The best players not taking part in this year’s Super Bowl – or most of them, at least – will converge on Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla., this Sunday as the AFC and NFC do battle in the latest edition of the Pro Bowl. This series couldn’t get much more even, with each conference having won 22 times in the series (not including three un-conferenced bowls that took place from 2015-17). The NFC will be looking for revenge after dropping a 20-13 decision in last year’s event; it was the lowest-scoring Pro Bowl since 1999, and might suggest that the days of 90-point game totals are long gone.
It will be a small consolation, but the Pittsburgh Steelers dominate the AFC roster with eight Pro Bowl participants, including six on offense. That list includes two names you might recognize – receiving superstar Antonio Brown and elite running back Le’Veon Bell. And as always, injury replacements are the story heading into this one; among the notable substitutions, Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff will participate in place of injured Eagles QB Carson Wentz, while Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph will take the field in place of Seattle Seahawks veteran Jimmy Graham.
TV: 3 p.m. ET, ESPN/ABC
LINE HISTORY: The NFC opened as three-point favorites over their rivals from the AFC and the total hit betting boards at a surprisingly low 70.5. Check out the complete line history here.
WEATHER REPORT: It could be a wet day at Camping World Stadium, with an 60 percent chance of rain and temperatures reaching the high-70s by kickoff. Wind will blow toward the north at 13 mph.
ABOUT THE AFC: Look for this team to throw the ball a ton, with Steelers legend Ben Roethlisberger joined by Chargers gunslinger Philip Rivers and Oakland QB Derek Carr. And boy, will those three guys love who they have lining up at receiver, with Brown joined by Houston Texans superstar DeAndre Hopkins, Indianapolis Colts sparkplug T.Y. Hilton, Miami Dolphins veteran Jarvis Landry and Chargers stud Keenan Allen. The team is even deeper at running back, with Bell sharing carries with Kansas City Chiefs rookie standout Kareem Hunt and Buffalo Bills superstar LeSean McCoy.
ABOUT THE NFC: Drew Brees makes his 11th career Pro Bowl appearance – both a testament to his sustained greatness, and an indictment of the Saints not getting to the Super Bowl more often. He’ll be joined under center by Goff and Seattle Seahawks star Russell Wilson. It’s an eclectic mix at wideout for the NFC, as out-of-nowhere sensation Adam Thielen of the Minnesota Vikings is joined by second-year stud Michael Thomas of the Saints, Davante Adams of the Packers and legendary Larry Fitzgerald of the Cardinals. And at running back, it doesn’t get much better than the trio of Todd Gurley, Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram.
* The AFC and NFC had played to the over in four straight meetings and five of the last six prior to last year’s result, which went a whopping 47 points below the total of 80.
* The underdog is 3-1 ATS in the past five AFC-NFC encounters; the 2011 edition was a pick ’em.
* Pro Bowl-winning teams have scored fewer than 30 points just three times in the past 15 years.
View a full list of betting trends for this matchup here.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Early consensus returns are showing the Covers public siding with the favorite NFC at a rate of 55 percent and 77 percent of early totals wagers are on the Over. View full consensus data here.