Which Packers Deserve to Go to the Pro Bowl
Last season the Packers struggled to a 6-10 season and as a result only sent three players to the Pro Bowl in Honolulu.
All three came from the defensive backfield as Charles Woodson, Al Harris, and Nick Collins made the trip after posting the 12th ranked pass defense and combining for 14 interceptions and 41 passes defended. Collins made his first trip while Harris filled in as an injury replacement for Woodson, who passed on his fifth career pro bowl due to a toe injury.
Outside the defensive backfield, it was a rough season for the 2008 Packers, but the Packers might need to buy a few extra tickets for the 2009 Pro Bowl in Miami this season.
At 7-4, the Packers have a boatload of players who are putting up career numbers or close to it. Because of this, they ought to be well represented on January 31st for the 39th AFC-NFC Pro Bowl.
Leading the way for the Packers is quarterback Aaron Rodgers. In just his second year starting, Rodgers ranks third in the NFC in passer rating (104.9), first in yards (3,136), third in touchdown passes (22), and has thrown just five interceptions while begin sacked a league-high 44 times.
He also leads all quarterbacks in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. He didn't prove to be a winner in his first season and took some heat because of it, but he now has the Packers on the verge of the playoffs and has taken over the leadership role in Green Bay.
Drew Brees has put together another ridiculous season passing and has the Saints at 11-0 and has to be considered a shoo-in for the Pro Bowl, while Brett Favre will not need to get in on the fan vote like he did last season as he has had another rejuvenated season and is playing some of his best football.
After those two, Kurt Warner and Eli Manning are the closest to Rodgers statistically and the lovable Tony Romo is sure to garner votes based on his fan base and celebrity status.
What makes Rodgers nearly a sure thing is the fact that the Pro Bowl will be played in between the NFC Championship Games and the Super Bowl, meaning Super Bowl participants from the AFC and NFC will not be eligible to play in the game. If Rodgers isn't playing in the Big Game, it looks like Brees or Favre will.
Favre isn't the only one having a rejuvenated season, as Donald Driver is posting some of the best numbers of his storied Packers career.
Eleven games in, Driver is 13th in receptions and third in yards to go along with five touchdowns and 38 first down catches. Name recognition is huge for the wideouts and there are some darn good receivers in the NFC—meaning Larry Fitzgerald and Roddy White are sure to be in.
Also, New York's Steve Smith and other youngsters Miles Austin and Sydney Rice are putting up great numbers.
Four wide receivers will go to Miami so Driver is not a sure thing, but the Super Bowl rule could come into play with Rice or Fitzgerald, so a Pro Bowl trip could still be in the cards for Driver.
Two long shots for the Packers offense include running back Ryan Grant and right guard Josh Sitton, who are both quietly putting up very nice seasons. Grant is fourth in yards but has only five touchdowns and Sitton has been a true bright spot on an otherwise awful offensive line, so neither are likely to be voted in.
Asante Samuel leads all cornerbacks in Pro Bowl voting, but it would be absolute highway robbery if Charles Woodson was not voted to his second consecutive Pro Bowl. Two corners are voted in so Woodson will get the nod as the Defensive Player of the Year candidate and is having his best season as a pro.
Through the first 12 weeks, Woodson has 54 tackles, including seven for a loss, four forced fumbles, 11 passes defended, seven interceptions, two sacks, and two touchdowns. Not bad for a guy in his 12th season as a pro going up against each team's best receiver week in and week out. Those numbers are sure to go up as the season goes on, making Woodson a lock to visit Miami in January.
The 3-4 defense makes it difficult for defensive linemen to rack up stats but Cullen Jenkins deserves at least a look. For the season, he has 25 tackles, 4.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, an interception and has been key in opening holes for linebackers. Expected to have a huge year in the 4-3 defense, Jenkins has been just as disruptive under Dom Capers and is having a Pro Bowl-type year.
Minnesota's Jared Allen falls in the same category as Woodson and is a sure thing to get in—while Will Smith, Trent Cole, Julius Peppers, and Andre Carter are all having excellent seasons as well.
With Brian Dawkins leaving the conference, Nick Collins is in line to make his second consecutive Pro Bowl appearance. He has played consistently well and has 36 tackles to go along with four interceptions.
New Orleans' Darren Sharper is having a fantastic season and should get in, while Adrian Wilson will receive some votes as well.
Collins' playing in the Pro Bowl last season should help his cause during the last three weeks of voting and Sharper could very well be playing in the Super Bowl, making him a no-go for the Pro Bowl.
Other long shots on the Packers' roster include wide receiver Greg Jennings—who has name recognition on his side—as well as Clay Matthews, and Nick Barnett.
Then again, let's hope no Packers are eligible to play in the Pro Bowl as they prepare for Super Bowl XLIV the next week.
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