It’s been a week since Super Bowl XLVI marked the end of the 2011 season. Before I take an NFL sabbatical until free agency, I felt it was necessary to give a brief summary of the season that almost wasn’t.
Surprise Team (New York Giants): The way they were headed after that 1-5 late season stretch, did anyone really think they had even a remote shot at making a playoff run? Of their five losses, three were playoff teams (San Francisco 49ers, New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers), two of which they beat in the playoffs.
Biggest Disappointment (Philadelphia Eagles): After four wins in the first three months of the season, the Eagles went 4-1 in Dec/Jan. Questionable coaching, an unqualified defensive coordinator, and an unhappy star receiver just spells underachievement.
Most Improved (San Francisco 49ers): I could not be anymore proud of my Niners. After going 6-10 a season ago, new coach Jim Harbaugh got them within spitting distance of their first Super Bowl in 17 years. I can’t wait until next year.
Most Overrated (New York Jets): The J-E-T-S Jets are a M-E-S-S mess. This team is unorganized, undisciplined, and unimpressive. Mark Sanchez has regressed, Santonio Holmes is causing drama and Rex Ryan is rightfully taking the heat. After this season, the Jets are showing to be nothing more than talking heads and empty rhetoric.
Most Promising for 2012 (Cincinnati Bengals): The Bengals shocked a lot of people this season. A team I picked for the third pick in the 2012 draft, Rookie starters Andy Dalton and A.J. Green took the Bengals to the playoffs for only the team’s third appearance since 1990. Look for continued improvement from them next season.
Least Promising for 2012 (Pittsburgh Steelers): While the Steelers’ offense has gained in potency in recent years, the defense is rapidly aging and it showed in their playoff loss to the Denver Broncos. Combine that with cap issues which could result in Mike Wallace joining another team, the Rooneys forcing a new offensive coordinator on Big Ben and Coach Tomlin, and Rashard Mendenhall’s long recovery from an ACL tear and 2012 doesn’t look good.
Guy to watch in 2012 (Ben Tate, RB/Houston Texans): As a backup to Arian Foster, Ben Tate rushed for 942 yards, four touchdowns and 5.4 yards per carry. While Foster is the clear starter, look for Tate to get an expanded role in the offense.
AREA 49 Fantasy Stars of 2011: (QB) Aaron Rodgers, (RB) Ray Rice, (WR) Calvin Johnson, (TE) Rob Gronkowski, (K) David Akers, (DEF) San Francisco 49ers
Fantasy Steal of 2011: Victor Cruz
Fantasy Bust of 2011: Chris Johnson