NFL 2014 Pro Bowl Betting Preview: Team Rice vs Team Sanders

2014 NFL Pro Bowl
Team Rice vs Team Sanders

Aloha Stadium – Honolulu, Hawaii
Sunday, January 26, 2014, 7:30 pm Eastern, TV: NBC
Opening Line: Team Sanders pick
Current Line: Team Rice -1 1/2
Opening Total: 95
Current Total: 89
Opening Money Line: Team Rice -121 / Team Sanders +100
Current Money Line: Team Rice -125 / Team Sanders +105 

2014 Pro Bowl preview.

Drew Brees leads Team Rice against Team Sanders in Sunday’s pro Bowl in Hawaii.

This year to increase interest in the Pro Bowl (both from the players and fans), the NFL decided to scrap the traditional AFC All-Stars vs NFC All-Stars format. Instead NFL legends and Hall-of-Famers Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders were chosen as team captains and were able to draft their teams from the pool of All-Stars selected by the players, coaches, and fans.

The draft was conducted over two days this week. Jerry Rice won the toss to select his team captains, but Deion Sanders had the first pick for the skill position players.

Indianapolis Colts’ head coach Chuck Pagano and his staff will coach Team Sanders. Ron Rivera of the Carolina Panthers will coach Team Rice.

 

Another change was the inclusion of both offensive and defensive MVP’s for the game. This is presumably to motivate the teams to play some semblance of defense. It probably won’t work as the Pro Bowl is almost like a glorified flag football game. In the last 3 Pro Bowls there have been 99 combined points in 2011, 100 in 2012, and 97 in 2013. The NFC won the game last year 62-35.

Let’s take a look at both rosters and see who has the advantage.

Offense

Quarterbacks

Rice selected New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees as one of his captains. Brees will start after another typically brilliant season for the future Hall-of-Famer. He passed for 5,162 yards with 39 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, and also had 3 rushing touchdowns. Team Rice also has Philip Rivers from the San Diego Chargers who had one of his best seasons in years and Alex Smith of the Kansas City Chiefs. Rivers threw for 4,478 yards with 32 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Smith threw for 3,313 yards with 23 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, and also rushed for 421 yards and a touchdown.

While Jerry Rice went with veterans for his quarterbacks, Sanders went with youth. All three of his quarterbacks have played for three seasons or less. Sanders selected Andrew Luck of the Colts and Cam Newton of the Panthers back-to-back with his first two picks of the second day. Even though Luck was drafted first (mainly because Pagano insisted), Newton will start for Team Sanders. Newton threw for 3,379 yards with 24 touchdowns and 13 touchdowns, and also rushed for 585 yards and 6 touchdowns. Luck threw for 3,822 yards with 23 touchdowns and 9 interceptions, and also rushed for 377 yards and 4 touchdowns. The third string quarterback is Nick Foles of the Philadelphia Eagles. Foles had a great season despite not being the starter for the Eagles for the first few games of the season. Still he threw for 2,891 yards with 27 touchdowns and 2 interceptions , and rushed for 221 yards and 3 touchdowns.

All six quarterbacks led their teams to playoff berths. Brees is the best quarterback in this game, and because of that I give a slight edge to Team Rice at the quarterback position.

Wide Receivers/ Tight Ends

With his first pick on the second day, Rice selected Saints’ tight end Jimmy Graham. Not a bad idea considering Brees and Graham hooked up for 86 catches, 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns. Falcon’s tight end Tony Gonlazez was also slected by Team Rice and will play the last game of his Hall-of-Fame career in the Pro Bowl.

The receivers for Team Rice include Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona Cardinals), Josh Gordon (Cleveland Browns), Alshon Jeffrey and Brandon Marshall (both Chicago Bears). That is a very good group of receivers.

Team Sanders’ receivers are even better with A.J. Green of the Cincinnati Bengals, Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys, DeSean Jackson of the Eagles, and Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Sanders selected Jason Witten of the Cowboys and Josh Cameron of the Browns as his tight ends.

While Rice has an advantage at the tight ends, Sanders has a sizable advantage at the receivers.

Running Backs

Team Rice selected Matt Forte of the Bears, LeSean McCoy of the Eagles and DeMarco Murray of the Cowboys as his running backs. All three were among the top ten rushers in the league. McCoy led the league in rushing with 1,607 yards  with 9 touchdowns, along with 52 catches for 539 yards and 2 touchdowns. Mike Tolbert of the Panthers is the fullback.

Team Sanders selected Jamaal Charles of the Chiefs, Eddie Lacy of the Green Bay Packers, and Alfred Morris of the Washington Redskins as his running backs. All three are also in the top ten leading rushers Marcel Reece of the Oakland Raiders is the fullback.

 

Both teams are loaded at the running back position, but I give a slight edge to Team Rice.

Offensive Line

Team Rice has Ryan Kalil (Panthers) and Nick Mangold (New York Jets) at center. The guards are  Jahri Evans and Ben Grubbs (both Saints), plus Evan Mathis (Eagles). Tackles include Jordan Gross (Panthers), Tyron Smith (Cowboys), and Joe Thomas (Browns).

Team Sanders picked centers Alex Mack (Browns) and Mike Pouncey (Miami Dolphins). The guards are Kyle Long (Bears), Logan Mankins (New England Patriots), and Marshall Yanda (Baltimore Ravens). The tackles are Branden Albert (Chiefs), Trent Williams (Redskins), and Duane Brown (Houston Texans).

I give the edge to Team Rice on the offensive line.

Defense

As mentioned defense is an after thought at best in this game. Notable defensive players for Team Rice include DT’s Jason Hatcher (Cowboys), Kyle Williams (Buffalo Bills), DE Robert Quinn (St. Louis Rams), LB’s Vonteze Burfict (Bengals), Robert Mathis (Colts), and John Abraham (Cardinals), safeties  Eric Reid (San Francisco 49ers) and Antrel Rolle (New York Giants), cornerbacks Antonio Cromartie (Jets), Brandon Flowers (Chiefs), and Joe Haden (Browns).

Team Sanders notable defensive players include DT’s Gerald McCoy (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Ndamukong Suh (Detroit Lions), DE’s Mario Williams (Bills) and J.J. Watt (Texans), LB’s Luke Kuechly (Panthers), Tamba Hali (Chiefs), Brian Orakpo (Redskins), and Terrelle Suggs (Ravens), Safeties Eric Berry (Chiefs), and Eric Weddle (Kansas City Chiefs), along with cornerbacks Patrick Peterson (Cardinals) and Darrelle Revis (Buccaneers).

I suppose Team Sanders has the slight edge on defense.

 

Special Teams

Team Rice has Patriot’s kicker Stephen Gostkowski, punter Johnny Hekker of the Rams, and punt returner Dexter McCluster of the Chiefs. The designated special teams player is Justin Bethel of the Cardinals and the long snapper is Matt Overton of the Colts.

Team Sanders selected kicker Justin Tucker of the Ravens, Dolphins’ punter Brandon Fields, punt returner Cordarrelle Patterson of the Minnesota Vikings, special teamer Matthew Slater of the Patriots and long snapper J.J. Jansen of the Panthers.

I think Team Sanders has a slight edge in special teams. Both Tucker and Gostkowski made 38 of 41 field goals and were perfect on extra points. Both McCluster and the rookie Patterson are two of the most dynamic and explosive returners in the game.

Overall, I think Team Rice has a slight advantage but I still think Team Sanders wins the game. Obviously tons of points will be scored. The total opened at a ridiculous 95, but has been bet down to 89. I like this game to go over.

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