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Seven Reasons to Watch Sunday's Pro Bowl

Posted Jan 24, 2014

Are you a Jets fan? Two of our top players are in this year's Pro Bowl. Are you an NFL fan? This game in many regards will be unlike any other pro football game you've ever seen, for several reasons.

For both classes of fans, there must be at least seven reasons to watch this year's Pro Bowl, which kicks off at 7 p.m. ET from Aloha Stadium in Honolulu:

1. Mangold About to Get Suh-ed

Facing the interior defensive linemen of Team Sanders will be no easy task for Nick Mangold and the Team Rice centers and guards.

There’s Dontari Poe (6’3”, 346), who helped anchor a Kansas City defense that led the AFC with 36 takeaways. Then there’s Tampa Bay’s Gerald McCoy (6’4”, 300), whose 7.5 sacks in the second half of the season were more than any other DT in the NFL.

But perhaps the most daunting matchup for our 6’4”, 307-pound center will be going up against a man who is also 6’4”, 307 — Detroit’s Ndamukong Suh. Granted, Tuesday night’s selections were limited to only a few positions, but Suh was the first overall pick of the Pro Bowl draft. Of all defensive tackles, he’s the only one ranked in the top four for both sacks (27.5) and stuffs (22.5) in the regular season since 2010.

2. View From the Cro’s Nest

Antonio Cromartie’s used to covering Green & White receivers in practice, but the Pro Bowl will present a challenge on a different end of the spectrum as he goes up against Green & Brown. Cincinnati’s A.J. Green finished in the top-10 for catches, receiving yards and touchdowns, while Pittsburgh slot receiver Antonio Brown led the AFC with 110 receptions.

While he could find himself matched up against one of these two AFC North receivers, it could also very well be a beast from the NFC East. Dez Bryant of Dallas led all NFC wideouts with 13 TDs this season, while Philadelphia’s DeSean Jackson set career highs in catches and receiving yards.

3. Meet the Press

Defense and all-star games seem to be mutually exclusive, but one of this year’s new rules could change stereotype.

Unlike in previous years when only man coverage was permitted (plays at the goal line excluded), the 2014 Pro Bowl will allow defenses to implement Cover-2 and press coverage as well. That’s not to say that stopping the opposition will be a breeze for Cro & Co., but it will certainly give the two defensive coordinators a better chance to provide that Hawaiian punch.

4. Most Valuable Player(s)

For this year’s matchup, two MVPs will be chosen, one on offense and one on defense. The odds may be smaller than Warren Buffett needing to actually pay out $1 billion for a perfect Final Four bracket, but there’s a chance that both Cromartie and Mangold could drive away (to the edge of the island, anyway) in new GMC vehicles as co-award winners.

5. It’s NFC vs. AFC After All

Both Jets landed on an NFC-dominant team. Jerry Rice’s squad will be led by Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera, and his captains, New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees and St. Louis Rams DE Robert Quinn, are two of the 24 NFC players on the 44-man roster.

Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, meanwhile, will lead Team Sanders as Kansas City Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles and Houston Texans DE J.J. Watt fill in as captains. Twenty-five of the 45 players that will represent Deion Sanders’ squad play for AFC teams.

6. Kicked to the Curb

If either Justin Tucker or Stephen Gostkowski boot the ball 65-plus yards into the end zone on Sunday, it won’t result in a touchback because the only times you’ll see either kicker in the game will be for an extra point or a field goal attempt.

Kickoffs will be nonexistent during the Pro Bowl. Instead, the ball will be placed on the 25-yard line at the start of each quarter and after scoring plays.

7. Odd Quarter Rules

The preceding sentence was not a typo. The ball will start on the 25 to begin every quarter, second and fourth included. That’s because there will be an additional pair of two-minute warnings, one at the end of the first quarter and the other at the end of Quarter No. 3, before a change of possession occurs heading into quarters Nos. 2 and 4.

Additionally, the play clock will be 35 seconds instead of 40, the game clock will start after an incomplete pass at the referee’s signal (with exceptions to this rule toward the end of each half), and within the final two minutes of every quarter, you won’t see the quarterbacks stepping back to take a knee because the clock will stop unless positive yardage is gained.

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