Monday, December 28, 2009
A look at AFC East Pro Bowl possibilities
The NFL will announce Pro Bowl rosters Tuesday night. Let's take a look at the possibilities for each AFC East team and whether I think they're in or out.
- Fred Jackson, running back: I put Jackson on this list because he might be Buffalo's MVP. But his position is loaded with too many stars. He's out.
- Jairus Byrd, safety: The rookie has led the NFL in interceptions for a few weeks. He's currently in a three-way tie for the lead but on injured reserve because of groin surgery. He's probably in, but the position is crowded with superstars.
- Aaron Schobel, defensive end: He has gone to a pair of Pro Bowls and has quietly put together one of his better seasons. Maybe it happened too late, but his three-sack performance Sunday in Atlanta gave him the magical double-digit total. I'm going to say he gets in, maybe as alternate.
- Brian Moorman, punter: Moorman is one of the most respected punters among his peers because of his overall athleticism and proficiency in tricky weather. He's at a disadvantage with Shane Lechler also in the AFC. Moorman is out.
New England Patriots
- Ricky Williams, running back: Williams deserves credit for his career accomplishments. He's 32 and rushed for 1,000 yards as the Dolphins' workhorse when Ronnie Brown suffered a broken foot. Williams should get in.
- Lousaka Polite, fullback: Dolfans have been enamored with Polite's season. He has been automatic on third- and fourth-and-short situations. But I don't think he has shown enough. He has 117 yards, no touchdowns and only 11 receptions. He's out.
- Jake Long, tackle: Long won the fan vote for the second time. He went to the Pro Bowl as an alternate last year, but he should be a starter this time around. He's in.
- Randy Starks, defensive end: Jason Taylor has been pushing Starks for consideration the past few weeks. Starks is having a fine season for a 3-4 defensive end. But six sacks won't put him in his first Pro Bowl. He's out.
New York Jets
- Tom Brady, quarterback: Peyton Manning will be the starter, of course. Matt Schaub deserves to go as the NFL's yardage leader. That leaves one slot for Brady, who ranks fourth in yardage and touchdowns. He's in.
- Wes Welker, receiver: Despite missing two games, he leads the NFL with a franchise-record 122 receptions. The debate isn't whether or not he'll make the Pro Bowl but if he's selected as an All-Pro. He's in.
- Randy Moss, receiver: Moss has had an up-and-down season, and that will cost him. He has 78 receptions for 1,189 yards and 13 touchdowns, but he won't supplant the likes of Andre Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Reggie Wayne and Welker. Moss is out.
- Matt Light, tackle: He is one of the most respected players at his position, going to a pair of Pro Bowls in the past three seasons. But he missed five games. He's out.
- Vince Wilfork, nose tackle: He led all defensive tackles in fan balloting. Wilfork has missed a pair of games with a foot injury, but he's one of the best. He's in.
- Jerod Mayo, inside linebacker: Last year's defensive rookie of the year clearly is an integral part of the Patriots' defense. But as long as Ray Lewis is active, that's one Pro Bowl spot that will be taken care of. I don't think Mayo has done enough to get invited for the other opening. He's out.
- Brandon Meriweather, safety: Much like Mayo, Meriweather is impacted by Ed Reed playing in his conference. But with Troy Polamalu undeserving this year, there's a vacancy. Meriweather generated All-Pro consideration on various midseason teams. He's in.
- Stephen Gostkowski, kicker: Last year's selection for the Pro Bowl probably won't repeat. Stiff competition includes Rob Bironas, Matt Prater and Jay Feely. Gostkowski is out.
- Thomas Jones, running back: Jones went last year after leading the AFC in rushing. He deserves to go back as the catalyst of the NFL's top rushing team, but might need to get in as an alternate after Chris Johnson, Cedric Benson and Maurice Jones-Drew. This is a tough one, but I'm leaning toward Jones not making it Tuesday.
- Tony Richardson, fullback: He's one of the greatest fullbacks of the past decade and perennially blocks for a 1,000-yard back. But if he didn't make it last year, then he won't make it this year. He's out.
- Nick Mangold, center: He's one of the best centers in the game, and the fact he didn't rate among the top five in fan balloting is bizarre. He's in.
- Alan Faneca, guard: Faneca has gone to eight straight Pro Bowls. He's always in.
- D'Brickashaw Ferguson, tackle: Fine season, but he doesn't have the cachet of Long, Light, Joe Thomas, Ryan Clady or Michael Oher. Ferguson is out.
- David Harris, inside linebacker: He's having a tremendous all-around season with 5.5 sacks and a pair of interceptions. He's a rising star. Has Harris done enough to make his first Pro Bowl? I say not yet.
- Calvin Pace, outside linebacker: If not for the four-game suspension for violating the league's performance-enhancing drugs policy, he'd be a lock. He still leads the NFL's No. 1 defense in several major categories. He deserves to be in, but I don't think he makes it.
- Darrelle Revis, cornerback: The NFL defensive player of the year candidate is a lock -- not only as a Pro Bowler, but also as an All-Pro.
- Jay Feely, kicker: Although the unit was more to blame than he was, the three-miss performance in Week 15 at the Falcons could cost him. He's having a great season, but I say he's out.