Did you know the Pro Bowl voting ended yesterday? I didn't, in part because I was (like most of you) wallowing nose-deep in the past month's awfulness from our beloved Bears. And before you go all Major League on me (who's this stinkin' guy?), this is your friendly neighborhood Joe the Boss, officially (unofficially) off of double-secret probation and now forced to attach my good name to the randomness I unleash on WCG. I think it was the background check that took so long, but I still wonder about the webcam-enabled strip search. Seemed unnecessary, Kev. Jump inward to look at what Bear candidates we have for the 2012 Pro Bowl.
Last year the Bears sent a quartet of players to the Pro Bowl: Brian Urlacher made his seventh appearance, Lance Briggs made his sixth straight Pro Bowl, Julius Peppers made his sixth Pro Bowl appearance, and Devin Hester made his third. The last official tally for this year's Pro Bowl voting was released on November 30th, so while I'll be providing some voting numbers from that release, a lot could have potentially changed since then. Let's take a look at our best bets for Chicago Bear Pro Bowlers this season.
Running Back - Perfect example of possible changes since November 30th: Matt Forte was second in NFC running back voting behind Adrian Peterson and ahead of LeSean McCoy, Frank Gore, and Michael Turner as the top five vote-getters. Forte's injury likely put the brakes on his Pro Bowl berth, however, since this is more of a popularity contest, Forte could still receive an invitation to Honolulu and decline for health reasons. Forte is now fifth in rushing yards behind the trio described above and Skittles McCavity, although Forte's tied with McCoy among those five with a 4.9 ypc average.
Fullback - Tyler Clutts everybody! Hey, according to the Nov. 30th totals, he's in fourth place and less than 200 votes away from Jed Collins (Saints). Yes, it's unlikely that he'll make it since John Kuhn is technically a fullback, but Clutts has been quite a find for us this year.
Center - Roberto Garza is #5 in voting and seems like a longshot. He's had a solid season after sliding over from guard, and I'm not going to provide any statistical analysis because the All-Pro picks are where the best guys are. The Pro Bowl is "Toddlers & Tiaras," minus the terrible parenting.
Defensive End - Julius Peppers is going to be in; the real question will be whether or not he makes the All-Pro team again. He had another great game on Sunday, and while others may have more sacks (Crybaby Babin, anyone?) few play as complete a game each and every week as Peppers. He only trails Babin and Allen in voting.
Linebacker - Briggs ranks fourth in voting for the outside positions behind Clay Matthews, DeMarcus Ware, and Brian Orakpo. As long as he holds that fourth spot down, he'll make it seven straight Pro Bowls. Urlacher's currently third behind Patrick Willis and Desmond Bishop, but I'd still expect #54 to make it back.
Special Teams - Robbie Gould's fifth in voting, well behind the top two of Mason Crosby and David Akers, so I don't see him getting in, but SOMETHING must be done this year to validate Corey Graham's special teams contributions. Last year's snub was unbelievable, and after another solid season (despite a drop in tackles) he deserves to get in. He's currently third in voting behind Jarrett Bush of the Packers and Blake Costanzo, brother of George.