How Pro Bowl selections can predict Super Bowl losers
Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman recently told the Associated Press after receiving news that he wasn’t selected to the Pro Bowl “It don’t mean nothing,” and Sherman might have a point. The 2013 Pro Bowl roster has officially been announced with the Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers having the most Pro Bowl selections out of the AFC and NFC respectfully. However the history of teams that led their conferences in Pro Bowl selections does not bode well for their chances at winning their conference, and even winning the Super Bowl. From 2001-2011, only 2 teams from the AFC conference and 3 teams from the NFC conference who led the league in Pro Bowl selections made it to the Super Bowl at the end of the season. Those five teams were the 2011 New England Patriots, 2010 Indianapolis Colts, 2006 Chicago Bears, 2005 Seattle Seahawks and 2004 Philadelphia Eagles. All five of those teams lost the Super Bowl.
The last ten seasons have shown that if you led the league in Pro Bowl selections, then you have a 20% chance of going to Super Bowl in the AFC conference and a 30% chance in the NFC conference. Those odds are extremely poor and the reason they’re so poor, is because the Pro Bowl is recognition of the best players in the regular season. Whereas the Super Bowl is recognition of the best players in the postseason and unfortunately, the best players in the regular season, even when combined into a super team with star-studded players at every position fall flat in the Playoffs. It’s a stark difference that continues to cast doubt on the relevance of Pro Bowl players. It’s not that they aren’t great players or won’t have a chance to cement themselves in the Pro Football Hall of Fame when they retire, but there are players who can play under pressure.
While other players crumble under pressure, and it’s the players who can play under pressure that will flourish in the Playoffs. It’s the wide receiver who only caught 4 receptions in the regular season and yet caught a ball pressed against his head that was deemed uncatchable. It’s the running back who only made 29 rushing attempts in the regular season and yet set a Super Bowl rushing record. It’s the quarterback that was bagging groceries two seasons prior, coming in as a backup at the start of the season and yet set a Super Bowl record for most passing yards. Championships are never won by having the best players in the regular season, but the best players who seem to come out of nowhere in the most opportune times to make the difference from being legends to forgotten fables.
In other words, the Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers need to find a few of those unexpected players to break the trend that they may be doomed to repeat. However if you’re curious about the average amount of Pro Bowlers the Super Bowl winning teams had in the last ten seasons was around 5. That average puts the Seattle Seahawks who have already clinched the Playoffs and the Denver Broncos as the Super Bowl matchup for 2013. I’m not going to say that’s going to happen, because the Playoffs are unpredictable, but that is as good of a matchup as one can conjure up.
James Cobern is a Featured Journalist for TPF and can be contacted at JCobern@ThePenaltyFlagBlog.com.