In what is the most meaningless football game since the NFL Preseason months ago, the Pro Bowl introduces the beginning of Super Bowl Week. The Super Bowl is of course a week from today in Minneapolis. It isn’t going to be a sunny, balmy Super Bowl that’s for sure. The NFL likes to give the northern teams some love here and there. Build a new stadium, and the Super Bowl will come.
I’ve been to a Super Bowl and wouldn’t deter anyone from going because of cold weather, but warmer weather certainly sounds more appealing. The Pro Bowl is not going to be chilly, as it’s coming to us from Orlando. It’s not Hawaii, but the contract expired in Honolulu, so the Orlando will be the Pro Bowl destination for the foreseeable future. It’s not nearly as long of a flight for players and personnel, so that’s a bonus, but I always felt a trip to Hawaii was a nice reward for being a Pro Bowler.
Always a word of warning betting on All-Star games and exhibitions. Use it as a fun bet to make it barrable to watch the game. That’s basically the only thing I get out of them. Although, I have been able to turn a profit over the last several years in All-Star matchups. Sometimes I wish I put a bit more on it, but what can you do. Next week is the Super Bowl, and there will be plenty of action going down.
In any event, the Pro Bowl is a nice appetizer. This game never is really a true All-Star game, because a lot of them are playing in the Super Bowl next week. Without going down the list, I’m sure you can name the guys on the Patriots and Eagles who would be playing in this game. The Steelers aren’t in the Super Bowl, but they are going to have a ton of players representing their team in the Pro Bowl.
The AFC is filled with Steelers, nine of them, all of which will be playing on Sunday. Except, of course, Ryan Shazier, who is recovering from a brutal neck injury earlier in the year against the Bengals. The focal point of their offense, Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, and Antonio Brown will all be suiting up in Orlando. Who knows if Bell is going to be around in Pittsburgh next season. He said most likely, but that’s going to come down to the contract. Other weapons joining the Steelers in the AFC is DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green, Keenan Allen, and Kareem Hunt. Alex Smith and Derek Carr will follow at quarterback behind Roethlisberger. Head below for more of our analysis and NFL Pro Bowl pick. Note that this is an afternoon game.
NFC vs. AFC Pro Bowl Betting Odds:
vs. AFC +3(-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Pro Bowl Pick:
The Pro Bowl used to be a huge joke. Defenders just stood there and didn’t want to play defenses. In turn, offenses did whatever they wanted to do and ran up the scoreboard. The Pro Bowl is supposed to showcase offensive talent, that’s what the fans want to see. However, it was becoming ridiculous with players showing no effort. In the last few years, we’ve seen teams forced by the league to play defense. In 2012, the final score was 62-35. The following year, we had a final score of 22-21. Teams got the message and they started playing defense. The highest game since that revelation was 49-27 two years ago.
It’s always tough to gauge who wants to show up and play defense, but it’s a guarantee it will be more intense than before 2013. We noted above that the AFC is going to have a slew of Steelers active in this one. Should it help them out when they’re in the game? I would say yes. I expect the AFC to score with the combo of Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown. Needless to say, they have established a nice rapport over the years. Look for Ben to look for him early and often.
The NFC will counter with Russell Wilson, Drew Brees, and Jared Goff at quarterback. Goff is replacing Carson Wentz in this one. Regardless if he’s a replacement or not, it’s an impressive feat for Goff to get to this point. People stamped a bust tag on him before the season started, and now he’s a Pro Bowler. I expect him to want to show something in this game. Even though it’s an exhibition, I like Goff to compete.
Jason Witten made it to another Pro Bowl after replacing Ertz. Viking wide receiver, Adam Thielen, who is coming off the best year of his career, was rewarded with a spot in Orlando. He caught 91 balls for 1,276 yards and 4 touchdowns. The NFC also has Michael Thomas and Todd Gurley on their side. There isn’t an exact science when it comes to handicapping Pro Bowls. When I saw the total open above 70, the UNDER peaked my interest immediately. However, that value is gone in my opinion. From my point of view, a game in the high 60’s, in the ballpark of 36-30 looks realistic. In other words, with the total moving down this low, I’d take a look at the OVER in the Pro Bowl.
PICK: OVER 63.5 (-110)