game playoff run this past season.
But what made those numbers surprising is that the Super Bowl XLVII MVP threw for only 22 scores in 16 regular-season games in 2012. Look for those numbers to increase this year.
You can also look for running back Ray Rice to maintain his usual spot as the team’s leading rusher and touchdown producer.
With wideout Anquan Boldin off to San Francisco, speedster Torrey Smith should pace the club in receiving yards while emerging tight end Dennis Pitta becomes Flacco’s favorite target.
Passing yards, touchdown passes: Kevin Kolb (3,095 yards, 17 TD)
Rushing yards: C.J. Spiller (1,144)
Receptions: Stevie Johnson (71)
Receiving yards: Stevie Johnson (1,113)
Touchdowns: C.J. Spiller (9)
The Ryan Fitzpatrick Era has come to an end with the Buffalo Bills and now new head coach Doug Marrone will take his chances with Kevin Kolb, who was sacked 27 times in the six games he played for the Arizona Cardinals last season.
The suddenly well-traveled Kolb figures to have much better overall support in Orchard Park. Last season, running back C.J. Spiller ran for 1,244 yards, 40 more than the entire Cardinals’ team (1,204) in 2012. Look for the former first-rounder to have another solid season with talented Fred Jackson in reserve.
While the Bills could be looking for receiving help in the upcoming draft, veteran Stevie Johnson remains the team’s best big-play option from the wideout position.
Passing yards, touchdown passes: Cam Newton (3,563 yards, 22 TD)
Rushing yards: Jonathan Stewart (834)
Receptions: Greg Olsen (71)
Receiving yards: Steve Smith (1,043)
Touchdowns: Jonathan Stewart and Cam Newton (6)
When the smoke cleared, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton finished 2012 with more touchdown passes (19) than interceptions (12) after a very rough start.
Despite the loss of offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, look for Newton’s third season to be a bit more charmed, especially since he won’t be leading the team in rushing yards this season. The Panthers still feature a fairly dynamic duo in DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart and we’ll take the latter this time around in terms of statistics.
Veteran wide receiver Steve Smith remains one of the best in the game but it was actually tight end Greg Olsen who led the club with five touchdown receptions (Smith and Brandon LaFell with four). While Smith will still get his yards, look for Olsen to top his career-high catch total (69) of 2012.
Passing yards, touchdown passes: Jay Cutler (4,008 yards, 25 TD)
Rushing yards: Matt Forte (1,167)
Receptions: Brandon Marshall (98)
Receiving yards: Brandon Marshall (1,321)
Touchdowns: Brandon Marshall (10)
New Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman is hoping some upgrades on the offensive line will give quarterbacks Jay Cutler something he’s been in search of for the last few seasons…time.
While there’s little doubt free agent pickup and tight end Marcellus Bennett (New York Giants) will see his share of passes his way, the rapport between Cutler and Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall is hard to ignore. Last season, only Detroit Lions wideout Calvin Johnson (122) caught more passes than Marshall (118).
The running game will once again be in the capable hands and cleats of Matt Forte, who also finished second on the team in receptions last season. But you can look for some of those catches to go to Bennett.
Passing yards, touchdown passes: Andy Dalton (3,889 yards, 30 TD)
Rushing yards: BenJarvus Green-Ellis (1,245)
Receptions: A.J. Green (88)
Receiving yards: A.J. Green (1,297)
Touchdowns: A.J. Green (13)
It may surprise some to know that Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (27) actually threw more touchdown passes than any other player in the AFC North last season.
While that may not be worth a lot, it’s a bit surprising considering how the two-year starter began the season in 2012. Dalton threw for 13 scores and just five interceptions in his last eight outings, compared to 14 touchdowns and nearly just as many interceptions (11) during his team’s 3-5 start.
Another big factor late was running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who ran for 100-plus yards in four of his last six games and wound up with 1,094 yards in 16 contests.
A.J. Green has emerged as one of the top receivers in the league in just two seasons. In 2012, he totaled 97 catches for 1,350 yards and 11 scores and you can look for similar numbers in 2013.
Passing yards, touchdown passes: Brandon Weeden (3,373 yards, 16 TD)
Rushing yards: Trent Richardson (1,256)
Receptions: Josh Gordon (69)
Receiving yards: Josh Gordon (1,188)
Touchdowns: Trent Richardson (13)
The additions of head coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner should do wonders for a Cleveland Browns team that has struggled to score points for five straight seasons.
And while quarterback Brandon Weeden will benefit from the coaching tandem, fellow second-year pro Trent Richardson should be ecstatic. Turner’s reputation when it comes to the running game (see Emmitt Smith, Ricky Williams, etc.) is well known. Richardson also finished second on the team last season with 51 receptions.
Speaking of catches, wideout Greg Little has led the club each of the last two years in this department. But look for second-year pro Josh Gordon, who averaged 16.1 yards on 50 receptions last season, to have an excellent year.
Passing yards, touchdown passes: Tony Romo (4,521 yards, 33 TD)
Rushing yards: DeMarco Murray (897)
Receptions: Miles Austin and Jason Witten (73)
Receiving yards: Dez Bryant (1,450)
Touchdowns: Dez Bryant (14)
Now that some will be dissecting Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo’s every pass even more so in 2013, look for the much-maligned but productive signal-caller to put up big numbers once again.
As for Romo’s failures (he was tied for the NFL lead with 19 interceptions last season), that’s a subject for another time.
Talented running back DeMarco Murray has had trouble staying healthy. But even more so, it’s hard to figure out head coach Jason Garrett’s game plan at times.
Veteran tight end Jason Witten had a banner year last season with 110 receptions but he is also entering his 11th season. Combine that with the fact that Romo needs a healthy Miles Austin in the lineup and the pair may have similar numbers in terms of catches.
But talented Dez Bryant really came into his own last season and the feeling here is that things will only get better.
Passing yards, touchdown passes: Peyton Manning (4,267 yards, 33 TD)
Rushing yards: Willis McGahee (921)
Receptions: Eric Decker (101)
Receiving yards: Demaryius Thomas (1,387)
Touchdowns: Demaryius Thomas (12)
Last season, new Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning set a new franchise record for touchdown passes in a season (37).
When the dust settles at the conclusion of 2013, Manning may also own the second-highest single-season total in franchise history.
Although Knowshon Moreno and Ronnie Hillman will get their carries, Willis McGahee remains the main man in the backfield and will up his numbers from 2012.
While Pro Bowl receiver Wes Welker is now in the mix, he could assume a different role with the Broncos than he did with the New England Patriots. Meanwhile, look for Eric Decker, the team leader with 13 touchdowns in 2012, to be even better this upcoming season. And there will be another showing by Pro Bowl wideout Demaryius Thomas.
Passing yards, touchdown passes: Matthew Stafford (4,589 yards, 26 TD)
Rushing yards: Reggie Bush (832)
Receptions: Calvin Johnson (114)
Receiving yards: Calvin Johnson (1,593)
Touchdowns: Reggie Bush (10)
Not that the Detroit Lions have had issues scoring points in recent seasons, but the addition of a versatile threat in the backfield could make Jim Schwartz’s unit a little more consistent.
With running back Reggie Bush now in the mix, the team has a nice 1-2 punch with he and Mikel Leshoure, who ran for 798 yards and nine touchdowns in 2012.
Of course, wide receiver Calvin Johnson is…Calvin Johnson. The All-Pro set a new NFL record for receiving yards (1,964) and tied the league mark for most 100-yard receiving games (11) in a season.But despite a league-high 122 catches, Johnson scored only five touchdowns in 2012.
With the return of a healthy Nate Burleson, both tight ends Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler back at his disposal and the addition of Bush, look for fewer yards and interceptions and more touchdown passes from quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Green Bay Packers
Passing yards, touchdown passes: Aaron Rodgers (4,458 yards, 41 TD)
Rushing yards: DuJuan Harris (635)
Receptions: Randall Cobb (81)
Receiving yards: Randall Cobb (1,190)
Touchdowns: Randall Cobb (12)
When you throw 84 touchdown passes and just 14 interceptions in a two-season span, it’s hard to imagine any kind of dramatic fall-off.
And until the Green Bay Packers find their main man for the ground game, quarterback Aaron Rodgers will continue to put up huge numbers.
There’s a number of players in the mix in terms of the running attack, but we’ll play an early hunch with intriguing DuJuan Harris.
As for the receiving corps, there are few deeper than the Packers. With Randall Cobb, James Jones, Jordy Nelson and tight end Jermichael Finley at Rodgers disposal, it’s all good in “Titletown.”
Passing yards, touchdown passes: Matt Schaub (3,587 yards, 23 TD)
Rushing yards: Arian Foster (1,608)
Receptions: Andre Johnson (93)
Receiving yards: Andre Johnson (1,467)
Touchdowns: Arian Foster (18)
Despite a late-season slump in 2012, quarterback Matt Schaub remains one of the better players in the league at his position. And you can look for the Pro Bowl signal-caller to rebound with a more consistent showing.
Running back Arian Foster remains one of the best offensive players in the game and with the addition of new fullback Greg Jones (Jacksonville Jaguars), the Pro Bowl runner could be in line for a huge 2013.
Wide receiver Andre Johnson comes off a huge year but only four of his 112 receptions resulted in touchdowns. The Texans will likely be looking for more help at the wide receiver help via the draft as wide receiver Kevin Walter was released and tight end/fullback James Casey (the duo combining for 75 catches) signed with the Philadelphia Eagles.
But for now, Johnson is easily the team’s best and one of the league’s top options. Every team should have such problems.
Passing yards, touchdown passes: Andrew Luck (4,509 yards, 28 TD)
Rushing yards: Vick Ballard (1,009)
Receptions: Reggie Wayne (101)
Receiving yards: Reggie Wayne (1,412)
Touchdowns: Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton (9)
Last year’s Indianapolis Colts got a lot of production from its 2012 draft class. And that figures to be the case once again.
Quarterback Andrew Luck threw for a rookie record 4,374 yards and 23 touchdowns plus ran for five scores. But he was also sacked 41 times and committed 23 turnovers. Look for his yards and touchdown passes to go up and the miscues to go down.
Running back Vick Ballard led the team with 814 yards rushing as a rookie and will watch his production increase as well.
While veteran Reggie Wayne was Luck’s favorite target, T.Y. Hilton led the team with eight total touchdowns, seven of those via receptions. This duo could combine for some bigger and better things in 2013.
Passing yards, touchdown passes: Blaine Gabbert (3,032 yards, 18 TD)
Rushing yards: Maurice Jones-Drew (1,128)
Receptions: Justin Blackmon (78)
Receiving yards: Justin Blackmon (1,188)
Touchdowns: Cecil Shorts (9)
The immediate reaction for some is to downgrade quarterback Blaine Gabbert. But before getting hurt last season, the former first-rounder had shown he had made strides from his erratic rookie campaign.
You can look for a bounce back season from running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who still wound up leading the team in rushing yards despite missing the majority of 2012.
Be it Gabbert or Chad Henne, Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts proved to be fairly productive targets last season. Blackmon led the team with 64 catches, while Shorts averaged 17.8 yards per catch on his 55 grabs and scored a team-high seven touchdowns.
Kansas City Chiefs
Passing yards, touchdown passes: Alex Smith (2,945 yards, 21 TD)
Rushing yards: Jamaal Charles (1,345)
Receptions: Dwayne Bowe (78)
Receiving yards: Dwayne Bowe (1,267)
Touchdowns: Dwayne Bowe (11)
New head coach Andy Reid inherits a talented Kansas City Chiefs team that couldn’t get out of its own way last season. Ironically, Reid’s Philadelphia Eagles, along with the Chiefs and New York Jets, tied for the NFL “lead” with 37 turnovers in 2012.
Hence the decision to turn to former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith, who’s been extremely careful with the football in recent seasons. Smith will also have running back Jamaal Charles at his disposal. After missing the final 14 games of the 2011 campaign, the Pro Bowl back totaled 1,509 yards rushing.
Chiefs’ quarterbacks Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn combined for eight touchdown passes last season and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe had three of them, part of his team-high 59 receptions. Look for those numbers to dramatically increase, although some of his potential touchdown could come to new red zone specialist Anthony Fasano, a free agent pickup from the Miami Dolphins.
Passing yards, touchdown passes: Ryan Tannehill (3,372 yards, 22 TD)
Rushing yards: Lamar Miller (929)
Receptions: Brian Hartline (66)
Receiving yards: Mike Wallace (1,332)
Touchdowns: Mike Wallace (12)
The Miami Dolphins could be an interesting team this upcoming season.
With quarterback Ryan Tannehill showing a lot of potential during his rookie campaign, things should only get better.
Thanks to free agency, the team added additions big-play performer Mike Wallace (Pittsburgh Steelers), fellow wideout Brandon Gibson (St. Louis Rams) and pass-catching tight end Dustin Keller (New York Jets) to Tannehill’s arsenal. Add in wideouts Brian Hartline (team-high 74 catches in 2012) and Davone Bess and the Dolphins suddenly have plenty of options.
With running back Reggie Bush off to the Detroit Lions, we could see the two-headed monster of Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas handling the running duties for Joe Philbin’s club.
Passing yards, touchdown passes: Christian Ponder (3,112 yards, 21 TD)
Rushing yards: Adrian Peterson (1,735)
Receptions: Greg Jennings (71)
Receiving yards: Greg Jennings (1,256)
Touchdowns: Adrian Peterson (13)
Much-maligned Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder struggled with consistency last season. But the former first-rounder did come up big in the team’s regular-season finale vs. the Green Bay Packers in 2012, enabling Leslie Frazier’s team to clinch a playoff berth.
Still, Ponder and whoever is playing quarterback will take a statistical back seat to running back Adrian Peterson, who comes off the second-most prolific rushing performance in a season in NFL history. Don’t look for another 2,000-yard season from the league’s reigning MVP but don’t be surprised if he leads the league in rushing once again.
The addition of Greg Jennings offsets the loss of trade wideout Percy Harvin. The former Packers star should make a big impression on Ponder, although Pro Bowl tight end Kyle Rudolph will still get his catches.
New England Patriots
Passing yards, touchdown passes: Tom Brady (4,634 yards, 35 TD)
Rushing yards: Steven Ridley (1,355)
Receptions: Rob Gronkowski (91)
Receiving yards: Aaron Hernandez (1,043)
Touchdowns: Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez (10)
Is there such a thing as an “off season” for New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady?
We’re not talking down time. We’re talking down performance.
The veteran signal-caller threw for 4,827 yards and 34 scores while being picked off just eight times last season. And those numbers figure to be similar this season despite no Wes Welker in the lineup.
That’s because tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez will continue to work their magic in the team’s offense. While you can’t expect new wideout Danny Amendola to put up a c-note in his first season with the Pats (although possible), you can look for Brady to spread the ball around a little more as new receivers Michael Jenkins and Donald Jones enter the picture.
Meanwhile, you can also look for more carries out of running back Stevan Ridley, who rolled up 1,263 yards rushing and a dozen touchdowns a year ago.
New Orleans Saints
Passing yards, touchdown passes: Drew Brees (5,008 yards, 38 TD)
Rushing yards: Pierre Thomas (582)
Receptions: Jimmy Graham (88)
Receiving yards: Marques Colston (1,089)
Touchdowns: Mark Ingram (11)
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is the only player in NFL history to throw for 5,000 or more yards in consecutive seasons. So why not make it three years in a row.
Still, while Brees has thrown 40-plus touchdown passes each of the last two seasons, he’ll fall a bit short of that mark.
While former Heisman winner Mark Ingram led the team in rushing yards last season, look for underrated Pierre Thomas to wrestle that title, per se. But Ingram will get the glory and actually make more trips to the end zone.
Both tight end Jimmy Graham and wide receiver Marques Colston caught at least 80 passes last season and combined for 19 of Brees’ 43 touchdown passes in 2012.
New York Giants
Passing yards, touchdown passes: Eli Manning (3,543 yards, 24 TD)
Rushing yards: David Wilson (1,143)
Receptions: Victor Cruz (77)
Receiving yards: Victor Cruz (1,201)
Touchdowns: Hakeem Nicks (10)
Once again, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning put up big numbers. But while he finished 2012 with 3,948 yards and 26 scores through the air, he threw just 15 touchdown passes (10 interceptions) in his last 10 contests.
Still, don’t look for much of a difference from the two-time Super Bowl champion this upcoming year. And if Manning has both Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks at his disposal all season, you could see even bigger numbers.
While some of Cruz and Nick’s catches will go to new free agent pickup and tight end Brandon Myers (Oakland Raiders), the duo is amongst the most potent in the game.
Finally, second-year pro and former first-rounder David Wilson is the new main man in the backfield and has some big shoes to fill with the release of veteran Ahmad Bradshaw.
New York Jets
Passing yards, touchdown passes: Mark Sanchez (3,089 yards, 19 TD)
Rushing yards: Mike Goodson (756)
Receptions: Santonio Holmes (68)
Receiving yards: Santonio Holmes (973)
Touchdowns: Santonio Holmes (8)
It was tricky trying to figure out just who would lead the New York Jets in passing yards and touchdown tosses in 2013.
But we’ll stick with incumbent Mark Sanchez, who despite back-to-back seasons of 26 turnovers figures to hold off veteran David Garrard (for most of the season) and lead his club in the aforementioned categories.
New running back Mike Goodson may eventually take over for free agent departee Shonn Greene (Tennessee Titans), although third-year pro Bilal Powell (437 yards rushing in 2012) will certainly have a say.
And the return of a healthy Santonio Holmes will do wonders for the passing game. The big-play wideout will also have to make up for the loss to tight end Dustin Keller (Miami Dolphins) to free agency.
Passing yards, touchdown passes: Matt Flynn (3,389 yards, 20 TD)
Rushing yards: Darren McFadden (1,213)
Receptions: Denarius Moore (71)
Receiving yards: Jacoby Ford (1,004)
Touchdowns: Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore (7)
Out with the short-lived Carson Palmer Era and in with new quarterback Matt Flynn, who Oakland Raiders head coach Reggie McKenzie is more than familiar with thanks to the duo’s days in Green Bay.
We’re taking a bit of a risk here but this will be the season than talented running back Darren McFadden stays on the field all season and rolls up career highs in carries, rushing yards and receptions as well.
With 2012 team-leading pass catcher Brandon Myers gone (New York Giants) and former first-round wideout Darrius Heyward released (now with the Indianapolis Colts), Flynn will make good use of wide receivers Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford, the latter who missed all of last season with a Lisfranc injury.
Passing yards, touchdown passes: Michael Vick (2,847 yards, 18 TD)
Rushing yards: LeSean McCoy (1,087)
Receptions: Jeremy Maclin (74)
Receiving yards: DeSean Jackson (939)
Touchdowns: LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson (10)
New head coach Chip Kelly brings his offense to the NFL and he certainly plenty of weapons at his disposal in the City of Brotherly Love.
The big question with quarterback Michael Vick is his penchant for not staying healthy. And as of late, he’s had his problems with hanging onto the football.
You can look for a bounce back season for running back LeSean McCoy, who was injured late last season and also had his issues with fumbling.
Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin figures to lead the team in receptions once again. Of course, the biggest issues with the Eagles in 2013 may not lie on the offensive side of the football.
Passing yards, touchdown passes: Ben Roethlisberger (3,932 yards, 28 TD)
Rushing yards: Jonathan Dwyer (786)
Receptions: Antonio Brown (81)
Receiving yards: Antonio Brown (1,310)
Touchdowns: Antonio Brown (9)
Despite missing time last season, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback threw for 3,265 yards and 26 touchdowns this past season. Look for those numbers to go up even with wideout Mike Wallace off to Miami and tight end Heath Miller’s status uncertain for the start of the season.
Jonathan Dwyer wound up leading the Steelers in rushing last season with 623 yards and look for those numbers to go up as well as offensive coordinator Todd Haley begins his second year in the Steel City.
A healthy Antonio Brown, one of the game's best receivers after the catch, will go a long way to making the Pittsburgh offense a bit explosive once again.
St. Louis Rams
Passing yards, touchdown passes: Sam Bradford (3,519 yards, 23 TD)
Rushing yards: Daryl Richardson (897)
Receptions: Jared Cook (67)
Receiving yards: Chris Givens (879)
Touchdowns: Daryl Richardson (8)
Scoring points has been an issue for the St. Louis Rams in recent seasons. But quarterback Sam Bradford is coming off his best season to date and look for him to be even better in 2013.
With Steven Jackson taking the free agency route to Atlanta, Daryl Richardson should easily surpass his 2012 rookie rushing total (475 yards) and also score his first NFL touchdown.
As for Bradford, the Rams signal-caller will have new tight end Jared Cook (Tennessee Titans) at his disposal. And with Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson gone, the Rams will be looking for much more from young wide receivers Chris Gvens, Brian Quick and Austin Pettis.
San Diego Chargers
Passing yards, touchdown passes: Philip Rivers (3,457 yards, 23 TD)
Rushing yards: Ryan Mathews (949)
Receptions: Antonio Gates (66)
Receiving yards: Danario Alexander (1,008)
Touchdowns: Ryan Mathews (8)
San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has drawn more attention for his number of turnovers the past two seasons rather than some of the good moments he has had. And with new head coach Mike McCoy at the helm, you can look for Rivers passing numbers to stay on track.
You can also look for more production from running back Ryan Mathews, whose numbers this upcoming season should resemble his 2011 performance rather than last year’s lack of production (one touchdown in 12 games).
Veteran tight end Antonio Gates will always be on of Rivers favorite targets while it was hard to ignore the impact wide receiver Danario Alexander had last season.
San Francisco 49ers
Passing yards, touchdown passes: Colin Kaepernick (3,146 yards, 22 TD)
Rushing yards: Frank Gore (1,195)
Receptions: Michael Crabtree (75)
Receiving yards: Michael Crabtree (1,121)
Touchdowns: Vernon Davis (11)
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick enters his third NFL season but his first as the starter from day one. The talented performer should obviously surpass last year’s based on playing time alone. And look for Kaepernick to make a run at 1,000 yards rushing as well.
Michael Crabtree developed quite the rapport with Kaepernick as the season wore on and that can only get better. But tight end Vernon Davis was hot in the postseason and look for him to become a favorite red zone target.
Only three teams in the NFL ran for more yards than the Niners last season. That doesn’t figure to change too much (unless it gets better) thanks to veteran Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James in the backfield.
Passing yards, touchdown passes: Russell Wilson (3,337 yards, 30 TD)
Rushing yards: Marshawn Lynch (1,365)
Receptions: Sidney Rice (77)
Receiving yards: Sidney Rice (1,121)
Touchdowns: Percy Harvin (12)
If you include the Seattle Seahawks two-game playoff run of a year ago, consider that quarterback Russell Wilson threw 21 touchdown passes (four interceptions) and ran for five scores in his last 11 outings. Enough said.
While running back Marshawn Lynch seems to be getting better each year, Pete Carroll’s offense and special teams should benefit from the addition of versatile Percy Harvin. We’ll assume the former Vikings touchdown total in 2013 will include at least one punt or kickoff return for a score.
And you can look for Sidney Rice to rack up the kind of numbers that made him a Pro Bowler with Minnesota in 2009.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Passing yards, touchdown passes: Josh Freeman (4,185 yards, 27 TD)
Rushing yards: Doug Martin (1,486)
Receptions: Doug Martin (83)
Receiving yards: Vincent Jackson (1,345)
Touchdowns: Doug Martin (14)
Scoring points was not a problem for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this past season. And that trend should continue in 2013.
Although quarterback Josh Freeman slumped a bit down the stretch, he still threw for 4,065 yards and 10 more scores (27) than interceptions (17). And 17 of those touchdown passes went to the wide receiver combination of Pro Bowler Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams.
But the player to really keep an eye on is second-year running back Doug Martin, who scored a team-high 12 touchdowns, ran for 1,454 yards and caught 49 passes for 472 yards. Look for the former first-rounder to make a run at the league lead for total yards from scrimmage in 2013.
Passing yards, touchdown passes: Jake Locker (3,045 yards, 19 TD)
Rushing yards: Chris Johnson (1,310)
Receptions: Kendall Wright (68)
Receiving yards: Kenny Britt (1,003)
Touchdowns: Chris Johnson (12)
Staying healthy was a bit of an issue for Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker this past season. But we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt as he begins his second season as a starter.
After a miserable start, running back Chris Johnson had another very productive year. The question this season is how many carries will he lose to free agent pickup Shonn Greene (New York Jets)?
While rookie Kendall Wright led the team in receptions (64), he, Nate Washington, Kenny Britt and free agent defector Jared Cook all caught four touchdown passes. If Britt can stay on the field, he’s capable of some very big things.
Passing yards, touchdown passes: Robert Griffin III (3,093 yards, 24 TD)
Rushing yards: Alfred Morris (1,483)
Receptions: Fred Davis (75)
Receiving yards: Pierre Garcon (983)
Touchdowns: Alfred Morris (11)
Only Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson had more rushing yards last season than Washington Redskins rookie Alfred Morris, who ran for 1,613 yards and 13 scores. But look for the former sixth-round draft choices numbers on the ground to dip a little bit while Morris could look to improve on just 11 catches in 2012.
Everyone is waiting to see how quarterback Robert Griffin III will be feeling in September and don’t be surprised to see his passing yards slightly down and his touchdown connections slightly up.
Finally, tight end Fred Davis saw his 2012 season cut short by injury but he did catch 24 passes in just seven games last season and you can look for those figures to increase if he can remain healthy.