The Pro Bowl teams will be announced on Wednesday but the results of the fan voting are already in. One Patriot got the most votes by the fans at his position. You would think that Patriot would be Tom Brady but it's not. Surprisingly, the player is Patrick Pass, who was the top vote-getter at fullback in the AFC.
The selection process for the Pro Bowl is made up of voting by the fans, coaches and players, so Pass isn't guaranteed to make the Pro Bowl but he is ecstatic that fans around the country voted for him to be the AFC's representative at fullback.
"I was really surprised when I first heard about it," Pass said. "It's a great thing when the fans appreciate you and some of the things you're doing on the field. To tell you the truth, I'm speechless."
Even though Pass already has a third of the votes needed to make the Pro Bowl he could still face an uphill battle when it comes to the votes turned in by coaches and players. Pass isn't a traditional fullback, he is more of a backup running back who the Patriots list as a fullback, so that could hurt him in the final voting. Still, out of all the talented players on the Patriots roster, Pass was the only one to garner the most votes at his position
The player most Patriots fans are expecting to see in Hawaii, Tom Brady, finished third in fan voting among AFC quarterbacks behind the Colts Peyton Manning and the Bengals Carson Palmer. Brady has 3,888 yards and 23 touchdowns so far this season so there is a very good chance once the players and coach's votes are counted, he will be making his third Pro Bowl appearance.
Another Patriot who could end up in Hawaii is Richard Seymour. Seymour finished fourth among AFC interior linemen in fan voting, even though he missed four games earlier in the year with a knee injury. Seymour is well respected by players and coaches in the NFL so there is a good chance they will vote him in. Seymour only has three sacks on the season but you can't put a number on how important he is to the Patriots defense and how much better they play with him in the lineup.
Punter Josh Miller finished second in the fan voting among punters but other than Brady, he may be the one Patriot who deserves a Pro Bowl invitation more than anyone. Miller is tied for first in the AFC with a punting average of 45.5 yards and he's dropped 21 kicks inside the 20-yard line this year. It will be a close call for Miller because the Bills Brian Moorman and the Raiders Shane Lechler are also having tremendous seasons.
Special teams ace Larry Izzo also finished second in the fan voting. Izzo has been to three Pro Bowls as the AFC's special teams representative and has a good chance to make it four this season. Izzo has 15 special teams tackles and has helped turn around a coverage unit that has vastly improved over the course of the season.
Adam Vinatieri always has a chance of making the Pro Bowl because of the respect he gets throughout the league but he isn't necessarily having a Pro Bowl season, especially by his standards. Vinatieri has missed five field goals this year and currently ranks 12th in the AFC in scoring among kickers. Even though he's still the most reliable kicker in the league, Vinatieri will most likely lose out to either the Bengals Shayne Graham or the Chargers Nate Keading.
The last Patriot with a chance of making the Pro Bowl is linebacker Mike Vrabel but he's a long shot. Vrabel finished fourth in fan voting among outside linebackers but the problem is - he's been playing middle linebacker for most of the season. Vrabel leads the Patriots with a career-high 102 tackles but that might not be enough to get him in. He's had a great year but switching positions midway through the season could hurt Vrabel in the voting.
Led by Pass, the Patriots have a chance to send a few players to this year's Pro Bowl. While it's a great honor to be a Pro Bowler, it's not as important in New England as it is in other places around the country. This team is focused on another bowl that takes place in Detroit during the first weekend in February. Pro Bowl bids are nice but Super Bowl rings are even nicer.
"We're about winning," Bill Belichick said when asked about how important it is that his players make the Pro Bowl. "We don't worry about things we have no control over. I take pride in our player's performance as a team and individually but we don't worry about things we can't control."
Patriots expect a better Bollinger this time around
The first time the Patriots and Jets played earlier this month, Jets quarterback Brooks Bollinger was held to only 135 yards passing. Since that game, the Jets and Bollinger have improved on the offensive side of the ball. Last week against the Dolphins, Bollinger threw for a career-high 327 yards and two touchdowns. The Patriots are expecting to see a better Jets offense this Monday night.
"They have improved over the past couple of weeks, especially offensively," Belichick said. "I think they've made some significant strides in their last two games. They've improved quite a bit offensively in a short period of time."
Belichick believes now that Bollinger is getting more comfortable in the offense, the Jets are letting him do more things.
"Just from watching him, I think Bollinger has a little more experience now," Belichick said. "I think they kind of expanded their passing game and given him some more options."
NotesThe Patriots have allowed a total of 10 points over their past three games, a franchise record for fewest points allowed over a three-game span…The Patriots have only allowed a total of 85 yards rushing during their three-game winning streak. That comes out to an average of 28.3 yards per game…12 different players have scored a touchdown for the Patriots this season, setting a franchise record…Belichick said at his Wednesday press conference it was a "long shot" that offensive tackle Matt Light would play again this year but when asked if he was being kept off injured reserve because of the slight chance he may be able to play if the Patriots get deep into the playoffs, Belichick smiled and replied, "maybe."