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5 Bucs Punched (Including Blount) On My Pro Bowl Ballot

If you find this sort of conjecture and analysis annoying, move on to another article. I will attempt to make this relevant to the Race to 10.

In today’s NFL, there is often an importance in how many Pro Bowl-level players you have and also how many you have of the next tier. For the Bucs, it’s also important which positions some of these Pro Bowl level players play.’s Michael Lombardi calls them blue and red chip players. When three of your team’s best players are at QB and CB – and you have another one of your best players at RB that can get you a yard when you need it, you don’t have to have that many great players to win a playoff game. You already have pieces that – with a little help – can make the plays necessary to win you games in January.

In today’s NFL with only a few head coaches so incompetent they get fired and only a few others who will likely lose their jobs because of their inability to find someone to call plays on one side of the ball (Singletary, McDaniels, and Kubiak), the coaching gap and the more important talent gap have both been bridged.

This is my Pro Bowl ballot, while not including who I voted for on the offensive line (it included no Buccaneers).

QB:  AFC: Rivers (SD), Roethlisberger (PIT), Brady (NE). It’s hard to pick against Peyton Manning but you can’t fault Roethlisberger and Rivers for having better, more consistent supporting casts. I know people are raving about what Rivers has done with back-ups but Gates and Floyd have played most of the year and they are more multi-faceted than Wayne and Garcon, the two weapons Peyton has had for most of the year. Even though it’s not his fault, Manning’s offense isn’t executing like the Steelers, Chargers and Patriots are.
NFC: Vick (PHI), Rodgers (GB), Freeman (TB). I think Freeman, for what he has, has been playing at the same level as Brees this year. Given that tie, I’ll go with the guy who hasn’t been and has been more deadly with the game on the line. I got in trouble with people for saying I think Jay Cutler is a better quarterback than Drew Brees. I believe that if Jay Cutler had to take over the Saints, he might throw a few more picks (if you take away each QB’s worst performance, Cutler has 6 picks in 8 games and Brees has 10 in 9 games though Brees has thrown a lot more passes) but would ultimately score more big plays and – more importantly – more touchdowns. Matt Ryan has been given gifts by the officials and – while I rank him fifth in the NFC this year – he has the best offensive line in football.

RB: AFC: Foster (HOU), Jones-Drew (JAX), Mendenhall (PIT). Chris Johnson either isn’t a force in the red zone or isn’t being used properly. He had 50 catches for 503 yards last year and 25 for 103 so far this year. Peyton Hillis gets to run behind one of the best offensive lines and just doesn’t have the stats to blow me away. Darren McFadden is really tempting but there’s another running back on that team just as capable. Darren put up expectedly good numbers on the Denver and Arizona defenses but disappeared in this last big game when he went head-to-head with Mendenhall and also couldn’t find the end zone when his team lost a close one to Houston. I actually think Jamaal Charles is a better back than any AFC back except Jones-Drew but is just not getting enough touches to reward his season. McFadden has 6 TDs in 3 games, 0 in the other 5. Mendenhall has scored in seven of his 10 games.
NFC: Turner (ATL), Peterson (MIN), Blount (TB). Frank Gore, Steven Jackson, and Adrian Peterson have lower numbers this year due to their offensive lines. I would put Ahmad Bradshaw at 4th due to his fumbling issues.
WR: AFC: Boldin (BAL), Johnson (HOU), Owens (CIN). NFC: Johnson (DET), Jennings (GB), Williams (TB). It is even more remarkable to put Mike Williams in here, given we live in the  golden age of the WR in the NFC. Larry Fitzgerald is probably better than any of them and I didn’t pick him. This came right down to the wire for me between Mike Williams and Dez Bryant. Mike is a hair better. Dez gets more favorable matchups because of Austin, Williams and Witten. I think Roddy White is right there, too, but – again – he gets help with how long Ryan has and with the matchups Mularkey and Gonzalez orchestrate. I would also expect more than 7 TDs by this time of the year given his circumstances. He is great in between the 20’s but only good in the red zone. Not saying Williams is better than White right now but I believe he’s having a better season.
FB: AFC: Castille (KC). NFC: Evans (NO).
TE: AFC: Gates (SD), Heap (BAL). NFC: Davis (SF), Pettigrew (DET).

DE: AFC: Freeney (IND), Mathis (IND), Keisel (PIT). NFC: Hall (STL), Clemons (SEA), Peppers (CHI).
DT: AFC: Ngata (BAL), Wilfork (NE), Hampton (PIT). NFC: Suh (DET), Babineaux (ATL), Cofield (NYG).
OLB: AFC: Thomas (NYJ), Wake (MIA), Johnson (BAL). NFC: Matthews (GB), Hayes (TB), Ware (DAL). That’s right. I said it.
ILB: AFC: Timmons (PIT), Tulloch (TEN). NFC: Goff (NYG), Bishop (GB). Mayo with 120 tackles (21 more than 2nd place Chad Greenway) was tempting.
CB: AFC: Cromartie (NYJ), Hayden (IND), Asomugha (OAK). NFC: Talib (TB), Samuel (PHI), Woodson (GB).
SS: AFC: Polamalu (PIT). NFC: Harper (NO).
FS: AFC: Reed (BAL). NFC: Collins (GB). Ed Reed and Cody Grimm from this week’s game were both tempting. Ed Reed missed six games, though. Ah, I gotta go Reed. Sorry, Bethea and Leonhard.
K: AFC: Cundiff (BAL). NFC: Akers (PHI).
P: AFC: Lechler (OAK). NFC: Jones (STL). You are kind of also voting for coverage units here. If you have a bad one, your punting wasn’t very helpful.
KOS: AFC: Mariani (TEN). NFC: Hester (CHI).

The highest total tallies were for Baltimore (7), Green Bay (7 with Scott Wells in there at center), Pittsburgh (6), and Atlanta (6 – with 4 O-lineman).

I had just one O-lineman from either of what I consider to be the two best teams – Pittsburgh or Baltimore (Matt Birk as back-up) – since Chris Chester is missing multiple games for Baltimore and Starks is done for the year.

Vote over here and double click on any name to do a write-in. Make sure you also change the player team name, too.

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