Sunday's Pro Bowl stands as a showcase for the future of the league.
With Peyton Manning and Cam Newton headed to the Super Bowl and many veterans willing to take a pass on a trip to Hawaii, it's time for Jameis Winston, Derek Carr, Teddy Bridgewater and many others to turn the vacation into a must-see affair for fans.
That won't be hard to do. There's no other football on the television on Sunday, and it's the end of January. It also won't be hard to do because, while it might not have been the original intent of the game, the future of the league seizing the spotlight isn't something to miss.
Here's a look at everything to know about the game, including the when and how, the slick jerseys and more.
When: Sunday, January 31 at 7 p.m. ET
Where: Aloha Stadium, Honolulu
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)|
The NFL's Pro Bowl jerseys have never held anything back when it comes to fluidity and innovation of design.
Last year's electric yellow wasn't a hit, so 2015 sees the league head in a more traditional route as the league looks to honor the 50th Super Bowl. NFL.com's Marc Sessler provided a look at the jerseys back in March:
Now that the players are in Hawaii preparing for the big event, observers can see the jerseys on the actual players. NFL on ESPN provided a shot of the black edition:
The Miami Dolphins looked at the lighter version while zooming in on some of the slick logos:
It's certainly a step in the right direction for the jersey trend. The NFL doesn't mind taking risks—think back to some of the odd Thursday Night Football jersey choices—but keeping it rather traditional here to celebrate Super Bowl No. 50 certainly paid off.
Breakdown and Predictions
It's not hard to see which way Hall of Fame receivers Jerry Rice and Michael Irvin went with their draft strategies.
Irvin was all about the offense. He made Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson the No. 1 pick and went ahead and slapped him in a real-life version of Madden NFL by giving him receivers Julio Jones, A.J. Green, DeAndre Hopkins and Allen Robinson.
Oh, Wilson will also hand the ball off to Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley and Atlanta Falcons back Devonta Freeman, guys who combined for 2,162 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns.
Rice went a little more conservative knowing he had the Eli Manning-Odell Beckham connection to lean on, drafting high-impact defenders such as Khalil Mack, Tamba Hali, Marcus Peters, Eric Berry, Elvis Dumervil and Charles Woodson.
The storylines aren't hard to see. Elite offense against elite defense. Thanks to the un-conferenced format inspired by fantasy football, teammates will line up against one another, such as Seattle corner Richard Sherman against explosive youngster Tyler Lockett.
"I'm gonna jam his little chest," Sherman said, according to NFL Media's Conor Orr. "He knows it. He knows it. I know what he said (about me), but he's also an eighth-grader."
Nailing down an actual prediction in a game where it's hard to tell who will go full speed and who won't, who prepared like it was a real game and who is just there or the vacation, isn't simple.
In the end, though, one has to think Team Irvin's downright silly amount of receiving weapons will spread Team Rice thin.
Even Jacksonville's Robinson sounded a bit shocked at the amount of talent around him—not that he's a slouch by comparison after catching 80 passes for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns—in an interview with the Associated Press (via FoxSports.com).
"It's special, for sure. I think it's pretty cool to be lining up with a bunch of guys who are spectacular receivers. For me being a young guy, I'm just watching these guys and how they work and trying to get to that consistent level that those guys are at.''
Team Rice might have a strong rush to pressure quarterbacks, but Wilson isn't a stranger to breaking free to make plays down the field. If he can build a lead, Winston and Bridgewater can sit on it while leaning on Gurley and Freeman.
Look for Irvin's offensive-minded approach to win out. It's an offensive-minded league, after all.
Prediction: Team Irvin 36, Team Rice 28