Pro Bowl Participants Promise More Intensity

BOS Pro Bowl PreviewThe NFL commissioner has delivered an edict. Play Sunday’s Pro Bowl game like you mean it, or risk losing it.
The top players from both the NFC and AFC will be represented in Sunday’s All-Star tilt at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu. Kickoff will be at 7:00 PM ET. The game is a pick at most books although some books have the NFC favored by -1 while others list the AFC as a -1 point choice. The total is at or near 84 with a variance of a half-point in either direction.
Future is Bleak
There is no truth to the rumor that the NFL is planning to change the name of this year’s Pro Bowl to the “Audition Bowl”. However, if the level of intensity does not pick up from last year’s game, this might be it for the league’s annual All-Star game.
A league executive said Tuesday the NFL wants to decide on the future of the Pro Bowl by April, when the next regular season schedule comes out. The game does not lend itself to an All-Star format and many observers have politicked for the game’s removal from the NFL schedule. Those same pundits would also like the Super Bowl played the week after the Conference Championship games instead of the current two week break.
This marks the fourth-consecutive year in which the Pro Bowl will be held one week prior to the Super Bowl, thereby removing members of the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens, who will meet in Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans on February 3.
Pro Bowl Primer
Last year, the AFC rolled to a 59-41 victory setting a single-game scoring record. Brandon Marshall was named game MVP after hauling in four long touchdown passes. As you can imagine from the final score, defenders were not doing much defending making the game seem more like a flag football contest.
High-scoring games are always the norm at the Pro Bowl. In 2011, the NFC won 55-41 while the AFC picked up a 41-34 victory in 2010, and the NFC won 30-21 in a game with a relatively modest production in 2009. The NFC was also a 42-30 winner back in 2008. The nine-highest combined scores in Pro Bowl history have all occurred since 2000, including 100 points last year, the second-highest in history.
Youth is Served
For the second time in two years, the Pro Bowl game will feature two rookie quarterbacks, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson. Luck threw for an NFL-rookie record 4,374 yards this season, surpassing Cam Newton’s mark of 4,051 yards set last year. Wilson, meanwhile, had 26 touchdown passes in 2012, tying Peyton Manning’s rookie record from 1998.
Overall 16 players declined invitations, citing injury – eight from both sides, including all three NFC quarterbacks. The Saints’ Drew Brees, New York’s Eli Manning and Seattle rookie Russell Wilson stepped up as replacements. Luck, Peyton Manning and Matt Schaub will QB for the AFC.