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Broncos' Tebow wouldn't be such a surprising pick for Pro Bowl

Tim Tebow. Pro Bowl. Has a ring to it, huh? Except not at all.

So let me come out with it. My Pro Bowl ballot for AFC quarterbacks reads like this:

1. Tom Brady, NE 2. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT 3. Matt Schaub, HOU

Brady and Roethlisberger shouldn't incite any Pro Bowl-based riots in Denver. Brady has a passer rating well north of 100, a 30-10 touchdown-interception ratio, and has played well enough to make little kids cry. Meanwhile, Roethlisberger has been solid if not spectacular, and often the reason the Steelers have won, especially with Rashard Mendenhall averaging less than four yards per carry. Like Brady, he's started all his team's games.

Of course, the debatable choice is Schaub. The Houston quarterback is out for the season and will not play in the Pro Bowl, irrespective of whether he's healthy enough. Moreover, some people don't believe that an injured player should be named to the Pro Bowl.

Well, if Schaub can't make it because of limited duty, then that would certainly rule out the lightning rod that is Tim Tebow. People either love the guy or hate hearing about him, but even if he starts the rest of his team's games, he'll only have 11 starts -- just one more than Schaub.

There's no question Tebow has been a winner, leading the surprising Broncos to a 6-1 record since his insertion into the lineup. He's done it with a weird mix of clutch plays, running, horrifically inaccurate throws, guile, guts, and leadership.

Schaub led his Texans to a 7-3 record with less controversy, and mostly just solid quarterback play. Houston has played most of the season without its best offensive weapon in Andre Johnson (who was hurt again on Sunday), and most disruptive defender in Mario Williams. Yet here they sit at 9-3 in large part because Schaub limited costly mistakes (six picks in 292 attempts) while providing more than his fair share of big plays while in the lineup.

Tebow has also made big plays while being very careful with the football. But much of that has been due to a coaching staff that hasn't let him throw enough to make those costly mistakes. To both John Fox's and Tebow's credit, the Broncos implemented an offense that capitalizes on its quarterback's strengths, and it's working.

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The reality is, both Schaub and Tebow have had outstanding seasons. The other reality? Tebow will be playing in Honolulu.

Here's why: First, the chances of Brady and Roethlisberger both playing in the Pro Bowl are slim to none. One or both will have "injury" concerns and will "reluctantly" pass up playing in Honolulu. As mentioned, Schaub won't be playing even if he is voted in.

Who does that leave for two spots? Joe Flacco? Not with a 55 percent completion percentage, one of the lowest in the league. Mark Sanchez? Next. Philip Rivers? If a player could get 50,000 votes for every pick thrown, Rivers would start. Ryan Fitzpatrick? He's a decent candidate, but too inconsistent to be a shoo-in. Plus, the once-impressive Bills are reeling at 5-7, partially because of the Amish Rifle.

The two most likely fill-ins -- outside of Tebowmania -- are Andy Dalton and Matt Hasselbeck. Red Dalton has been better than expected as a rookie starter, but not necessarily Pro Bowl material with a passer rating just a shade over 80.

Hasselbeck, like Dalton, has led his club to a 7-5 record and is in the thick of the playoff race. But he too has modest statistics, while having a few mulligans in losses to the Texans and Falcons. As CJ2K has heated up recently, Hasselbeck's role in the offense has diminished.

That leaves the quarterback for the Denver Tebows as the likely third quarterback for the AFC Pro Bowl team. He might carry less-than-gaudy passing numbers on his resume, but he has run the ball effectively, thrown only one interception, and won six of seven games when his franchise really needed it.

He's not on my Pro Bowl ballot, but he'll play with the stars come February ... perhaps deservedly so.

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