Yes, there are still 9 weeks left in the year, but the Pro Bowl ballots did come out and it's time for me to give you my picks on who I think deserves to go this year based on the first half of this season.
**Named in order from starter to 3rd stringer**
Quarterbacks: Peyton Manning (DEN), Tom Brady (NE), Ben Roethlisberger (PIT)
Peyton Manning is having an oustanding year, and if it weren't for one quarter it could have been much better. Brady and Roethlisberger are close, but Brady's clutch factor wins it here.
Running Backs: Arian Foster (HOU), Jamaal Charles (KC), Ray Rice (BAL)
Foster is having himself a crazy monster year. Charles is having a very good year too. Ray Rice has slowed down in recent weeks, but he's still projected to have another great year.
Wide Receivers: AJ Green (CIN), Reggie Wayne (IND), Wes Welker (NE), Demaryius Thomas (DEN)
AJ Green is putting up last year's Calvin Johnson numbers, Reggie Wayne looks like he's 23, not 33, Welker is a catching machine and Thomas is becoming one of the better big play players in the league.
Fullback: Vonta Leach (BAL)
By far the best fullback in the league, Leach paves way for one of the best running backs in the league.
Tight Ends: Rob Gronkowski (NE), Heath Miller (PIT)
Gronk is the easy choice, especially considering the weak class. Heath Miller, who is one of the best blocking tight ends in the league, is now becoming a red zone factor, catching 5 touchdown passes this year.
Offensive Tackles: Ryan Clady (DEN), Joe Thomas (CLE), Duane Brown (HOU)
Ryan Clady hasn't allowed a sack, or even a pressure. Joe Thomas is having himself another great year, and Duane Brown is the most underrated tackle in the league, not allowing a sack or anything.
Offensive Guards: Marshal Yanda (BAL), Logan Mankins (NE), Brandon Moore (NYJ)
Yanda is one of the best guards in the league and is proving that this year. Mankins seems to be the only consistent player on that line, and Brandon Moore is having a great year with the Jets, protecting Sanchez from pressures and hurries.
Centers: Nick Mangold (NYJ), Chris Myers (HOU)
Mangold is always one of the best, and Myers is having another great year, leading the way for Arian Foster's great campaign.
Defensive Ends: JJ Watt (HOU), Cameron Wake (MIA), Chandler Jones (NE)
JJ Watt is just a beast, and is probably the early defensive player of the year favorite. Cameron Wake is having an underrated season notching 6 sacks and 15+ hurries. Chandler Jones not only gets to the QB, but forces fumbles too.
Defensive Tackles: Geno Atkins (CIN), Kyle Williams (BUF), Haloti Ngata (BAL)
Atkins is probably the best defensive tackle in the league. It's funny, the Bills D-line was suppose to be the best this year, but Williams is the only guy that's performing. Haloti Ngata is just a beast too.
Inside Linebackers: Jerod Mayo (NE), Jerrell Freeman (IND)
Mayo is having another fantastic season, and is probably the best guy on that defense. Freeman is having a very underrated year, replacing Angerer. He's a very good tackler and is solid in coverage.
Outside Linebackers: Von Miller (DEN), Robert Mathis (IND), Tamba Hali (KC)
Von Miller continues his sophomore success, and already has 6 sacks. Robert Mathis, although injured, still is high on the lits of sacks this year and is probably the best player on the Colts' defense. Although, on paper, Justin Houston is better, Tamba Hali gets double teamed a lot, which means Houston gets a lot of single teams. If Hali had single teams, he'd double his sack total.
Cornerbacks: Antonio Cromartie (NYJ), Jonathan Joseph (HOU), Brandon Flowers (KC)
Cromartie is doing a great job replacing Darelle Revis. He shut down Andre Johnson and slowed down Rggie Wayne. Joseph is having another great year and has found new life in Houston. Flowers continues to be one of the best corners in the league.
Strong Safety: Tyvon Branch (OAK)
Every year, this spot is taken by Troy Polamalu, but due to his injuries, it's a new guy this year. Tyvon Branch is one of the best tackling safeties out there and is fantastic in coverage. A star in the making.
Free Safety: Jarius Byrd (BUF)
This spot is usually filled by Ed Redd, but Jarius Byrd is just straight up outperforming Reed. He's better at him in coverage this year, with 3 picks, and is making almost every tackle that comes his way.
Kicker: Sebastian Janikowski (OAK)
Janikowski not only has the leg, but is proving he's clutch. The perfect combination.
Punter: Shane Lechler (OAK)
Lechler may not be doing as well as Brandon Fields for example, but he's good when it matters (don't get me wrong, he's great all the time, but even better in the clutch times). He has a 68 yard boot in the 4th quarter in a close game, to prove that.
Kick Returner: Joe McKnight (NYJ)
McKnight is a threat every time he gets the ball. He returned one against the Texans and has had several 35+ yard returns this year.
Special Teamer: Joe Lefeged (IND)
Lefeged is always the first guy to the ball on punts and stops it from going in the endzone. He's also doing a great job on kickoff coverages. Easily the best in the AFC.
Quarterbacks: Aaron Rodgers (GB), Drew Brees (NO), Matt Ryan (ATL)
Do I even need to explain why Rodgers and Brees are in. Matt Ryan is one of the MVP candidates this year, and is why he barely beats out RG3 for the #3 QB spot.
Running Backs: Marshawn Lynch (SEA), Adrian Peterson (MIN), Alfred Morris (WAS)
Lynch is having another tremdous year running the ball, and no one realizes that he had 125 yards against the Niners in San Fran. AP is looking better than ever, and the ACL isn't affecting him. Al Morris is becoming one of the better backs in the league, and it's only his first year.
Wide Receivers: Victor Cruz (NYG), Percy Harvin (MIN), Calvin Johnson (DET)
Victor Cruz is clutch, fast and doesn't drop. He's the ultimate slot back. Percy Harvin is arguably the most versatile player in the league and can do it all. Receving wise, he's having a very good year. Calvin Johnson may not be performing like last year, but considering the play of Stafford, he's doing a great job.
Fullback: John Kuuuuhn (GB)
No, his name doesn't have 4 "u"s in it, but I wish it did. The big powerback can do it all, block, run and catch.
Tight End: Tony Gonzalez (ATL), Vernon Davis (SF)
Tony Gonzalez doesn't seem like he's close to retirement and is currently the best tight end in the league. Vernon Davis is having a good year with San Fran, but he needs to stay consistent.
Offensive Tackles: Jordan Gross (CAR), Russel Okung (SEA), Matt Kalil (MIN)
Jordan Gross is a fine left tackle, and has been for years. Don't worry, the Panthers are bad, but Gross isn't. Okung is having a phenomenal year, arguably better than Gross, and hasn't allowed a sack this year. The same with Kalil, and he's a rookie. Only difference is that Okung is better at run blocking.
Offensive Guards: Carl Nicks (TB), Jahri Evans (NO), Mike Iupati (SF)
A year and different teams doesn't change much, Evans and Nicks are still the 2 best guards in the league and the 2 easy choices here. Iupati is having an awesome year with the Niners, helping Frank Gore have his fastest start ever.
Centers: John Sullivan (MIN), Phil Kosta (DAL)
Sullivan is one of the more underrated offensive lineman in the game. I bet you, if you ask 500 football fans, only 20 will know him, and that's pushing it. He's a beast, in both pass protection and run blocking. Kosta had a phenomenal game against the Ravens, just great, and has been pretty good this year.
Defensive Ends: Jared Allen (MIN), Chris Clemons (SEA), Robert Quinn (STL)
Allen is having another great year and is the main reason why that Minnesota defense is so good. Chris Clemons is also a reason why the Seattle pass defense is so good. Robert Quinn had a monster game against the Cards, and is becoming a strip-sack specialist.
Defensive Tackles: Henry Melton (CHI), Ndamukong Suh (DET), Gerald McCoy (TB)
Melton is just a force in both pass rushing and run stopping. Suh looks like his old self and is off to a nice start. McCoy is underrated and having a good year in Tampa.
Inside Linebackers: Patrick WIllis (SF), Daryl Washington (ARI), Navarro Bowman (SF)
Patrick Willis is Patrick Willis. One of the best inside linebackers in the last 10 years, behind Ray Lewis. Washington is having an oustanding year too. He has 6 sacks, 62 tackles and 2 forced fumbles and is the main reason why the Arizona D is doing well. Really, he's the only reason why. Bowman, along with Willis, are having great years in San Fran. He's a tackling machine that is the main reason why the opponents can't run on them.
Outside Linebackers: Clay Matthews (GB), Demarcus Ware (DAL), Aldon Smith (SF)
9 sacks for Matthews this year, and he has the best motor in the NFL. Ware is having a great year; what else is new? Aldon Smith flew under the radar last year, and is doing the same this year. He knows how to get to the QB.
Cornerbacks: Cortland Finnegan (STL), Brandon Browner (SEA), Richard Sherman (SEA)
Right now, with Revis out, Finnegan is the best cornerback in football. He shuts down everyone he goes against, including the hottest receiver in the league at the time, Brian Hartline. Browner and Sherman are a deadly combo and at home, nobody beats them.
Strong Safety: Mark Barron (TB)
This one is a bit of a surprise pick. I could have gone many ways like Adrian Wilson or Charles Woodson, but I felt Barron deserved the pick. He's great at tackling, as he stops the run very well. He can be put anywhere on the field, and we see that when he's put in the box or deep in coverage. He also has a pick this year, just to put the cherry on top.
Free Safety: Ronde Barber (TB)
Barron's partner, Ronde Barber, the 37 year old Ronde Barber, is having a great year, especially in coverage. The safety switch has really helped him. He has 3 picks this year and defends the deep ball beautifully.
Kicker: Blair Walsh (MIN)
Now, many people are going to vote for "Legatron" Greg Zuerlein, but here's why I vote Walsh. Zuerlein cost them the Dolphins game, whereas Walsh has only helped the Viks. He's sent games to overtime on 50+ yard kicks and has only missed one all year.
Punter: Andy Lee (SF)
Lee remains one of the best punters in the league and the best in the NFC due to his perfect combination of power and precision.
Kick Returner: Patrick Peterson (ARI)
Nobody in the NFC has really earned the pick, so I'll just go with the most dangerous guy now. Hester is great, but Peterson is the best returner now. There is a serious danger everytime he gets the ball.
Special Teamer: Courtney Roby (NO)
Roby doesn't get enough credit. He's fantastic on punt (coverages) and he makes tackles. He's very hard working too, as supposedly "he's one of the first guys to show up to practice."
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