After a three-year dalliance with a fantasy draft format, the annual Pro Bowl returns to its roots as the best players from the AFC take on the brightest stars from the NFC this Sunday at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium. While the outcome will provide little more than pocket change and bragging rights, the AFC is looking for revenge after getting whacked in the previous tilt between the teams.
As with the majority of Pro Bowls, don’t expect much in the way of bone-crushing tackles or sideline sprints. Players will likely take it extra-easy this year after watching Bengals TE Tyler Eifert sustain an ankle injury in Honolulu that required surgery, forcing him to miss training camp and the start of the season. That means points a-plenty – and with both teams boasting all-world talent on offense, this game could be the highest-scoring affair of the season. Past history is certainly in their favor; prior to the switch to a draft format, the final three AFC-NFC tussles saw an average of 97.7 points scored per game.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
LINE HISTORY: Oddsmakers opened the NFC as 4-point favorites and they have been bet up to the current number of -4.5. The total meanwhile, hit the board at a lofty 83.5 and has been bet down a point and a half to the current number of 82. Check out the complete line history here.
WEATHER REPORT: It could be a wet day at Camping World Stadium, with a 50 percent chance of rain expected and temperatures settling in the high 50s by kickoff. Wind will blow from west to east at 11 mph.
ABOUT THE AFC: With in-season injuries to Cincinnati’s A.J. Green and San Diego’s Keenan Allen – and little receiving depth behind them – AFC quarterbacks Andy Dalton and Philip Rivers, joined by Kansas City’s Alex Smith, will be thrilled to have talented pass-catchers on the other end of their throws. Leading the way is 2016 yardage leader T.Y. Hilton of the Colts, who is joined by Miami’s Jarvis Landry and Denver teammates Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas. The rushing game is anchored by young talents Melvin Gordon of the Chargers and Jay Ajayi of the Dolphins, who are joined by DeMarco Murray of the Titans. Kansas City’s Travis Kelce and Tennessee’s Delanie Walker provide a 1-2 punch at tight end, while the defense is anchored by Broncos linebacker Von Miller, Cincinnati teammates Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins and Bills stars Kyle Williams, Lorenzo Alexander and Zach Brown.
ABOUT THE NFC: Football rosters don’t get much more talented than this – and that begins under center, where 10-time Pro Bowl quarterback Drew Brees of the Saints is joined by Washington’s Kirk Cousins and standout Dallas rookie Dak Prescott. The three-headed backfield attack is even more impressive; rushing champion and Offensive Rookie of the Year favorite Ezekiel Elliott of the Cowboys is joined by NFL No. 2 rusher Jordan Howard of the Bears and veteran gadget man Darren Sproles of the Eagles. The wide receiving corps – featuring Dallas’ Dez Bryant, the Giants’ Odell Beckham Jr., the Buccaneers’ Mike Evans and the Seahawks’ Doug Baldwin – is a quartet to watch Sunday in Orlando, while five Seattle players – including outspoken cornerback Richard Sherman and dominant inside linebacker Bobby Wagner – pace an impressive defensive unit.
* The NFC is 6-4 SU and 7-3 ATS in the past 10 AFC-NFC Pro Bowls.
* The AFC and NFC have played to the Over in four straight meetings and five of the last six.
* The underdog is 3-0 ATS in the past four AFC-NFC encounters; the 2011 edition was a pick ’em.
* Pro Bowl-winning teams have scored fewer than 30 points just once in the past 10 years.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The early consensus is strongly behind the NFC with 71 percent of wagers on NFC -4.5. Despite the total coming down, the public is still hammering the over with 77 percent of wagers on it. Check out complete consensus data here.
PRO BOWL CHEERLEADERS: