The Pro Bowl is undergoing a major change this year, but fans will still vote on the players involved.
Instead of the AFC facing the NFC, the voted-in Pro Bowlers will be tossed into a pool and team captains will select who they want on their squad, fantasy draft style.
So who are the Ravens that deserve to be picked?
Here’s a case for a few:
Stats: 54 receptions, 952 yards, 4 touchdowns
NFL Rankings: 14th in receiving yards, 5th in yards per catch, 4th in catches over 20 yards
Smith has had a breakout season. He’s done it despite the struggles of the Ravens passing attack and getting more attention from defenses with the departure of Anquan Boldin and injury to tight end
Stats: 29 field goals made, 27 consecutive successful field goals
NFL Rankings: First in field goals made, first in field-goal percentage
Tucker was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Month for November. Outside of two misses in Week 2, Tucker has been Mr. Automatic all season long. He’s been flawless from under 40 yards and hit clutch kicks too, including a game-winning 46-yarder in Cincinnati. Tucker connected on four field goals against the Jets and five versus Pittsburgh.
Stats: 68 tackles, 9 sacks, 1 fumble recovery
NFL Rankings: 9th in sacks
Suggs has had a huge rebound season after logging two sacks last year. He hasn’t notched a sack in the last four weeks, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t made an impact. He’s averaged just as many pressures as in the prior weeks, yet just hasn’t gotten the sacks. Suggs is also a strong force against the run and is even sometimes used in coverage, separating him from other outside linebackers who pin their ears back and go for the quarterback. He’s a critical part of the Ravens defense.
Stats: 27 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles
NFL Rankings: 8th in sacks
According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Dumervil has been far and away the Ravens’ best defensive player. He has a 23.1 rating while the next closest (Suggs) is at 11.1. Dumervil has had the most pass-rush productivity in the NFL among outside linebackers and is one of just two at his position that hasn’t missed a single tackle. He shares time with
Stats: 95 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 interceptions
NFL Rankings: Tied for 18th in tackles
Some pundits feel Smith has been the key to Baltimore’s defense all year long. Smith has done a bit of everything for the Ravens this year. He’s been a tackling machine inside and is excellent in pass coverage for being a big inside linebacker. He returned one interception for a touchdown. Smith has missed just two defensive snaps all year long.
Stats: 75 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 2 interceptions
NFL Rankings: 14th in tackles among safeties, tied for 10th in interceptions for safeties
Ihedigbo doesn’t have the name recognition of other safeties, but he’s playing at a very high level this season. He’s PFF’s eighth-highest rated safety in the NFL, and fifth best in the AFC. Ihedigbo has been strong against the run and good in coverage. He’s been a major leader for the Ravens defense on and off the field.
Stats: 44 tackles, 11 passes defensed, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble
NFL Rankings: Tied for 23rd in passes defensed
Smith has come into his own this season, especially over the past couple months. The former first-round pick (2011) ranks second only behind Tampa Bay’s Darrelle Revis in yards per snap allowed in coverage over the past seven games, per PFF. He’s second only to Tennessee cornerback Alterraun Verner in cover snaps per reception. Smith has allowed just 20 catches over the past nine games. He has always had the size and speed, but has turned into a smarter, more professional player this season.
Stats: 33 tackles, 1.5 sacks
Ngata hasn’t put up the numbers this year, but his opponents would still say he’s one of the most talented defensive tackles in the game. Ngata has played more inside, eating more blockers than in years past. He hasn’t gotten as many sacks (5 five last year), but is still very strong against the run. He can be a dominant force. Ngata has been to the Pro Bowl every year since 2009.
Like Ngata, Yanda is quite simply one of the best at his position, even though he hasn’t put up many highlights and doesn’t get much acclaim. He’s allowed just two sacks this season. Yanda has gone to the Pro Bowl the past two years.