Perhaps the most obvious Pro Bowl snub for St. Louis is Chris Long.
To sum up both Long's and the Rams' season succinctly:
Long has as many sacks, 13, as the St. Louis offense, led by Josh McDaniels, has touchdowns.
That is hard to comprehend but is nonetheless true.
Long's sack total places him in a tie with Baltimore's Terrell Suggs for sixth best in the NFL. Minnesota's Jared Allen leads the league with 18.5 sacks through Week 16.
Chris Long's production is all the more impressive when considering four things:
1. Long has rarely played with a lead this year, greatly limiting his opportunities to rush the passer. With teams ahead of the Rams the vast majority of the time, opponents throw less and run more, which leads to point No. 2.
2. The Rams have given up the most rushing yards in the league, 2,317, and are second in the league in most yards allowed per rush, at 4.9 per attempt. Why throw the ball with a lead, especially when facing the worst run defense in the NFL?
3. Long has battled an ankle injury for a good chunk of the season. To his credit, he has battled through it. However, he has not been close to 100 percent for several weeks now, making it tougher to get to the quarterback.
4. The Rams lost their top three projected corners in Ron Bartell, Bradley Fletcher and Jerome Murphy. Along the way, they also lost several others, including Al Harris and Marquis Johnson.
With less talent in the secondary, it goes without saying that Rams' pass-rushers, including Long, have had less time to get to the quarterback, on average.
If one were to point at one area to justify Long's Pro Bowl snub, it is his tackle total of just 34.
By comparison, other sack leaders have much higher totals.
The aforementioned Jared Allen has 61 tackles along with 18.5 sacks. DeMarcus Ware of the Dallas Cowboys has 53 in addition to his 18 sacks. Jason Pierre-Paul, along with his 15.5 sacks, has tallied 81 tackles. Even part-time player Aldon Smith, (a strong candidate for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in San Francisco), has managed to earn 35 tackles on top of his 14 sacks.
Long will lock down a Pro Bowl berth next year with more personal production against the run and more team production in the win-loss column, while continuing to amass double-digit sack totals.