Massive changes to the Pro Bowl could help rising NFC quarterbacks earn recognition.
"Gone is the familiar AFC vs. NFC matchup that has existed since 1971," the NFL and NFL Players Association announced Wednesday. "Instead, players will be selected without regard to conference in voting by fans, coaches and players. For example, the top six quarterbacks following voting will earn distinction as All-Stars, regardless of how many are from AFC or NFC teams."
2012 Total QBR Leaders by Conference
The NFC has a higher number of top-flight quarterbacks, in my view. Those players have to like their chances now that AFC quarterbacks don't get an equal number of berths by default.
Peyton Manning and Tom Brady were the only AFC quarterbacks with Total QBR scores higher than 65.0 last season. The NFC had eight such quarterbacks: Colin Kaepernick, Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers, Robert Griffin III, Alex Smith (now in the AFC), Russell Wilson, Drew Brees and Eli Manning. Scores in the 65-plus range generally equate to Pro Bowl-caliber play.
The next tier from the AFC consisted of Andrew Luck, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Schaub, Ryan Tannehill and Andy Dalton. The NFC's sub-65 contingent featured Tony Romo, Matthew Stafford and Cam Newton.
Pro Bowl recognition can trigger financial bonuses. It also raises a player's profile.
Check out all Pro Bowl-related changes here.