Pro Bowl Roster 2013: Breaking Down Players Most Likely to Win MVP Award
Though very few fans ultimately remember the outcome of the Pro Bowl a day after the festivities, individual performances oftentimes linger in NFL folklore.
Last season, then-Miami Dolphins receiver Brandon Marshall eviscerated his NFC competition to the tune of 176 yards and four touchdowns, setting a Pro Bowl record en route to an MVP award. It was the fifth time in the past six Pro Bowls that an offensive player walked away with the MVP trophy, as players continue to exhibit less and less effort each year.
Houston Texans running back Arian Foster even admitted that players won't be giving 100 percent effort, per the Associated Press (via ESPN). It's a game built for the fans, played mostly out of obligation and tradition.
However, there are always at least a few ascendant performers who seemingly ramp up their efforts in order to take home individual glory. With that in mind, here is a complete breakdown of the players most likely to win MVP on Sunday.
A.J. Green (WR, Cincinnati Bengals)
In just his second NFL season, it's arguable that Green has emerged as the league's second-best receiver. He put up 97 receptions for 1,350 yards and 11 touchdowns despite being surrounded by a bunch of replacement-level talent facing double-teams on a weekly basis.
Green was the Bengals' best offensive player and, more often than not, Andy Dalton's favorite (and sometimes only) viable target. On Sunday, Green will once again get to be a top target, only this time he'll be surrounded by a bevy of equally talented players.
Though Andre Johnson lining up alongside him at receiver will undoubtedly be a welcomed change from the revolving pu-pu platter in Cincinnati this season, it will be the switch from Dalton to Peyton Manning that should make the biggest difference.
Green has oftentimes put his body on the line to bail out Dalton, or had to come back to inaccurate passes. Now he'll be playing with someone who can throw a perfect seam route in his sleep.
Last season, Green watched mostly from the sideline as Brandon Marshall took advantage of an upgrade from Matt Moore to Pro Bowl-worthy quarterbacks.
Look for Green to do the same with Manning early on, then connect with Andrew Luck and Matt Schaub later for a massive performance.
Reggie Wayne (WR, Indianapolis Colts)
While Green is the likeliest receiver to win the MVP on Sunday, Wayne is an extremely close second for a myriad of reasons.
First and foremost, he's getting to play with two quarterbacks he has quite a strong relationship with. Wayne and Manning were arguably the NFL's best quarterback-receiver duo before the latter was cut and took his talents to Denver. And Luck, Manning's replacement, didn't exactly shy away from Wayne, either.
The veteran wideout put up 106 catches for 1,355 yards and six touchdowns, while also providing strong leadership on an extremely young team. He also showed flashes of his former brilliance that most assumed had gone the way of the dodo.
From a purely sentimental perspective, it's exceedingly possible that 2013 will be Wayne's final Pro Bowl. Though he looked fantastic this past season, Wayne will turn 35 in November. Much like running back, wide receiver is a young man's position, and there are plenty of talented players on the verge of ascending.
If Wayne has a game on par with Green, and none of the quarterbacks especially stick out, look for the Colts receiver to come away with his first Pro Bowl MVP in his sixth appearance.
Russell Wilson (QB, Seattle Seahawks)
It seems like a sweeping generalization, but rookies haven't found out yet how little the Pro Bowl matters. Once a player becomes ingrained into the NFL culture and makes a few trips, he slowly begins to realize this is simply a free vacation with a halfhearted football game attached.
That means if there's a player likely to be busting his hump out there on Sunday, it's Russell Wilson.
It also doesn't hurt that Wilson's skill set bodes extremely well for his time in Honolulu. With vanilla defensive schemes and lackadaisical pass rushes, Wilson's strengths should be exemplified and his deficiencies mitigated.
To put it another way, it doesn't matter if he's 5'11" when no one has interest in batting down the ball.
His rushing ability should also be paramount. Defensive ends won't be rushing yards off the edges, and it's highly doubtful that Wilson sees any spies on the line, so he should be free to roam about uninhibited.
On paper, the NFC is at a pretty substantial deficiency on the offensive side. The conference has lost all three of its initial selections at quarterback, along with Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall, the two selected starting wide receivers.
Wilson may be the one player with a varied enough skill set to keep the NFC side in the game. In what should be a barn burner, look for the Seahawks signal-caller to cap off his rookie season with a brilliant Pro Bowl performance.
Will that be enough to win the MVP? Well, that likely comes down to whether or not the NFC wins. With those aforementioned deficiencies accounted for, I wouldn't bet on it. But Wilson is by far the most likely MVP candidate on his sideline.
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