Shutdown Corner - NFL

Now that the 2010 Pro Bowl rosters have been announced, it's time to argue! Everyone has their own thoughts on who should make the team, and one of the best parts of seeing the teams are the under-/overrated arguments that ensue. We'll start with the AFC, listing the position players that were voted in (alternates in parentheses).

No members of the Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, Seattle Seahawks or Tampa Bay Buccaneers made the list. The Atlanta Falcons lead all teams with seven Pro Bowlers, and the New England Patriots finish second with six. For brevity's sake, we'll leave special teamers out, as I can't quite get up the argument that this or that punter was robbed.


Who won: Tom Brady(notes), New England Patriots (Philip Rivers(notes), San Diego Chargers, Peyton Manning(notes), Indianapolis Colts)

Who should have won: Brady. It's a no-brainer, really, Philip Rivers did a great deal with little talent around him, and Manning has been great despite so many injuries to his roster, but the Patriots have the best turnover differential of the past decade (+27), and Brady's thrown just four picks. He's also running one of the most efficient offenses ever with two rookie tight ends, a reclamation project in Deion Branch(notes), a no-name running back in BenJarvus Green-Ellis(notes) ... and if you think Danny Woodhead(notes) would be doing what he's doing in any other offense, you've watched "The Town" too many times. He's the best quarterback in the NFL, he's the NFL MVP, and he's a "duh"-level Pro Bowl selection.


Who won: Maurice Jones-Drew(notes), Jacksonville Jaguars (Arian Foster(notes), Houston Texans, Jamaal Charles(notes), Kansas City Chiefs)

Who should have won: Charles. We love us some Pocket Hercules, and Foster is great, but Charles is the league's most efficient and explosive running back, averaging 6.0 yards per carry on his first 10 carries of every game, and 7.5 on carries 11-20. If the Chiefs' coaching staff had given him a Chris Johnson-level workload, you'd be looking at a back of Johnson's statistical stature.


Who won: Vonta Leach(notes), Houston Texans

Who should have won: Leach. No argument here. The main reason I put Charles over Foster is the fact that Foster has a wrecking machine like Leach blocking for him.


Who won: Andre Johnson(notes), Houston Texans/Reggie Wayne(notes), Indianapolis Colts (Dwayne Bowe(notes), Kansas City Chiefs/Brandon Lloyd(notes), Denver Broncos)

Who should have won: Johnson and Mike Wallace(notes), Pittsburgh Steelers. I have no issue with Andre Johnson on this list. But Wallace already has seven touchdowns of 40 yards or more, making him a slightly more potent deep threat than Lloyd, and he's become the pointman in Pittsburgh's offense. I'd put Bowe over Wayne and kick myself to a degree for not putting Bowe over Johnson (I could be convinced either way), but there you go. Mike Wallace is a huge snub here.

Tight end

Who won: Antonio Gates(notes), San Diego Chargers (Marcedes Lewis(notes), Jacksonville Jaguars)

Who should have won: Rob Gronkowski(notes), New England Patriots. Gates is having an incredible season, but he's played in just 10 games this year. Lewis has been an explosive and reliable target for David Garrard(notes) all season. But there is no more valuable tight end in the AFC this season than Gronkowski, who has become Tom Brady's primary touchdown target as a rookie, and blocks in a way that brings the old-school greats to mind. Not bad for a guy who missed his entire 2009 season with a back injury. I'd take him over any AFC tight end right now, including Gates.

Offensive tackle

Who won: Jake Long(notes), Miami Dolphins/Joe Thomas(notes), Cleveland Browns (D'Brickashaw Ferguson(notes), New York Jets)

Who should have won: Thomas and Long. I'm going to stick with the two starters, though Ferguson has allowed just two sacks this season. Thomas and Long provide an interesting style clash -- in a Pro Bowl situation, I'd play the more technically refined Thomas at left tackle, and put Long the basher on the right side.

Offensive Guard

Who won: Kris Dielman(notes), San Diego Chargers/Logan Mankins(notes), New England Patriots (Brian Waters(notes), Kansas City Chiefs)

Who should have won: Mankins and Waters. I'll take Waters over Dielman because the Chiefs' power zone play has been so consistently excellent this season, especially in the middle gaps.


Who won: Nick Mangold(notes), New York Jets (Maurkice Pouncey(notes), Pittsburgh Steelers)

Who should have won: Mangold. Clearly the best center in the game from this point of view. But I'll take New England's Dan Koppen(notes) over Pouncey, who strikes me as a questionable choice.

Defensive End

Who won: Dwight Freeney(notes), Indianapolis Colts/Robert Mathis(notes), Indianapolis Colts (Jason Babin(notes), Tennessee Titans)

Who should have won: Babin and Mathis. Sorry, Dwight, but Mathis is the more versatile sackmaster on the Colts' squad these days, providing a better presence against the run. No end in the AFC has put up more negative plays than Babin, who came out of nowhere after negligible turns in Houston and Seattle.

Defensive tackle

Who won: Haloti Ngata(notes), Baltimore Ravens/Vince Wilfork(notes), New England Patriots (Richard Seymour(notes), Oakland Raiders)

Who should have won: Ngata and Terrance Knighton(notes), Jacksonville Jaguars. We all know how great Ngata is -- his combination of size and agility is truly unbelievable. But instead of Wilfork, or the proverbially underrated Kyle Williams of the Buffalo Bills, I'm taking a flyer on Knighton, who recorded a success, stop, or defeat on every play he was involved in through Week 12, the longest such streak for any defensive player in the NFL. The Jags don't get a lot of face time, which is the only reason you don't yet know how good "Pot Roast" really is.

Outside Linebacker

Who won: James Harrison(notes), Pittsburgh Steelers/Cameron Wake(notes), Miami Dolphins (Terrell Suggs(notes), Baltimore Ravens)

Who should have won: Harrison and Wake. I'd probably put Harrison's teammate LaMarr Woodley(notes) above Suggs as the alternate because I think his versatility is grossly undersold, but it's tough to argue with Suggs' great season, either.

Inside Linebacker

Who won: Ray Lewis(notes), Baltimore Ravens (Jerod Mayo(notes), New England Patriots)

Who should have won: Mayo. I'm of the belief that Lewis is the greatest linebacker in NFL history, and I have no issue with him as a ceremonial alternate every year until the end of time, but Mayo is simply the better player on a play-to-play basis. No linebacker has been involved in more plays, and few have a better balance between run and pass defense. Truth be told, Stephen Tulloch(notes) of the Tennessee Titans should be the actual alternate based on 2010 performance.


Who won: Nnamdi Asomugha(notes), Oakland Raiders/Darrelle Revis(notes), New York Jets (Devin McCourty(notes), New England Patriots)

Who should have won: Revis and Johnathan Joseph(notes), Cincinnati Bengals. I'm not going to argue with Revis' selection, but as much as I respect Asomugha's body of work, I've been more impressed by Joseph's work; he's the more dynamic of the best cornerback duo in the league, as Leon Hall(notes) is no slouch, either.

Free Safety

Who won: Ed Reed(notes), Baltimore Ravens (Brandon Meriweather(notes), New England Patriots)

Who should have won: Reed. This and the AFC's free safety choice ... well, they're the biggest no-brainers this side of Tom Brady.

Strong Safety

Who won: Troy Polamalu(notes), Pittsburgh Steelers

Who should have won: Polamalu. Whenever he's healthy, he's a legitimate MVP candidate.

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