The NFL Pro Bowl moves back to Aloha Stadium in Hawaii this year with the all-star game being played the week prior to the Super Bowl this Sunday evening (7:00pm ET). There will be some unexpected stars in the game this year for the NFC with the New York Giants the surprise entrant in the Super Bowl for the conference. The NFC will feature quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers from the Green Bay Packers (4,643 yards passing, 46 TDs, 6 INTs) and passing yardage record-holder Drew Brees from the New Orleans Saints (5,476 yards passing, 46 TDs, 14 INTs) as well as rookie sensation Cameron Newton who replaces Eli Manning from the Giants. The AFC counters with QBs Phillip Rivers of San Diego (4,624 yards passing, 27 TDs, 20 INTs) rookie Andy Dalton of Cincinnati (3,398 yards passing, 20 TDs, 13 INTs) as a replacement for New England’s Tom Brady and the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger. The matchup will feature head coach Mike McCarthy of the defending World Champion Green Bay Packers for the NFC and Gary Kubiak of the Houston Texans for the AFC, opposing each other.
The AFC will be missing many of its top players, including 7 Patriots most notably the aforementioned Brady, TE Rob Gronkowski who set the NFL record for touchdowns for a tight end, and WR Wes Welker. Also absent will be Baltimore’s linebacker Terrell Suggs, RB Ray Rice and safety Ed Reed, the Steelers’ safety Troy Polamalu and Houston RB Arian Foster. The NFC will be without the services of Chicago linebackers Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher, 49ers RB Frank Gore and safety Dashon Goldson, but they fair much better in terms of roster depletion than their counterparts do. The big playmakers for the NFC on offense including receivers Larry Fitzgerald of Arizona (80 receptions, 1,411 yards and 8 TDs) and Steve Smith of Carolina (79 receptions, 1,394 yards and 7 TDs) along with Brees’ favorite target tight end Jimmy Graham of the Saints (99 receptions, 1,310 yards, 11 TDs) will be there.
AFC vs. NFC Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Over 73 (-110)
Under 73 (-110)
Betting odds taken from www.5dimes.com (get $520 FREE)
AFC vs. NFC Pick:
AFC holds a 14-12 advantage in the Pro Bowl since 1985, and has averaged 26.6 points per game scored while allowing 26.2 per contest. The series has been almost as even as it can get, but that could change this year with the talent pool greatly favoring the NFC. Running backs LeSean McCoy of the Eagles (1,309 yards rushing, 17 TDs) and Matt Forte of the Bears (997 yards rushing, 3 TDs) are talented runners and receivers and that gives NFC head coach Mike McCarthy of the Packers an advantage in terms of flexibility and play calling in what has traditionally been a very vanilla game plan and with the rules favoring the offense. The lack of New England’s TE Gronkowski hurts the AFC because of the matchup problems he would provide an NFC defense that does not have the services of the versatile linebacker Urlacher and play-making safety Goldson. Likewise, the New Orleans’ combo of QB Drew Brees’ and TE Jimmy Graham has been in synch all season long, and they will not have to contend with Troy Polamalu in coverage and should have a big day. Take the NFC in this game to cover the 4 points as they have the superior roster in what should be a high-scoring game. If the over/under number can be found at 70 or below, the parlay of the NFC and the over looks very enticing as well.