Pro Bowl 2013: Top MVP Candidates for NFL All-Star Showdown
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The Pro Bowl has basically become a glorified 7-on-7 scrimmage, so the annual NFL All-Star showdown in Honolulu promises to feature a number of receivers and quarterbacks on the short list of MVP candidates.
While the linemen essentially get a free trip to Hawaii, the true battles take place at the skill positions. Nothing compares to watching the game's best cornerbacks and receivers square off, even if the game means nothing.
By the same token, quarterbacks get a chance to throw against a nonexistent pass rush. Although studs like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers won't be playing due to injury, several other signal-callers should make some noise Sunday night.
Let's take a look at the top MVP candidates for the 2013 Pro Bowl.
Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos
While Peyton's playoff run came to an abrupt end courtesy of the Baltimore Ravens, the future Hall of Famer put together a fantastic season.
The favorite for the Comeback Player of the Year Award moved out west to suit up for the Denver Broncos and showed no signs of slowing down. Just a year removed from multiple neck surgeries, Manning lit it up at Mile High, throwing for 4,659 yards and 37 touchdowns.
A 12-time Pro Bowler, Manning is no stranger to the sport's All-Star event. Peyton will draw the start for the AFC squad and has a chance to make magic with starters A.J. Green and Andre Johnson out wide.
Throw in teammate Demaryius Thomas (94 receptions, 1,434 yards, 10 touchdowns), and Peyton could be in store for a high-flying night in Hawaii.
Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
Despite surpassing 5,000 passing yards and 40 touchdowns for the second consecutive season, Drew Brees only made the NFC roster as an injury replacement for Robert Griffin III.
Perhaps that snub will motivate the seven-time Pro Bowler, whose team didn't have much to cheer about in 2012.
Brees' own turnover woes (19 interceptions) doomed the Saints' season, as New Orleans missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Of course, losing your head coach and undergoing the Bountygate scandal didn't help.
On the field, Brees still showed a knack for making big plays, but he also posted his lowest completion percentage since 2008 (notice a pattern?).
With a clean pocket, the former Super Bowl MVP should have a field day carving up the AFC defense. Hooking up with Julio Jones and Victor Cruz could go a long way to Brees earning the MVP award.
A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Calvin Johnson may have set the single-season receiving yards record, but A.J. Green might just be the most dangerous receiver in the league.
After posting 65 catches for 1,057 yards and seven touchdowns as a rookie, Green exploded for 97 grabs, 1,350 yards and 11 scores this season. His ability to not only stretch the field but also defeat double coverage makes him a nightmare for defensive backs.
Blessed with incredible body control and 4.48 speed to complement his 6'4", 207-pound frame, Green has all the tools to take over a game.
The second-year wideout will battle Chicago's cornerback tandem of Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings, but expect Green to come out on top. With his size and speed, Green could be in line for a huge day in Honolulu.
Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons
Rounding out this list is fellow second-year receiver Julio Jones. Selected just two picks after Green, Jones is a physical marvel who possesses game-breaking ability.
Who is the more impressive WR thus far?
Checking in at 6'3", 220 pounds, Jones has the speed and explosion to take the top off a defense and the running skills to pick up huge yards after contact. His physicality, combined with his impressive frame, leaves many defensive backs flailing at his feet.
In a game that doesn't feature a ton of defense, Jones could absolutely dominate. That shouldn't be a surprise, as the former Alabama star tore up the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship.
Expect Jones to turn heads in Hawaii as he makes his case to be the Pro Bowl MVP.
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