The Pro Bowl hasn’t been a compelling all-star game in years, and the NFL has acknowledged that with this year’s version of the event called the Pro Bowl Games. On Sunday, there will be a skills challenge, followed by the first-ever AFC vs. NFC flag football game.
The skills will include the finals of the Best Catch competition, the Gridiron Gauntlet (a relay race requiring speed, strength, and agility, Move the Chains, and Kick Tac Toe. That final competition will feature a kicker, punter, and long snapper, and the first team to complete a connecting line of three squares wins the competition.
Points gained for a conference during the skills competition will be added to the points accumulated during the first two flag football games, and that will be the starting score for the third and final flag football game.
The eight members of the Eagles that made the Pro Bowl will obviously not be in Las Vegas this weekend, and neither will the seven players selected from the Chiefs. All 15 of those Pro Bowlers will be getting ready for their trips to Arizona. And that has been a knock against the Pro Bowl since they moved the game from after the Super Bowl, to the week before it.
Other players also opt out of the game regularly because of a variety of reasons. The Bills Josh Allen is out because of the injured elbow he finished the season with. Joe Burrow is out because he simply doesn’t want to go.
Replacing Burrow on the roster is Derek Carr. Considering the event is in Las Vegas, he’s an understandable choice. But considering the Raiders benched him at the end of the season and are actively seeking to trade him, it was interesting to see the team touting Carr’s selection.
With the AFC running out of quarterbacks, the Ravens Tyler Huntley was named to the game as an alternate. He took the spot vacated by Josh Allen.
Allen was second in the league with 35 touchdown passes and he had 4,283 passing yards. Huntley finished the season with two touchdown passes and 658 passing yards. That’s the same number of touchdowns as Broncos backup Brett Rypien and Texans backup Kyle Allen.
Jarrett Stidham, Bailey Zappe, and Sam Ehlinger are all AFC backup quarterbacks who had better numbers on the season than Huntley.
It may seem harmless to add Huntley. He did start four games in the regular season for the Ravens, as well as their playoff game at Cincinnati. But making the Pro Bowl roster matters. It’s a regular incentive added to contracts, and when voters years later look to cast votes on all-time teams and Hall of Fame nominations, Pro Bowls is one of the first things they look at.
The three quarterbacks that were voted to the Pro Bowl in the AFC are Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Joe Burrow. In place of them are Trevor Lawrence (good), Derek Carr (meh), and Tyler Huntley (why?).
In the NFC the three quarterbacks who were elected to the Pro Bowl were Jalen Hurts, Geno Smith, and Kirk Cousins. Only Hurts is missing the game because he is in the Super Bowl. Smith and Cousins will be there, and Jared Goff of the Lions was named as Hurts’ replacement.
That means the NFC’s quarterbacks have a combined 13,267 yards and 88 touchdowns. The AFC has 8,293 yards and 51 touchdowns.
With three different flag football games between the two conferences, we should see all six quarterbacks play at some point.
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