With Hall of Fame wide receivers Jerry Rice and Michael Irvin back in the fold to lead the two teams, they did a fantasy football-inspired draft Wednesday, picking from the best of the best left standing in the player pool to form the teams that will square off in Honolulu Sunday.
Wilson might have come off the board first, but it was just the beginning of a wild event eventually pitting a pair of stacked teams against one another. Here's a look at the game info and draft results.
When: Sunday, January 31 at 7 p.m. ET
Where: Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii
Live Stream: WatchESPN
|1||QB Russell Wilson (Seahawks)|
|2||WR Julio Jones (Falcons)|
|3||CB Richard Sherman (Seahawks)|
|4||DE Ezekiel Ansah (Lions)|
|5||DE Michael Bennett (Seahawks)|
|6||WR A.J. Green (Bengals)|
|7||WR DeAndre Hopkins (Texans)|
|8||RB Todd Gurley (Rams)|
|9||OLB Anthony Barr (Vikings)|
|10||CB Desmond Trufant (Falcons)|
|11||WR Allen Robinson (Jaguars)|
|12||LB Lavonte David (Buccaneers)|
|13||TE Tyler Eifert (Bengals)|
|14||QB Jameis Winston (Buccaneers)|
|15||DE Carlos Dunlap (Bengals)|
|16||QB Teddy Bridgewater (Vikings)|
|17||TE Delanie Walker (Titans)|
|18||S Reshad Jones (Dolphins)|
|19||OLB Sean Lee (Cowboys)|
|20||CB Adam Jones (Bengals)|
|21||RB Latavius Murray (Raiders)|
|22||S Malcolm Jenkins (Eagles)|
|23||CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Giants)|
|24||FS Harrison Smith (Vikings)|
|1||QB Eli Manning (Giants)|
|2||DE Khalil Mack (Raiders)|
|3||WR Jarvis Landry (Dolphins)|
|4||QB Derek Carr (Raiders)|
|5||WR Amari Cooper (Raiders)|
|6||CB Marcus Peters (Chiefs)|
|7||RB Adrian Peterson (Vikings)|
|8||OLB Tamba Hali (Chiefs)|
|9||DE Everson Griffen (Vikings)|
|10||CB Vontae Davis (Colts)|
|11||WR T.Y. Hilton (Colts)|
|12||CB Brent Grimes (Dolphins)|
|13||RB Doug Martin (Buccaneers)|
|14||TE Travis Kelce (Chiefs)|
|15||S Eric Berry (Chiefs)|
|16||LB Julius Peppers (Packers)|
|17||DE Cameron Jordan (Saints)|
|18||QB Tyrod Taylor (Bills)|
|19||TE Gary Barnidge (Browns)|
|20||OLB Elvis Dumervil (Ravens)|
|21||RB Chris Ivory (Jets)|
|22||CB Jason Verrett (Chargers)|
|23||SS Mike Adams (Colts)|
|24||SS Charles Woodson (Raiders)|
As such, Wilson came off the board first with Team Irvin making the call. How could they not? Wilson completed 68.1 percent of his passes for 4,024 yards and 34 touchdowns to eight interceptions on the season, including leading his team on a 6-1 streak to blast into the postseason.
Not only does Wilson have a unique skill set befitting of a Pro Bowl leader, he's the ideal guy to run a team. Just look at his reaction to the game itself, as captured by the Seahawks on Twitter:
Seattle Seahawks @Seahawks
"This is the first game of 2016 in my mind,” - QB @DangeRussWilson [https://t.co/WLqIl0VGQv]1/28/2016, 3:30:27 AM
Wilson has some incredible running mates, to say the least. If Irvin's plan was to load up on offense and ensure his quarterback had no issues posting Madden-esque numbers, well, he did a good job.
Not only does Wilson have Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley and Atlanta Falcons back Devonta Freeman in the backfield, here's a look at what his top wideouts did this year:
Seems like overkill, right?
Team Rice didn't exactly lose out in the draft, though. New York Giants wideout Odell Beckham Jr. made a point to take his quarterback, Eli Manning, with the first pick.
Not that it sounds like he had much of a choice, based on a comment recorded by Jordan Raanan of NJ.com:
Jordan Raanan @JordanRaanan
Eli on Odell Beckham/Pro Bowl draft: "Don't feel any pressure to draft me but if you don't draft me don't expect to catch any balls next yr"1/27/2016, 5:49:46 PM
While Team Rice might not tout the same impressive on-paper firepower of its counterpart, a quarterback-wideout connection as strong as Manning-Beckham might compensate on its own.
"We'll have to talk about it," Manning said, according to ESPN.com. "We've got a few plays that we've run over the years that we might have to throw into the offense, and hopefully, we can get together on a couple big plays."
Not that the outlook for Team Rice is bleak. No, Beckham, Rice and others went out and got plenty of defensive studs such as Oakland Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack and Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali, who figure to combine to make it tough for Wilson to get rid of the football.
When Wilson does get rid of the football, he'll have to find a way to avoid future Hall of Famer Charles Woodson, who lasted until the 24th round but is playing in his final NFL game and figures to go out with a bang.
The draft seems to have created a war of contrasting styles, which nobody in their right mind would complain about. Irvin mostly focused on offense and put all of his chips on Wilson connecting with some of the game's best, while Rice seems to have hit on a more balanced approach with veteran leadership and a roster with the potential to lock down and control the pace of the contest.
Regardless of how it plays out, the fans win. The new format once again provided an interesting affair at the draft, drawing inspiration from fantasy football. Now the results will once again play out on the field, a visualization of what a week-to-week fantasy football encounter might look like.
All in all, it's not a bad way to spend a weekend before preparing for the Super Bowl itself.