The Atlanta Falcons, who lead the NFC with a 12-3 record, had the most Pro Bowlers with seven - including quarterback Matt Ryan, receiver Roddy White, and defensive end John Abraham - when the AFC and NFC teams were announced on Tuesday.

The Pro Bowl is scheduled for Jan. 30 in Honolulu.

New England (13-2), the AFC leader, had six Pro Bowlers, led by QB Tom Brady, the league's top passer who will make his sixth trip to the game - providing the Patriots don't make the Super Bowl. The game will be played the Sunday before the title game at Cowboys Stadium.

Baltimore, Green Bay, and Dallas also had five players voted in by players, coaches, and fans.

Four rookies were chosen, with DT Ndamukong Suh of Detroit a starter for the NFC. New England cornerback Devin McCourty, Tennessee kick returner Marc Mariani, and Pittsburgh center Maurkice Pouncey made the AFC squad.

Dawkins sounds a warning. Union executive committee member Brian Dawkins said he believes NFL owners and players have a sense of urgency to avoid a lockout and alienating their fans.

"I would think common sense would say at the end of the day, after all the fighting and after all the words are said, we understand who butters our bread," the veteran Denver Broncos safety and ex-Eagle said. "That's where the urgency comes in at."

The current deal expires March 4, raising fears of a lockout. One major sticking point is the NFL's desire to go from 16 regular-season and four preseason games to 18 and two.

Dawkins and fellow NFL Players Association executive committee member Mike Vrabel said the league hadn't offered enough in return for what they believe will be shorter careers - and therefore less money made - with the longer regular season resulting in more punishment for players' bodies.

Niners hold GM interview. San Francisco team president and CEO Jed York interviewed Tony Softli as the first known candidate to fill the team's vacant general manager position, a person with knowledge of the situation told the Associated Press.

Softli, a former personnel executive with the Carolina Panthers and St. Louis Rams, met Tuesday with York. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the matter.

York vowed to turn his team back into a contender, starting by hiring a GM. That person will choose a successor to Mike Singletary, who was fired as coach. The Niners have been without a general manager since Scot McCloughan's abrupt departure last March.

Steelers unsure about Polamalu. Pittsburgh probably won't know until Friday whether safety Troy Polamalu can play in Sunday's final regular-season game at Cleveland.

Polamalu hasn't played or practiced for two weeks because of an injured right Achilles tendon. Coach Mike Tomlin said he won't practice Wednesday or Thursday.

Saints in playoffs. Drew Brees threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham with less than 31/2 minutes remaining, and the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints clinched their return to the postseason with a 17-14 victory in Atlanta on Monday.

New Orleans (11-4) snapped the Falcons' eight-game winning streak and stopped them from winning the NFC South and home-field advantage.

If the teams meet again in the playoffs, a distinct possibility, the Saints know they are capable of winning even at the Georgia Dome - a psychological boost in late December.

"Here we are, having won seven of eight," Brees said. "It doesn't matter whether we're playing on the road or at home. We're battle-tested."


The Atlanta Falcons had the most Pro Bowlers with seven. E3.