While Ohio waits for the Super Bowl and to see if the Cincinnati Bengals can bring home an elusive Lombardi Trophy, we can still enjoy football Sunday with the NFL’s annual Pro Bowl from Las Vegas at 2 p.m. on ESPN.
The Pro Bowl has undergone major changes the last few years and it doesn’t look exactly like you may remember. It’s still NFC All-Stars vs. AFC All-Stars but with some rules, modifications to limit the prospect of injury.
The Bengals had three players chosen to be in Las Vegas: running back Joe Mixon, wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase and defensive end Trey Hendrickson.
However, they are unavailable for the game as they are making preparations for Super Bowl LVI Sunday, Feb. 13 against the Los Angeles Rams.
Bengal fans prefer it that way.
Sports fans are still waiting for the deal to go down on approved sports betting and online gambling in Ohio.
What do the oddsmakers say?
Are there odds on the Pro Bowl? Of course, there are odds on the Pro Bowl!
Barstool Sports has the AFC listed as 1.5-point favorites. Caesars sportsbook and FanDuel sportsbook mark the AFC as one-point favorites. The over/under at all three sportsbooks is listed at 62.5.
The NFC hasn’t won a Pro Bowl since 2012. From 2013 to 2016 the NFL did a ‘draft’ process where the All-Stars were mixed on two separate teams. The AFC vs. NFC format returned in 2017.
No Bengals will be playing in the Pro Bowl and the team rosters get adjusted after being originally announced. Tampa Bay Bucs quarterback Tom Brady was selected to play, but Brady had opted out even before announcing his retirement last week.
The NFC quarterbacks will be:
- Kyler Murray (Arizona Cardinals)
- Kirk Cousins (Minnesota Vikings)
- Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks)
The AFC quarterbacks will be:
- Justin Herbert (LA Chargers)
- Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs)
- Lamar Jackson (Baltimore Ravens)
The Pro Bowl rules
The NFL continues to explore rule changes to enhance player safety. In the Pro Bowl, if you win the coin toss to start the game the winning team has the option to “spot or choose.”
The winning team can either pick where the offense will start with the ball (say like, the 12-yard line) while the other team selects whether it will be on offense or defense. So like, you wouldn’t want to spot the ball at the 1-yard line for the other team to then say “defense.”
The game will also allow teams to get the ball right back after a score. After a successful field goal or extra-point try, the scoring team can either give the other team the ball at its own 25 (like a touchback) or choose to take the ball at its own 25 and face a fourth-and-15 play.
They need to convert to maintain possession.
A look back at the last five Pro Bowls
2020 – AFC 38, NFC 33
Steelers defensive end TJ Watt ran back a fumble for a touchdown and Lamar Jackson was MVP after throwing two TD passes. The game is better known because during the broadcast it was announced former LA Lakers basketball star Kobe Bryant had died in a helicopter crash.
2019 – AFC 26, NFC 7
Seven points in a Pro Bowl? It happened. The NFC was held to 195 yards of total offense. Mahomes was the Offensive MVP.
2018 – AFC 24, NFC 23
Drama at the Pro Bowl! Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker caught a touchdown pass with 1:31 left to give the AFC the win.
2017 – AFC 20, NFC 13
There was some hitting in this one as the NFC drove for a potential score. Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce had three catches and was Offensive MVP.
2016 – Team Irvin 49, Team Rice 27
The teams were named for NFL legends Michael Irvin and Jerry Rice. Team Irvin threw seven TD passes, three by MVP Russell Wilson.
The play (advise on how to bet)
The Pro Bowl has grown a bit more serious. While it’s tempting to go with the over, 62.5 points is a bunch and three of the last four Pro Bowls didn’t even come close to that figure.
The AFC should win though. They have the better quarterbacks. It’s that simple.