Matthew Stafford, Lions
The Pro Bowl is what it is.
The two teams playing in the Super Bowl next week are stocked with Pro Bowl players, but they won’t be here because of their status as the NFL’s final teams left standing.
You might think that would mean there are more than enough spots to get the Pro Bowl rosters right, but based on the 2012 game, which is being played Sunday in Hawaii, that’s clearly not so.
Here are a handful of players who won’t be in Hawaii, but should be.
Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys
OK, it’s clear that quarterback Tony Romo didn’t take the Cowboys as deep into the season as he should have.
At the same time, not all of that can be saddled on his shoulders. Romo, in fact, had perhaps the best year of his career.
Romo finished with 134 more yards, 10 more touchdowns and seven fewer interceptions than Carolina’s Cam Newton, who is at the Pro Bowl.
The difference is that Newton exceeded expectations. Romo didn’t, and he paid the price by sitting at home Sunday.
Missing the playoffs hurts, obviously.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions
The numbers for Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford were just laughable–in a good way.
He threw for insane yardage, becoming just the fourth 5,000-yard passer in NFL history.
He threw 41 touchdown passes, the seventh-best single-season performance in the annals of the NFL.
But he is sitting at home.
It’s a good guess that he isn’t laughing, because he should be soaking up the sun and good times in Hawaii.
Brian Cushing, Texans
In 2009, this guy was the Defensive Rookie of the Year and was in the Pro Bowl.
He missed last year, thanks in part to a four-game suspension tied to performance-enhancing drugs, but he was back with a fury this season.
The Houston defense, led by Cushing and down lineman Duane Brown, had the Texans outperforming expectations by a long shot.
It’s hard to see Cushing in particular not making it to Hawaii.
NaVorro Bowman and Aldon Smith, 49ers
San Francisco’s nasty and top-ranked defense originally didn’t place any linebackers on the NFC’s Pro Bowl roster, but Patrick Willis made it as a replacement.
That’s a good move, but it’s not enough to celebrate the stingy San Francisco defense, which saw NaVarro Bowman and Aldon Smith both turn in monster seasons.
Smith was fifth in the league in sacks, and Bowman routinely destroyed opposing offenses.
D’Qwell Jackson, LB, Browns
While it’s true that the Cleveland Browns are far from being a great team, that doesn’t mean they don’t have some great talent.
One of those is linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, who put together a monster season that the Browns’ second-class standing in the NFL took some of the shine off.
Jackson finished with 145 tackles and 3.5 sacks, numbers worthy of more recognition than he wound up getting.