The Wolverine

2013 Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Top 10 NFL Seasons In 2012 1. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots In 2012, Brady played at the high level everybody expects from him. He started every game for the fourth consecutive year and 10th time in his career, while he surpassed 3,900 passing yards and 28 touchdowns for fourth straight campaign. He also upped his total of game-winning performances following a fourth-quarter deficit or overtime tie to 36. The field general finished his season 401-of-637 passing (63.0 percent) for 4,827 yards with 34 touchdowns and eight picks, leading the Pats to a 12-4 record and their fourth AFC East title in the last four years. He set the NFL record for quarterbacks with his 10th division crown, and he also recoded a passer rating of 98.7 — his seventh professional season with at least a 90.0 rating — and rushed for a career-best four touchdowns. Brady served as a team co-captain for the 11th straight season this past fall, and he was also elected to his eighth career Pro Bowl. He has thrown a touchdown pass in 47 straight contests, which ties Johnny Unitas for the second-longest streak in NFL history, and he is just the fifth in league annals to record at least five 4,000-yard passing seasons. He stands as just the fourth with four 30-touchdown campaigns and third with three straight such seasons. 2. Stevie Brown, S, New York Giants Brown ended the 2011 season on injured reserve for the Indianapolis Colts. The former seventh-round pick of the Oakland Raiders appeared in just eight games with the Colts, and signed with the New York Giants to start the 2012 campaign. Once given the opportunity to play in New York, Brown exploded onto the scene. While replacing an injured Kenny Phillips during the early part of the season, he led the entire league with seven takeaways through week eight, despite making just four starts. He appeared in every game and finished with 11 starts, 76 tackles, eight interceptions, two forced fumbles and 11 passes defended. Brown's interception total ranked second in the NFL, and marked the most for a Giant since 1968, when Willie Williams notched 10 and Spider Lockhart had eight. In addition to the astounding interception total, the breakout player totaled 307 yards on returns following his picks, which is the fourth-highest single-season total in league history. 3. Jonathan Goodwin, C, San Francisco 49ers The veteran center played in the third NFC championship game and second Super Bowl of his career as a starter this past season. He also helped San Francisco set several club records for both rushing and total offense while blocking for the new scheme that could change football — the pistol attack based around the read option. The 11-year veteran, who has started 70 straight games for the fifthlongest active streak among centers, helped pave the way for a ground attack that ranked fourth in the NFL with 2,491 rushing yards (155.7 per game). The ground game was even stronger in the playoffs, where the 49ers led the NFL by a wide margin with an average of 473.3 total yards, 218.0 rushing yards and nine rushing scores, in addition to the second-best point average (34.7 per game) in the postseason. 4. Jason Avant, WR, Philadelphia Eagles The consistent veteran posted a career-high 53 receptions in 2012, and his catch total has increased in each of his first seven professional seasons. Avant posted 648 receiving yards on the year, averaged 12.2 yards per reception and continued to be a huge third-down weapon. On 87 career third-down catches, including playoffs, he has converted 75 (86.2 percent) into first downs. Avant played in 14 games, missing two with a hamstring injury, and started six contests. 5. Larry Foote, LB, Pittsburgh Steelers The longtime Steelers linebacker, who spent the 2009 campaign with the Lions but has been with Pittsburgh for his 10 other professional seasons, started all 16 games for the first time since 2008 and finished with a careerbest 113 tackles. He notched 75 solo stops and tied his career high with four sacks, to go along with two forced fumbles and a pair of fumble recoveries. 6. David Harris, LB, New York Jets The Jets' defense dipped from its high standards, but Harris remained a steady rock in the middle of the unit. He started every game for the fourth straight year, and eclipsed 100 tackles for the third time in his career and the first time since 2009. Harris finished with 123 stops (79 solo), three sacks and a forced fumble. 7. David Baas, C, New York Giants No offensive line in football allowed fewer sacks than the Giants' 20, and despite having to dig deep on the depth chart for running backs due to injuries, the team's rushing metrics were very respectable. The Giants ranked fifth in the NFL with 18 rushing touchdowns, seventh with an average of 4.6 yards per tote and 14th with 1,862 yards on the ground. Baas was a key cog once again in New York's successful front, starting all 16 games for the third time in his career and for the first time with the Giants. 8. Jay Feely, K, Arizona Cardinals The 12-year veteran totaled at least 100 points for the eighth time in his professional career and the first time since 2010. Feely was perfect on all 25 extra points that he attempted, and he made 25 of 28 field goal attempts (89.3 percent), which marked his highest success rate since he made 91.3 percent of his attempts in 2007 for Miami. He led the team and ranked 24th in the league in scoring, and he also set a career best with a 61-yard field goal. 9. Brandon Graham, DE/LB, Philadelphia Eagles The third-year defensive end/linebacker set a career high and tied for his team lead with 5.5 sacks in 2012. He moved into the starting lineup for the final six games of the season, and totaled 24 tackles, four sacks and a forced fumble during that span. Last season, safety Stevie Brown had a breakout campaign for the New York Giants, posting 76 tackles and eight interceptions. photo by evan pinkus 10. Charles Woodson, S, Green Bay Packers Woodson was named the No. 85 player in the NFL Network's countdown of the top 100 players during the 2012 campaign, but an injury prevented him from recording the gaudy stats he has in the previous few years. A broken collarbone forced the safety to miss the final nine games of the regular season, but he still managed to total 38 tackles, 1.5 sacks, an interception, one forced fumble and five passes defended. Woodson also returned for both of the Packers' playoff contests, and recorded 12 tackles and two passes broken up. The Wolverine 2013 Football Preview  ■ 191

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