San Francisco 49ers - I am going to go out on a limb here, and call #84 our Game Changer for the 49ers in 2012. I realize that this may be a pipe dream, but when properly motivated, Randy Moss has proven to be a dynamic playmaker. Yes he is 35 years old and it has been two seasons since his last productive season, but he is still Randy Moss. All the reports out of San Francisco indicate the Moss is in excellent shape and that he can still stretch the field with his speed and acrobatic grabs. Yes, I realize Alex Smith is still the quarterback out there, but I expect Randy Moss to have a very significant impact on a previously non-existent Niners' passing attack.
Seattle Seahawks - I am probably in the minority here, but I actually think Pete Carroll is doing a better than expected job in Seattle. I don't understand some of the personnel decisions that the team has made, particularly regarding the quarterback situation, but overall this team is starting to become a solid group of physical football players. So it may be some surprise that I would pick one of the smallest players on this team to be the most impactful player. Yet I think Earl Thomas will continue to develop into an elite safety, showing the reason he was a first round draft choice. Thomas is a ball-hawking safety with great range, but he is also a physical presence despite his smallish frame. I expect Thomas to play at an All-Pro level in 2012 as a turnover generating catalyst in an under-rated Seahawks' defense.
St. Louis Rams - Rams fans should be excited about the future of the team. I don't think that 2012 will bear a lot of fruit, but I believe that Jeff Fisher will have this team fighting for a playoff spot in the very near future. Some of the excitement comes from the pass rush that this team can expect from Chris Long and Robert Quinn. However the player that I think will pay big dividends on the field for this team is rookie cornerback Janoris Jenkins. Jenkins was touted as the best pure cornerback in the 2012 Draft, but due to character concerns for off-the-field issues, Jenkins' stock dropped him to the second round. The Rams quickly snatched him up and once they got the contract signed, he has been nothing but impressive. Jenkins should be a day one starter for the Rams, and as long as his personal struggles are a thing of the past, he could be a Pro Bowl caliber player in their defensive backfield for a long time to come. Even in just his rookie year, Jenkins will have a huge impact in St. Louis.
Arizona Cardinals - I feel sorry for Cardinals fans and Larry Fitzgerald. This is a team that isn't all that far from being competitive in a still weak NFC West, but their quarterback situation is still a mess. Prior to the Kolb trade I said that they would pull the trigger, they would overpay, and that it would be a huge mistake. I was right, but I had no idea that they would trade DRC away as part of the deal. This was an epic failure by the Cardinals' front office and now they are stuck with this mess for a second season. It's a shame because their defense is actually starting to show some promise and Fitzy is still in his prime. This year will be a disappointing season for highs and lows for the Cardinals, but most of the bright spots will be on the defensive side of the ball. I like the development of Daryl Washington and Calais Campbell, but I think it will be unheralded Sam Acho that will be the biggest Game Changer on their defense in 2012. Acho's impact last season was unfortunately lost in the shuffle, but even if he only duplicates the success of his rookie season, he will be in line for nearly double digit sacks with four forced fumbles. With a year of NFL strength training under his belt and a full off season in the organization, Acho should be even better in 2012.