The Patriots were fortunate enough to have eight players selected to the Pro Browl (some more deserving than others), and the AFC East have thirteen players ticketed for the show. Unfortunately, there were no Buffalo Bills who made the roster- a point that Jeff Howe says the Bills will be using for motivation on Sunday. So let's give the Bills and the rest of the deserving players in the AFC East their due- let's craft an All-AFC East Pro Bowl Team.
Looking at the AFC East, this team will run a hybrid 3-4/4-3 front where four lucky linemen and linebackers make the roster- and that's just because of how the AFC East is split. On offense, there will be a flex player instead of a pure fullback in order to take advantage of all of the players on the rosters.
Starter: Tom Brady, Patriots - Well, this is a no brainer. Brady is the best in the AFC, let alone the AFC East. Brady leads the division in pretty much every statistic.
Alternate: Matt Moore, Dolphins - Moore edges out Ryan Fitzpatrick because Fitzpatrick has completely fallen apart. Moore is a consistent player who will turn out an overall positive game. Fitzpatrick has become a huge question mark and it's unfortunate it came right at the heels of a huge new contract.
Starter: Fred Jackson, Bills - Jackson was lost in week 11, but still remains the best running back in the division. His 3.7 yards after contact average is stellar and it's still good for second in the league and almost a yard better than his replacement C.J. Spiller. Jackson can do it all and it's only fair that he gets the nod.
Alternate: Shonn Greene, Jets - Greene edges out Reggie Bush, C.J. Spiller, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis for the nod. Yes, Spiller and BJGE have been better runners, but neither really have the snaps on the season to qualify. Greene barely edges out Bush due to his consistency. It's easy to point to Bush's four 100 yard games to close out the season, but Greene has been a grinder all year. Bush didn't break the 50 yard plateau until week 5 and Greene has had more 70+ yard games over the course of the year. Greene's combination of blocking and running skills beats Bush's receiving and running skills over the course of the whole season. That said, Bush could take over Greene's spot with another solid game to close the season.
Starters: Wes Welker, Patriots; Stevie Johnson, Bills - Welker is another no brainer to make the roster due to his high numbers and quality performances that lead the league. Johnson barely edges out Marshall, although, like the Greene vs Bush debate, Marshall could make a statement in the final game. The most glaring reason for Johnson over Marshall? 4 drops versus 13 drops.
Alternate: Brandon Marshall, Dolphins; Marshall is the only dominant big receiver in the AFC East and could definitely deserve a spot with a solid performance. However, he needs to work on his drops and become more consistent.
Starter: Rob Gronkowski, Patriots - Was there really any question?
Alternate: Anthony Fasano, Dolphins - Fasano is quietly developing into a fantastic tight end for the Dolphins. He can catch and he can block, although to a lesser level than Gronkowski. Still, Fasano is a fantastic weapon who should continue to develop.
Flex: - The Flex position will be treated like fantasy football; basically the next best offensive weapon gets consideration.
Starter: Aaron Hernandez, Patriots - Had to get him on the roster. He's produced as the next best weapon on all of the rosters.
Alternate: John Conner, Jets - I wanted to put Charles Clay (Dolphins) but he had only 81 snaps on the season, so it's hard to have him qualify. Conner has shaken off a slow start to become a very reliable fullback for the Jets.
Starters: Matt Light, Patriots; Jake Long, Dolphins - While these two shouldn't make the actual Pro Bowl rosters for their play this season, they're still the two best in the AFC East. Light has been very consistent while facing top talent. While Long is on a down season, he's still playing well.
Alternate: D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Jets - Long beats out Brick because of how well Long has kept whatever quarterback is behind him clean. Also, Brick has been a horrific run blocker, while Long has been more consistent across the board.
Starters: Brian Waters, Patriots; Andy Levitre, Bills - Waters and Levitre are not just two of the best guards in the AFC East, they're two of the best in the league. We all know how well Waters has played, while Levitre was actually forced to play three games of left tackle and one game of center for the Bills.
Alternate: Chad Rinehart, Bills - Brandon Moore received consideration, but his run blocking was too poor to overlook. Rinehart, along with Moore, are two of the only guards in the league yet to surrender a sack. Rinehart's all-around game gets him the nod.
Starter: Nick Mangold, Jets - This was an easy guess, right?
Alternate: Eric Wood, Bills - Wood tore his ACL in week 10, but was one of the best centers in the league at the time. No other center has elevated their play to deserve consideration.
Starters: Andre Carter, Patriots; Randy Starks, Dolphins - Carter was the most dominant defensive end in the 3-4 or the 4-3 look in the AFC East (and he was asked to play in both defenses). Starks has been an extremely consistent performer for the Dolphins with consistent pressure and solid run defending.
Alternate: Mark Anderson, Patriots - Anderson has been a pass rushing fiend and gets the nod for his ability to generate pressure. However, his overall game is extremely positive and beats out any other defensive end in the AFC East.
Starters: Sione Pouha, Jets; Marcell Dareus, Bills - Pouha just creates disruptions whenever he takes the field and he can cause a run play to fail like no other (I'm sure you remember a few against the Jets). Dareus is a rookie, but earns his spot because of his solid overall game. He's able to do everything well and can rush the passer extremely well.
Alternate: Vince Wilfork, Patriots - Wilforks gets pushed to the alternate spot. He's been a stalwart on the defensive line, but he's playing too many snaps which limits his impact plays. He shines through time and time again, but he gets moved and sealed by double teams too frequently.
Starters: Cameron Wake, Dolphins; Rob Ninkovich, Patriots - Wake is possibly the most dominant outside linebacker the Patriots will face all season and he can bring the pressure like no other linebacker in the league. Ninkovich gets the nod because of his consistent play all season and his ability to do everything well.
Alternate: Calvin Pace, Jets - Pace gets a look because he plays so many quality snaps for the Jets (and because no one else deserves a look). Oh, and he has an interception.
Starters: Karlos Dansby, Dolphins; Jerod Mayo, Patriots - Dansby has been the best inside linebacker in the division and it's not a real competition. He plays every snaps (unlike the alternate) and he plays every snap extremely well. Mayo gets the nod because he also does everything well. He's been playing out of position, but it notching more impact plays than ever before.
Alternate: Bart Scott, Jets - Scott is to the Jets what Brandon Spikes is to the Patriots; he's actual just their run defending linebacker. Still, he does it so well that he gets the nod.
Starters: Darrelle Revis, Jets; Kyle Arrington, Patiots - Revis is a no brainer. Arrington takes a little more consideration because he hasn't played as well of late. Still, his impact plays and league leading 7 interceptinos have changed and won more than a couple games for the Patriots.
Alternate: Vontae Davis, Dolphins - Davis is quietly one of the better corners in the league and is able to do everything well.
Starters: Jairus Byrd, Bills; Jim Leonhard, Jets - Byrd is the only safety in the entire AFC East that deserves accolades. Out of safeties, he's tied for 3rd in the league with 10 passes defended. He can defend the pass and the run extremely well. Leonhard's season ended in Week 14, but he's really only on this roster because literally no on else deserved it.
Alternate: Pat Chung, Patriots - Yeah, Chung gets the look after missing over half of the season. That's how bad the safety position is in the AFC East.
Starter: Dan Carpenter, Dolphins - Carpenter has the highest touchback percentage out of AFC East kickers and his field goal percentage is in line with Gostkowski.
Alternate: Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots - Carpenter nudges Gostkowski because they're interchangeable on field goals, while Carpenter is better on kick offs.
Starter: Brandon Fields, Dolphins - Fields is the #3 punter in the AC behind Shane Lechler and Britton Colquitt, so he definitely deserves the nod. He's on a different level.
Alternate: Zoltan Mesko, Patriots - Mesko's not at Fields' level, but he's one of the better punters in the league. He's top 3 in Net Yards and top 5 in kicks inside the 20.
Kick Returner: Joe McKnight, Jets - You thought Danny Woodhead would win? McKnight is the biggest threat on kick offs in the AFC East.
Punt Returner: Julian Edelman, Patriots - Edelman is a consistent returnman who is able to pick-ups yards where there shouldn't be any to gain.
So in summary, here's the roster:
QB Tom Brady (Patriots) - Matt Moore (Dolphins)
RB Fred Jackson (Bills) - Shonn Greene (Jets)
WR Wes Welker (Patriots), Stevie Johnson (Bills) - Brandon Marshall (Dolphins)
TE Rob Gronkowski (Patriots) - Anthony Fasano (Dolphins)
Flex Aaron Hernandez (Patriots) - John Conner (Jets)
OT Matt Light (Patriots), Jake Long (Dolphins) - D'Brickashaw Ferguson (Jets)
OG Brian Waters (Patriots), Andy Levitre (Bills) - Chad Rinehart (Bills)
C Nick Mangold (Jets) - Eric Wood (Bills)
DE Andre Carter (Patriots), Randy Starks (Dolphins) - Mark Anderson (Patriots)
DT Sione Pouha (Jets), Marcell Dareus (Bills) - Vince Wilfork (Patriots)
OLB Cameron Wake (Dolphins), Rob Ninkovich (Patriots) - Calvin Pace (Jets)
ILB Karlos Dansby (Dolphins), Jerod Mayo (Patriots) - Bart Scott (Jets)
CB Darrelle Revis (Jets), Kyle Arrington (Patriots) - Vontae Davis (Dolphins)
S Jairus Byrd (Bills), Jim Leonhard (Jets) - Pat Chung (Patriots)
K Dan Carpenter (Dolphins) - Stephen Gostkowski (Patriots)
P Brandon Fields (Dolphins) - Zoltan Mesko (Patriots)
KR Joe McKnight (Jets)
PR Julian Edelman (Patriots)
Out of 43 total players, there are:
7 Bills, 5 Starters
10 Dolphins, 6 Starters
10 Jets, 5 Starters
16 Patriots, 11 Starters
Which seems pretty fair when looking at overall team records. If you look at my team, who do you think was snubbed? Who do you think shouldn't have made the team? Let's hear it!