With only four weeks left in the season, the playoff race is intensifying. Today, I took the chance to look back at the previous 12 weeks and submitted a Pro Bowl ballot for the best players this year. Below are my selections.
Quarterbacks: Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints; Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys; Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons; Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders; Tom Brady, New England Patriots; Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Running Backs: David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals; DeMarco Murray, Tennesee Titans; LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills; Melvin Gordon, San Diego Chargers; Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys; Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
Wide Receivers: Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons; Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers; Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants; Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders; TY Hilton, Indianapolis Colts; Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers; Terrelle Pryor, Cleveland Browns
Fullbacks: Kyle Juszczyk, Baltimore Ravens; John Kuhn, New Orleans Saints
Tight Ends: Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers; Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks; Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs; Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins
Tackles: Tyron Smith, Dallas Cowboys; Branden Albert, Miami Dolphins; Taylor Lewan, Tennessee Titans; Joe Thomas, Cleveland Browns; Trent Williams, Washington Redskins; Menelik Watson, Oakland Raiders
Guards: David DeCastro, Pittsburgh Steelers; Mike Iupati, Arizona Cardinals; Zack Martin, Dallas Cowboys; Kelechi Osemele, Oakland Raiders; Marshal Yanda, Baltimore Ravens; Trai Turner, Carolina Panthers
Centers: Max Unger, New Orleans Saints; Travis Frederick, Dallas Cowboys; Nick Mangold, New York Jets; Jason Kelce, Philadelphia Eagles
Comments on Offense: The quarterback class is loaded, so even Russell Wilson, who I think is a fringe MVP candidate, is left on the outside looking in… Terrelle Pryor gets in as one of only two Browns because of his outstanding playmaking ability on the league’s worst offense… I’m not an offensive line whiz, so I mainly picked players from Dallas, Tennessee, and Oakland… Five Cowboys made the list, while Jason Witten garnered serious consideration and didn’t make the cut.
Defensive Ends: Khalil Mack, Oakland Raiders; Cameron Wake, Miami Dolphins; Cliff Avril, Seattle Seahawks; Oliver Vernon, New York Giants; Joey Bosa, San Diego Chargers; Everson Griffen, Minnesota Vikings
Defensive Tackles: Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams; Ndamukong Suh, Miami Dolphins; Gerald McCoy, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Linval Joseph, Minnesota Vikings; Brandon Williams, Baltimore Ravens; Damon Harrison, New York Giants
Inside Linebackers: Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers; Bobby Wagner, Seattle Seahawks; CJ Mosley, Baltimore Ravens; Derrick Johnson, Kansas City Chiefs
Outside Linebackers: Von Miller, Denver Broncos; Sean Lee, Dallas Cowboys; Terrell Suggs, Baltimore Ravens; Lavonte David, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Vic Beasley, Atlanta Falcons; Dee Ford, Kansas City Chiefs
Cornerbacks: Casey Heyward, San Diego Chargers; Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks; Aqib Talib, Denver Broncos; Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals; Marcus Peters, Kansas City Chiefs; Xavier Rhodes, Minnesota Vikings; Jalen Ramsey, Jacksonville Jaguars; Jimmy Smith, Baltimore Ravens
Safeties: Landon Collins, New York Giants; Eric Berry, Kansas City Chiefs; Harrison Smith, Minnesota Vikings; Earl Thomas, Seattle Seahawks
Comments on Defense: The defense picks, like the offense, have two rookies in San Diego’s Joey Bosa and Jacksonville’s Jalen Ramsey… While one of my favorite teams has five offensive players, my other favorite team, Baltimore, has four defensive players, tied with Seattle, Kansas City, and Minnesota…The Giants’ rebuilt defense is close behind, with three players and JPP in consideration.
Kickers: Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens; Dan Bailey, Dallas Cowboys
Return Specialists: Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings; Darren Sproles, Philadelphia Eagles
Punters: Pat McAfee, Indianapolis Colts; Marquette King, Oakland Raiders
Special Teamers: Chris Maragos, Philadelphia Eagles; Matthew Slater, New England Patriots
Comments on Special Teams: If any player gets into the Pro Bowl, it has to be Marquette King, the Raiders’ star punter. King has made punting cool and showcases his celebrations after monster punts. Oh, and he’s a All Pro-level punter…Justin Tucker and Dan Bailey have been models of consistency in a year when most kickers are missing left and right…Matthew Slater is the one special teamer that I know, and he gets my vote every year.
Team Vote Count
Dallas Cowboys: 7
Baltimore Ravens: 7
Oakland Raiders: 6
Minnesota Vikings: 5
Seattle Seahawks: 5