So, today, we are going to wrap up the bye week stuff before we move on to Buffalo. We are looking at some potential Pro Bowlers for the Patriots, and what they have to do to make it. Players are listed in order with the highest chance to make it to the lowest. As always, follow me @CultOfBelichick
Tom Brady What does he have to do to make it? Uh, stay alive, period. He's in, lock it up.
Rob Gronkowski Gronk has played this whole season at less than 100%, yet still leads all Tight Ends in yards and TDs. On top of his receiving abilities, he has been a huge reason the running game has been so effective. He is a beast in both phases of the game, and hands down the best Tight End in the game. Just like Tommy B, as long as he's alive, he's getting into this game.
Would be shocking to not make it
Sebastion Vollmer Vollmer is having an All-Pro type year. After getting eased into the mix in the beginning of the season, he has been without-a-doubt their best Offensive Lineman. I am getting a little worried that he hasn't been getting enough national attention. If he had been having a season like this with the Chiefs or Rams or some irrelevant team, he might not make the Pro Bowl. But, I think the Patriots' status, as well as his incredibly high level of play will get him in there as long as he keeps up what he has been doing.
Wes Welker He is currently 3rd in receptions and 5th in the league in receiving yards. Considering how many people end up making the Pro Bowl, as long as he keeps up these numbers and stays close to number 1 in receptions and close to the top 5 in receiving yards, he should make it with the help of the Patriots' status and the fact that he is a well known player.
Should make it
Stevan Ridley This is where things start to get dicey. I you ask me, he should be a no brainer here. He is currently 3rd in the AFC in rushing, behind only Foster and Chris Johnson, and ahead of guys like Ray Rice and Jamaal Charles. However, I could see him having a hard time sneaking in there as does not yet have the name value as these types of guys. He will need to do some things in the second half of the season, and continue to have a great season, and hope some of those guys get injured and turn down their invites. Obviously, if he jumps ahead of those guys in yards and leads the league, he has to get in there.
Logan Mankins Mankins hasn't been healthy this year, missing 3 games, and playing hurt in others. His level of play hasn't quite been up to Pro Bowl caliber, but his name value should see him on there as it does for Wes. His games played needs to be 10+ on the season, and he should slide his way in there.
Possible, but not likely
Aaron Hernandez Like Mankins, Hernandez would be a guaranteed Pro Bowler if he had played all season, but has missed even more time than Mankins. He might be at the point where he has missed too much time to make the game. The only way I see him sneaking in there is if he comes back this week, and produces at a very high level every week until the end of the season.
Nate Solder Has been having a borderline Pro Bowl season, but this being his first year starting, he is going to have trouble getting in there. I don't know if there is much he can do to get the nod, other than shutting down some big name guys, and having them go to the media saying he is a stud. Short of that, next year might be his first shot at the game.
Vince Wilfork The only question here was whether to put him or Jerod Mayo at the top of the list. Went Wilfork because of the veteran status and name recognition that gets him into this game year after year.
Jerod Mayo Another solid season for Mayo, who leads the league in tackles. He is the classic Pro-Bowler, but not All-Pro. A solid top tier guy, but hasn't made that jump to complete stud with the ball skills we all want.
Possible, but not likely
Chandler Jones He's been a revelation this year, playing some dominating defense on the right side. He likely will have to finish this year in the top 5 in the AFC for sacks in order to squeak his way on there
Brandon Spikes He is one of those players that a lot of people across the league love as a run stopper, and the rest of his game, which has really improved, isn't getting the recognition it deserves.