A year ago Commissioner Roger Goodell was a hair’s breadth away from cancelling the Pro Bowl due to lackluster play. Instead, the league instituted a brand new format and several rule changes to insure a speedier, high-scoring matchup.
The revamped and rejuvenated NFL Pro Bowl gets under way on Sunday night with Team Jerry Rice squaring off against Team Deion Sanders at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Tossing out the traditional AFC vs. NFC format, the biggest alteration gathered every selected player into one talent pool with Rice and Sanders acting as general managers earlier this week in a fantasy style draft.
Rice will send out team captain and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, along with tight end Jimmy Graham, and Philadelphia Eagles running back and NFL-leading rusher LeSean McCoy. Cleveland’s Josh Gordon and Chicago’s Alshon Jeffery, both first-time Pro Bowlers, will act as Brees main targets.
Sanders will counter with Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck and Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles, followed by Cincinnati wide receiver A.J. Green and Dallas Cowboy Dez Bryant.
Future Hall of Fame tight end and Atlanta Falcon Tony Gonzalez will make his 14th Pro Bowl appearance, tying him for first all-time. Gonzalez will stalk the sidelines for Team Rice.
St. Louis Rams defensive end Robert Quinn will lead Rice’s defense, and Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt will guide Sanders’s defense.
A full list of both rosters can be found here.
Some of the rule changes include a two-minute warning for each quarter, and possession will turnover after the succession of each period. The clock will also not stop after a quarterback is sacked, and in the last two minutes of each quarter and the final five minutes the game clock will continue to run even after an incomplete pass, according to ProFootballTalk.
In the old AFC vs. NFC format, the two sides had split the last four meetings with the NFC reclaiming the all-time series record last year with a 62-35 blowout.
Betting Odds: Team Sanders -1
Over/Under: 93.5 points
Time: Sunday, 7:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NBC
Prediction: Team Rice 47, Team Sanders 40