2022 NFL Pro Bowl Predictions
What an NFL Sunday! First, the Bengals came all the way back from 21-3 to stun the Chiefs in overtime, 27-24. Then, the Rams erased a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit to beat the 49ers, 20-17. And now we have ourselves a fascinating Super Bowl LVI matchup between the young Bengals and the star-studded Rams.
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While the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams enjoy a week of rest before the Super Bowl, the spotlight turns to the NFL’s other stars. The 2022 Pro Bowl hits Las Vegas on Sunday and offers a chance for each conference to prove its superiority before championship weekend.
Although the rosters were initially set months ago, they are still shifting around. The Buffalo Bills' Josh Allen opted out Thursday, the Bengals and Rams are vacating their spots and, although the idea was teased, it doesn't seem like Tom Brady will attend the Pro Bowl.
There's still plenty of intrigue with the players at hand, though, and the NFC hopes to win its first Pro Bowl since 2012.
Here are 2022's biggest snubs and most likely MVPs.
Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
Joey Franchise, Jackpot Joe, Joe Shiesty, Joe Brrr—whatever you call him, Joe Burrow has forced his name(s) into households this postseason. Unfortunately, that seems to be too late, as the AFC's lone remaining quarterback couldn't crack the Pro Bowl.
Despite being sacked the most times in the league (51), Burrow led the Bengals to a 10-7 record and first place in the AFC North while putting up the second-highest quarterback rating in the NFL (108.3). Fellow AFC North quarterback Lamar Jackson, who led his depleted Baltimore Ravens to 8-9, was voted in ahead.
Hindsight is 20/20, but there was a strong case for Joe to get the nod even before this postseason's highlight reel.
Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
While Leonard Fournette's (Tamba Bay Buccaneers) omission was arguable in the NFC, the Los Angeles Chargers' Austin Ekeler suffered a sharper sting. Helping his team reach a 9-8 record, he totaled 20 rushing and receiving touchdowns (tied for best in the league) on top of 1,558 scrimmage yards.
Big numbers, fun highlights, and a versatile weapon on one of the NFL's most dangerous attacks.
Ekeler seemed like a lock for Vegas, but he didn't even get in as an alternate.
Jonathan Taylor, Joe Mixon, Nick Chubb, and Najee Harris all got the nod instead. Outside of MVP candidate Taylor, only one of the three had more scrimmage yards than Ekeler, and none had as many touchdowns.
Offense: Justin Herbert, QB, Los Angeles Chargers
After a devastating cascade of obstacles ruined the Chargers' playoff hopes, Herbert will lead the AFC offense in the Pro Bowl.
As a sophomore, Herbert had the league's second-most completions, second-most passing yards, third-most touchdowns, and third-highest quarterback rating.
Stuck watching his peers put on a show on the biggest stage, it's hard to imagine Herbert not wanting to show out—even if it's just a flashy scrimmage.
Defense: Micah Parsons, ILB, Dallas Cowboys
While the Dallas Cowboys made it into the playoffs, they were immediately eliminated by the underdog San Francisco 49ers. Now, their rookie (and defensive MVP nominee) Micah Parsons gets to play in the Pro Bowl.
Parsons can do everything on the football field, and that fits the loose nature of exhibition play. He might be the most explosive player out there at any given moment, which bodes well for opportunistic highlights.
Like Herbert, Parsons has a little something extra to play for, and that might be enough for the young star to show off and leave Vegas with some hardware.
There is one positive Pittsburgh Steelers' fans can take from the Cincinnati Bengals' berth in Super Bowl LVI. Pittsburgh running back Najee Harris and receiver Diontae Johnson will replace Bengals running back Joe Mixon and Cincinnati receiver Ja'Marr Chase in the 2022 Pro Bowl.
The 24th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Harris broke Le'Veon Bell and Franco Harris' rookie franchise records for the most yards by a rookie Running Back in Steelers history.
The former Alabama standout rushed for 1,200 yards and seven touchdowns and amassed 1,667 all-purpose yards. He ran for a season-high 188 yards that included a 37-yard touchdown run in Ben Roethlisberger's final home game, a 26-14 win over the Browns in Week 17.
Eight NFL teams are sending at least five players to Las Vegas, led by the streaking Indianapolis Colts with seven: running back Jonathan Taylor, defensive lineman DeForest Buckner, center Ryan Kelly, linebacker Darius Leonard, cornerback Kenny Moore II, guard Quenton Nelson and long snapper Luke Rhodes.
The Kansas City Chiefs (six), Los Angeles Chargers (six), Baltimore Ravens (five), Cleveland Browns (five), Dallas Cowboys (five), San Francisco 49ers (five) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (five) were the other teams to have at least five Pro Bowlers.
The 2022 Pro Bowl airs live on Sunday, February 6th from Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas at 3 PM ET/12 PM PT on both ABC and ESPN.