For any team headed for the playoffs, the ideal is that this year none of your players actually play in the Pro Bowl. Because if you’re going to the Super Bowl, they won’t be.
The format has changed. The game will be held the week before the big game, rather than the week after, and has been moved to the Super Bowl site, Miami, from Honolulu. We’ll find out who makes the cut tonight.
So which Patriots are in the running?
Glad you asked. The key here is looking at things from a big-picture perspective. For example … Leigh Bodden has had a fantastic year at corner. But he’s up against Oakland’s Nnamdi Asomugha, the Jets’ Darrelle Revis and Denver’s Champ Bailey, which makes the going tough. So here, in my opinion, are the five Patriots with the best shot to get in.
(Update: Added a sixth at the bottom)
QB Tom Brady: Do you realize Brady, if not for 2007, would have career highs in yards, completion percentage, touchdown passes and passer rating this year? It’s true. The picking at the QB position is academic in the AFC: Brady, Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers.
WR Wes Welker: Should be a lock for his second trip to the league’s all-star game. He has 21 more catches than anyone in the league, and is second in receiving yards. You can make a compelling case he’s the team MVP.
WR Randy Moss: He leads the NFL with 13 touchdown catches and has 1,189 yards on 78 catches. So the numbers are there. But if you figure that Houston’s Andre Johnson and Indy’s Reggie Wayne are in, along with Welker, then Moss will be in a heated race for the final spot with Pittsburgh’s Santonio Holmes, Denver’s Brandon Marshall, San Diego’s Vincent Jackson and Cincinnati’s Chad Ochocinco.
NT Vince Wilfork: He may be the best in the league at his position, and should cruise to a second Pro Bowl trip, particularly with Kris Jenkins’s injury and Albert Haynesworth’s departure for the NFC. Spots are open at his position, he’s had a top-notch year, and he won the fan voting. No-brainer.
K Stephen Gostkowski: He actually has more touchbacks this year (20) than last (16) on kickoffs, but his accuracy on field goals is down slightly. Sometimes kickers make it on rep, but San Diego’s Nate Kaeding has a similarly well-known name and is having a better year.
OK, during my morning run, I gave this some thought, and I’m gonna add another name to the “maybe” list:
S Brandon Meriweather: He may be a bit of a borderline pick right now, but with injuries to Baltimore’s Ed Reed and Pittsburgh’s Troy Polamalu, the running is a little more wide-open this year. I think we can safely say that Denver’s Brian Dawkins is in, and the rest are up in the air. My guess is Reed gets in, despite having missed time, while Polamalu has simply been out too much. That leaves one spot that could come down to Meriweather or Indy’s Antoine Bethea. Buffalo rookie Jairus Byrd has nine picks, but hasn’t been an every-down player for Buffalo the whole season and was recently placed on injured reserve with a groin injury.