Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes lead the first round of 2023 Pro Bowl voting, the NFL announced Wednesday.
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The 2023 Pro Bowl is set to be the first without an actual tackle football game being played. Rather than the traditional format, the NFL will fill the week with skill competitions and other events before the weekend culminates in a flag football game.
The NFL made the change after several years of fans complaining about the quality of play in the Pro Bowl and players consistently opting out to avoid potential injury. While flag football is not entirely an injury-free endeavor—former New England Patriots running back Robert Edwards famously tore his ACL at a flag football game at the 1999 Pro Bowl—it's a significant amount safer than the previous iterations.
Jefferson, in his third NFL season, has emerged as arguably the league's top wideout. The Vikings star has recorded 72 receptions for 1,093 yards and four touchdowns this season, giving him three straight 1,000-yard campaigns to start his career.
Despite losing Tyreek Hill to a trade during the offseason, Patrick Mahomes enters Week 12 as the favorite to win the NFL MVP award. Mahomes has thrown for 3,265 yards and 28 touchdowns against seven interceptions while leading the Chiefs to an 8-2 record. After years of finding success down the field with Hill, Mahomes has dominated defenses with intermediate throws to Travis Kelce and Juju Smith-Schuster throughout the 2022 season.
Kelce is currently fourth in Pro Bowl voting, while the still-transcendent Hill is in fifth.
Saquon Barkley is third in the initial voting returns after a stellar return to form over the first half of the season. Barkley has rushed for 953 yards and six touchdowns while adding 210 yards on 31 receptions as he's been the focal point for a 7-3 Giants team.