The best of the AFC and NFC will meet for the 41st time this Sunday at the 2011 NFL Pro Bowl--a match that will break a 20-20 tie between the two conferences.
While the Pro Bowl will be making its return to Honolulu's Aloha Stadium, for the second straight year the annual all-star game will be filling in the two-week gap between the conference championship games, and the Super Bowl.
Though the Pro Bowl has a reputation of fielding second-rate players as the league's stars bow out for injuries real or imagined, this year's rosters are filled with talent. Phillip Rivers will fill in for Tom Brady (who underwent foot surgery earlier in the week) as the AFC's starting quarterback, while the resurgent Mike Vick will head the NFC team over backups Drew Brees and Matt Ryan.
Altogether, 18 of the 26 players named to the Associated Press' 2011 NFL All-Pro team are currently set to play in Sunday's Pro Bowl. Tom Brady, Jake Long, Ed Reed, Patrick Willis, and Ndamukong Suh will miss the game due to injuries, while Clay Matthews, James Harrison, and Troy Polamalu have more pressing matters to attend to.
The Patriots will be especially well represented this year, despite Tom Brady's injury. Logan Mankins, Vince Wilfork, and Brandon Meriweather will all start, while Wes Welker, Jerod Mayo, Devin McCourty, and Matt Light will join them as backups. Bill Belichick will even get in on the action as the man with the dubious honor of coaching the AFC Pro Bowl team--the position going to the coach eliminated in the divisional round with the best record in the regular season.