Biggest Winners & Losers from Early 2013 Pro Bowl Results
The early results for the 2012 Pro Bowl are in, and you're going to be surprised by some of the selections.
You can still get your votes in until the end of the day on Monday, December 17, so don't despair if your favorite player isn't on the list.
It's important to remember that the votes during this portion of the selection process represent more of a popularity contest than a gauge of which players actually deserve the honor.
With that in mind, let's take a look at the biggest winners and losers from the early results.
Winner: Peyton Manning
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Peyton Manning should be the No. 1 quarterback for the AFC in this year's Pro Bowl, and the early results have him right where he deserves to be.
Manning has led his team on an eight-game winning streak since Week 6, and he's playing better than we've seen from him since 2004. With over 3,800 passing yards, 30 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, he's turned the Broncos offense into one of the best in the league.
After going through four neck surgeries last year to make his way back to the playing field, there isn't another player more deserving of this honor.
Loser: Andy Dalton
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If Andy Dalton played for a big-market team, he'd be among the leading vote-getters for this year's Pro Bowl. Unfortunately for him, Dalton plays for the Cincinnati Bengals, so he doesn't even register on the national radar.
Dalton has put up numbers this season that put him in the conversation for the Pro Bowl. He has passed for almost 3,200 yards, has thrown 25 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, and his team is in position to steal a playoff spot from the Pittsburgh Steelers to finish the season.
But he's nowhere to be found among the leaders for Pro Bowl consideration.
Winner: Robert Griffin III
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Only one quarterback has more votes than Robert Griffin III in the NFC, and that's a good thing.
Robert Griffin III deserves to be in the Pro Bowl, and not just because he's one of the most electric players to enter the NFL in decades. He is an excellent quarterback for the system Mike Shanahan has installed in Washington.
With over 2,900 passing yards, 18 touchdowns compared to just four interceptions, 748 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns, RG3 has established himself as one of the best quarterbacks of the 2012 season.
Loser: Josh Freeman
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Josh Freeman has flown under the national radar all season long, even though his team was vying for a playoff spot for much of the second half.
I won't begrudge Rogers or Griffin, and I understand why Ryan is among the leaders, but I'd take Freeman over Ryan and Brees 10 times out of 10 for this honor in 2012.
Consider this: Brees leads the NFL in yards and touchdowns, but he also leads the NFL in interceptions and leads a team that has fallen apart at the seams this season with a 5-8 record after making it to the NFC Divisional round last season, compiling a record of 13-3.
Furthermore, Freeman has thrown one more touchdown pass than Ryan, while throwing six interceptions fewer than the Atlanta Falcons quarterback.
Winner: Adrian Peterson
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If that wasn't impressive enough, he's put the ball into the end zone 10 times, has broken off 18 runs of over 20 yards and has his team in the middle of the race for the NFC's No. 6 seed—all on the heels of shredding his knee less than one year ago.
Stand up and take a bow, sir.
Loser: Jamaal Charles
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The curse of playing for one of the worst teams in the NFL is that you rarely get noticed for any league honors.
Jamaal Charles has more rushing yards than any other running back in the AFC, yet he's nowhere to be found among the leading vote-getters for the Pro Bowl in 2012.
It's a shame he doesn't get the national recognition for his efforts. Charles is one of the NFL's best running backs, and he deserves to play in this year's Pro Bowl.
Winner: A.J. Green
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Unlike Andy Dalton, A.J. Green has gotten the recognition he deserves.
The Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver is well on his way to surpassing Calvin Johnson as the NFL's top receiver (he's not there, yet).
With 1,151 yards and 10 touchdowns to his credit already, Green has more touchdown receptions than any other receiver in the NFL. The only player to match him is tight end Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots.
If Green stays healthy, he has a chance to go down in NFL history as one of the best receivers of all time.
Loser: Calvin Johnson
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Victor Cruz leads all NFC wide receivers in Pro Bowl voting, followed by Brandon Marshall.
Calvin Johnson ranks third.
That isn't right. This man is on pace to break Jerry Rice's record for most receiving yards in a single season, and it isn't his fault Matthew Stafford has had trouble getting the ball into the end zone this season.
Winner: Henry Melton
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It's nice to see a guy like Henry Melton being recognized for the dirty work he does for the Chicago Bears defense.
Charles Tillman, Brian Urlacher, Julius Peppers and Lance Briggs always get mentioned when people talk about the vaunted Bears defense, but this team wouldn't have nearly as much success without Melton's contributions.
With 41 tackles, six sacks and two forced fumbles, Melton deserves to make it to this year's Pro Bowl, and it looks like he will.
Loser: Geno Atkins
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Some of you are probably coming to the conclusion that I'm a Cincinnati Bengals fan (I'm not), but the fact remains that Geno Atkins doesn't get nearly enough recognition for the incredible work he does on the interior of the Bengals defense.
With 10.5 sacks, Atkins is far and away the best pass-rushing defensive tackle in the NFL, and he's just as good against the run. His ability to penetrate opposing offensive lines to make plays in the backfield is almost as impressive as what J.J. Watt does for the Houston Texans.
The fact that he's not even mentioned among the leaders for this year's Pro Bowl is a disgrace.
Winner: Von Miller
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Von Miller is undoubtedly one of the most exciting players in the NFL, and he's only getting better.
Tallying 16 sacks from his 4-3 outside linebacker position is just unheard of, and there isn't a more disruptive pass-rusher in the NFL than him. When he pins his ears back and gets after the quarterback, there's a good chance he'll affect the play.
Miller isn't just a one-trick pony, though. He is learning to play well in space, and his interception for touchdown earlier this season portends many more to come.
Loser: Aldon Smith
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Clay Matthews is currently the leading vote-getter for outside linebacker in the NFC.
Aldon Smith—who missed out on last year's event—has tallied 10.5 more sacks than Matthews, and he deserves to be the top outside linebacker in the NFC, hands down.
Smith has come on like a freight train in the second half of the season, racking up 15 sacks in his last seven games.
Give the man some respect, voters.
Winner: Ronde Barber
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What a difference a position change can make.
Ronde Barber looked to be on his last legs in 2011 as a cornerback, but a switch to free safety has completely revitalized his career.
Sure, the team has horrible statistics against the pass, but that can be attributed to the fact that there isn't a solid cornerback on the roster.
Barber has tallied 77 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, four interceptions (one of which he returned for a touchdown) and 12 defended passes this season.
The old man can still play.
Loser: Stevie Brown
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Charles Woodson hasn't played since late October, yet he's the leading vote-getter for the NFC's strong safety position.
As the kids would say, SMH.
Take a look at Stevie Brown's production this season and tell me he doesn't deserve to be the starting strong safety when the Pro Bowl kicks off in January. I dare you.
The problem is that Brown wasn't even added to the ballot until December 12—just five days before voting commences (h/t ESPN.com's Adam Schefter).
It's ridiculous that it took this long.
With 61 tackles, two forced fumbles, seven interceptions and eight passes defended, it will be criminal if Brown isn't in Hawaii representing the New York Giants.