NFL season is right around the corner and that means it’s time to start doing some serious research for your football bets. Teams will be leaning on certain players when the clock starts on the 2013 season, and here is a look at four important players from the NFC West.
Arizona Cardinals – Rashard Mendenhall, RB
Mendenhall was released after five seasons in Pittsburgh, where he played in just six games in 2012 and failed to register a rushing touchdown. He’ll be the feature back in Arizona under new head coach Bruce Arians, who was on the Steelers’ staff when Mendenhall was selected in the first round in 2008 and is coming off a Coach Of The Year-winning performance in Indianapolis. If Mendenhall can get back to his past form, that will open up the Arizona offense even more for Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. Mendenhall is on a one-year deal, so there will be plenty of motivation for the 26-year-old.
San Francisco 49ers – Colin Kaepernick, QB
The 49ers are betting that Kaepernick is the real deal after taking over for Alex Smith and leading San Francisco to the Super Bowl, where they fell short against Baltimore. Smith is now in Kansas City, so the team is truly Kaepernick’s now and defenses have had an offseason to figure out ways to slow down the quarterback, who is just as dangerous with his legs as his arm. There will be a lot of pressure on the young gun to perform in 2013.
Seattle Seahawks – Sidney Rice, WR
Rice was healthy for the most part in 2012, playing in all 16 games, but he still didn’t look like the player who broke out with a bang in 2009 in Minnesota. He is an explosive guy who can really stretch the defense when he is on, and he may be counted on even more as former Viking teammate Percy Harvin has joined him in Seattle, but could need surgery for a bad hip already. The Seahawks have a defense that can rival anyone in the league, but the offense needs to keep up and Rice will be a big part of that system, along with QB Russell Wilson.
St. Louis Rams – Tavon Austin, WR
It has been said for years that the St. Louis offense has needed targets for QB Sam Bradford, and Austin is the next in line to try and fill that hole. Austin was used all over the field at West Virginia last season and could even bring his talents to special teams, where he returned five punts and kickoffs for touchdowns in three seasons with the Mountaineers. While he is still a rookie, the #8 pick in the draft will have every opportunity to play a big part in St. Louis and with Steven Jackson in Atlanta, the Rams will need more out of the passing attack to survive in the NFC West.