2011 NFL Pro Bowl Prediction: AFC vs. NFC – January 30th 2011
2011 NFL Pro Bowl Prediction: AFC vs. NFC – January 30th
The best players from each conference square off against one another this upcoming Sunday night in the annual NFL Pro Bowl from Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. (ET) and the game will be broadcast nationally on FOX.
Not all the best players in the league will be playing in this game as for the second year in a row the Pro Bowl will be played the week before the Super Bowl, so selections from the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers will not be participating due to the fact they are currently preparing to try and help their team win a World Championship the following Sunday in Dallas.
The new formula for this game appears to work just fine as both the AFC and NFC rosters are filled with enough marquee players to make this both an entertaining as well as intriguing matchup that helps fill the football void between last Sunday’s Conference Championships and Super Bowl XLV on February 6.
The AFC will go with San Diego QB Philip Rivers as its starter after New England QB Tom Brady opted out of the game to have minor surgery on his foot. Rivers will be backed-up by Brady’s replacement, Matt Cassel of the Chiefs and perennial Pro Bowler Peyton Manning of Indianapolis. Manning’s favorite target Reggie Wayne will join Denver’s Brandon Lloyd as the starting wide receivers and the NFL’s leading rusher with 1,616 yards, Arian Foster of Houston, will be the starting running back. The Jaguars Marcedes Lewis will get the start at tight end.
The AFC defensive lineup features a couple of big men up front with Vince Wilfork from the Patriots and Robert Mathis from the Colts. The Dolphins’ Cameron Wake joins Baltimore’s dynamic duo, Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis as the starting linebackers and Darrelle Revis from the Jets is paired with Nnamdi Asomugha, formally with the Raiders as the starting cornerbacks. The Patriots’ Brandon Meriweather and Kansas City rookie Eric Berry will get the start at the safety positions.
Along with Brady there are a few notable AFC Pro Bowlers who are out of the lineup due to injury. WR Andre Johnson and TE Antonio Gates are out on offense and Baltimore’s safety Ed Reed and Colts’ DL Dwight Freeney are out on defense.
Eagles’ quarterback Michael Vick will get the start for the NFC. Waiting in the wings for their shot will be Drew Brees from the Saints and Falcon signal-caller Matt Ryan. Detroit wide receiver Calvin Williams joins another Falcon, Roddy White as the starting wide receivers while Jason Whitten from the Cowboys gets the start at tight end. Michael Turner, a third player from Atlanta’s offense, will start at running back.
The NFC defense as a couple of bruising bookends with Julius Peppers from the Bears as one starting defensive end and Atlanta’s John Abraham as the other. DT’s Justin Smith from the 49ers and Jay Ratliff from Dallas will anchor the middle of the line. The Saints’ Jonathan Vilma is joined by the Redskins’ Brian Orakpo and the Cowboys’ DeMarcus Ware to make-up the starting linebacking corps. The secondary is headed-up by the Falcons’ Brent Grimes and DeAngelo Hall, also from the Redskins at the two corners along with the Giants’ Antrel Rolle and Adrian Wilson from Arizona as the two starting safeties.
A few of the starters missing the game for the NFC due to injury include the Eagles’ Jason Peters and the Giants’ Shaun O’Hara from the offensive line and Chicago linebacker Brian Urlacher and Philadelphia cornerback Asante Samuel from the defense.
The NFC is currently a 2 ½-point favorite and the ‘over/under’ line is set at 64. Last year the AFC came away with a 41-34 victory, while in 2009 the NFC won 30-21. The AFC has won six of the last 10 meetings straight-up.