The 2012 NFL Pro Bowl rosters have recently been announced and, as usual, there have been a number of deserving players left off the Pro Bowl rosters. This is due to the fact that fans have a large portion of the vote that sends players to the Pro Bowl, and fans tend to vote for players whose names appear in the media more often.
Specifically, one quarterback in the NFC has had an elite season, and this quarterback has been left out of the Pro Bowl: Matthew Stafford.
With Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees easily being the two best quarterbacks in the NFC and only three spots available for the conference, only one other NFC quarterback could make the Pro Bowl. This spot has been given to Eli Manning, the quarterback for the Giants who has had a very good season.
Did Manning deserve it more than Stafford?
This article compares Eli Manning and Matthew Stafford, and we will see which quarterback deserves to represent the NFC in the 2012 Pro Bowl.
While passing statistics have their flaws, they are also a pretty good indication of how successful quarterbacks are. Here is the statistical comparison of the two quarterbacks through 15 games this season:
Eli Manning: 4,587
Matthew Stafford: 4,518
Yards Per Pass Attempt:
Eli Manning: 8.25
Matthew Stafford: 7.48
Eli Manning: 60.3
Matthew Stafford: 63.7
Eli Manning: 26
Matthew Stafford: 36
Eli Manning: 16
Matthew Stafford: 14
Traditional Passer Rating:
Eli Manning: 90.3
Matthew Stafford: 96.6
Eli Manning: 59.2
Matthew Stafford: 60.8
Overall, the two quarterbacks are fairly even in most categories. However, Stafford has 10 more touchdown passes. To give an idea of how significant that is, the difference between Stafford's touchdown total and Manning's is only one fewer than the difference between Eli Manning and Rex Grossman.
The huge disparity in touchdowns gives the overall advantage to Stafford in this category.
Advantage: Matthew Stafford
In today's quarterback-driven league, bad games by a quarterback can easily cost teams games. As close as NFL playoff races tend to be, one or two bad losses can be the difference between making the playoffs and being sent home early.
While an objective definition of a "bad game" is difficult to make, I have decided to characterize a "bad game" as a quarterback having a passer rating below 70 in a game. With that in mind, here are each quarterback's bad games:
Week 10 at Chicago Bears: 33/63 Completions/Attempts, 329 Passing Yards, 1 Touchdown, 4 Interceptions, 46.3 Passer Rating
Result: Lions lost 37-13
Week 12 vs Green Bay Packers: 32/45 Completions/Attempts, 276 Passing Yards, 1 Touchdown, 3 Interceptions, 66.5 Passer Rating
Result: Lions lost 27-15
Week 15 vs Washington Redskins: 23/40 Completions/Attempts, 257 Passing Yards, 0 Touchdowns, 3 Interceptions, 45.5 Passer Rating
Result: Giants lost 23-10
Week 16 at New York Jets: 9/27 Completions/Attempts, 225 Passing Yards, 1 Touchdown, 1 Interception, 61.5 Passer Rating
Result: Giants won 29-14
Each quarterback posted two bad games. Unlike Stafford, Manning was fortunate enough to have his team bail him out in one of his bad games to get a win anyway.
There was one other game of note for Eli Manning, and that came in Week 5 against the Seahawks. Trailing 29-25, Manning threw a red-zone interception that was returned for a touchdown, costing his team a chance at a win. However, to be fair, he did throw three touchdowns in this game, so I will call this comparison a wash.
Comeback wins are important for obvious reasons. They are the clutch factor for QBs aspiring to be the next Joe Montana. Some of the most legendary games in NFL history are come-from-behind wins.
This is the category where Manning blows Stafford out of the water, right?
Matthew Stafford has led four comebacks from double-digit deficits this season. Here they are:
Week 3 vs Minnesota Vikings
Situation: Detroit Lions trailing 20-0 at halftime
The Comeback: Matthew Stafford throws two second-half touchdowns en route to a 26-23 win.
Week 4 at Dallas Cowboys
Situation: Detroit Lions trailing 30-17 at the end of the third quarter
The Comeback: Matthew Stafford throws two fourth quarter touchdowns en route to a 34-30 win (I didn't credit Stafford for two defensive touchdowns by the Lions in the third quarter for obvious reasons).
Week 11 vs Carolina Panthers
Situation: Detroit Lions trailing 24-7 with 9:32 left in the second quarter
The Comeback: Matthew Stafford throws four touchdowns after the Lions fall behind 24-7, leading the Lions to a 49-35 win.
Week 15 at Oakland Raiders
Situation: Detroit Lions trailing 27-14 with 7:47 left in the game
The Comeback: Matthew Stafford throws two fourth quarter touchdowns to lead the Lions to a 28-27 win.
To provide the comparison, here are Eli Manning's significant come-from-behind wins:
Week 3 at Philadelphia Eagles
Situation: New York Giants trailing 16-14 at the end of the third quarter
The Comeback: Eli Manning throws two fourth quarter touchdowns en route to a 29-14 win.
Week 4 at Arizona Cardinals
Situation: New York Giants trailing 27-17 with 3:09 left in fourth quarter
The Comeback: Eli Manning throws two fourth quarter touchdowns to win 31-27.
Week 8 vs Miami Dolphins
Situation: New York Giants trailing 14-3 with 5:40 left in second quarter
The Comeback: Eli Manning throws one touchdown to lead the Giants to a 20-17 win.
Week 9 at New England Patriots
Situation: New York Giants trailing 20-17 with 1:27 left in game
The Comeback: Eli Manning leads a game-winning drive, throwing a touchdown pass to win 24-20.
Week 14 at Dallas Cowboys
Situation: New York Giants trailing 34-22 with 5:41 left in game
The Comeback: Eli Manning throws one touchdown pass, leads another touchdown drive en route to a 37-34 win.
Overall, this category is extremely close. Manning has one more come-from-behind win. However, Stafford has come back from bigger deficits in his comeback wins, giving him a very slight edge.
Advantage: Matthew Stafford
In the NFL's quarterback-driven league, quarterbacks are judged by how many wins they have. Despite the circumstantial nature of this category, it has inevitably become a point of comparison.
Number of Wins:
Detroit Lions: 10 (clinched playoff berth)
New York Giants: 8 (can clinch playoff berth with a win next week)
The fact is that despite being in a much tougher division, Matthew Stafford has led the Lions to more wins and has his team comfortably in the playoffs. (An interesting aside is that these teams could play in their first playoff game IF the Giants get in the playoffs.)
Advantage: Matthew Stafford
The race between Eli Manning and Matthew Stafford is very close, and in most years Eli Manning's 2011 season would be deserving of a Pro Bowl selection.
However, this year, there is no doubt that Matthew Stafford deserved to join Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers as the NFC Pro Bowl quarterbacks. Stafford has better statistics, more wins and more impressive come-from-behind wins than Eli Manning does.
Matthew Stafford will now join the long list of NFL players that have been snubbed of a Pro Bowl berth in their careers.