2012 ProBowl voting has only a few weeks left. This is my list, which is based both on merit AND ON THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE STEELERS. It is important that Steeler Nation vote as one so that we can have the best shot at controlling who gets in and who is left out. But wait, you ask, what in the world do you mean based on the best interests of the Steelers? Well, let's see.
The AFC is pretty straight-forward. These are the top 3 QBs in the conference and it really isn't close. The NFC is a little more tricky, with Drew Brees and Eli Manning getting snubbed. You could make a case for either, but when watching RGIII you can't help but be impressed and above all entertained. Brees might gain enough momentum in the last 7 games, but his 0-4 start can't be forgotten.
Snubbed: Drew Brees, Matt Schaub.
I have to give credit where its due, so Peterson, Foster, and Rice are automatically in. Spiller has been electrifying this year and gets the nod over Charles in the AFC. Martin has been phenomenal and Lynch is just as good as ever. You could make a case for LeSean McCoy or Frank Gore as well.
Snubbed: Jamaal Charles, Lesean McCoy
AFC: Will Johnson (PIT)
NFC: Lawrence Vickers (DAL)
I went with my favorites at Fullback and I encourage you to do the same. Vonta Leach has been an All-Pro the last few seasons, but has been less impressive this year.
Snubbed: Vonta Leach
This is what I mean by voting in the best interest of the Steelers. A second ProBowl for Wallace would all but guarantee he'll be gone next year, or at least franchise tagged (which the Steelers cannot afford). By leaving him out we increase the chance he resigns with the Steelers, even if the impact is minimal. Plus, you really can't argue against any of the guys listed. In Atlanta, White and Jones work so well off each other that I think it could actually keep both of them out of the Pro Bowl.
NFC: Jimmy Graham (NO), Tony Gonzalez (ATL)
Snubbed: Jason Witten, Owen Daniels
I'm admittedly a bit out of my element when choosing Offensive linemen, so I consulted ProFootball Focus's offensive line rankings to find who has been playing well. Also, I like to include 1 RT in each conference, which is why Winston and Davis made it over others. Thomas is a perennial Pro Bowler and is setting himself up for a Hall of Fame bust, and Brown has been one of the most consistent linemen in the league the past 2 years. In the NFC, young guns Williams and Kalil are beginning to look like All Stars.
If you've watched the Steelers closely, the run game improved in direct correlation to Colon cleaning his act up, and he is now one of the most dominant Guards in the game. Yanda is always great, but I have to admit that Mankins was mostly name recognition for me. I'd love to hear from people who can show me someone more deserving (if there is someone). Evans and Iupati look great in the NFC, and I voted Grubbs in because a) he's pretty damn good and b) it's fun to see an Ex-Raven do better in his new home than he was in Baltimore.
The Pouncey twins should get to play with each other in the Pro Bowl for the next 10 years. As for the NFC, Sullivan and Goodwin were singled out by PFF, not to mention their respective OLs are playing fantastically as a whole.
The AFC again seems pretty straight forward. Watt, Dumervil, and Wake are all playing great, with only Chandler Jones really coming close for me. In the NFC, I'm voting for Abraham and Clemons in part because of how well they're doing individually, but also because of the respect I have for their defenses as a whole. Johnson got the edge over Jared Allen for me purely because of the numbers.
Snubbed: Chandler Jones, Jared Allen
In general, I tended to favor DTs who's defenses are playing well vs the run. Of these names, only Geno Atkins plays for a defense not ranked in the top 10 vs the run. Melton beat out Ndamukong Suh for me because he is tied for second in the league in sacks for DTs (behind Atkins), and Chicago is ranked 8th vs the run compared to Detroit's 23rd. Hampton also beat out Haloti Ngata for the same reason (Pittsburgh 5th, Baltimore 27th), and also because of my unabashed Steeler bias.
Snubbed: Ndamukong Suh, Haloti Ngata
AFC: Lawrence Timmons (PIT), Derrick Johnson (KC)
Timmons and the ever-underrated Johnson were easy choices in the AFC, while Willis is the unquestioned best ILB in the league in my mind. The last spot came down to Washington or Navarro Bowman, with Washington's 8 sacks putting him over the top.
Snubbed: Navarro Bowman, Jerod Mayo
Miller, Ware, and Matthews were easy choices. Houston has become a great pass rusher in KC and Woodley beat out Indy's Robert Mathis because of the better overall defense. Aldon Smith narrowly beat out Sean Weatherspoon for me.
Snubbed: Robert Mathis, Sean Weatherspoon
After rough starts, Cromartie and Taylor have really stepped up in the last 5 games or so. Even more impressive is that Cromartie is doing this without Revis on the other side. Speaking of Revis, Sherman is starting to rival him as a shutdown corner this year, while the two boys from Chicago have combined to force an astounding 17 turnovers. Williams's 4 INTs help put him in, but again thinking in the Steelers' best interest, I voted him in to increase the likelihood of him leaving Baltimore in free agency this year. He turned down a 3 year offer from the Ravens this past summer in hopes of playing well enough this year to get a better deal. I'm just giving the man what he wants.
Snubbed: Jonathan Joseph, Carlos Rogers
AFC: Troy Polamalu (PIT)
NFC: Kam Chancellor (SEA)
I'm going to vote for Troy until I die, I don't care if he's not playing. Plus, according to ESPN he was still leading his position in votes at midseason, which I find hilarious. Chancellor, in addition to playing on the best secondary in football, is leading the NFC in tackles at his position.
Snubbed: TJ Ward, Major Wright
AFC: Ryan Clark (PIT)
NFC: Earl Thomas (SEA)
All Steeler fans know that Clark has been the defensive MVP of the team so far, and easily deserves a spot in Hawaii ahead of Ed Reed (who can't tackle a teddy bear anymore). Thomas is probably the best young safety in the league.
Snubbed: Ed Reed, Thomas Decoud
AFC: Sebastian Janikowski (OAK)
NFC: Matt Bryant (ATL)
Janikowski has the best leg in football and Matt Bryant has made Matt Ryan look good with his clutch kicking at the end of games.
AFC: Brandon Fields (MIA)
NFC: Andy Lee (SF)
Fields is tied for the league lead in yards per punt, and is tied for 7th with 18 punts inside the 20. Lee has been the most consistent punter in the league for the past few years.
AFC: Jacoby Jones (BAL)
NFC: Randall Cobb (GB)
Easy choices for me, though you could use this opportunity to vote for guys you like.
SPECIAL TEAMS GUNNER
AFC: Curtis Brown (PIT)
NFC: Lorenzo Alexander (WAS)
I suggest picking your favorite team from each conference.
There you have it, folks! Remember: voting ends on Dec. 17th, and voting for all Steelers all the time doesn't actually help the team!