This Sunday, two teams of elite players, one representing the NFC and the other the AFC, will face off in Las Vegas in the NFL Pro Bowl.
The game returns after being postponed due to the pandemic last year and since the game was returned back into an AFC v NFC contest in 2016, the AFC have won all four of the games.
Bookmakers, like PlaySugarHouse Sportsbook have got the AFC as the slight favorites to win the game at -1.5, although there is very little to choose between the two teams with both -110 with PlaySugarHouse on the moneyline.
Of course, players from the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals won’t be in action as they are preparing for next week’s Super Bowl (which we will have much more on next week), and there are a few players missing out through injury, including the recently retired Tom Brady.
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As is always the case with the Pro Bowl, a number of players that were voted onto the teams won’t be available to play either because they are competing in next week’s Super Bowl, or they are nursing an injury of some sort.
Amongst those absent through injury for the AFC are Lamar Jackson (QB), Keenan Allen (WR), Quenton Nelson (OL), Chris Jones (DL) and Joey Bosa (LB) while Ja’Marr Chase (WR), Joe Mixon (RB) and Troy Hendrickson (DE) are preparing for the Super Bowl with the Bengals.
The NFC roster has been decimated by injuries with Aaron Rodgers (QB), Tom Brady (QB), Davante Adams (WR), Trent Williams (OL), Tristan Wirfs (OL), Tyron Smith (OL) Zack Martin (OL), Brandon Scherff (OL), Jason Kelce (OL), Nick Bosa (DE), Kenny Clarke (DL), Bobby Wagner (LB) and Quandre Diggs (S) all out injured.
Plus, the NFC have Matt Gay (K), Cooper Kupp (WR), Jalen Ramsey (CB) and Aaron Donald (DL) all with the Rams getting ready for the Super Bowl.
What this means is that a whole host of players have been called up as backups for the game including the likes of quarterbacks Kyle Cousins, Russell Wilson and Mac Jones, plus the Tennessee Titans trio of Rodger Saffold (OL), Jeffrey Simmons (DL) and Harold Landry (LB).
The head coach for the AFC, and deservedly so in my view, is Mike Vrabel from the Tennessee Titans, while Matt LaFleur of the Green Bay Packers will be the man in charge of the NFC.
Series History & Records
In games between the two conferences, the AFC’s victories in the last four Pro Bowl’s mean that the AFC Now leads the head to head between the teams 25-22.
In terms of Pro Bowl Appearances, perhaps unsurprisingly, Tom Brady has been selected the most often with 15 Pro Bowl appearances in his career, which is one more than Tony Gonzalez, Peyton Manning, Bruce Matthews and Merlin Olsen.
A Celebration Or End Of Season Farce?
The Pro Bowl has plenty of detractors who point out that the number of top players that routinely miss the game (including those competing in the Super Bowl), the fact that the game is played in a barely competitive fashion (especially on defense) and that fan voting means that often some players deserving of a spot in the team often miss out, makes the game less of a spectacle.
Certainly, it is not as competitive a game as the other All-Star games you see in the NBA, NHL or MLB.
However, after a long and tough season, it is right that the top players are recognised and rewarded and perhaps we should view the Pro Bowl as being for the players, more so than for the fans.
After all, after the season of entertainment we have just enjoyed, they deserve to kick off their off season with a bit of a Vegas vacation!