The stage is set for Super Bowl 53 after a pair of thrilling Conference title games which went to overtime. But before the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams settle who is the best team of the 2018 season, the NFL takes a break with the 2019 Pro Bowl.
The Pro Bowl is the NFL’s version of the All-Star game in the other professional sports leagues. This year’s edition will be held on January 27, 2019 at the Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida and televised by ESPN and its sister networks.
As with the previous Pro Bowls, there have been many revisions from the original lineup selected last month. The two players from the New England Patriots and the four players from the Los Angeles Rams who were initially selected have been replaced along with the other selected players who opted to skip the event due to injuries.
In total, 14 out of the 22 players initially selected to start on offense and defense for the NFC team have been replaced while for the AFC only a total of seven players from their original roster won’t be playing on January 27th. Here are some of the notable changes from the line-ups:
- Of the six quarterbacks originally selected to play in the 2019 Pro Bowl, only Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs will be playing in the game. However, Chiefs’ tight end Travis Kelce will not make the trip and has been replaced by Jared Cook of the Raiders in the AFC lineup.
- After being one of the notable snubs in the original roster, New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara will play for the NFC team after Todd Gurley was pulled out because of next week’s Super Bowl 53. Kamara and Gurley battled it out in the NFC Finals with Gurley’s Rams winning the game.
- Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams earned his 6th and final Pro Bowl selection after he was chosen to replace Jurrell Casey on the AFC team. The 35 year old Williams will be retiring at the end of the season.
- Dallas Cowboys’ rookie linebacker Leighton Vander Esch was also a notable snub in the original NFC team but will be part of the 2019 Pro Bowl after being selected as the replacement of the Tennessee Titans’ Jurrell Casey.
AFC vs NFC 2019 Pro Bowl
Spread Odds: AFC pk -110, NFC pk-110
Over/Under Odds: Over 57 -110, Under 57-110
Odds from sportsbetting.ag as of 1/25/19
The AFC will start with the best quarterback in the event in Patrick Mahomes. Widely considered as the MVP of the season, Mahomes will be backed up by Andrew Luck and DeShaun Watson. The offensive-minded Mahomes will have James Conner, Tyreek Hill, Keenan Allen and Jarvis Landry at his disposal. But while their offense looks awesome, it’s in defense where the AFC is most probably going to stand out with difference makers like Von Miller, Jalen Ramsey, Xavien Howard and Myles Garrett on board.
The AFC is missing its two original quarterback selections but has the best quarterback available. They are also lean in the running back position. The NFC doesn’t have any of its original quarterback selections but have three veterans who have plenty of big game experience playing behind center. The NFC also has a powerhouse cast ast running back. However, we’ve seen the last two editions of the Pro Bowl being played with more defense than expected in an exhibition game like this. That said, if we compare the defensive lineups for both teams, the AFC has young and fast defenders while the NFC defense is missing key starters due to their inclusion in the Super Bowl.
I know that exhibition games are an offensive showcase but when you have young players who want to make a name for themselves and their craft, I’m giving the edge to the
AFC team. I think defense is the AFC’s edge in this game. But then again, this is an exhibition game where every player on the rosters should be able to play. So not only can we not judge the motivation of players, we can’t expect consistency especially on offense. Both these teams can put up points in the scoreboard. But I think the AFC has the better defensive unit. I’m picking the AFC to beat the NFC in a tightly fought contest.
Prediction: I don’t want to bet on the winner or the spread because this game is the most unpredictable game of the season given it is only an exhibition contest. But if forced to choose, I’ll side with the AFC for the reason given above. Personally though, I’d just bet on the total. With 7 out of the last 11 Pro Bowls yielding a total score of at least 60 points, I have to go with the OVER 57.