Pro Bowl Cheat Sheet: Week 11
Your league needs you!
Or at least the players do. You see voting on the Pro Bowl isn’t just a bit of a fun – it’s a responsibility. To the players plying their trade and putting their bodies on the line, your say can impact the adulation thrown their way, the legacy they leave and, in some cases, their contract incentives.
So we’re doing our bit by hopefully pushing you in the right direction with our Pro Bowl Cheat Sheet!
(Note: for positional choices we’re following the ballot at NFL.com)
Starters: Aaron Rodgers (GB) and Ben Roethlisberger (PIT)
Backups: Tom Brady (NE), Matt Ryan (ATL), Drew Brees (NO) and Philip Rivers (SD)
Breakdown: The top two picked themselves. They’ve been the standouts. Behind them? Well it was any four from seven with Andrew Luck, Tony Romo and Peyton Manning all being guys we wouldn’t object to starting (even if they feel like more stat/ team-win based selections).
Starters: Le’Veon Bell (PIT) and Marshawn Lynch (SEA)
Backups: DeMarco Murray (DAL), Jamaal Charles (KC), Matt Forte (CHI) and Justin Forsett (BAL)
Breakdown: Bell, Murray and Lynch are all worth the start, with the deciding factor being the woes of Murray in the passing game and his propensity to fumble. He’s still having a fantastic year, though.
Starters: Antonio Brown (PIT), Jordy Nelson (GB), Demaryius Thomas (DEN) and T.Y Hilton (IND)
Backups: Emmanuel Sanders (DEN), Jeremy Maclin (PHI), Dez Bryant (DAL) and Mike Evans (TB)
Breakdown: Brown and Nelson seem to fly under the radar but consistently deliver, with 2014 no different. Outside of that, it’s great to see Maclin not just rebounding from injury, but looking a better player in the process. Of the rookie receivers, Evans is one to watch, he’s getting better before our very eyes.
Starters: Anthony Sherman (KC) and Jerome Felton (MIN)
Breakdown: Sherman is proving last year was no fluke with a fine effort that earned him a contract extension. Felton was really the only other candidate, despite his limited playing time.
Starters: Rob Gronkowski (NE) and Jimmy Graham (NO)
Backups: Jason Witten (DAL) and Dwayne Allen (IND)
Breakdown: Such is the year Gronkowski is having that he’s earning legit MVP talk — incredible for a tight end to have that kind of impact. His position seems cemented, so now it’s a battle for the spots behind where the receiving of Graham has him ahead of the all-around work of Witten and Allen.
Starters: Joe Thomas (CLE) and Ricky Wagner (BAL), Jason Peters (PHI) and Sebastian Vollmer (NE)
Backups: Andrew Whitworth (CIN) and Zach Strief (NO)
Breakdown: Call us old fashioned but we want left and right tackles in the mix, so we’ve split it evenly between the two. Thomas is having a year that rivals his best, which is saying something for the sure-fire Hall of Famer. The unlucky one is Branden Albert, who was right in the left tackle mix until injury.
Starters: Marshal Yanda (BAL), Kelechi Osemele (BAL) Joel Bitonio (CLV) and Zack Martin (DAL)
Backups: Josh Sitton (GB) and Brandon Linder (JAX)
Breakdown: That’s a lot of rookies right? The tandem of Yanda and Osemele have been a big part of a Ravens line that has been better than anyone imagined it could be, with their work in the run game particularly effective, while both Bitonio and Martin have hit the ground running.
Starters: Nick Mangold (NYJ) and Max Unger (SEA)
Backups: Corey Linsley (GB) and Maurkice Pouncey (PIT)
Breakdown: Alex Mack was on his way to securing a spot before injury, but his loss is the gain of others. Mangold is back to his best and the Seahawks really feel a difference when their center isn’t on the field.
Starters: Cameron Wake (MIA), J.J. Watt (HST), Calais Campbell (ARZ) and Mario Williams (BUF)
Backups: Olivier Vernon (MIA) and Justin Smith (SF)
Breakdown: There’s a case for Robert Ayers to make it but he’s not even on the Pro Bowl ballot. Such is life. Wake continues to be the dominant edge rusher in the league, while what can you say about Watt that hasn’t already been said? They’re the two biggest playmakers in this group of explosive ends.
Starters: Ndamukong Suh (DET), Kyle Williams (BUF), Aaron Donald (SL) and Muhammad Wilkerson (NYJ)
Backups: Marcell Dareus (BUF) and Haloti Ngata (BAL)
Breakdown: Tough luck for Sheldon Richardson, Gerald McCoy and Johnathan Hankins who barely missed out. Outside of Suh and Wilkerson, it’s tight at the top with a number of players having strong cases for selection.
Starters: Luke Kuechly (CAR) and C.J. Mosley (BAL)
Backups: Karlos Dansby (CLE) and Mychal Kendricks (PHI)
Breakdown: In our humble eyes, Kuechly is playing better this year than he did last, which is saying something. Mosley has taken the league by storm to earn a rookie starting nod, while the only other contentious decision was whether it would be Kendricks or Rolando McClain. Keep an eye on Chris Borland who is overcoming playing time issues to make a big case.
Starters: Von Miller (DEN) and DeAndre Levy (DET)
Backups: Justin Houston (KC), Khalil Mack (OAK), Terrell Suggs (BAL) and Thomas Davis (CAR)
Breakdown: Firstly, can we reiterate our hate for a system that pitches 4-3 outside linebackers in with their 3-4 counterparts? It means the 4-3 version is almost always left on the outs because they can’t have the sacks to match the odd-front peer unless they’re used in a Von Miller-type role. Rant over, we’re looking past the numbers because there’s no way DeAndre Levy wasn’t making this team.
Starters: Chris Harris Jr. (DEN), Vontae Davis (IND), Brandon Flowers (SD) and Antonio Cromartie (ARZ)
Backups: Darrelle Revis (NE), Richard Sherman (SEA), Desmond Trufant (ATL) and Orlando Scandrick (DAL)
Breakdown: He doesn’t get the publicity he should but Chris Harris is the top dog in the cornerback market with a selection of defensive backs all on the chase. Sean Smith has probably the biggest right to disagree, while the injury to Jimmy Smith made it easier to leave him out.
Starters: Eric Weddle (SD) and Harrison Smith (MIN)
Breakdown: Remember when we could vote for six safeties? Now there are but four votes so expect some people to be left out, especially given the level of play from guys like Smith and Weddle.
Starters: Antoine Bethea (SF) and Donte Whitner (CLE)
Breakdown: 49ers fans want to claim a win in letting Whitner leave, and Cleveland fans one in picking him up. In one of those rare win-win situations Whitner has gone onto play excellent football for the Browns while San Francisco hasn’t missed a beat with Bethea stepping in.
Starters: Dan Bailey (DAL) and Matt Bryant (ATL)
Breakdown: It’s not just about how many kicks you make but where you make them from and the game situation. In that regard Bailey and Bryant have just kept Blair Walsh out.
Starters: Darren Sproles (PHI) and Devin Hester (ATL)
Breakdown: Sproles may only handle punts, but what a job he does on them. Hester’s big play ability beats out Adam Jones.
Starters: Pat McAfee (IND) and Johnny Hekker (SL)
Breakdown: McAfee is having some year, inspiring the kind of confidence that you always feel his next punt will be a good one. Hekker is holding off a strong challenge from Sam Martin, Jon Ryan and Thomas Morstead.
Starters: Josh Martin (KC) and Michael Thomas (MIA)
Breakdown: We have to follow the ballot here so it’s only the players teams have nominated. The Chiefs have wisely gone the way of Martin who is more than tackles and is our top-ranked special-teamer on the year. In second spot is another Chief (Kelcie McCray) but behind him is the Dolphins’ Michael Thomas, who just so happens to be on the ballot.
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