The 2012 NFL regular season schedule kicks off Wednesday night, September 5th, and as usual there will be some teams that are undervalued early in the season that astute bettors who did their homework can jump on before the oddsmakers adjust, which they inevitably will.
Here are 3 of our favorite teams to fit that description for this season:
Buffalo Bills – No we are not huge fans of Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback, as we feel he is more of a system quarterback that lacks the ability to win games on his own, but he does fit the Buffalo system well when he is healthy. Remember that the Bills averaged over 30 points per game over the first half of last season and they even beat the Patriots during that time before getting decimated by injuries in the second half, as Fitzpatrick was never the same after injuring a rib, top running back Fred Jackson was lost for the season and top receiver Steve Johnson and several members of the offensive line also missed time.
All those players are back healthy now and running back C.J. Spiller should see an extended role after filling in admirably down the stretch last year. On defense, the pass rush should be much improved with the additions of Mario Williams and Mark Anderson.
Carolina Panthers – Any success the Panthers have this year falls squarely on the shoulders of Cam Newton. Will he suffer a sophomore jinx or will he progress off of one of the best rookie seasons for a quarterback in history? We strongly lean toward the latter, and if we are correct, Carolina could conceivably make a strong playoff push. The offense is really not much of a concern as Carolina has a plethora of nice running backs led by Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams and they added to that already fine corps with the addition of fullback Mike Tolbert, who has good hands for his position and is a nice receiving option out of the backfield when Newton is not throwing to his favorite receiver Steve Smith, who had a great comeback season a year ago.
The offensive line is also very solid. The one thing holding Carolina back is its defense, but the offense should score so many points that the defense only needs to be decent and not great.
Kansas City Chiefs – For a team that finished up last season 7-9, the Chiefs actually look to be pretty strong at every position except the most crucial one, quarterback. Matt Cassel returns as the starter after missing the second half of last season, but we feel the same about him as we do about Ryan Fitzpatrick except that Cassel has a weaker arm. That said, he is surrounded by nice talent as running back Jamaal Charles is a home run threat whenever he touches the ball and the newly acquired Peyton Hills is a nice insurance policy.
The receiving tandem of Dwayne Bowe (assuming the holdout signs) and Jonathan Baldwin can be solid for many years and tight end Tony Moeaki reportedly looks good after tearing his ACL last year. Also, the defense improved by leaps and bounds after Romeo Crennel took over as head coach. Look for the Chiefs to once again be a major player within the AFC West in 2012-13!