Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton have been named to the 2017 Pro Bowl, the NFL announced tonight.
This is the third year in a row that Hilton has been named to the Pro Bowl, while it’s McAfee’s second career Pro Bowl nod (he also made it in 2014). McAfee is the starting punter for the AFC (as the only punter for the conference), while Hilton is a backup receiver. The starters for the AFC are Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown and Oakland’s Amari Cooper, while the other wideout for the conference is Cincinnati’s A.J. Green - all of whom have less receiving yards than Hilton this year.
Hilton is having a career year, as he’s played in 14 games and caught 81 passes for 1,248 yards (15.4 yards per catch) and six touchdowns. He’s ninth in the league in receptions, second in yards, and first in 20+ receptions (25). He’s been terrific, and he’s unquestionably had a Pro Bowl season. It’s three in a row for Hilton, who has without any doubt established himself among the NFL’s best wideouts.
McAfee has also had a tremendous year and is arguably the best punter in the NFL, as he’s averaged 49.1 yards per punt this year and has seen 17 punts downed inside the 20 (and it should be significantly more, too) with nine touchbacks and no punts returned for a score. Furthermore, he’s also the Colts’ holder on field goals and kickoff specialist. He’s tied for first in the league in punting average and is third in net punting average (42.8 yards per punt).
This year, the league is going back to the AFC/NFC format of the game after a few years of using the “unconferenced” format of the game, so both Hilton and McAfee will be playing for the AFC squad in the Pro Bowl in Orlando, Florida, which takes place the weekend before the Super Bowl on Sunday, January 29, 2017. A few days before the game, the NFL will host a skills showdown that features a number of events, including a dodgeball challenge and passing contest.
Hilton and McAfee are rightful choices for the Pro Bowl, but the Colts could have had more representatives. Adam Vinatieri had a very good season, but he wasn’t better than Justin Tucker, so with only one kicker from the AFC going it’s understandable that Vinatieri didn’t make it. But Andrew Luck not making it is even tougher, as he had a Pro Bowl-worthy season but was snubbed. The quarterbacks who represent the AFC are Tom Brady, Derek Carr, and Ben Roethlisberger, and considering the fact that Brady will probably not play once again, it’s possible Luck could still make it depending on where he is in the alternate order (and he absolutely should be the first alternate).
You can find the full Pro Bowl rosters for the AFC and NFC here.