By Will Burchfield
The Lions are in position to win their first division title since 1993, yet they won’t have a single Pro Bowl representative for the first time in six years. They were one of five teams shut out when the NFL announced its Pro Bowl rosters on Tuesday night.
Matt Prater and Sam Martin were voted in as first alternates while Matthew Stafford and Darius Slay were voted in as second alternates. Pro Bowlers are selected by the players, coaches and fans, with each group’s ballot counting for one third of the votes.
Stafford, who has set an NFL record this season with eight game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime, was snubbed in favor of Matt Ryan (starter), Aaron Rodgers and Dak Prescott. He has thrown 22 touchdowns to just eight interceptions and has a career-high QBR of 70.1.
Slay, meanwhile, lost out to Janoris Jenkins (starter), Patrick Peterson (starter), Richard Sherman and Xavier Rhodes. Slay has been the sixth-best cornerback in the NFC this season according to ProFootballFocus, but it bears mention that he has missed two games.
While Stafford and Slay had a reasonable claim to the Pro Bowl, Prater and Martin seemed like locks.
The former ranks third in the NFC with 30 made field goals and second with a conversion rate of 91 percent. Prater has drilled a slew of clutch kicks this season and was recently named NFC special teams player of the month for November. He lost out in the Pro Bowl vote to Atlanta’s Matt Bryant, who has made one fewer field goal but leads the way in the NFC with a conversation rate of 94 percent.
Then there’s Martin, who has been a force for the Lions all season long. The punter ranks second in the NFC (and second overall) with a net average of 43.9 yards and has helped Detroit flip the field when its offense sputters. Martin was left at home in favor of the Rams’ Johnny Hekker, who ranks first with a net average of 47.9 yards.
Only one kicker and one punter from each conference are selected to the Pro Bowl.
The Lions sent two players to the Pro Bowl last season in Ziggy Ansah and Calvin Johnson. Megatron made six straight Pro Bowls from 2010 to 2015.