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GLS 2011 Pro Bowl teams

Matt Moore, Chris Clemons and George Wilson get Pro Bowl love at GLS.

For the fifth straight year (2007 isn’t accessible in our public archives), we’ve combed through the Pro Bowl rosters, which are almost always filled with a dozen or so good jokes, and made the necessary changes to compensate for the shameful results of ignorant fan voting.

The real Pro Bowl teams (starters in bold)

AFC Offense

QB: Tom Brady, Patriots 
QB: Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
QB: Matt Moore, Dolphins

Philip Rivers was a disaster for three months and has no business being on the team with 19 interceptions. It was hard to find a third AFC quarterback this year, which is a shame because Tony Romo, Eli Manning and Cam Newton get screwed out of spots on our jacked NFC team.

RB: Maurice Jones-Drew, Jaguars
RB: Arian Foster, Texans
RB: Ray Rice, Ravens

If not for tough luck with injuries, I have no doubt that Darren McFadden and Fred Jackson would be on the AFC team. They were having much better seasons than Foster and Rice before getting hurt.

FB: Vonta Leach, Ravens

It would be easy to say that Leach is just back on reputation, but he truly is the best fullback in football.

WR: Wes Welker, Patriots
WR: Mike Wallace, Steelers
WR: Brandon Marshall, Dolphins
WR: A.J. Green, Bengals

Quiet bounce-back season for Marshall, who is averaging four more yards per catch and has already doubled his touchdown total from his first season in Miami. Due to his circumstances in Cincinnati, Green barely edges out San Diego’s Vincent Jackson.

TE: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
TE: Aaron Hernandez, Patriots

Has this ever happened before? Hernandez deserves it over Dustin Keller, Jared Cook and Antonio Gates, but it really is Gronk and then the field.

OT: Duane Brown, Texans
OT: Jared Veldheer, Raiders
OT: Michael Roos, Titans

Here’s where the Pro Bowl gets wonky and loses any respect we might have for it. Joe Thomas, Jake Long and D’Brickashaw Ferguson are all having down years, but they’re all back again. Expect that to be the case until they retire. Once you join the Pro Bowl Offensive Lineman Club, you never leave.

OG: Andy Levitre, Bills
OG: Marshal Yanda, Ravens
OG: Logan Mankins, Patriots

Levitre was a bright spot for a Bills team that exceeded expectations in pass protection and yards per rush, especially before injuries ruined a promising season in western New York.

C: Nick Mangold, Jets
C: Chris Myers, Texans

Did you see the Jets without Mangold when he was hurt earlier this season? Complete mess. Maurkice Pouncey made the real-life team, but he had a disappointing sophomore season and Myers did one hell of a job in Houston.

AFC Defense

DE: Robert Mathis, Colts
DE: Elvis Dumervil, Broncos
DE: J.J. Watt, Texans

Watt’s here representing a great front seven in a down year for classic defensive ends in the AFC. I’m getting him on the team in lieu of sack maestro Connor Barwin, who I can’t find a spot for. Kudos to Randy Starks of the Dolphins, too, but there’s just no room.

DT: Haloti Ngata, Ravens
DT: Geno Atkins, Bengals
DT: Vince Wilfork, Patriots

This might have been the easiest position yet, although I had some trouble leaving Jets nose tackle Sione Pouha off the team.

OLB: Terrell Suggs, Ravens
OLB: Von Miller, Broncos
OLB: Tamba Hali, Chiefs

Miller faded down the stretch a bit, but at one point he was the most dangerous pass rusher in the game. Lots of good options here, including Barwin and Jacksonville’s Daryl Smith, but Suggs is a top-tier defensive player of the year candidate and Hali is having another superstar-type season.

ILB: Brian Cushing, Texans
ILB: D’Qwell Jackson, Browns

Ray Lewis has no business being in Hawaii. Cushing’s been by far the best roving linebacker in the conference. I debated Jackson with Kansas City’s Derrick Johnson quite a bit, ultimately going with Jackson, who’s put up more impressive numbers. Both deserve recognition though.

CB: Joe Haden, Browns
CB: Johnathan Joseph Bengals
CB: Darrelle Revis, Jets

I can’t believe Haden didn’t make the actual AFC team. That’s the biggest snub of the year. Joseph and Revis are no-doubters, but I don’t think Champ Bailey was a lock this year.

FS: Eric Weddle, Chargers
SS: Troy Polamalu, Steelers
SS: George Wilson, Bills

Weddle has lived up to expectations after signing a monster contract in the offseason, leading the league with seven interceptions. I think he’s the best all-around safety in the game right now.

AFC Special Teams

P: Brandon Fields, Dolphins
K: Sebastian Janikowski, Raiders
KR: Antonio Brown, Steelers
ST: Matthew Slater, Patriots

I can’t believe that this is the first Pro Bowl for Janikowski, who tied an NFL record with a 63-yarder in Week 1 and was 15 of 19 from beyond 40 yards. This was his best season yet. And with all due respect to the super-duper Shane Lechler, Fields had a better season across the board.

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NFC Offense

QB: Aaron Rodgers, Packers
QB: Drew Brees, Saints
QB: Matthew Stafford, Lions

Great year for NFC quarterbacks, but Stafford beats out Romo, Eli and Newton because he’s made far fewer mistakes and has experienced a lot more success in the win column.

RB: LeSean McCoy, Eagles
RB: Matt Forte, Bears
RB: Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks

Lynch barely beats out Gore, mainly due to his 12-to-8 touchdown advantage. But it’s a toss up.

FB: Jed Collins, Saints

John Kuhn only gets more love because he gets touches and scores touchdowns. Collins is a better blocking fullback.

WR: Calvin Johnson, Lions
WR: Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
WR: Steve Smith, Panthers
WR: Victor Cruz, Giants

Greg Jennings had a great year before getting hurt, but Jordy Nelson might have been better. Neither make the cut, victims of a loaded arsenal in Green Bay. I don’t see how you can deny what Fitzgerald did despite the players he was surrounded by, and everyone else has to make it.

TE: Jimmy Graham, Saints
TE: Tony Gonzalez, Falcons

The tight ends were extremely easy this year — at least the starters. The real trouble will come when picking an All-Pro at the position.

OT: Joe Staley, 49ers
OT: Jason Peters, Eagles
OT: Jordan Gross, Panthers

Jermon Bushrod is not a Pro Bowler.

OG: Evan Mathis, Eagles
OG: Carl Nicks, Saints
OG: Mike Iupati, 49ers

Nicks has emerged as the better guard than Jahri Evans, but both are top-tier players. Iupati stepped up big in his second year, and barely edged out Evans. Mathis was probably the best guard in football.

C: Ryan Kalil, Panthers
C: John Sullivan, Vikings

Three really good centers in the NFC this year. In this case, Scott Wells gets robbed. In the official case, John Sullivan gets screwed.

NFC Defense

DE: Jared Allen, Vikings
DE: Jason Pierre-Paul, Giants
DE: Chris Clemons, Seahawks

Eagles Trent Cole and Jason Babin had big years again, but I couldn’t leave any of those three off the team. Sheer sacks are overrated, which is probably why Babin made the actual NFC team over the lesser known Clemons.

DT: Justin Smith, 49ers
DT: Cullen Jenkins, Eagles
DT: Jay Ratliff, Cowboys

Ratliff had an average season by his standards. Jenkins lived up to expectations in his first year with the Eagles. Smith might be the defensive player of the year.

OLB: DeMarcus Ware, Cowboys
OLB: Clay Matthews, Packers
OLB: Aldon Smith, 49ers

Smith came on late, which is why he didn’t make the real team. Had voting been conducted wholly at the end of the year, he and Ware would be no-doutbers. Matthews, who is more a complete linebacker and made big plays that had nothing to do with the pass rush, edges out exceptional Redskins Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan.

ILB: Patrick Willis, 49ers
ILB: NaVorro Bowman, 49ers

You wonder why San Fran’s run defense was so good? I didn’t even have to debate this. Brian Urlacher? Are you kidding me? I would put Sean Lee, London Fletcher and Curtis Lofton on the team before considering Urlacher.

CB: Charles Woodson, Packers
CB: Carlos Rogers, 49ers
CB: Charles Tillman, Bears

Quite a veteran group, and a rare moment in which I agree with the Academy. Massive bounce-back year in a new setting for Rogers. The veterans Woodson and Tillman were fantastic all season.

SS: Adrian Wilson, Cardinals
FS: Kam Chancellor, Seahawks
SS: Dashon Goldson, 49ers

Big year for NFC West defenders, eh? Earl Thomas made it because of his name, but Chancellor was the better safety in Seattle.

NFC Special Teams

P: Andy Lee, 49ers
K: David Akers, 49ers
KR: Patrick Peterson, Cardinals
ST: Heath Farwell, Seahawks

Something about the Bay Area and kickers and punters, and special-teamers in general.

The final tally:

Total players: 84
Players from the actual teams that made our teams: 54 out of 84
Players from last year’s teams that made it back: 20 out of 84
Players from last year’s actual teams that made this year’s actual teams: 40 out of 84