NFL Nation: AFC Pro Bowl analysis 2011

2012 Pro Bowl roster

December, 27, 2011

NFC Pro Bowl: East | West | North | South AFC Pro Bowl: East | West | North | South

Here is the roster for the 2012 Pro Bowl. The game will be played a week before the Super Bowl on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012 in Honolulu. (* Denotes starter.)


* Tom Brady, New England
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh
Philip Rivers, San Diego

Running back
* Ray Rice, Baltimore
Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville
Arian Foster, Houston

*Vonta Leach, Baltimore

Wide receiver
* Wes Welker, New England
* Mike Wallace, Pittsburgh
A.J. Green, Cincinnati
Brandon Marshall, Miami

Tight end
* Rob Gronkowski, New England
Antonio Gates, San Diego

* Joe Thomas, Cleveland
* Jake Long, Miami
D'Brickashaw Ferguson, N.Y. Jets

Guard * Logan Mankins, New England
* Brian Waters, New England
Marshal Yanda, Baltimore

* Maurkice Pouncey, Pittsburgh
Nick Mangold, N.Y. Jets


Defensive end
* Dwight Freeney, Indianapolis
* Andre Carter, New England
Elvis Dumervil, Denver

Interior linemen
* Haloti Ngata, Baltimore
* Vince Wilfork, New England
Richard Seymour, Oakland

Outside linebacker
* Terrell Suggs, Baltimore
* Von Miller, Denver
Tamba Hali, Kansas City

Inside/midde linebacker
* Ray Lewis, Baltimore
Derrick Johnson, Kansas City

* Darrelle Revis, N.Y. Jets
* Champ Bailey, Denver
Johnathan Joseph, Houston

Free safety
* Ed Reed, Baltimore
Eric Weddle, San Diego

Strong safety
* Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh


Shane Lechler, Oakland

Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland

Kick returner
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh

Matthew Slater, New England


* Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay
Drew Brees, New Orleans
Eli Manning, N.Y. Giants

Running back
* LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia
Matt Forte, Chicago
Frank Gore, San Francisco

* John Kuhn, Green Bay

Wide receiver
* Calvin Johnson, Detroit
* Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona
Steve Smith, Carolina
Greg Jennings, Green Bay

Tight end
* Jimmy Graham, New Orleans
Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta

* Jason Peters, Philadelphia
* Joe Staley, San Francisco
Jermon Bushrod, New Orleans

* Jahri Evans, New Orleans
* Carl Nicks, New Orleans
Davin Joseph, Tampa Bay

* Ryan Kalil, Carolina
Scott Wells, Green Bay


Defensive end
* Jared Allen, Minnesota
* Jason Babin, Philadelphia
Jason Pierre-Paul, N.Y. Giants

Interior linemen
* Justin Smith, San Francisco
* Jay Ratliff, Dallas
B.J. Raji, Green Bay

Outside linebacker
* DeMarcus Ware, Dallas
* Clay Matthews, Green Bay
Lance Briggs, Chicago

Inside/midde linebacker
* Patrick Willis, San Francisco
Brian Urlacher, Chicago

* Charles Woodson, Green Bay
* Carlos Rogers, San Francisco
Charles Tillman, Chicago

Free safety
* Earl Thomas, Seattle
Dashon Goldson, San Francisco

Strong safety
* Adrian Wilson, Arizona


Andy Lee, San Francisco

David Akers, San Francisco

Kick returner
Patrick Peterson, Arizona

Corey Graham, Chicago


Baltimore Ravens (7)
* Vonta Leach, fullback
* Ray Lewis, inside/middle linebacker
* Haloti Ngata, interior lineman
* Ed Reed, free safety
* Ray Rice, running back
* Terrell Suggs, outside linebacker
Marshal Yanda, guard

Cincinnati Bengals (1)
A.J. Green, wide receiver

Cleveland Browns (1)
* Joe Thomas, tackle

Denver Broncos (3)
* Champ Bailey, cornerback
Elvis Dumervil, defensive end
* Von Miller, outside linebacker

Houston Texans (2)
Arian Foster, running back
Johnathan Joseph, cornerback

Indianapolis Colts (1)
* Dwight Freeney, defensive end

Jacksonville Jaguars (1)
Maurice Jones-Drew, running back

Kansas City Chiefs (2)
Tamba Hali, outside linebacker
Derrick Johnson, inside/middle linebacker

Miami Dolphins (2)
* Jake Long, tackle
Brandon Marshall, wide receiver

New England Patriots (8)
* Tom Brady, quarterback
* Andre Carter, defensive end
* Rob Gronkowski, tight end
* Logan Mankins, guard
Matthew Slater, special-teamer
* Brian Waters, guard
* Wes Welker, wide receiver
* Vince Wilfork, interior lineman

N.Y. Jets (3)
D'Brickashaw Ferguson, tackle
Nick Mangold, center
* Darrelle Revis, cornerback

Oakland Raiders (3)
Sebastian Janikowski, place-kicker
Shane Lechler, punter
Richard Seymour, interior lineman

Pittsburgh Steelers (5)
Antonio Brown, kick returner
* Troy Polamalu, strong safety
* Maurkice Pouncey, center
Ben Roethlisberger, quarterback
* Mike Wallace, wide receiver

San Diego Chargers (3)
Antonio Gates, tight end
Philip Rivers, quarterback
Eric Weddle, free safety


Arizona Cardinals (3)
* Larry Fitzgerald, wide receiver
Patrick Peterson, kick returner
* Adrian Wilson, strong safety

Atlanta Falcons (1)
Tony Gonzalez, tight end

Carolina Panthers (2)
* Ryan Kalil, center
Steve Smith, wide receiver

Chicago Bears (5)
Lance Briggs, outside linebacker
Matt Forte, running back
Corey Graham, special-teamer
Charles Tillman, cornerback
Brian Urlacher, inside/middle linebacker

Dallas Cowboys (2)
* Jay Ratliff, interior lineman
* DeMarcus Ware, outside linebacker

Detroit Lions (1)
* Calvin Johnson, wide receiver

Green Bay Packers (7)
Greg Jennings, wide receiver
* John Kuhn, fullback
* Clay Matthews, outside linebacker
B.J. Raji, interior lineman
* Aaron Rodgers, quarterback
Scott Wells, center
* Charles Woodson, cornerback

Minnesota Vikings (1)
* Jared Allen, defensive end

New Orleans Saints (5)
Drew Brees, quarterback
Jermon Bushrod, tackle
* Jahri Evans, guard
* Jimmy Graham, tight end
* Carl Nicks, guard

N.Y. Giants (2)
Eli Manning, quarterback
Jason Pierre-Paul, defensive end

Philadelphia Eagles (3)
* Jason Babin, defensive end
* LeSean McCoy, running back
* Jason Peters, tackle

San Francisco 49ers (8)
David Akers, place-kicker
Dashon Goldson, free safety
Frank Gore, running back
Andy Lee, punter
* Carlos Rogers, cornerback
* Justin Smith, interior lineman
* Joe Staley, tackle
* Patrick Willis, inside/middle linebacker

Seattle Seahawks (1)
* Earl Thomas, free safety

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1)
Davin Joseph, guard

AFC North Pro Bowl analysis

December, 27, 2011
NFC Pro Bowl: East | West | North | South AFC Pro Bowl: East | West | North | South

Perfect sense: Headlining the six Pro Bowl starters for the Ravens is outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, who is an NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidate. He leads the AFC with a career-best 13 sacks to go along with six forced fumbles, five passes defensed and two interceptions. Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace is third in the AFC in receiving yards (1,182) but he has the highest yards per catch average (16.6) of any receiver with more than 70 receptions. Ravens running back Ray Rice leads the NFL with 1,869 yards from scrimmage and is tied for first in the AFC with 10 rushing touchdowns.

Made it on rep: Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis is still the best inside linebacker in the division but others (namely Houston's Brian Cushing) have had better seasons this year. Baltimore went 4-0 when Lewis was injured, and he's been a non-factor in the two games since he returned. There's no argument that the Browns' Joe Thomas is the most talented left tackle in the AFC but he didn't have a stellar year. He has tied a career high with seven penalties and has been part of an offense that ranked 30th in the NFL in scoring. The same goes for center Maurkice Pouncey, who didn't play as well as last year because of illness and injuries.

Got robbed: Ten starters on the Steelers' defense, which ranks first in fewest yards and second in points allowed, got snubbed. Strong safety Troy Polamalu is the Pittsburgh defense's only representative. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton should have been the third alternate after turning a four-win team into a playoff contender and becoming the fourth rookie with 20 touchdown passes. Another Bengal, Geno Atkins, outplayed the Ravens' Haloti Ngata at times this season and led all interior linemen with eight sacks. The Browns' Joe Haden has been the AFC North's top cornerback and broke up the third-most passes this season in the NFL (19).

Rookie surprise: The Bengals' A.J. Green became the first rookie wide receiver to make the Pro Bowl since Anquan Boldin in 2003. He leads Cincinnati in receptions (63), receiving yards (1,031) and touchdowns (seven). A big-time playmaker, Green leads the NFL this season in catches of 35 or more yards (11).

Click here for the complete 2012 Pro Bowl roster.

AFC West Pro Bowl analysis

December, 27, 2011
NFC Pro Bowl: East | West | North | South AFC Pro Bowl: East | West | North | South

Perfect sense: Kansas City may be in last place but linebacker Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali are top-level players. They both deserve this honor. They are building-block players on a young defense. Johnson is a tackling machine and Hali, who has 12 sacks, is one of the better pass-rushers in the NFL. Oakland kicker Sebastian Janikowski made his first Pro Bowl in his 12-year career. It is past due and it's well deserving. Janikowski, who tied an NFL record with a 63-yard field goal at Denver in Week 1, is a great weapon. Oakland punter Shane Lechler is one of the game’s all-time best punters. He always deserves to go to the Pro Bowl. San Diego safety Eric Weddle is tied for the league lead with seven interceptions. He is earning his $40-million deal he signed this year. Denver linebacker Von Miller deserved being a Pro Bowler. He has 11.5 sacks and he’s been a complete player. The No. 2 overall draft pick has made a bigger impact as a run stopper and he has been a catalyst to a much improved defense. Kudos to Denver cornerback Champ Bailey, who is still playing at a high level. He is one of five players ever to be named to 11 Pro Bowls and he is the only cornerback with 10 or more Pro Bowls. Can you say “first-ballot Hall of Famer?”

Made it on rep: A few AFC West stars made the Pro Bowl in injury-filled years. Oakland defensive tackle Richard Seymour was banged up and he had some games where he didn’t make a big impact. Still, he also had some moments of greatness. He blocked two field goals in an Oakland overtime win at Kansas City on Saturday. San Diego tight end Antonio Gates dealt with a lot of injuries this season and he didn’t take many games over, but he had 59 catches and he is still a premier player despite the injuries. Denver defensive end Elvis Dumervil, the first Denver defensive lineman to make the Pro Bowl in nine years, had a great season, but he didn’t enjoy a full season. He has 9.5 sacks, all in the past eight games. He was slowed by injuries early in the season. San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers had big yardage numbers (he became the third player in history to throw for more than 4,000 yards in four straight years). But he has thrown 19 interceptions and he was out of sync for much of the season.

Get robbed: Denver running back Willis McGahee has been the lynchpin to the NFL’s best running offense. A big reason why the Tim Tebow offense has worked is because McGahee –- one of the best free-agent signings in the NFL this year -- ran so well. He is enjoying resurgence at the age of 30. McGahee, who has 1,054 yards rushing and averaged 4.8 yards per carry, is reportedly a first alternate. San Diego running back Ryan Mathews also had a strong season and he had a case to make the team. He is a second alternate. Kansas City receiver Dwayne Bowe had 75 catches and he had a nice season. Oakland safety Tyvon Branch and fullback Marcel Reece each had big years and could have earned spots on the team. Perhaps each player will get their due next year. By the way, Tebow is reportedly a second alternate. Because quarterbacks often bow out, there is a strong chance Tebow will be eating pineapple in Hawaii next month.

Click here for the complete 2012 Pro Bowl roster.

AFC East Pro Bowl analysis

December, 27, 2011
NFC Pro Bowl: East | West | North | South AFC Pro Bowl: East | West | North | South

Perfect sense: The New England Patriots not only led the AFC East in Pro Bowl players, but they led the entire conference with eight players. New England was tied with the San Francisco 49ers with the most players to make the Pro Bowl. As expected, New England's offense led the way with five players. Quarterback Tom Brady, receiver Wes Welker, tight end Rob Gronkowski were all deserving skill players. Two New York Jets players -- cornerback Darrelle Revis and center Nick Mangold -- also were no-brainers.

Made it on rep: There are very few stud left tackles in the NFL, and it showed again in this year's Pro Bowl voting. Jake Long of the Miami Dolphins and D'Brickashaw Ferguson of the Jets had their most inconsistent seasons and both made the Pro Bowl. Long has battled through injuries and hasn't been his usually dominant self this year. But Long playing at 80 percent is still better than most NFL left tackles. He will miss the Pro Bowl with a biceps injury. Ferguson also underachieved compared to past seasons. The Jets are ranked No. 27 in total offense, and a major reason is Ferguson and the rest of New York's offensive linemen couldn't pass protect or run block consistently over a 16-game season.

Got robbed: For a division that most likely has just one playoff team and maybe only one team with a winning record, it's hard to complain about 13 Pro Bowlers. But if I want to get greedy, there's two additional players I thought should have made the cut. Punter Brandon Fields has been terrific for the Dolphins. Fields averages 48.9 yards per punt. His longest punt was 71 yards and he's kicked 31 inside the 20 this season. But in the AFC it's hard to beat Oakland Raiders punter Shane Lechler, who is arguably the best in the NFL. Jets linebacker David Harris also had a good year. Harris has 84 tackles, five sacks and four interceptions (one returned for a touchdown). But he's one of the more quiet Jets players and doesn't get the recognition he deserves.

Sorry, Bills: There were zero Buffalo Bills players who made the Pro Bowl. Starting running back Fred Jackson was probably their best chance. But Jackson broke his leg after 10 games and is out for the season.

Click here for the complete 2012 Pro Bowl roster.

AFC South Pro Bowl analysis

December, 27, 2011
NFC Pro Bowl: East | West | North | South AFC Pro Bowl: East | West | North | South

Perfect sense: Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew and Texans running back Arian Foster are two of the AFC South’s running backs, though Baltimore’s Ray Rice is the starter. MJD is on the verge of his first rushing title a season after Foster led the league in ground yards. Johnathan Joseph qualifies as one of the best veteran additions in the league and deserves his spot as a backup to Darrelle Revis and Champ Bailey.

Made it on rep: Indianapolis defensive end Dwight Freeney is the division’s lone starter. He remains a premier pass rusher who’s a very tough player to block. The last two weeks when the Colts have won showed how feared he and Robert Mathis remain, as the Titans and Texans were overeager to get the ball out of the quarterback’s hand. But on one of the league’s very worst teams, Mathis may have had a better season. And while Antonio Smith and J.J. Watt of the Texans are 3-4 ends who don’t get the glory that comes with taking the quarterback down as often, a case could be made for either as a bigger contributor to his team’s success this season.

Got robbed: The Texans are currently the No. 2 defense in the NFL and have been in the top slot for much of the season. Four Houston defenders -- outside linebacker Connor Barwin, inside linebacker Brian Cushing, Smith and Watt -- are alternates, though we don’t yet know where in the pecking order. While outside linebacker is loaded and it’s tough for 3-4 ends to get in, Ray Lewis has missed a lot of action with a toe injury. I suspect both Cushing and Jacksonville's middle linebacker, Paul Posluszny, have been more influential for their teams this season. Texans center Chris Myers should represent one of the league's best offensive lines. The Titans got no one on the initial roster. Kicker Rob Bironas has been remarkable and qualifies as their best candidate. But the AFC’s kicker, Oakland’s Sebastian Janikowski, has certainly had a big year.

Click here for the complete 2012 Pro Bowl roster.


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