The Miami Dolphins have not sent a placekicker to the Pro Bowl in exactly a decade. Truth be told, if Dan Carpenter earns the coveted spot they really won't need to “send” him to the Pro Bowl—it's in Miami's LandShark Stadium after all.
But the case for Carpenter to make the NFL's Pro Bowl are compelling. In the AFC's pool of kickers, there are only a handful of legitimate contenders, competing against Carpenter's league high 95 percent field goal percentage.
Carpenter hasn't missed a field goal since the third quarter of week two versus the Indianapolis Colts, when his 49—yard kick sailed wide right.
More recently, he has had two exceptional games; versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and last week against the New England Patriots.
In Week 10, Carpenter made four field goals against the Buccaneers, including a 25—yard field goal with 10 seconds remaining to seal Miami's victory. Unlike last week's game, Miami came in with the a 3—5 record and dominated the first half, however, things unraveled in the second half. But instead of another disastrous loss, Carpenter's right foot booted the Dolphins to an emotional come—from—behind victory.
Last week, he converted all three field goal attempts versus New England, including a 41—yard kick with 1:02 remaining to put the Dolphins ahead for good. Yes, Chad Henne was clutch , but you have to hand it—or kick it to Carpenter for being as cold as ice.
So who might kick Carpenter, the second year kicker out of Montana, out of the Pro Bowl?
Up first is San Diego's Nate Kaeding. He's been there before and he could go again, but I don't think this is his year. His numbers are padded by San Diego's high-powered offense, which so far has afforded Kaeding with an AFC-leading 37 extra point kicks made. However, when you analyze the field goals, or more importantly the strength of field goals, you'll notice San Diego's top gear offense has a tendency to stall in the red-zone.
Kaeding has been a perfect 17-17 inside the 30 yard-line, but push him behind that line and he's a meager 8-11 or 72.7 percent; not really Pro Bowl material. Carpenter, on the other hand, has had few close range kicks of his own, but he is 14-15 outside the 30 yard-line.
Next is fellow divisional placekicker Rian Lindell of the Buffalo Bills. You probably remember him for his extra long 56-yard kick against the Dolphins that put Buffalo up for good two weeks ago. But like Kaeding, Lindell is 10-10 inside the 30; push him into the long field and he is 10-13. Don't worry about Carpenter, remember, he opened up the scoring in Foxboro last month with a booming 52-yard field goal .
Finally, Sebastian Janikowski of the Oakland Raiders, is another possibility. Now, the Raiders other kicker, punter Shane Lechler, might be in the Pro Bowl again and part of the reason is Oakland gives him plenty of opportunities and that is exactly why it's not Janikowski's year. He earns his paycheck, no doubt, but he just does not have nearly as many chances as Carpenter does.
Now Pro Bowl selections have been criticized as a popularity contest, but I have no qualms voting for No. 5 for the Dolphins.