2013 NFL Pro Bowl
AFC All-Stars vs NFC All-Stars
Sunday, January 27, 2013, 7:00 pm Eastern, TV: NBC
Aloha Stadium – Honolulu, Hawaii
Opening Line: NFC -3
Current Line: AFC Pick -125
Opening Total: 83
Current Total 80
Opening Money Line: NFC -115 / AFC -105
Current Money Line: AFC -120 / NFC +105
Football fans starved for the game they love get a little appetizer for next week’s Super Bowl with this week’s Pro Bowl. Well, sort of. It contains football like substances, without that pesky defense. Really, with the rules against blitzing this is a glorified flag football game. The quality of play in last year’s game was so bad ( a 59-41 AFC win) that commissioner Roger Goodell actually talked about getting rid of the game and no one really protested. I suppose it is a nice reward for the players and their families to go to Hawaii, but there has to be a solution to improve the quality of play. One idea is to change the format from AFC and NFC players to players 30 and under vs players 31 and over. The young guys would want to beat the old guys, and the old guys wouldn’t want to be embarrassed by the kids. Another solution is to copy what the NHL has done with their All-Star game. Have two players as captains and they get to pick their team like playground rules. Now with 54 man rosters it might take a couple of hours to do the draft, but people would watch it on television.
Anyway, since neither of those suggestions will happen this year, lets look at both teams. I will not mention any defensive players because as I mentioned defense and tackling are afterthoughts in a game where both teams could combine for 100 points.
The AFC quarterbacks are Peyton Manning, Matt Schaub, and Andrew Luck. Luck replaced Tom Brady who got a little banged up in last week’s Patriots’ loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship game last week.
Still to see the brilliant rookie Colts quarterback to be on the same team as Peyton Manning will be kind of cool to see. As most football fans know. Peyton was the quarterback for the Colts for many years before he missed all of last season recovering from neck surgery. The Colts released Manning after last season and he signed with the Broncos. Manning would go on to have an MVP caliber season and led the Broncos to the #1 seed in the AFC. The Colts drafted Luck with the number one pick . Luck led the Colts to the playoffs despite coach Chuck Pagano missing most of the season as he underwent treatment for leukemia. Both the Colts and Broncos were beaten in the playoffs by the eventual AFC Champion Ravens. Schaub led the Houston Texans to the playoffs as well, where they lost to the Patriots.
Manning will start the game He threw for over 4,600 yards with 37 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Luck threw for almost 4,400 yards with 23 touchdowns and 18 interceptions, and also had 5 rushing touchdowns. Schaub threw for over 4,000 yards with 28 touchdowns and 12 picks.
The NFC quarterbacks were supposed to be Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, and Robert Griffin III. However, all three are injured and were replaced by Drew Brees, Eli Manning, and Russell Wilson. You really can’t go wrong with any of those six, but the AFC has a slight edge at the quarterback position.
Brees threw for almost 5,200 yards with 43 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. Eli threw for just under 4,000 yards with 26 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Many thought the Manning brothers could meet in the super bowl in their home town of New Orleans, but they will have to settle for a trip to Hawaii instead. Sensational Seahawks’ rookie Russell Wilson threw for just over 3,100 yards with 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, and rushed for almost 500 yards with 4 touchdowns. This is despite being less than 6 feet tall. He was the only one of the 3 NFC quarterbacks who led his team to the playoffs. Though to be fair all of the original NFC quarterbacks did so.
While the AFC has some talented running backs in the Texans’ Arian Foster, the Chiefs’ Jamaal Charles, and the Bills’ C.J. Spiller, the NFC has a decided advantage at the running back with the Vikings Adrian Peterson, the Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch, and the Buccaneer’s Doug Martin. Martin and Spiller replaced Frank Gore and Ray Rice respectively because both are playing in the Super Bowl. The fullbacks are Oakland’s Marcel Reece and Minnesota’s Jerome Felton. Reese replaced Baltimore’s Vonta Leach who is in the Super Bowl.
Receivers and Tight Ends
The AFC receivers are A.J. Green (Cincinnati), Andre Johnson (Houston), Reggie Wayne (Indianapolis), and DeMaryius Thomas (Denver). Thomas replaced the injured Wes Welker. Besides Green, the other three have their quarterbacks playing in this game. That should help in the chemistry and timing.
Jermaine Gresham (Cincinnati) and Owen Daniels (Houston) replace Rob Gronkowski and Heath Miller as the AFC tight ends.
The NFC receivers are Julio Jones (Atlanta), Victor Cruz (NY Giants), Larry Ftizgerald (Arizona), and Vincent Jackson (Tampa Bay). Fitzgerald and Jackson replace the injured Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall.
The NFC tight ends are Jason Witten (Dallas) and Kyle Rudolph (Minnesota). Rudolph replaces the injured tony Gonzalez.
I give the edge at receiver to the AFC because the quarterbacks are so familiar with the receivers.
The AFC special teamers are kicker Phil Dawson (Cleveland), Kick returner Josh Cribbs (Cleveland), special teams Matthew Slater (New England) , punter Dustin Colquitt (Kansas City), and long snapper John Denney (Miami).
The NFC has kicker Blair Walsh (Minnesota), Kick returner Leon Washington (Seattle), Special teams Lorenzo Alexander (Washington), punter Thomas Morstead (New Orleans), and long snapper Don Muhlbach (Detroit).
I give a slight edge to the NFC specialists.
The AFC leads the series 15-12 in the Pro Bowl, and has won 2 of the last 3 straight up. The NFC is 3-2 ATS in the last 5 Pro Bowls and the last 3 have gone over the total.
This line moved from the NFC -3 to the AFC a slight favorite. The total opened at 83 and moved to 85 at one point before bettors and sharp players started pounding the under to move it to 80. I like the AFC to win, and I think it goes over 80 as well.
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