Pro Bowl Format 2014: Updated Rules, Rosters and More for Unconferenced Game

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Pro Bowl Format 2014: Updated Rules, Rosters and More for Unconferenced Game
Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

The NFL Pro Bowl has never been considered the best all-star game in professional sports. In fact, by many accounts, it has been viewed as the worst.

But with a brand new format, rules and a loaded roster, the Pro Bowl is making another attempt at gaining attention. The only question is: Will it work?

Rather than having two different conferences facing off against one another like they have in the past, the NFL is embracing the fantasy football culture and allowing two of the biggest former superstars in Deion Sanders and Jerry Rice to pick their own teams in an unconferenced format.

The two legends will participate in the first-ever Pro Bowl fantasy draft. The draft will kick off on Tuesday Jan. 21. NFL.com provides the info on what to expect: 

On Tuesday, alumni captains Deion Sanders and Jerry Rice get the party started on NFL Network at 8 p.m. ET, primarily by drafting offensive linemen. (One fullback, one punter and one special teamer per team are also selected.)

In total, 22 players will be selected on Tuesday.  

On Wednesday, the other 66 players will be selected, starting at 8 p.m. ET on the NFL Network. 

As Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports, the team captains have already been set:

Unfortunately, the new format isn't rubbing some players the right way. According to Taylor Price of the San Francisco 49ers official website, Patrick Willis isn't too keen on the idea of tackling one of his teammates:

In the draft, Rice and Sanders will get to select from rosters selected by the fans and replacements for those either not able to participate or playing in the Super Bowl.

With the new format, here is all the information fans need to know before the game kicks off this weekend.

 

Game Information

When: Sunday, Jan. 26, at 7 p.m. ET

Where: Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Watch: NBC

Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra

Rosters

Pro Bowl: Offense
Pos. Player Team
QB Tom Brady New England Patriots
QB Drew Brees New Orleans Saints
QB Andrew Luck* Indianapolis Colts
QB Peyton Manning Denver Broncos
QB Cam Newton Carolina Panthers
QB Philip Rivers San Diego Chargers
QB Russell Wilson Seattle Seahawks
QB Nick Foles* Philadelphia Eagles
WR Antonio Brown Pittsburgh Steelers
WR Dez Bryant Dallas Cowboys
WR Larry Fitzgerald* Arizona Cardinals
WR Josh Gordon Cleveland Browns
WR A.J. Green Cincinnati Bengals
WR Andre Johnson Houston Texans
WR Calvin Johnson Detroit Lions
WR Brandon Marshall Chicago Bears
WR Demaryius Thomas Denver Broncos
WR DeSean Jackson* Philadelphia Eagles
WR Alshon Jeffery* Chicago Bears
OT Branden Albert Kansas City Chiefs
OT Jason Peters Philadelphia Eagles
OT Tyron Smith Dallas Cowboys
OT Joe Staley San Francisco 49ers
OT Joe Thomas Cleveland Browns
OT Trent Williams Washington Redskins
OT Duane Brown* Houston Texans
OG Jahri Evans New Orleans Saints
OG Ben Grubbs New Orleans Saints
OG Mike Iupati San Francisco 49ers
OG Logan Mankins New England Patriots
OG Louis Vasquez Denver Broncos
OG Marshal Yanda Baltimore Ravens
OG Evan Mathis* Philadelphia Eagles
C Ryan Kalil Carolina Panthers
C Alex Mack Cleveland Browns
C Nick Mangold* New York Jets
C Mike Pouncey Miami Dolphins
C Max Unger Seattle Seahawks
TE Jordan Cameron Cleveland Browns
TE Vernon Davis San Francisco 49ers
TE Jimmy Graham New Orleans Saints
TE Julius Thomas Denver Broncos
TE Jason Witten* Dallas Cowboys
RB Jamaal Charles Kansas City Chiefs
RB Matt Forte Chicago Bears
RB Frank Gore San Francisco 49ers
RB Marshawn Lynch Seattle Seahawks
RB LeSean McCoy Philadelphia Eagles
RB Adrian Peterson Minnesota Vikings
RB Eddie Lacy* Green Bay Packers
RB Alfred Morris* Washington
FB Marcel Reece Oakland Raiders
FB Mike Tolbert Carolina Panthers

NFL.com (*Denotes replacements)

Pro Bowl: Defense
Pos. Player Team
DE Greg Hardy Carolina Panthers
DE Cameron Jordan New Orleans Saints
DE Robert Quinn St. Louis Rams
DE Cameron Wake Miami Dolphins
DE J.J. Watt Houston Texans
DE Mario Williams Buffalo Bills
DT Jason Hatcher* Dallas Cowboys
DT Gerald McCoy Tampa Bay Buccaneers
DT Haloti Ngata Baltimore Ravens
DT Dontari Poe Kansas City Chiefs
DT Justin Smith San Francisco 49ers
DT Ndamukong Suh Detroit Lions
DT Kyle Williams Buffalo Bills
OLB John Abraham Arizona Cardinals
OLB Ahmad Brooks San Francisco 49ers
OLB Tamba Hali Kansas City Chiefs
OLB Justin Houston Kansas City Chiefs
OLB Robert Mathis Indianapolis Colts
OLB Terrell Suggs Baltimore Ravens
MLB NaVorro Bowman San Francisco 49ers
MLB Vontaze Burfict Cincinnati Bengals
MLB Luke Kuechly Carolina Panthers
MLB Patrick Willis San Francisco 49ers
CB Brandon Flowers Kansas City Chiefs
CB Brent Grimes Miami Dolphins
CB Joe Haden Cleveland Browns
CB Patrick Peterson Arizona Cardinals
CB Darrelle Revis Tampa Bay Buccaneers
CB Richard Sherman Seattle Seahawks
CB Aqib Talib New England Patriots
CB Alterraun Verner Tennessee Titans
CB Tim Jennings* Chicago Bears
FS Jairus Byrd Buffalo Bills
FS Earl Thomas Seattle Seahawks
FS Eric Weddle San Diego Chargers
SS Eric Berry Kansas City Chiefs
SS Kam Chancellor Seattle Seahawks
SS Troy Polamalu Pittsburgh Steelers
SS Antrel Rolle* New York Giants

NFL.com (*Denotes replacement)

Pro Bowl: Special Teams
Pos. Player Team
P Brandon Fields Miami Dolphins
P Johnny Hekker St. Louis Rams
K Stephen Gostkowski* New England Patriots
K Matt Prater Denver Broncos
K Justin Tucker Baltimore Ravens
PR Cordarrelle Patterson Minnesota Vikings
PR Dexter McCluster Kansas City Chiefs
ST Justin Bethel Arizona Cardinals
ST Matthew Slater New England Patriots
LS J.J. Jansen Carolina Panthers
LS Matt Overton Indianapolis Colts

NFL.com (*Denotes replacement)

A few players have already had discussions with the two coaches about which team they will likely be drafted by, including Robert Mathis of the Indianapolis Colts who was told he would be drafted by Sanders:

Sanders also made his own voice heard on Twitter, saying he would draft San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers—though he spelled his name wrong—and is considering Terrell Suggs of the Baltimore Ravens:

As for Rice, he said he is considering either Robert Quinn of the St. Louis Rams or J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans with his first defensive pick, according to Nick Wagoner of ESPN:

 

Updated Rules

Apart from just the changes in the way the teams are chosen, there are differences in the way the game will be played on the field. Here are the changes to the rules, according to NFL.com:

  • Game within the Game—A two-minute warning will be added to the first and third quarters and the ball will change hands after each quarter. This will increase the opportunities for quarterbacks to direct "two-minute drills," which are especially exciting for fans.
  • No Kickoffs—The coin toss will determine which team is awarded possession first. The ball will be placed on the 25-yard line at the start of each quarter and after scoring plays.
  • Rosters—The rosters will continue to consist of 43 players per squad. The kick return specialist will be replaced by an additional defensive back.
  • Cover Two and Press Coverage—The defense will be permitted to play "cover two" and "press" coverage. In previous years, only "man" coverage was permitted, except for goal-line situations.
  • Stopping of the Game Clock—Beginning at the two-minute mark of every quarter, if the offense does not gain at least one yard, the clock will stop as if the play were an incomplete pass. This rule will make the team with the ball attempt to gain yardage toward the end of each quarter.
  • Game Timing—The game clock will start after an incomplete pass on the signal of the referee, except inside the last two minutes of the first half and the last five minutes of the second half.
  • Play Clock—A 35-second/25-second play clock will be adopted instead of the typical 40-second/25-second clock.
  • Sacks—The game clock will not stop on quarterback sacks outside of the final two minutes of the game. Currently, the game clock stops in these situations outside of two minutes of the second and fourth quarters.

One of the most interesting changes out of those is taking away kickoffs. After the NFL changed the rules recently limiting the amount of kickoff returns in the game, the Pro Bowl nullifying kickoffs is taking away from the amount of excitement that special teams can provide with a huge return.

Will the Pro Bowl be more interesting this year?

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To counteract that, the two-minute warning rule will generate clutch situations for every quarterback inserted in the game. In this case, quarterbacks can be used much like pitchers are in the MLB All-Star Game, constantly being able to put in a new one for a limited amount of time.

With just four quarterbacks on each roster, each signal-caller could play a quarter and get a chance to show off in a two-minute drill at the end of his respective period of play—literally becoming a quarterback.

Perhaps the updated changes to the Pro Bowl will breathe new life into what has become somewhat of an afterthought in between the championship games and the Super Bowl. Just trying to envision the possibility of every fantasy football player's dreams does seem enticing, but will it actually make sense?

Either way, the changes should make the game more intriguing and ultimately more entertaining. And in a game that could use a little more excitement, fans should tune in to see how much the game will change without the restraints of prior seasons.

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