The 2012 NFL season is just about said and done with, but as we head into the playoffs and look back at the first 14 weeks that were, we’re set to make our NFL picks for which players have had the biggest impacts on their teams that spent big bucks on them in the offseason.
Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos – It goes without saying that Manning was the big kahuna of this free agent class. He was picked up by the Broncos for oodles of money, and that allowed the team to get rid of QB Tim Tebow. Now, instead of a run-first offense, Manning has Denver running a style of offense that was similar to what he was running with the Colts for years and years. Denver is on the verge of the No. 2 seed in the playoffs in the AFC, and the team ranks second in the NFL in scoring at 29.2 points per game.
Brandon Carr, Dallas Cowboys – Carr hasn’t had the greatest year in the world with the Cowboys like he was expected to, as he only has three picks and a total of 42 tackles. However, he has had an INT in each of his last two games, both of which setup massive victories to keep Dallas’ season alive. If not for Carr’s pick of QB Ben Roethlisberger in Week 14, it is likely that this season would already be finished for the Cowboys, and they would be out of the playoff push.
Cortland Finnegan, St. Louis Rams – The Rams were essentially knocked out of the playoffs yesterday, but they have taken some major steps in the right direction this year defensively thanks to Finnegan. He is a true enforcer at the safety position with a nose for the football, and St. Louis was glad to bring him in from Tennessee, where he has become reunited with Head Coach Jeff Fisher. Finnegan is leading a defense that is allowing just 335.1 yards per game, ranking ninth in the league this year, and that is a massive improvement from the lousy defenses that we have seen this team put together over the years.