NFL Betting: The New Pro Bowl Format Produces More Questions Than Answers
After many years with a familiar AFC-NFC setup, the Pro Bowl is in its second year of using a fantasy football-like format. This creates uncertainty, and some answers remain to be found.
Team Irvin vs. Team Carter – Sunday, January 25
Why Team Irvin Will Win
Before you read anything else about this game, you need to realize that the full Pro Bowl teams have not been selected yet. Tuesday marked the selections of a lot of the less glamorous positions on the field: defensive tackle, guard, center, fullback, punter, kicker, kick returner, and special teams specialist. The sexy positions will be announced Wednesday night: quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, offensive tackles, linebackers, defensive ends, and defensive backs. These are incomplete rosters, and so there’s not yet a betting line for this contest on Sunday evening.
Why might Team Irvin win this game? A few advantages stand out: DeMarco Murray is a running back, but he is a team captain, so you know he’s on Team Irvin. That will be a good reason to trust Team Irvin’s rushing attack. At defensive tackle, you have to like Aaron Donald of the St. Louis Rams. He has a good chance to be a disruptive presence on Team Irvin’s defensive line.
Team Irvin also has Travis Frederick at center. Frederick is the Dallas Cowboys’ major draft pick, the brilliant selection by Jerry Jones which dramatically upgraded the team’s offensive line and put Dallas in position to become a much better team, making Murray the first running back in the history of the NFL to rush for at least 100 yards in each of his first seven games in a season.
Team Irvin certainly has the better field goal kicker, with Adam Vinatieri opposing Team Carter’s Cody Parkey. Darren Sproles is a better kick returner right now than the increasingly older Devin Hester.
Why Team Carter Will Win
When you scan the rosters that are half-filled right now, you can identify certain advantages for Team Carter. The first one is that J.J. Watt is on this roster. Watt really could be the Most Valuable Player in the league. There are a few reasons he won’t be selected for the award, but they’re not good ones. One is that the Houston Texans didn’t make the playoffs. Well, Houston almost did make the playoffs and was able to secure a winning record at 9-7, despite having a revolving door at quarterback and having Arian Foster injured for part of the season. Jadeveon Clowney, the top pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, was injured for most of the season and was a relative non-factor for Houston. Watt carried that team close to the playoffs. He was a dominant defensive player. However – and this is the other reason he won’t win – defensive players just don’t get selected as MVPs. This is an award for quarterbacks and, once in a while, for running backs, maybe wide receivers. Watt really is the best player in the league in 2014, and Team Carter has him.
Team Carter also has Mike Pouncey at guard, a strong offensive lineman who should improve the team’s running game. Pat McAfee could flip the field as a punter.
Who Will Win
There really shouldn’t be a betting pick based on half-filled rosters, but if you had to make a pick right now, Team Irvin has the better running game, and that should translate into an advantage with DeMarco Murray.
NFL Betting Pick: Team Irvin