Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford and 5 Players Who Should Be Pro Bowlers
The Detroit Lions have a roster that is chock-full of talented players deserving of a Pro Bowl spot.
Everyone knows that players like Calvin Johnson and Ndamukong Suh are locks to get in, and while they deserve to have many articles written about their greatness, this article is not one of them.
Rather this is a toast to those players who are either overshadowed by other players at their position or who simply do not get the credit they are due.
Granted, the poor performance against the Chicago Bears in Week 10 has rubbed some of the luster and sheen off of the team's playoff chances. But make no mistake, this is a team with many players who all should rightfully earn a ticket to Hawaii this January.
Matthew Stafford, Quarterback
So, elephant in the room: Matthew Stafford had a horrible game against the Chicago Bears in Week 10. While it was later revealed that he played the game with a fractured index finger on his throwing hand, there is no excuse for throwing four picks, two of which went for touchdowns.
However, it is fairly safe to consider that performance a minor speed bump in an otherwise impressive breakout season.
In fact, those four picks were the first ones he threw since Week 5 (which, ironically, was also against the Bears). They should be looked at as nothing short of an anomaly.
What isn't an anomaly is 2,508 passing yards and 20 touchdowns, which are good for eighth and fourth best in the NFL, respectively.
Cliff Avril, Defensive End
With a defensive line as dominant as any in the league, it is no surprise that someone other than Ndamukong Suh is also deserving of a trip to Honolulu.
That someone happens to be Cliff Avril.
The four-year veteran has taken total advantage of every chance he has on the field so far this season, racking up 18 tackles and six sacks. And while both those numbers are on pace to pass his career best, they aren't what makes him so unique.
Rather, it is his league-leading four forced fumbles that make him worthy of a Pro Bowl spot. Not only does Avril know how to get after the quarterback, but he also knows how to jar the ball loose and create game-changing turnovers.
With Jared Allen and DeMarcus Ware all but securing the first two NFC defensive end slots, it would be a real shame if Avril did not grab the final spot.
Brandon Pettigrew, Tight End
Brandon Pettigrew may not have the numbers of some of the other elite tight ends in the league, but don't be fooled because this young man is every bit the elite talent as those other guys.
And he may be even more valuable to his team than the other top tight ends.
With running back Jahvid Best out and the rushing attack struggling, it has become Pettigrew's job to account for those short-yardage plays on early downs. Essentially, he is the running game.
That being said, it should not go unnoticed that No. 87 is also one of the leauge's premier blocking tight ends. His ability to help out at the line of scrimmage has bought quarterback Matthew Stafford time to locate Calvin Johnson down the field on multiple occasions.
A stud pass-catcher. An efficient blocker. Take your pick.
Either way, Pettigrew deserves to have his name listed on the NFC Pro Bowl roster.
Chris Houston, Cornerback
After struggling in his first year as a Detroit Lion last year, Chris Houston has really turned it around.
Now, he is the top dog in a secondary that is surprisingly ranked fourth best in the league in pass defense. That is a pretty incredible turnaround.
What makes Houston a Pro Bowl-caliber cornerback, however, is not the plays he prevents, but the big plays he makes. This year alone, he has taken two interceptions to the house, including one that he ran back 100 yards.
The dude is a playmaker, and credit needs to be given to this man who has helped reform a secondary that has struggled in recent years.
Jason Hanson, Kicker
Even at an age where many men start going through their mid-life crisis, Jason Hason has proved that he is still one of the best kickers in the league.
His 95 percent success rate knocking the football through the uprights is astounding, especially when you consider that the only one he missed was from over 50 yards away. He is the man the team relies on when the offense is having an off day and just can't seem to get into the end zone on a consistent basis.
No. 4 has played for years on a struggling team, and one cannot help but feel happy for this man who is finally on a winning team. The next step is getting him a Super Bowl ring.
If that doesn't happen, then he should at least be awarded a spot on the Pro Bowl roster.
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