47 NFL stars reject Pro Bowl

Pro Bowl 2012

After beating the New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals respectively last weekend, the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers are preparing for the Super Bowl – but still have over a week to wait until locking horns in one of the world’s biggest sporting events.

To fill the void in the weekend before the Super Bowl, a host of stars from the rest of the NFL will take part in the Pro Bowl; a casual game to recognize the best performers of the campaign.

Unfortunately for the NFL, an unprecedented number of players have pulled out of this year’s Pro Bowl match. 47 NFL stars have rejected the chance to play in the Pro Bowl, meaning that the total number of players invited to play has now reached 133, with all seven of the voted New England Patriots player declining the game after a long season.

Still, the NFL is attempting to make the game fun and ultimately watchable, and is sticking with the recent draft format for selecting the two teams. Legends Michael Irvin and Jerry Rice take it in turns to pick from the available players, and then pit their sides against each other in Hawaii on Saturday evening.

Irvin had the first pick and plumped for Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, whilst he also has other stars such as St. Louis Rams running back Todd Gurley, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones and Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman on his side.

Meanwhile, Jerry Rice made New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning his first pick of the draft, meaning both team captains unsurprisingly went with QB’s as their first selections. Rice also added Minnesota Viking running back Adrian Peterson, Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox and Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews to his ranks.

These matches tend to be high-scoring affairs, as only once since 2010 has there been fewer than 50 points scored in the game, with the 2012 edition ending with 100 points on the board between the two teams.

There may be fewer stars than planned after all the rejections, but this should be a fine warm-up to the Super Bowl next week, with a more casual offering of American football in store for supporters this weekend.

 


Olly avatarOLLY DAWES is a Sports Management graduate and sports journalist for Here Is The City, whilst he also writes about NFL for Colts Authority.

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Cam Newton expected to come out on top in a Panthers Super Bowl Win

Cam Newton Carolina Panthers

Can Cam Newton lead the Carolina Panthers to Super Bowl Victory?

Tom Brady has fallen out of the spotlight, but the quarterbacks are still ruling the headlines preceding Super Bowl 50.  As an exciting season draws to a close, predictors say that Cam Newton will lead Carolina to victory over Peyton Manning and the Broncos on Super Bowl Sunday.

But nothing is written in stone yet! Peyton Manning’s experience is still a major factor and, come game time, that experience will put Newton and the Panthers to the test. However, the fact remains that with Newton leading the way, the Panthers have had success in 22 out of their last 24 games going all the way back to the end of the 2014 regular season.

Could Newton be the key to Panther victory? Newton is the leading candidate for the NFL MVP award after being a league leader with 45 touchdowns during the regular season.

MVP is seeing a lot of betting action and so are ‘First Touchdown Scorer’, ‘Winning Margin’ and ‘Double Result’ wagers.

There is no way to tell for sure. But in my opinion, Panthers fans should feel a fair amount of confidence come kickoff this February  7th.

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Thane Colcy sports bloggerTHANE COLCY is a Canadian sports fan currently living in Melbourne, Australia but still following American football and basketball from down-under.

Newton Will Present a Unique Challenge for the Broncos in Super Bowl 50

Quarterback Cam Newton and the Panthers will make for worthy adversaries against the Broncos on Super Bowl Sunday

Quarterback Cam Newton and the Panthers will make for worthy adversaries against the Broncos on Super Bowl Sunday

Cam Newton lead the Carolina Panthers to victory in their NFL Conference Championship game over the weekend with a 49-15 win against the Arizona Cardinals. While Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos didn’t have quite the same experience, they still managed to win their game by squeaking by Tom Brady and the Patriots 20-18 on Sunday, with Manning throwing two touchdown passes.

Newton will present a unique challenge for Denver in Super Bowl 50. While Manning and the Broncos have piled up 14 wins this season, they haven’t played a quarterback quite like Newton, who is looking as though he will be up for MVP honors this season.

Newton’s journey towards MVP didn’t truly begin until halfway through the season, after which he greatly increased his efficiency and decreased his turnovers, making him a much more dangerous opponent. However, all that matters now is that Newton and the Panthers will surely be a force to be reckoned with come Super Bowl Sunday.

All things considered, odds makers’ early line predict Cam Newton and the Panthers a 4.5-point favorite in their clash with Peyton Manning and the Broncos in Santa Clara. I think they’re right.

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Thane Colcy sports bloggerTHANE COLCY is a Canadian sports fan currently living in Melbourne, Australia but still following American football and basketball from down-under.

Don’t Be Fooled by Hype: A Brit’s Picks for NFL Conference Championships this Weekend

Peyton Manning - Denver Broncos NFL

Manning will start, he will lose a record 14th playoff game, and Brady will be sizing up his Super Bowl ring finger.

After the breathtaking playoff drama, the results thus far appear to have gone by the books. The 1st seeded Broncos host the 2nd seeded Patriots for the AFC Championship, and the 1st seeded Panthers host the 2nd seeded Cardinals.

AFC Championship Game

The game at Mile-High feels like the worthy culmination of the AFC championship this year. The best two teams on paper from the start of the year, and possibly the last time we will ever see the epic Manning v Brady match-up under center. The only evidence we have to go by is an OT win for the Broncos in November that ended the Patriots perfect season, and considering how tight that contest was, this should be a tough game to pick a winner from.

In terms of playoff form, there is nothing much to reveal either. Both New England and Denver cruised into the Championship game in the end, though the Broncos might have been a bit jittery coming into the fourth quarter. Nothing unexpected happened either, except maybe the Broncos decision to go back to old faithful, Peyton Manning, instead of sticking with his very impressive replacement Brock Osweiler.

This decision may well hold the key predicting the outcome of this game. Manning was unimpressive in Denver’s victory over Pittsburgh, and with the body clock ticking and a questionable playoff record, it’s hard to see anything other than Brady taking centre stage. However, the Patriots are far from invincible, and their over-reliant passing game has shown signs of coming unstuck. Their defence against the run also came unstuck against C.J Anderson last time out, meaning the Broncos won’t be reliant on Manning’s arm.

This is the playoffs though, and there have been far too many good examples of big time players carrying teams. Brady, Gronkowski, Edelman and company are big time players, and there is too much uncertainty over a talented Broncos team under pressure. If the Broncos pick Osweiler and mix things up a bit with some creative plays, they may come out on top… but they won’t. Manning will start, he will lose a record 14th playoff game, and Brady will be sizing up his Superbowl ring finger.

NFC Championship Game

Like the AFC game, this feels like the perfect culmination to the NFC. With the Packers and the Seahawks proving that they don’t quite have enough this season in the playoffs, the big boys rightly stepped aside for the long-time second fiddles. This is also the first time these teams have seen each other this season, so it will be a fascinating match-up.

In terms of playoff paths, the Panthers showed they have no problem with post-season inexperience when they took an experienced Seattle team to the cleaners with a scintillating first half display. The Carolina defence made Russell Wilson look like he’d never seen the Seahawk’s playbook with two key picks in the first half to virtually put the game to bed before it had even started. The Cardinals were also cruising against the Packers until Aaron Rodgers’ epic two Hail Marys showed up a worrying weakness in the Cardinals secondary. Crucially, however, Carson Palmer threw another 300-yard game. He has looked ruthlessly efficient with this season’s playbook, and there is no evidence to suggest he won’t be ruthlessly efficient against this Carolina defence. Whilst Carolina have all-pro players in each part of the defensive field, there are still weaknesses to exploit, and it could be argued very effectively they have not come up against an offence as solid in the air the Cardinals. Furthermore, the Cardinals have talent on the ground to back their scintillating passing game up.

It may be foolish to rule out a 15-1 team with an MVP potential quarterback, but I genuinely think the Panthers have only gone 15-1 because the NFC has not been particularly competitive. Don’t be fooled by the odds, don’t be fooled by the hype. Carolina have not faced a team as good as the Cardinals all season and they will come unstuck against this well balanced offence in Charlotte at the final hurdle.


Scott AvatarSCOTT SIMPKIN is a UK sports journalist with a growing interest in sports in the US, particularly American football and baseball. He has previously contributed to publications including Palatinate Online and FourFourTwo.