Pro Bowl fan voting ended Thursday with Tom Brady edging Cam Newton, 701,554 to 701,086, for the overall win. It’s a partisan popularity contest but the national consensus is usually pretty legit. Players and coaches follow the fan vote, and the three weigh equally in determining who the all-stars will be.
Let’s handicap Dolphins’ chances. Only twice in 45 years of the Pro Bowl (1980 and 1997) has Miami been shut out with zero picks. That could happen now, but I doubt it. The contenders, in order of likelihood:
Strong safety Reshad Jones should make it on merit. Being mired in NFL’s 26th-ranked pass defense won’t help, but Jones has 117 tackles, four interceptions (two returned for TDs) and finished fourth in fan voting at his position, highest among all Dolphins.
Center Mike Pouncey has a shot. He’s made it the past two years, and offensive line tends to favor familiar names and habit picks. Finished sixth in voting among centers.
Receiver/returner Jarvis Landry could sneak in as sort of a utility guy, and I’d love to see it. His 89 catches for 920 yards and four TDs are not PB-worthy alone, but he’s a top-10 punt returner, too, and the combo could work. Finished seventh in voting among returners.
Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh could make it on reputation and past. He’s had a solid but not a special 2015, and Miami’s 30th-ranked run defense weighs against him. Finished sixth in voting.
Long snapper John Denney made it in 2010 and ’12 and could again because who the hell knows with long snappers?
Cornerback Brent Grimes made it the past two years, but he’s had enough clunker games to make him doubtful this time.
Defensive end Cameron Wake has made it four of past five seasons but missed too many games while injured this year.
Punter Matt Darr finished 10th in fan voting, but a rookie ranked 16th in net average has no shot.
My odds: Jones even at 1-1, Pouncey 3-2, Landry 3-1, Suh 4-1, Denney 12-1 and Grimes 15-1. Nobody else is on the board with any shot.
▪ The 108 games decided by seven points or fewer are most ever entering Week 15, while the 687 TD passes are tied for most ever.
▪ Streaky: Chiefs have won seven consecutive games after losing five in a row, the first team to do that since the 1970 Bengals.
▪ Lions’ Matthew Stafford reached 25,000 career passing yards in his 90th game, breaking Dan Marino’s fastest-to mark of 92 games.
▪ Steelers CB William Gay has returned five consecutive interceptions for TDs, the longest streak in NFL history.
▪ Titans rookie QB Marcus Mariota’s 41-yard TD catch last week made him first player since Walter Payton in 1983 to have a TD pass, run and catch of at least 40 yards in same season.
▪ This is third season in a row Steelers’ Antonio Brown has had 100 catches and a punt-return TD. Only two other players have done that once: Eric Metcalf in 1995 and Troy Brown in 2001.
▪ Falcons’ Julio Jones became fastest to reach 100 catches in a season since Marvin Harrison in 2002.
▪ Vikings’ Adrian Peterson reached 10,000 career rushing yards and 100 TDs in his 117th game. Only others to do that as fast: Jim Brown, Emmitt Smith and LaDainian Tomlinson.