Pro Bowl

2020 NFL Pro Bowl live stream: Watch Skills Showdown online

2020 NFL Pro Bowl live stream: Watch Skills Showdown online

New England Patriots fans haven't had much reason to watch the NFL Pro Bowl in recent seasons, but 2020 is different.

Patriots players haven't participated in the Pro Bowl in each of the last three years because they were playing in the Super Bowl and thus not allowed to take part in the league's version of an All-Star Game.

The Patriots were eliminated from the AFC playoffs on Wild Card Weekend, giving the team's three Pro Bowl selections (cornerback Stephon Gilmore, linebacker Dont'a Hightower and special teams ace Matthew Slater) the opportunity to participate in this season's game. Hightower was ruled out due to injury, but Gilmore and Slater are expected to play.

Gilmore also will feature in Thursday night's 2020 Pro Bowl Skills Showdown. The event is basically football's version of NBA Saturday night, which includes the Skills Challenge, the Slam Dunk Contest and 3-Point Shootout.

Here's the information you need to watch Gilmore compete in the Pro Bowl Skills Showdown.

When: Thursday, Jan. 23 at 9 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN
Live stream: WatchESPN

Gilmore reveals his Chiefs-49ers Super Bowl prediction

Matthew Slater has perfect response to Patriots QB Tom Brady's Pro Bowl snub

Matthew Slater has perfect response to Patriots QB Tom Brady's Pro Bowl snub

The 2020 NFL Pro Bowl rosters were announced Tuesday, and for the first time since 2008, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was not selected.

In fact, this was the first season since 2003 in which zero offensive Patriots players were named to the Pro Bowl. Brady has 14 career Pro Bowl selections, tying him with Peyton Manning, Bruce Matthews, Tony Gonzalez and Merlin Olsen for the most in league history.

Brady, in all fairness, didn't deserve to make the Pro Bowl this season. Sure, the Patriots have the second-best record in the AFC at 11-3, but he doesn't rank in the top five in passing yards, passing touchdowns, completion percentage, QB rating and other relevant pass stats.

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One player for the Patriots who did make the Pro Bowl was special teams ace Matthew Slater, and he had a great reaction to Brady's omission.

“He’s the best football player that’s ever played,” Slater told reporters after Wednesday's practice. “I think that’s all you need to know. The best football player that’s ever played.”

Makes sense, right?

The Pro Bowl is nice, but it ultimately doesn't matter one bit. The game is totally meaningless. The stuff that actually counts is what happens in real games, particularly the playoffs, and that's where Brady has performed better than any player in league history.

If anything, Brady's Pro Bowl snub might actually be a positive for the Patriots because it could serve as motivation for the 42-year-old quarterback. When you've won six Super Bowl titles, you look for any little thing to motivate you.

Is Tom Brady missing Pro Bowl a big deal for Patriots? What history tells us

Is Tom Brady missing Pro Bowl a big deal for Patriots? What history tells us

Tom Brady may still be the GOAT. But in 2019, he's not even the third-best quarterback in his own conference.

That's what NFL voters decided Tuesday night, leaving the New England Patriots QB off the 2020 Pro Bowl roster in favor of Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson.

Brady's omission breaks his streak of 10 consecutive Pro Bowl nods: The 42-year-old hadn't been left off the AFC squad since 2008, the year he tore his ACL in Week 1.

Perhaps more eye-opening, however, was that none of Brady's offensive teammates made the Pro Bowl, either. (No, we're not counting Matthew Slater as a wide receiver.)

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According to ESPN Stats & Info, the entire Patriots offense hasn't gotten shut out of a Pro Bowl since 2003.

Brady and Co. will tell you Pro Bowl nods are meaningless, but this 0-fer is a pretty good reflection of the dire state of New England's offense.

Prior to last Sunday's 34-13 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, the Patriots had scored 23 points or fewer in five consecutive games, their longest streak in the Bill Belichick era.

New England simply lacks top-tier offensive talent (aside from Julian Edelman, you could argue), and you can't win a Super Bowl without an effective Brady and top-tier offensive talent ... right?

There's some evidence to support that theory. Brady only has missed the Pro Bowl three other times as the Patriots' starting quarterback, and New England didn't reach the playoffs in one of those seasons (2002) and lost in the AFC Championship Game (2006) in another.

There's also one very big exception: 2003. The Patriots had just three Pro Bowlers that season but leaned on a historically great defense to go 14-2 and win their second-ever Super Bowl title.

The 2019 Patriots also boast an elite defense -- they're on pace to allow fewer points per game (12.9) than that 2003 squad (14.9) -- so there's a precedent for Belichick's offensively-challenged club to punch another Super Bowl ticket.