The Detroit Lions may have made the playoffs for the first time since 1999, but that hasn’t led to many more players making the Pro Bowl. Despite their best season in ages, only one Lions player has made the initial Pro Bowl roster. That would be Calvin Johnson.
Granted, Johnson is a starter, and he has certainly earned that honor. He has been perhaps the best wide receiver in the NFL this season, as he is second in yards and first in touchdowns amongst receivers. Honestly, despite a fine season, there are no Lions I would consider a “snub” from this roster. Some of their better players have missed time due to injuries and/or suspensions for stomping on players. There are really only two players that I think are worthy of consideration, with all due respect to Jason Hanson. David Akers is setting records at kicker.
Cliff Avril has had a great season at defensive end. He has 11 sacks, four passes defensed, an interception he returned for a touchdown, and a fumble he recovered for a touchdown. Also, he’s tied for the league lead in forced fumbles with six. However, the three NFC defensive ends that made it, Jared Allen, Jason Babin, and Jason Pierre-Paul, are all having better seasons. Allen and Babin are the top two in sacks, with 18.5 and 18 respectively, and Pierre-Paul has been doing everything for the Giants’ defense. Avril would make a fine alternate, but he hasn’t been a top three NFC defensive end.
Matthew Stafford is the other Lion with a case. Obviously, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees had to make the team. However, Eli Manning was less of a sure thing. Manning has about 70 more yards, but Stafford has a better completion percentage, 10 more touchdowns, two less interceptions, and a notably better quarterback rating. Manning does have a better yards per attempt, but overall I feel Stafford has had the better season, and has been the third best quarterback in the NFC, and the battle for third is really between Stafford and Tony Romo. Although, Football Outsiders tells me that both Romo and Matt Ryan have better DYAR than Stafford, so perhaps my argument isn’t all that strong. Regardless, Stafford has had a great season.
Of course, while making the Pro Bowl is nice and all, making the playoffs is much better, and that is what Avril, Stafford, and the rest of the Lions are concerned with. Congratulations to Johnson, but here’s hoping he won’t be playing in the Pro Bowl because he’ll be preoccupied with a game going on in Indianapolis in February.