Pro Bowl Picks, Week 7 (Offense)
Through Week 7, here are my picks for both the AFC and NFC Pro Bowl squads. As a big Houston Texans fan as well as a huge fan of Miami Hurricanes and West Virginia Mountaineers players, my picks may appear to be slightly biased, but I will try my best to not let those biases affect me. My picks are based on performance thus far this season, as well as future projected performance. Enjoy.
Hit the jump for my picks.
Tom Brady is having another season of being Tom Brady. Primary target Wes Welker’s explosion into ridiculous as well as the new weapons at tight end is obviously helping him, making the Patriots offense virtually unstoppable. Matt Schaub is seemingly the anti-Brady. He’s got no Super Bowl rings, no reputation for being clutch, and plays in a much more spread out offense than Brady. With arguably one of the league’s best RBs finally healthy, and Andre Johnson looking to join him soon, Schaub’s seemingly quiet year (he’s second in the conference with a 96.8 passer rating) is about to get loud. Former Harvard QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has seemingly come out of nowhere to lead his Bills to a surprising 4-2 record and a potential playoff spot. If he keeps it up, he’ll be the first Bills QB in years to make it to Hawaii.
Picking the NFC QBs was pretty easy. Aaron Rodgers is at the top of his game now and when all is said in done, could put up one of the best seasons a quarterback has ever put up. Brees is almost equally impressive, especially from a statistical standpoint. Stafford was a slightly harder pick, but if he manages to stay healthy and carry his Lions to a playoff berth, there’s no way he should not make this team.
Statistically Arian Foster may not be with the top few backs in the league, but he did miss a few games. What he’s able to do since he returned from his hamstring injury, both on the ground and through the air, is phenomenal. I may be a bit of a homer here, but aside from maybe Adrian Peterson, there should be no question that Foster is the best back in the league. Darren McFadden and Fred Jackson are having very similar seasons, using speed and evasiveness to help their usual laughingstock teams to surprising records. You cannot discount either of them, and with both their teams unlikely to reach their Super Bowl, barring injury, these two should definitely be on their way to Hawaii.
Like their quarterbacks, the Pro Bowl worthy running backs of the NFC are fairly easy to choose. Adrian Peterson is having yet another great year. Like Foster, his strength and speed are helping him succeed personally, though unlike Foster, he is being criminally under-used aerially. Hopefully new QB Christian Ponder will change that. And not to repeat myself, but Forte and McCoy are having similar seasons not just to each other, but to their AFC counterparts. The difference, however, is that Forte and McCoy’s teams were supposed to be successful this year. Forte is out to prove that last year’s dud was a fluke, and he remains one of the most dangerous weapons out of the backfield. McCoy is just another one of Michael Vick’s toys, but since when has that been a bad thing? Neither of these two backs are particularly efficient at running between the tackles, but that does not mean they are not extremely talented and worthy of the Pro Bowl.
Wes Welker is having an unbelievable year, and I mean that literally. He is currently on pace to break 2000 yards, 130 receptions, and he’s averaging a TD a game. I doubt he finishes with those numbers, but anywhere near that will go down as one of the greatest seasons a wide receiver has. This guy does not only deserve to go to Hawaii, but to Canton as well. Mike Wallace is proving to be the explosive threat for Big Ben that Santonio Holmes was, except he’s just so much more. If the Steelers manage to make the playoffs, and there are no signs they won’t, Wallace’s emergence in his third year will be a large reason why. Dwayne Bowe may not have as easy a time as the first two to make it, but he might deserve it as much. With his acrobatic catches and excellent stats despite being the only offensive weapon on his team, he’s the type of player that might make it regardless of how well his team does. Andre Johnson has been banged up, but if he plays in Houston’s game vs Jacksonville this weekend, and manages to stay healthy the rest of the year, he’ll surely re-enter the conversation of the best receivers in the league.
Calvin Johnson is a touchdown machine. Steve Smith is a yardage machine. Both receivers are large reasons why their respective QBs are able to succeed, and in a passing league having an exceptionally pass-heavy year, these two (along with Wes Welker) are leading the way. Greg Jennings could be headed to his second consecutive Super Bowl, but if the Packers fall short, he deserves to at least be in Hawaii. Without him, Aaron Rodgers would likely would still be a great QB, but he would not be achieving the other-worldly stats. Larry Fitzgerald is stuck in the same way that Calvin Johnson used to be. A stud receiver on a horrible team with a questionable QB. Still, like Dwayne Bowe, he’s able to continue piling up the stats.
I can already tell this paragraph will be much shorter than the others. James Casey surprised everyone outside of Houston with his 100+ yard receiving game a few weeks ago, but has missed a few games due to injury. He’s a big reason Arian Foster is able to continue his succes despite losing last season’s best fullback (Vonta Leach went to Baltimore). Having Casey playing and healthy, the Texans have a top receiving threat and every single skill position. John Kuhn is able to help make up for the poor play of Packers’ backs James Starks and Ryan Grant, contributing in pass blocking and keeping Aaron Rodgers on his feet.
With no Randy Moss and no running game, Gronkowski has been forced to step up his game. With Brady as his QB, the task hasn’t been too difficult. Him and teammate Aaron Hernandez comprise likely the best Tight End duo in the league. Owen Daniels meanwhile has been making the absence of Andre Johnson a lot easier for QB Matt Schaub. Finally back to his pre-injury form, there’s no telling how high he can really go, even with so many other weapons on his team.
I could write a whole blog post on Jimmy Graham, but I won’t. I was devastated when I missed taking him in my fantasy football draft, as he seems to be exceeding even my lofty expectations. The former Hurricanes basketball player who didn’t even play football in college is on pace, like many others already mentioned, to shatter records at his position. Having Drew Brees as his quarterback and a very spread out offense has made Graham almost unstoppable, putting him in the conversation with Antonio Gates (whose year has been hampered by injury) as the top Tight End in the league. Fred Davis is another player I gushed over in the pre-season and was not able to grab in my draft. A former USC Trojan, I’ve been following this guy for a while. With teammate Chris Cooley now out of the picture after having been put on IR, Davis’s stats and league-wide visibility will likely soon skyrocket, despite him being a Redskin.
I consider myself a big football fan, but I’m not going to pretend I truly know the best players at individual positions on the offensive line. Moreso than any other unit, the offensive line functions as a group. Sure, some big names can stand out, but with Arian Foster and Ben Tate achieving the success they have, it is clear (and many analysts agree with this) that the Houston Texans have the best offensive line in football. They may not be doing the best at protecting Matt Schaub right now, but their ability to effectively perform the ZBS that has made Houston (and in the past, Denver) running backs so successful should be enough to put each and every one of them in Hawaii. I doubt this will happen, but each individual member of this offensive line deserves it, so I’ll be a homer here and pick them all.
It’s my blog, so sue me.
(Stay tuned for my Defensive/Special Teams picks).