NFC Journal: NFC Pro Bowl Predictions

New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees has taken the league by storm and looks to lead his team to the Super Bowl. (Steve Nesius/AP Photo)

New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees has taken the league by storm and looks to lead his team to the Super Bowl. (Steve Nesius/AP Photo)

By Matt Serocki

FRAMINGHAM - As each week passes, the thoughts turn from early season musings to playoffs seeds and Pro Bowl predilections.  Here are my NFC Pro Bowl selections for offense.  A full plate indeed.

Quarterback

Drew Brees, Saints - Brees has set the standard for quarterback play in the NFC over the last few years.

Although his numbers are not as impressive as years past, he is playing with more of a complete team, both offensively and defensively.

The ball-hawking secondary has scored a handful of touchdowns while Brees virtually has a plethora of weapons on offense.

Factor in a 10-0 record, and Brees in a shoe-in for making the Saints forget about the days of the Aints.

Aaron Rodgers, Packers – All Aaron Rodgers has done since replacing Brett Favre is produce.

On the season, Rodgers has completed 64.8% of his passes, thrown 19 touchdowns and five interceptions for 2758 yards.

He’s also added another 242 yards and three scores on the ground.

Although he does get sacked quite a bit, Rodgers play is one of the main reasons that the 6-4 Packers are in the hunt for a wildcard spot.

Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre's resurgence has many penciling the Vikings in for a return to the Super Bowl. (Andy King/AP Photo)

Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre's resurgence has many penciling in the Vikings for a trip to the Super Bowl. (Andy King/AP Photo)

Brett Favre, Vikings -How much longer can this guy play at such a high level?

Not only does he have the best running back in the league, but Favre (69.7% completion rate, 2482 yards, 21 touchdowns, 3 interceptions) also has one of the league’s stingiest defensive units backing him up.

Oh yeah, and he’s the NFL’s top-rated passer after Week 10 with a rating of 112.1.

His play this season has certainly made some forget about his back-and-forth drama before the season started.

Running Back

Adrian Peterson, Vikings - The number one rated running back heading into the season has delivered.

With 999 yards and 11 scores for a 4.8 yard-per-carry average, Peterson has left little doubt about his place among the league’s best ball carriers.

His physical running style hurts defenders more than himself, as early in his career, the knock on him was him being injury-prone.

Teams playing the Vikings cannot take both Peterson and Favre out of the equation, so until someone can, the Vikings will continue to roll.

Steven Jackson, Rams – Jackson is the Rams’ offense.

His 1031 yards rushing is first in the NFC, and he has found the end zone more as of late (three touchdowns).

His ability out of the backfield makes Jackson a more dangerous weapon than many think, mainly due to the Rams’ ineptitude.

St. Louis needs only to keep giving Jackson the rock as he has proven that he is the foundation upon which the Rams must build.

DeAngelo Williams, Panthers – Even though Michael Turner has more touchdowns, Williams has better all-around numbers-982 yards, seven touchdowns and 5.4 ypc-while also sharing time with bruising Jonathan Stewart.

What’s more impressive is that no team really thought that this little back out of Memphis would be very successful in the NFL.

Week in and week out, Williams is proving the nay-sayers wrong.

Wide Receivers

Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has developed into one of the league's elite wideouts. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has developed into one of the league

Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals – Fitzy has proven once again this year to be the NFC’s best receiver.

Many thought he wouldn’t be as successful this season as he was last season following a monster postseason run en route to the Super Bowl.

Fitzgerald (71 catches, 792 yards, 9 touchdowns) has easily supplanted Anquan Boldin as the Cards’ top receiving option, and some of the catches he makes are just plain outrageous.

Receivers like Terrell Owens, Brandon Marshall and Braylon Edwards could learn a lot from how Fitzgerald carries himself on and off the field.

Sidney Rice, Vikings
– Rice had shown flashes of brilliance last year, and this season, he’s proving they were only harbingers of things to come.

Favre’s favorite option in purple has amassed an NFC-leading 875 yards and four touchdowns on 50 receptions.

Whereas many thought Bernard Berrian or Percy Harvin would be the main option for Favre, Rice has solidified himself as the go-to guy in Minnesota.

Steve Smith, Giants – Remember all that preseason banter about who in New York would rise to the occasion to replace the boneheaded Plaxico Burress as Eli Manning’s favorite option? Smith is it.

He started the season off on a tear, but as the Giants came back to earth recently, so did he.

His number are no joke-65 receptions for 798 yards and five touchdowns-as he has more yards than Marques Colston, Roddy White and DeSean Jackson, and more receptions also.

Roddy White, Falcons – Adding a tight end like Tony Gonzalez to your offensive attack would take numbers away from any receiver.

White has still managed to put up impressive numbers – 51 catches, 713 yards, six touchdowns-despite having to share the rock with Gonzalez and running back Michael Turner.

If this is an off-year for White, then I can name at least 30 other receivers in the league that would take those number for an entire season.

Tight End

Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez has been a big-time weapon for Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan as Atlanta continues their hunt for the playoffs. (Atlanta Journal Constitution Photo)

Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez has been a big-time weapon for Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan as Atlanta continues their hunt for the playoffs. (Atlanta Journal Constitution Photo)

Tony Gonzales, Falcons – Gonzalez (52 receptions, 583 yards, 5 touchdowns) has done something that many players fail to accomplish successfully – move from the AFC to the NFC.

Having Matt Ryan at quarterback doesn’t hurt either.

Although his numbers aren’t as stellar as he is used to, Gonzalez has proven that he isn’t done yet.

Vernon Davis, 49ers – Vernon Davis is finally realizing the potential boatloads of people saw when the 49ers made him the fifth overall pick in the 2006 draft.

His numbers – 51 receptions for 601 yards and eight touchdowns-have made him the top receiving option in San Francisco, no matter who is under center.

If Davis can put his childish behavior in the rearview mirror, then the possibilities of his success could be limitless, as in Antonio Gates circa 2004-2005.

Fullback

Leonard Weaver, Eagles - Weaver has had to block for several different running backs over the season (Brian Westbrook, Lesean McCoy, Michael Vick) while also protect for Vick, Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb.

His goal-line and fourth-and-one carries have increased as his value has been realized by the Eagles’ brass.

Centers

John Sullivan, Vikings;  Jonathan Goodwin, Saints - Sullivan has adjusted to Brett Favre’s gun slinging play while also paving paths up the middle for Adrian Peterson.

Goodwin has had to protect Drew Brees while also open holes for Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush and Mike Bell.

Lesser men would crack under that kind of pressure.

Tackles

Minnesotta tackle Bryant McKinnie holds the key to the Vikings' success this season: keep Favre upright. (www.media.scouts.com Photo)

Minnesotta tackle Bryant McKinnie holds the key to the Vikings

Bryant McKinnie, Vikings; David Diehl, Giants; Jeff Otah, Panthers - Protecting Brett Favre is paramount to any deep postseason drive the Vikings make. So far, so good.

Diehl has consistently and effectively blocked for Eli Manning threw Manning’s ups and downs of the past seasons.

Otah has the luxury of blocking for one of the best pairs of running backs in the league in Stewart and DeAngelo Williams.

Guards:

Steve Hutchinson, Vikings; Chris Snee, Rich Seubert, Giants - Hutchinson is well-renowned across the league for being one of the best run-blocking guards.

Nothing has changed as he has blocked for Shaun Alexander and Adrian Peterson.

Snee and Seubert are just as important to the success of the Giants as defensive linemen Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Michael Strahan have been.

Check back next week with Boston Sports U18 for my NFC Pro Bowl defensive selections.

Matt Serocki is a Blogger for Boston Sports U18. He is also a Sports Correspondent for The MetroWest Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected]

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