The Pro Bowl has become some sort of bad joke over the last decade or more, with players often missing the NFL’s All-Star game due to either injuries or a need for some rest after a long season. Even when those selected to play in the game do end up on the field it’s more of a scrimmage or walkthrough than it is an actual game of football.
Having said that, just because it isn’t taken seriously doesn’t mean there isn’t money to be made when the AFC and NFC meet each year in the week before the Super Bowl.
AFC vs. NFC | 3 pm EST
2u - AFC -1.5 @ -110
The AFC has dominated this game of late, winning the last three Pro Bowls including last season’s 26-7 win. The game is often dictated by QB play, with four of the past six offensive MVPs playing quarterback, and the AFC has the most dynamic player to ever play the position under center.
Ravens QB Lamar Jackson, fresh off his 3,000-yard passing and 1,000-yard rushing season, is set to start the game at QB for the AFC and his explosive skillset may be all the AFC needs to win. Don’t expect him to break the pocket often, but the lack of defensive effort usually seen in the game means he’s sure to pick of big chunks of yards when he does get free.
Jackson will have his own tight end to throw to with Mark Andrews getting the start thanks to Travis Kelce’s Chiefs booking a trip to the Super Bowl. Keenan Allen, Jarvis Landry, Courtland Sutton and DJ Chark Jr. give Jackson and fellow Pro Bowl QBs Deshaun Watson and Ryan Tannehill a ton of options to which they can work the ball.
Another advantage the AFC has comes in the secondary. What little effort we see on the defensive end usually comes from the defensive backs in coverage, and the AFC is trotting out two of the best in the game in Stephon Gilmore and Tre’Davious White. With Minkah Fitzpatrick and Jamal Adams set to start at safety, expect the AFC to lock down Michael Thomas, Kenny Golladay and Amari Cooper.
NFC starting QB Russell Wilson will make plays, but not enough to keep up with Jackson and the rest of the AFC.
2u - Under 50.5 @ -110
The common perception of the Pro Bowl is that the game becomes a shootout because the defenses don’t want to make any hits for fear of injuring themselves or any other player. While the latter portion of that may be true, points have not been easy to come by in recent Pro Bowls.
Since the NFL switch back to the traditional AFC vs. NFC format in 2016, no game total has broken 47 points. The AFC’s 26 points in last season’s win was the most by any team since the format reverted, and its more than likely we will see much of the same this year.
The lack of effort is seen on both sides of the ball, not just defense, and points often come at a premium because of that. Anticipate seeing a lot of players going down before the defender even has a chance to get a hit in on them, and don’t expect either team to break the 24-point mark come Sunday.