NFL Pro Bowl Picks: NFC more stacked than AFC due to Super Bowl matchup
2012 Pro Bowl: NFC vs. AFC
Sunday, 1/29/12, 7:00 PM EST, TV: NBC
Opening Point Spread: NFC -3.5
Current Betting Line: NFC -4
Opening Total: 73
Current Total: 74
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker
The NFC has won three of the last four Pro Bowls heading into Sunday’s matchup with the AFC and seems to have a more dangerous group of players as a result of what’s transpired in the playoffs so far. Losses by both the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints in the divisional round have enabled the NFC to play their two top quarterbacks in Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees, respectively.
There is obviously some disappointment for the Packers and Saints, who were favored to meet in last week’s NFC Championship Game. But a trip to Hawaii should help ease some of the pain for their Pro Bowl players who were among the very best at their positions during the regular season.
Joining Rodgers from the Packers are wide receiver Greg Jennings, linebacker Clay Matthews, defensive tackle B.J. Raji, cornerback Charles Woodson and center Scott Wells. Other Saints expected to play in addition to Brees include tight end Jimmy Graham, offensive tackle Jermon Bushrod and offensive guards Jahri Evans and Carl Nicks.
The NFC (-4, O/U 74) won last year’s Pro Bowl 55-41 with Washington Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall earning MVP honors after recording six tackles, an interception and a fumble return for a touchdown. The AFC outscored the NFC 34-13 in the second half after trailing 42-7 at halftime. Rodgers will be playing in his second Pro Bowl and did not get to play in the game last year since he was in the process of leading his team to the Super Bowl.
While Green Bay led the NFC with seven selections (fullback John Kuhn will not play due to a knee injury), the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens tied for the AFC lead with eight players each. The Patriots obviously will not be participating since they are playing in next week’s Super Bowl in Indianapolis while the Ravens will be represented by FB Vonta Leach, LB Ray Lewis, and OGs Ben Grubbs and Marshal Yanda. Grubbs is an injury replacement, and RB Ray Rice, DT Haloti Ngata, LB Terrell Suggs and safety Ed Reed will all sit out due to injuries.
Surprisingly, the New York Giants only had two Pro Bowlers who will miss the game for the NFC champions in QB Eli Manning and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. The AFC could be hurt by the missing Patriots, who include QB Tom Brady, WR Wes Welker and TE Rob Gronkowksi on offense.
A pair of rookies will also get a chance to shine for each team as replacements for Manning and Brady, with Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton playing for the NFC and Cincinnati Bengals QB Andy Dalton joining a fellow first-year player and teammate in WR A.J. Green for the AFC. Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger will start for the AFC and be backed up by Dalton and Philip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers. Packers head coach Mike McCarthy will lead the NFC team while Gary Kubiak of the Houston Texans represents the AFC.
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