AFC South Pro Bowl analysis

December, 29, 2009
12/29/09
7:29
PM ET
» NFC Pro Bowl: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

Perfect sense: If the Colts aren’t in the Super Bowl, Peyton Manning will throw to familiar top targets Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark and turn to hand off to familiar foes, Chris Johnson and Maurice Jones-Drew. Opposite Wayne, Manning will look to Andre Johnson. The AFC South is well represented at the skill positions with explosive play-makers, led by Manning, Johnson and Johnson.

I was pleased to see rookie Brian Cushing break through. It’s difficult for 4-3 outside linebackers to get noticed, but he got the backup spot behind two great 3-4 guys, Elvis Dumervil and James Harrison.

Made it on rep: I don’t know who was more deserving than Mario Williams, but he has not been the terror that’s come to be expected, likely because a shoulder injury hindered him more than was let on. He still dictated protections and made tackles and quarterbacks worry. But when his final résumé is written, this isn’t going to rank as one of his top seasons. He’s said himself during the season that he knew he could and needed to play better.

Got robbed: Antoine Bethea didn’t get in front of playmakers Ed Reed and rookie Jairus Byrd. In a secondary scrambled by injuries, Bethea was a consistent settling force for a defense that currently ranks seventh in points allowed.

Michael Roos started with a bad game but played well for a team that has a running back on the verge of 2,000 yards and hasn’t allowed many sacks.

I’d expect Matt Schaub’s in line as the top alternate at quarterback. I can see him not getting a nod over Manning and Philip Rivers. Houston’s got a reasonable debate about Schaub (more yards, slightly better passer rating) versus Tom Brady, but Brady’s got a bigger rep to go with one more touchdown and two fewer interceptions, not to mention two more wins. They go head to head Sunday.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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