Kevin Williams (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty)
Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams was named to the Pro Bowl squad on Friday, making it two players who will represent the Vikings in Hawaii next month.
The Vikings’ list of Pro Bowlers doubled Friday, moving from one to two, thanks to Suh.
Detroit Lions rookie Ndamukong Suh, who is scheduled to have offseason shoulder surgery, pulled out of the Pro Bowl. Kevin Williams, as the first alternate, was named in his place.
Williams is no stranger to the Pro Bowl. When he wasn’t named to the initial roster, it would have broken a streak of four straight years of his being named to the Pro Bowl roster. This will be his sixth appearance, having been named in 2005 and 2007-10 prior to his 2011 selection.
Williams joins Adrian Peterson, who has been named to the Pro Bowl in each of his four seasons.
Last year, the Vikings had 10 players named to the Pro Bowl squad. This year, as with the Vikings record, that number has slipped by eight.
Linebacker Chad Greenway is also an alternate, but none of the linebackers on the initial NFC Pro Bowl roster have pulled out yet.
Deposed Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels is meeting with Vikings officials. He showed up in Minnesota Friday and meetings are expected to continue into the weekend. If McDaniels is hired, it would mean the Vikings would abandon the West Coast offense run by Brad Childress and Darrell Bevell.
When asked on getaway day last Monday how long it would be until kicker Ryan Longwell would find his way onto a golf course, he said, “About 24 hours.” Turns out, his passion and prowess on the golf course is going to get him a pretty sweet round of golf. Longwell has been invited to play in the Bob Hope Classic at four courses in California. Last year’s celebrity winner was Yogi Berra. It’s a safe bet that Longwell can hold up his end better than Yogi. Celebrities are paired with golfers and, if Tiger Woods in entered in the event Jan. 17-23, Longwell would be a natural to partner up with. The two were neighbors in Windemere, Fla., and worked out at the same facility, becoming friends and occasional golf partners. Longwell, many believe, plays football so he can afford to play golf, so this will be technically a business trip.
There are a lot of people getting on the Packers bandwagon, despite them being the No. 6 seed in the playoffs and, over the last 20 years (since the NFL went from 10 to 12 playoff teams, no NFC team that has entered the playoffs as the No. 6 seed had advanced to the Super Bowl and only one has advanced as far as the NFC Championship Game (ironically, it was Philadelphia in 2008 – a team that beat the No. 3 seed Vikings at the Metrodome to move on to beat the Giants at the Meadowlands). But that may not necessarily be good news for the Eagles, the No. 3 seed in the playoffs. Since 1990, 10 of the 20 sixth seeds have beaten the third seed.
The Falcons have every reason to feel confident in their standing as the No. 1 seed. In the last 20 years, only two No. 1 seeds in the NFC have lost in their first games and 12 of them have gone on to the Super Bowl, winning seven. The Saints were the latest to do so, pitting one of the few Super Bowls to feature both No. 1 seeds in the big game.
One of the reasons the Colts-Saints Super Bowl last year was so rare is because being the No. 1 seed in the NFC carries a 60 percent rate, but in the AFC, it’s almost a death sentence. Only two of the last 20 No. 1 seeds in the AFC have won the Super Bowl and just as many (eight) have been beaten at home in their first game than have advanced to play in the Super Bowl.
In the last 20 years, just as many No. 4 seeds (two) have won the Super Bowl and more No. 2 seeds (three) have won the title, good news for fans of the Steelers and Chiefs.
The Colts should be worried if history means anything. Over the last 20 years, the No. 3 seed in the AFC has advanced to the Super Bowl just once and 16 of them haven’t even advanced to the conference championship game. The AFC’s No. 4 seeds have advanced to the Super Bowl four times.
The Bears should punch their ticket to the NFC Championship Game like the Vikings did last year as the No. 2 seed. Only five of the last 20 No. 2 seeds in the NFC have lost in their first game, but 10 of the 15 teams that advanced got beat in the conference title game, a stat the Vikings added to last year.
Most people believe the Seahawks have no business being in the playoffs, which can explain why they’re a double-digit home underdog to the Saints. While more No. 4 seeds in the NFC (14) have won their first-round games than No. 3 seeds (10), only one of them made it past the divisional round – the NFC West champion Arizona in 2008.
The Saints have reason to be concerned despite being heavy favorites. Since 1990, 14 of 20 No. 5 seeds in the NFL playoffs have been eliminated in their first game and only two have survived past the divisional round – the Giants beat the then-undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl XXLI following the 2007 season and Carolina lost in the NFC title game following the 2005 season. Other than that, the exits have been quick.