Today, we'll be focusing on which players from the 2012 Buffalo Bills have a chance to reach the Pro Bowl this season. For my article on the Buffalo defense, click here.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
Fitzpatrick was stellar in leading the seemingly high-octane Buffalo offense to a 5-2 start, as he threw for 1,739 yards and 14 TD against 6 interceptions. He seemingly was never the same after injuring his ribs on a hit from Redskins LB London Fletcher in the teams' seventh game. The Bills' success this season on offense hinges heavily on Fitzpatrick to take better care of the football, as his 23 interceptions led the league last season. New quarterbacks coach David Lee has been working with Fitz on his mechanics this offseason, and if he can get those in order, perhaps Fitzpatrick can crack the Pro Bowl, though he'll be up against perennial Pro Bowlers in Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.
RB Fred Jackson
Jackson was a shoe-in for the Pro Bowl last season before a broken fibula ended his season in week eleven, as he finished the season with 934 rush yards (5.5 per carry), 442 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns in ten games. At 31, Jackson could start to see his physical skills start to diminish, but unlike most running backs at his age, Jackson doesn't have the usual wear-and-tear on his body (just three seasons with 200+ carries). He'll be up against guys like Arian Foster, Ray Rice, Maurice Jones-Drew and Chris Johnson, but he kept pace or bettered each of those guys before landing on injured reserve. Also keep an eye on the carries split with C.J. Spiller, who shined after taking over for Jackson the last six weeks of the season.
WR Stevie Johnson
Johnson became the first Bills receiver in team history to record back-to-back 1,000 yard receiving seasons last season. The biggest drawback with Johnson is his occasional mental lapses, with an ill-advised excessive celebration penalty in week 17 against the Patriots caused head coach Chan Gailey to bench him for the rest of the game. His creative celebrations have garnered him attention in the mainstream media, so if he can improve his focus, then it's possible he could crack the AFC roster. The only drawbacks is that he'll be competing with players like Andre Johnson, Wes Welker, A.J. Green and Mike Wallace for a spot. At 26, Johnson is entering his prime, and it's now time to earn the new contract he signed this offseason.
G Andy Levitre
Levtire did a great job of opening rushing lanes at guard for the Bills last season, but when injuries forced him to slide both outside to left tackle and inside to center, the results weren't pretty. While he's not the most physically imposing player, Levitre plays with great leverage and is effective at pulling as well. Levitre in the last year of his rookie deal, and was near-Pro Bowl caliber last season. With Ben Grubbs moving to the NFC, the odds of Levitre reaching the Pro Bowl just got a little bit better.
C Eric Wood
Wood is arguably the best offensive lineman on the team, but has missed 15 games in his first three seasons with various injuries. A tenacious in-line blocker who is effective at reaching the second level of defenders, Wood will be integral to the success of the offense, as the team clearly suffered without him at the pivot last season. The bad news for Wood is that despite how good of a season he might have, he's still probably behind Maurkice Pouncey and Nick Mangold, which would make a Pro Bowl berth unlikely.