Five potential breakout players for 2013: Who will it be?

Packers CB Davon House

Packers CB Davon House

Every NFL season begins with a blank slate and ends with a long list of newly-minted star players.

Last season, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick may be the prime example of a player that took the next step and pushed his team to the next level, as San Francisco won the NFC and advanced to Super Bowl XLVII.

Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas went from being an afterthought in a Tim Tebow-led offense in 2011 to being one of the most dangerous offensive players in football in 2012. Thomas ranked fourth in the NFL with 1,434 receiving yards.

And in Green Bay, a pair of Packers wideouts enjoyed breakout years of their own.

After showing flashes of brilliance as a rookie in 2011, Randall Cobb exploded onto the scene last season, leading the team with 80 catches and 954 receiving yards. Cobb is the odds-on favorite to lead the team in both categories in 2013.

Fellow receiver James Jones enjoyed a breakout season of his own. Jones set career highs in all three major categories, catching 64 passes for 784 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Playing in an offense with Aaron Rodgers under center, any receiver could become the team’s “go-to guy” on a week-to-week basis. But Jordy Nelson had his coming-out party in 2011, and Jones and Cobb had their last year. So unless one of the Packers young, unproven receivers can take a step forward and join the rotation, this year’s breakout player may be on the defensive side of the ball.

Let’s take a look at five potential breakout candidates for the 2013 season. Feel free to comment and let me know who you think will be the team’s breakout player this season, even if they’re not on the list.

(NOTE: Rookies will not be included on this list. It’s tough to forecast a rookie having a breakout year when he has yet to play a single down at the NFL level. That means Eddie Lacy, Johnathan Franklin and Datone Jones are not listed.)

1. FS Morgan Burnett

It took Nick Collins until his fourth season to reach his potential. Morgan Burnett may not be Collins, but there are some distinct similarities between the two. And through their first three NFL seasons, Burnett trumps Collins in most statistical categories.



2012 Green Bay Packers: Season Predictions

Green Bay Packers 2012 Season Predictions

Aaron Rodgers and crew will return to the Super Bowl in 2013.

I’ve embarrassed myself enough already this preseason by trying to predict the Packers 53-man roster. Why not keep the embarrassment going by predicting how each and every Packers game will turn out this season?

A lot of this is tongue-in-cheek, so don’t take my predictions too seriously. But my overall prediction is dead serious: The Packers will finish 12-4 and lose to New England in the Super Bowl.*

*I reserve the right to change my prediction whenever I want without repercussions and any loss of credibility.

Packers 27, 49ers 23
Aaron Rodgers threw for 312 yards and three touchdowns despite getting sacked three times to lead the Green Bay Packers to a 27-23 win over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

Packers 24, Bears 18
Jay Cutler needed three boxes of tissues on Thursday night instead of the usual two after throwing four interceptions in the Packers 24-18 win over the Bears at Lambeau Field.

Seahawks 30, Packers 26
Matt Flynn torched his former team for 275 yards and three touchdowns in his first start since taking over for struggling rookie Russell Wilson, leading the Seahawks to a 30-26 upset victory over the Packers.

Packers 33, Saints 24
In an effort to get a contract extension worth at least twice Drew Brees’ new salary, Aaron Rodgers threw for 401 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Packers to a 33-24 win over the Saints on Sunday. A group of rowdy Packers fans celebrating something called Throwback Weekend were ejected from the stadium in the fourth quarter after drunkenly streaking across the field. After the group was released on bail, they returned to Lambeau Field and tried to steal all the cheese curds from the stadium.

Packers 41, Colts 10
Aaron Rodgers threw for 428 yards and five touchdowns, Green Bay’s defense battered rookie Andrew Luck, and the Packers beat the Colts 41-10 on Sunday.

Texans 27, Packers 20
Arian Foster rolled over the Packers for 187 yards and the Texans defense intercepted Aaron Rodgers twice as Houston beat Green Bay 27-20 on Sunday night.

Packers 32, Rams 20
Cedric Benson lost two fumbles early, but it didn’t matter as James Starks returned from an injured toe and ran for 103 yards and two touchdowns in the Packers 32-20 win over the Rams on Sunday.