The NFL Pro Bowl, the prelude to the Super Bowl, features All Stars from the NFC taking on All Stars from the AFC in Orlando. This is the typical Pro Bowl format, with the best players from each conference battling it out. Like the NHL, they experimented with a fantasy draft and that went by the wayside. The NFL did the draft for three years between 2014 to 2016, but returned to the traditional format last season. They also played this game after the Super Bowl, though that was a failure.
The AFC secured a 24-23 victory in the 2018 edition of the Pro Bowl. You will notice that there have been some lower scoring games in the Pro Bowl the past few years. After a 62-35 game in 2013, the NFL essentially forced defenders to show some effort for the following season. They certainly listened, as the final score fell considerably at 22-21. There has been an average of 52 points scored per game since the new initiative.
It’s quite the contrast to what the NFL has been trying to push in the regular season. They’ve been introducing rules to make it more difficult to play defense. In an attempt to make the Pro Bowl a watchable game, though, the NFL has been adamant on defenders playing defense in this game.
They are All-Stars after all, so attempt to play like one for a quarter. Problems arise by risking an injury overexerting themselves in an exhibition game. While defensive players have given more effort in recent years, they are still not going at 100 percent. Of course, you will not find players competing in this game from the Patriots or Rams because they have a much more important game next week.
The star attraction of this game, Patrick Mahomes, will be present. The Chiefs had to accept their consolation prize as finalist in the AFC Championship after an MVP season for their first-year starting quarterback. It should be fun to watch him in the Pro Bowl. Head below for our free NFL Pro Bowl Pick.
NFC All-Stars vs. AFC All-Stars NFL Pro Bowl Betting Odds:
Betting odds provided by bovada.lv
NFC vs. AFC Pick:
Mahomes put together a season that won’t be soon forgotten. It ended in frustration, as he watched Tom Brady direct the Patriots down the field in overtime to score and block the Chiefs from going to the Super Bowl. Nevertheless, it doesn’t take away from the personal accomplishments that Mahomes was able to pull off.
If it weren’t for him the Chiefs would have never been a play away from going to the Super Bowl to begin with. Mahomes threw for a staggering 5,097 yards with 50 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. His QB rating of 113.8 was good for 2nd in the league behind Drew Brees. Mahomes appears to be a shoo-in for MVP honors next week.
Expect Mahomes to want to put on a show in this game. The defensive schemes are going to be simple and he should be able to roll out and do whatever he wants in the Pro Bowl. Joining Mahomes on the AFC side at quarterback will be Andrew Luck who is replacing an injured Philip Rivers, along with Deshaun Watson who is replacing Tom Brady. The Pro Bowl is all about quarterback play.
I think Mahomes and Watson are going to want to dazzle. Neither have been in the Pro Bowl and they have the type of mobility that defenses in an exhibition aren’t going to be bothered to go full out against. There will be some effort defensively, but the effort from Mahomes and Watson is going to outweigh any basic defense the NFC throws their way. And note that Mahomes is going to have his favorite targets, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce to connect with.
On the NFC side, I think we have some quarterbacks who are going to want to put together a solid game as well. Russell Wilson is a competitor that treats every game as something meaningful. He balled out in the precision challenge on Friday and played like a guy who didn’t care it’s for fun. The key for the NFC might be Mitchell Trubisky and Dak Prescott, though. This is their first trips to the Pro Bowl, albeit as replacements, but will likely want to show that they belong here.
With defenses giving more effort in recent years, oddsmakers have adjusted by dragging the total down. It’s down all the way to 55 in 2019, which is lower than several regular season games this season. Even in the Pro Bowl, the officiating is going to be slanted in the direction of the offenses. The NFL would want nothing more than for the young quarterbacks in this game to put on a show.
With a total of 55, I think it’s a bit too low. People are going to be gun shy about hitting the OVER in this game given the lower scoring Pro Bowls recently, but 2018 has seen record scoring from previous seasons and it should go up compared to last years Pro Bowl as well. A 34-30 or 35-28 final looks about right, which would top 55 and cash the OVER on Sunday.