Every season there are surprises. Players who underachieved will overachieve and stars will be born. Rookies will be thrust into starting positions and exceed their developmental expectations.
In 2008 running back Michael Turner burst into production with fellow Falcon Matt Ryan to create an elite offense in Atlanta.
Also in 2008, veterans Phillip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Cassell, Jay Cutler, Michael Turner, DeAngelo Williams, Thomas Jones, Steve Breaston and Vincent Jackson had break out performances.
Rookies Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Chris Johnson, Steve Slaton, Matt Forte Pierre Thomas, Eddie Royal and DeSean Jackson all made huge impacts for their teams in 2008.
There were plenty of 2008 rookies who appeared to be primed for an explosive season but fell short due to injury or circumstance. Felix Jones, Ryan Torrain and others look to capitalize on a fresh opportunity this season.
Who will be the biggest surprises and statistical ground-gainers on offense in 2009? Let's take a look.
Jason Campbell has had a new offensive scheme in every season of his career. Under Jim Zorn, he will finally have an opportunity to run the same offensive scheme in consecutive seasons.
Also, never underestimate the motivation of a player in a contract year after having been rumored to be supplanted by an expensive rookie (Mark Sanchez).
Campbell has good technique and poise in the pocket. It is hard to say why he has not had more consistent success but I will blame it on a never ending change of offensive scheme.
Prediction: 3,500 yards passing, 25 TD.
With the Return of Carson Palmer and the vacancy left by T.J. Houshmanzadeh, Chris Henry should get a lot of looks if he can stay out of trouble.
When he has played in the past, Henry has been impressive. It has been his off-the-field issues that have kept him from getting in the mix more in Cincinnati.
With Chad Ocho Cinco returning to the Bengals, he will presumably get the attention and give Henry an opportunity to exploit the secondaries of the league.
2009 Prediction: 1,000 yards receiving, 6 TD.
Miles Austin is getting love from the coaching staff and his quarterback and he deserves it.
Austin was productive with limited playing time in 2008. His participation was limited due to injury and partially due to the T.O. and Roy Williams stable of proven veterans.
He is quick and sure handed and much more humble than his predecessor Terrell Owens. I expect him to get a fair share of the looks from Tony Romo with Roy Williams and Jason Witten drawing the attention.
2009 Prediction: 800 yards receiving, 9 TD.
Al Davis may be mocked for many things, but anyone who denies that his quest for speed is sound needs to check their thought process.
Russell may need some blockers, but he is big and strong and he can buy himself time to throw to any of his very nice running backs or receiving speedsters Higgins and Heyward-Bey.
He has had time to settle into the craziness of the current Oakland football circus of drama and he is equipped with the support of Al Davis, a cannon for an arm and all the necessary talent to step up a level.
2009 Prediction: 3,500 yards passing, 25 TD.
Brent Celek has been waiting his turn behind L.J. Smith and proved he is the man at tight end late in 2008 and into the playoffs.
In 2009, the job is clearly Celek's and he is poised to have a monster year as McNabb loves to go to his tight end.
The speedy receiving group and dangerous backfield of the Eagles will draw the attention away from Celek and give him the opportunity he needs to thrive this season.
2009 Prediction: 700 yards receiving, 7 TD.
Hakeem Nicks is a throwback NFL ready wide receiver who had a first round draft pick invested in him by the New York Giants.
Everyone saw what the Giants could do with a dominating receiver.
Now Plaxico Burress is gone and so is Amani Toomer. Steve Smith is emerging, but Hakeem Nicks will step in and become Eli Manning's go-to guy in 2009.
Prediction: 900 Yards Receiving, 8 touchdowns.
Devin Hester has a quarterback that considers him a No. 1 receiver.
Jay Cutler is going to look for Hester down the field and anywhere he can get him the ball.
Hester has been developing his skills at receiver and they will be tested with opportunity in 2009 by Jay Cutler's proven arm and Lovie Smith's confidence.
Hester also has the raw speed, elusiveness and understanding of how to play the position better than ever before.
Prediction: 900 yards, 8 touchdowns.
Questions about durability are still looming, but Reggie Bush's toughness and work ethic are not.
He obviously has the quickness and speed to be highly productive, but the emergence of Pierre Thomas casts some doubts on Reggie's 2009 break-out hopes.
Nonetheless, he is a mega-talent and has been busting his tail to be ready for 2009.
Prediction: 1,000 yards rushing, 400 yards receiving, 16 TD.
Leftwich looked phenomenal when called in for Roethlisberger in 2008. He has all of the talent to be a great NFL quarterback and he is still young.
He has the potential of continuing to develop as a franchise quarterback for the Buccaneers or whoever his next suitor might be.
With Derrick Ward's run support and a go to guy like Antonio Bryant, expect Leftwich to win the starting job and play big in 2009.
2009 Prediction: 3,500 yards passing, 25 TD.
Matt Schaub has some weapons to work with in 2009. Steve Slaton has emerged as a great receiver out of the backfield and Andre Johnson is one of the best receivers in the NFL.
Schaub has been banged up in seasons past, but I expect him to be quicker in getting rid of the ball in 2009 to compensate for his mediocre offensive line.
2009 Prediction: 3,700 yards passing, 28 TD.
This should not come as much surprise, but Santonio Holmes is due for a big season.
Hines Ward is the possession guy and Limas Sweed and rookie Mike Wallace will fill in nicely for the departed Nate Washington to attract attention opposite of Holmes.
Roethlisberger knows he can trust Holmes and if he can get some time in the pocket, he can air the ball out to him as well.
Prediction: 1,250 yards, 12 TD
Donald Brown is sitting in a very nice position to assume the running back duties from an unproductive 2008 Joe Addai.
Brown is an NFL ready running back who is expected to split time with Addai, but I expect him to take the job outright and produce on a large scale in a very productive Indianapolis offense.
Donald Brown led the NCAA in rushing in 2008 against weaker competition. The same judgement of weak competition was passed on the 2007 NCAA leading rusher Matt Forte who was fantastic in his 2008 rookie season.
2009 Prediction: 1,100 yards rushing, 10 TD.
Chris "Beanie" Wells was the third running back drafted, but I believe he will be the first of the rookies to break 1,000 yards in 2009.
The Cardinals don't have a lot of options at running back and defenses can't afford to stack the box to stop the big bruising running style of Wells without sacrificing everything to the talents of Fitzgerald, Boldin and Breaston.
Wells will get a lot of goal line touches as well.
2009 Prediction: 1,200 yards rushing, 12 TD.
Trent Edwards has the loaded gun in Buffalo in 2009.
Terrell Owens will add tremendous value to Edwards production complemented by a very effective Lee Evans, Roscoe Parrish and Josh Reed at the wide position.
The Bills also added athletic tight end Shawn Nelson in the draft who is big, strong, fast and has great leaping ability.
2009 Prediction: 3,700 yards passing, 29 TD.
The Mojo is rising in Jacksonville. Jones-Drew is one of the most exciting players to watch in the NFL.
In 2009, Fred Taylor has departed and Mojo has the show all to himself.
Jones-Drew has always been productive and the only thing keeping him from being an NFL leading rusher has been his time-share situation which is now over.
2009 Prediction: 1,400 yards rushing, 14 TD.
More Guys to Watch for in 2009:
RB - Felix Jones / Tashard Choice - Dallas Cowboys
RB - Ryan Torrain / Correll Buckhalter / Knowshon Moreno / Peyton Hillis - Denver Broncos
RB - Mewelde Moore / Rashard Mendenhall - Pittsburgh Steelers
RB - Darren McFadden / Michael Bush - Oakland Raiders
RB - Jerious Norwood - Atlanta Falcons
RB - Fred Jackson - Buffalo Bills
RB - Felix Smith - Detroit Lions
WR - Johnny Lee Higgins / Darius Heyward-Bey - Oakland Raiders
WR - Jeremy Maclin - Philadelphia Eagles
WR - Steve Smith / Domenik Hixon / Ramsees Barden - New York Giants
WR - Nate Washington / Kenny Britt - Tennessee Titans
WR - Michael Jenkins - Atlanta Falcons
WR - Jericho Cotchery / Chansi Stuckey - New York Jets
WR - Malcolm Floyd - San Diego Chargers
WR - Percy Harvin - Minnesota Vikings
WR - Nate Burleson - Seattle Seahawks
WR - Juaquin Iglesias - Chicago Bears
WR - Michael Crabtree - San Fransisco 49ers
TE - Chase Coffman - Cincinnatti Bengals
TE - Jared Cook - Tennessee Titans
TE - Shawn Nelson - Buffalo Bills
TE - James Casey - Houston Texans
TE - Steve Heiden - Cleveland Browns
QB - Sage Rosenfels - Minnesota Vikings
QB - Sean Hill / Alex Smith - San Fransisco
QB - Mark Sanchez - New York Jets
QB - Matt Stafford - Detroit Lions
QB - Brady Quinn - Cleveland Browns