When brothers Peyton and Eli Manning played in the NFL, they clashed just three times on the field. Each time, Peyton won what fans affectionately dubbed The Manning Bowl. Now, both brothers are retired from the game but remain connected through coaching in the new flag football version of the Pro Bowl. For the second year in a row, the NFC squad under Eli beat Peyton’s fierce AFC lineup.
Starting as the NFL All-Star Game, the Pro Bowl is exactly what it sounds like; a celebration of the season’s best players. Since 2022, the Pro Bowl has been the Pro Bowl Games – a flag football game with less physical contact and a skills competition hosted beforehand. This year, the game itself started at 12-6 in the NFC’s favor and the AFC lineup couldn’t catch up.
Arriving at the end of the season, it historically takes place the week before or after the Super Bowl. The Pro Bowl has never been more popular than the big game, especially with Super Bowl betting markets and the high stakes of the Lombardi Trophy. Super Bowl odds 2024 show that the Niners are the favorites at -133. That makes the Chiefs underdogs with +110, though there's no shortage of fans willing to back Patrick Mahomes as one of the best QBs in the NFL today. The Pro Bowl's stakes aren't as lofty - it's about celebrating the season's best players and winning bragging rights over a rival conference.
This year, it’s the NFC who gets those bragging rights for the second year in a row. It also marked the second time that the Manning brothers coached the rival conferences for the game. Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions has also helped the NFL organize the event since it became the Pro Bowl Games. Historically, the NFL’s best coaches were brought in to coach for the Pro Bowl, but it’s unknown if this will continue in the future. If not, we may see the Mannings compete again in 2025’s event.
It may be less physical than it used to be, but an appearance in the Pro Bowl is a great accolade for up-and-coming athletes. Nominations to the Pro Bowl have also been used, along with other stats, to determine Hall of Fame selections. This year, the event settled at 64-59. The AFC technically won the football game on points – 50-34 – but they couldn’t overcome the points buffer that the NFC had won earlier in the week. Those came from the Pro Bowl skills competitions, including catching, passing, dodgeball, tug of war, and other strength/skill activities.
AFC players are also getting the most props from pundits and fans alike. Los Angeles Chargers WR Keenan Allen has received the most praise for leading the conference's tremendous near-comeback, catching nine 90-yard balls and scoring three touchdowns himself, then throwing one more.
On the NFC side, Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Baker Mayfield won Pro Bowl Offense MVP while New Orleans Saints LB Demario Davis won MVP for defense. With Mayfield, Seattle Seahawks QB Geno Smith formed the bulk of the NFC’s counter-offensive. Thanks to the MVP win, Mayfield is now the first NFL player in history to have a Heisman trophy, NVP (Nickelodeon Valuable Player), and MVP throughout their career.
Of course, it’s Eli Manning who was the biggest winner of the night. While Peyton has a 3-0 record on the field, Eli is now 2-0 in coaching. Time will tell if the Mannings will be leading next year’s Pro Bowl Games.