The Super Bowl might be less than two weeks away, but that's far too long a gap for the NFL powers-that-be, who are keen to make sure all eyes remain on them in the build-up to The Show.
Their chosen means of keeping the focus on them is the Pro Bowl, which brings together the top talent from those AFC and NFC teams not lucky enough to make the Super Bowl.
After a year off due to Covid, the Pro Bowl makes a triumphant return and will be contested in Las Vegas for the first time. The AFC currently holds a three-game lead over its NFC counterparts in the series, having won the last four editions following the return to the more popular conference versus conference format.
The exhibition nature of the game means the result isn't the be-all and end-all, with the emphasis being on entertainment, but that doesn't mean there aren't a few betting angles to explore.
NFC vs AFC Betting Odds
The AFC are once against the favourites to come out on top. The AFC covered a 1.5-point spread in the last edition of the Pro Bowl with a 38-33 win, but history has shown that it tends to pay to back the underdog on the handicap.
The underdog has gone 12-5 since 2004, and the NFC, will hope to keep it close this year, having been brushed aside on a couple of occasions.
The AFC eased to a 26-7 win in the 2018 game and have outscored by their opponents 108-76 over the last four years.
NFC vs AFC Team News
The two rosters that are initially assembled by a collective of votes from players, coaches and fans tend to change dramatically in the build-up to the game. Players can opt-out for any number of reasons, the biggest of which is that they are playing in the Super Bowl the following week. That makes knowing the line-ups for the game tricky.
On the NFC side, quarterback greats Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady have withdrawn, being replaced by Russell Wilson and Kirk Cousins. Packers star receiver Davante Adams has also opted out, although his replacement isn't bad in the form of the Bucs' Mike Evans.
For the AFC, quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen have pulled out, leaving the Chargers' Justin Herbert and New England's Mac Jones. It would also seem unlikely many members of the Kansas City Chiefs will be linking up with the AFC after last week's Conference Championship defeat, denying them of the likes of Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce.
NFC vs AFC Prediction
Given the focus on fun and entertainment, it would seem the safest way to play the Pro Bowl would be to take the over on the points total. Teams would regularly get into the 40s and 50s in the past, resulting in bookmakers setting extremely high totals at times.
That's led to the under cashing in five of the last seven games, but this year's contest could buck that trend. With the game being played indoors at Allegiant Stadium, conditions are perfect for scoring points, and the two offences on show should be able to take full advantage.
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