NFL Pro Bowl: Team Rice vs. Team Irvin Best Betting Approaches

Kevin Stott

Saturday, January 30, 2016 3:53 PM UTC

Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016 3:53 PM UTC

Let’s take a modern look at all the numbers, Series Trends and most importantly, the Rosters and come up with a NFL pick or two in what for what should be a great game in the Aloha State.

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Predicted Final Score: Team Irvin 44  Team Rice 33
Pro Bowl Picks: Team Irvin -3 & Over 
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

Team Rice vs. Team Irvin
The two winning Head Coaches of the previous two Unconferenced NFL Pro Bowl game will be meeting at Aloha Stadium (UBU Sports Speed S5-M) in Honolulu, Hawaii (Mostly Sunny Skies, 81°, Winds ENE 10 -20 mph, Humidity 66%, Sunset 6:21 p.m.) when former San Francisco 49ers WR Jerry Rice and Team Rice and former Dallas Cowboys WR Michael Irvin and Team Irvin meet on Sunday afternoon. Offshore NFL odds makers have opened Team Irvin up as 3-point favorites ( with the Total (Points) for this game yet to be released (Friday morning).

Final Scores in Last 2 Unconferenced Pro Bowls
2014—Team Irvin 32 Team Carter 28 (Team Carter -2, 68, 5Dimes) (Aloha Stadium)
2013—Team Rice 22 Team Sanders 21 (Team Rice -1½, 91) (University of Phoenix Stadium)

Team Rice Roster—Offense
QB—Eli Manning, Giants (#1 Pick)
QB—David Carr, Raiders
QB—Tyrod Taylor, Bills 
RB—Adrian Peterson, Vikings
RB—Doug Martin, Buccaneers
RB—Chris Ivory, Jets
FB—John Kuhn, Packers
WR—Odell Beckham, Jr., Giants (Captain)
WR—Jarvis Landry, Dolphins
WR—Amari Cooper, Raiders
WR—TY Hilton, Colts
TE—Travis Kelce, Chiefs
TE—Gary Barnidge, Browns
C—Eric Wood, Bills
G—Logan Mankins, Buccaneers
G—Josh Sitton, Packers
G—Nick Mangold, Jets
G—Richie Incognito, Bills
T—Joe Thomas, Browns
T—Joe Staley, 49ers
T—Kyle Long, Bears
K—Josh Brown, Giants
KR—Tyler Lockett, Seahawks


Team Rice Roster—Defense
DT—Aaron Donald, Rams (Captain)
DT—Fletcher Cox, Eagles
DT—Gerald McCoy, Buccaneers
DE—Khalil Mack, Raiders
DE—Cameron Jordan, Saints
DE—Everson Griffen, Vikings
OLB—Tamba Hali, Chiefs
OLB—Elvis Dumervil, Ravens
LB—Clay Matthews, Packers
LB—Bobby Wagner, Seahawks
LB—Julius Pepper, Packers
CB—Marcus Peters, Chiefs
CB—Brent Grimes, Packers
CB—Jason Verrett, Chargers
CB—Vontae Davis, Colts
S—Eric Berry, Chiefs
SS—Mike Adams, Colts
SS—Charles Woodson, Raiders
P—Johnny Hekker, Rams
ST—Cedric Peerman, Bengals


Team Irvin Roster—Offense
QB—Russell Wilson, Seahawks (#1 pick)
QB—Teddy Bridgewater, Vikings
QB—Jameis Winston, Buccaneers
RB—Devonta Freeman, Falcons (Captain)
RB—Todd Gurley, Rams
RB—Latavius Murray, Raiders
FB—Patrick DiMarco, Falcons
WR—Julio Jones, Falcons
WR—AJ Green, Bengals
WR—DeAndre Hopkins, Texans
WR—Allen Robinson, Jaguars
TE—Tyler Eifert, Bengals 
TE—Delanie Walker, Titans
C—Alex Mack, Browns
C—Travis Frederick, Cowboys
G—Zack Martin, Cowboys
G—Marshall Yanda, Ravens
G—David Decastro, Steelers
T—Branden Albert, Dolphins
T—Tyron Smith, Cowboys
T—Andrew Whitworth, Bengals
K—Dan Bailey, Cowboys
KR—Darren Sproles, Eagles


Team Irvin Roster—Defense
DT—Geno Atkins, Bengals (Captain)
DE—Carlos Dunlap, Bengals
DE—Michael Bennett, Seahawks
DE—Ezekiel Ansah, Lions
DT—Calais Campbell, Cardinals
DT—Jurrell Casey, Titans
OLB—Anthony Barr, Vikings
OLB—Sean Lee, Cowboys
LB—Lavonte David, Buccaneers
LB—NaVorro Bowman, 49ers
LB—Derrick Johnson, Chiefs
CB—Richard Sherman, Seahawks
CB—Adam Jones, Bengals
CB—Desmond Trufant, Falcons
CB—Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Giants
S—Reshad Jones, Dolphins
S—Malcolm Jenkins, Eagles
FS—Harrison Smith, Vikings
P—Sam Koch, Ravens
ST—Justin Bethel, Cardinals


Thoughts On Pro Bowl Total (Points)
Totals Trends, Thoughts: Defenders don’t tackle and pursue like they would in a normal NFL game and the big mantra here from Players, Coaches, Agents and General Managers is DON’T GET HURT. Therefore, easy points should be easier to come by, although with this new Unconference format, the philosophy of the game has changed some although with only 2 games played this way, the Sample Size is so small it must be deemed irrelevant. This is like flipping a coin twice, getting Heads once and Tails once and then trying to explain why it’s 50/50. And if any game can be deemed 50/50, it’s the NFL Pro Bowl which the Associated Press wrote in 2012 looked like the players “were hitting each other as though they were having a pillow fight. This is obviously not a game and market which to overbet—if you choose to bet on it at all—but the lackadaisical nature of the Defense and the tackling and with eight talented WR’s like Team Rice’s Beckham, Jr., Landry, Hilton and Raiders Rookie Cooper and team Irvin’s Green, Jones, Robinson and Hopkins. How would you like to have AJ Green and Julio Jones on the same team—your team—and get to throw them the football? With DeAndre Hopkins and Allen Robinson as their backups and Travis Eifert and Delanie Walker your TEs? Well, lucky Russell Wilson, Teddy Bridgewater and Rookie Jameis Winston won’t have to imagine it as they’ll be living it in gorgeous Hawaii on Sunday. Paradise indeed. And with both Head Coaches having been WR’s in their NFL careers, expect much Passing, so, seeing near 60 points with these two Rosters on this playing surface in these ideal conditions is to be expected. The previous five Pro Bowl played (2008-2012) before this new Team Picking concept (AFc vs. NFC) saw total points scored of 97, 100, 96, 75 and 51 points before the change was made. A Total was yet to be released by any sportsbook Offshore or here in Sin City at press time.

Why Team Irvin Should Win and Probably Cover (In List Form Please, Slim)
Taking Team Irvin laying the lumber (-3, seems like the wiser choice for this game in sunny Honolulu on Sunday afternoon. And here’s why...

1—They Have Better, More Mobile Quarterbacks: By taking Eli Manning with his #1 pick in Wednesday’s Draft for this game (televised on ESPN2), Head Coach Jerry Rice sort of shot himself in the foot in my mind. Rice then took the Raiders David Carr, another pretty immobile QB whose footwork leaves a lot to be desired before adding the Bills Tyrod Taylor, maybe his saving grace as this kid can run and throw and should have a bright future in the league. Michael Irvin selected Russell Wilson—the cream of the QB crop in this game and the only one who could be deemed elite—Teddy Bridgewater and Rookie Jameis Winston, so he has three mobile QBs with which to work and although QBs running for yardage in a Pro Bowl is as rare as a gazelle running through the zoo itself as a patron, the escapability to create more passes and give receivers time should be an edge for this team. Part of the reason Team Irvin is even favored here by oddsmakers is probably because of the presence of Wisconsin product Wilson.

2—They have Todd Gurley: St. Louis Rams Rookie RB and Georgia product Todd Gurley (229 rushes, 1,104 yards, 10 TDs) has a sensational Rookie season, avoided aggravating his Knee Injury, and gave this franchise—which will now be playing its football in Los Angeles and should have a sunnier disposition and a better Home-field that might not catch fire or provide a nice Slip-’n-Slide out-of-bounds—a solid RB to build around for the Future. And the 6-1, 227-pound, 21-year-old Gurley wa used sort of sparingly by St. Louis and head Coach Jeff Fisher, wisely preserving his young body and fragile knee from a senseless injury at the end of a season in which his team was not going to make the Postseason and on those less-than-desirable conditions at the Edward Jones Dome in the Gateway City. Anyway, Gurley will want to show off here and with Defenders tackling often in the “I-Could-Give-A-Rat’s-Ass” Mode, Gurley should rush around 8-12 times and maybe get 80-100 yards in Honolulu.

3—Their WRs Are To Die For: Fantasy Football players lucky or smart enough to ever be able to get the Bengals AJ Green and the Falcons Julio Jones on the same team lived that fantasy, but on Sunday, we’ll all get to see it and Wilson, Bridgwater and Winston will be the privilege of throwing to them. Since coming to the NFL out of college from the SEC from the University of Georgia—like Gurley—and the University of Alabama, respectively, these two have led the Golden Age of WRs in the league and are as dependable, tough and as productive as a Head Coach would want a WR to possibly be. And the (both) immensely underrated Robinson (80 receptions, 1,400 yards, 14 TDs) and Hopkins (111 receptions, 1,521 yards, 11 TDs) will want to show why they are here also and these two will be having better QBs throwing to them than the ones on the teams they currently play for. This game could go Over simply because of Team Irvin’s Receiving Corps, including TE Eifert and Winston’s underrated teammate Walker.

4—Team Irvin Has Lions DE Ezekiel Ansah on Their Roster: The NFC North Defensive Player of the Year has the wingspan of a small Cessna and the third-year BYU product is well on his way to becoming a star in the NFL. The extremely athletic Ansah was third in the NFL in Sacks (14.5) this past Regular Season (14.5) and has 128 tackles and 30 sacks in his first three seasons in the league and has become virtually unblockable. He will make Life in this Pro Bowl Hell for the mud-footed Manning the Junior and Carr.

5—They have Darren Sproles: Despite the wonderful stories in the Defensive Backfield in this game for Team Rice with it being the last game ever for the Oakland Raiders legend Charles Woodson and the Kansas City Chiefs Eric Berry having a phenomenal season for the upstart Chiefs after being diagnosed with Cancer just a year ago, Sproles is one of those Good Luck Charm players who always moves the ball North-South—be it from the backfield or on Kick Returns—and seems to do so at the perfect time, usually in the 2nd Halves of games. The 5-6, 190-pound, 32-year-old sparkplug from Kansas State always seems to be on a different team every year (Chargers, Saints, Eagles), but whoever has him has a small stick of dynamite they can use over and over and over. Sproles is a living NFL legend, quietly hidden away in Philadelphia and could have a big impact on this game and can be used as a RB, although voted on here as a designated KR.

6—Reading the Odds: If oddsmakers saw enough (of just the Rosters after their selection) to make Team Irvin solid 3-point favorites over Team Rice, then there must be something there and it seems to be in the three QBs on each Roster. A game with players picking other players would more likely end up in a near Pick’ Em (Even) situation if a computer were picking the players but Human Beings were and Jerry Rice decided to go with Eli Manning with his #1 pick. This slight of Manning and his mobility and potential performance in this game is handicapping. And why did Mr. Rice pick Eli? No doubt because (prearranged) team Rice Captain and Giants WR and Manning teammate Beckham, Jr., was already on his Roster. At least that’s the conventional wisdom. Though Manning the Junior may end up being no albatross, Team Irvin having Wilson and not Manning is a blessing and something for bettor’s to ponder.


How This Meaningless Pro Bowl Game in the Aloha State May Turn Out on Sunday
It’s better for the Pro Bowl that it’s played on the Sunday in-between the Conference Championship Round and the Super Bowl, as when it was played after the big game, players and gamblers and fans alike cared very little about it, not that people are having Pro Bowl parties this year and making many bets on this circus of sorts. Remember, not getting hurt is the first priority and having fun is probably the second priority, so winning (and outscoring the opponent) is not in the forefront of the participating players minds in this game although the last year’s winning side won around $53,000 while the losing side only got $26,000. so, if there’s any motivation here with the AFC-NFC sides gone, it’s the Pride of winning the game as well as the Money. With the Offensive players Team Irvin has, laying the 3 points here and maybe betting an equal amount on the Over as my NFL Picks for a nominal amount seems like the best approach here. The combined effect of Wilson, Bridgewater, Winston, Green, Jones, Robinson, Hopkins and Ansah seems like it will be too much for Team Irvin over team Rice here.

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