Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Four AFC East'ers lead Pro Bowl voting


The Buffalo Bills' defense has seen quite a turnaround in a year's time. Its hard work has paid dividends not only on the field, but also in the Pro Bowl voting.

Veteran defensive end Mario Williams and rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso, the leaders of Mike Pettine's defensive system, currently lead all-star voting at their respective positions.

Alonso, who is second in tackles and near the top of the league in interceptions, leads all inside linebackers with more than 188,000 votes. Williams, who's currently third in the league in sacks with 11, is behind only Houston's J.J. Watt in defensive end voting and has garnered more than 185,000 votes.

In the kicking department, the division has the rare opportunity of representing both roster spots for the first time in history. New England Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski currently leads the voting with a little more than 105,000 votes. Behind him is Gang Green's Nick Folk with almost 79,000 votes.

But with a new format for this year's festivities, both could get one more game against one another instead of vying for a single nomination.

The league will experiment with a new "unconferenced" format this year, where the top vote-getters for each position will be sent to Honolulu regardless of which conference they are apart of, then they will be "drafted" during a pre-game ceremony four days before kickoff. The team captains picking the squads? Hall-of-Famers Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders.

The change, coupled with some other interesting in-game tweaks, is designed to bring some increased fanfare to a game that's lost some of its luster the past few years and has had many players decline the offer to play completely.

Here's a link to the league's voting site, where fan votes still make up one-third of the total voting.

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