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5 Bengals including Eifert, Whitworth make 2016 NFL Pro Bowl; 3 more in as 1st alternates

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We could see as many as nine Bengals playing in the Pro Bowl.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

As expected, the Cincinnati Bengals will have several representatives in the 2016 NFL Pro Bowl.

The Bengals voted in for this season's NFL All-Star game are defensive tackle Geno Atkins, tight end Tyler Eifert, wide receiver A.J. Green, safety Reggie Nelson and offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth.

In addition, quarterback, Andy Dalton, defensive end Carlos Dunlap and special teamer Cedric Peerman were voted as first alternates. They will be added to the game if one voted player in their position group is unable to participate. Selections from the two teams reaching the Super Bowl will be among those unable to play, as will players who are not cleared due to injury. Cornerback Adam Jones was voted in as a seventh alternate. It won't be easy, but it's possible enough corners drop out for Jones to play, whereas Dalton, Peerman and Dunlap are assured to get in.

Atkins, now in his sixth NFL season, is back in the game after making it last season as an alternate. While it's debatable as to whether he deserved even an alternate selection last season, there's no debating whether he should be voted in this season. Not only has he been one of the best defensive lineman in football, but is also worth of Defensive Player of the Year consideration. In 14 games, Atkins has racked up 39 total tackles, 10 sacks and one forced fumble.

Eifert, now in his third NFL season, has made the Pro Bowl for the first time. His 12 touchdown catches led the NFL through Week 12, but after seeing only limited action in the last four games due to injuries, he is now one shy of the NFL-high for total touchdowns scored. He has set a new team record for TDs by a tight end (previously nine).

Green, now in his fifth NFL season, has caught 77 passes for 1,208 yards and eight touchdowns this season. This is the fifth time Green has been voted to the Pro Bowl. He ranks sixth in the NFL in receiving yards, and he was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week for Week 3 when he had 10 grabs for a career 227 yards and two fourth-quarter scores in a 28-24 win.

Whitworth, now in his 10th NFL season, has started every game this season at left tackle and has been a major contributor to Cincinnati ranking tied for fourth in the NFL in scoring (27.0 points per game). Whitworth also leads the Cincinnati roster in career Bengals games played (155) and starts (151). He's been one of the NFL's best blindside protectors for much of his career, and this is a well-deserved honor for him.

Nelson, now in his ninth NFL season, has been voted into the Pro Bowl for the first time. He leads the NFL in interceptions (8) and is one the verge of becoming the first Bengal to finished the regular season with the most picks. He tied a team-record earlier this season by recording an INT in five consecutive games, and also ranks second on the team in total passes defended (11), third in tackles (61) and has a fumble recovery.

As for Dalton, now in his fifth NFL season, he is unlikely to play again in the regular season due to a broken thumb suffered in a Week 14 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Despite not playing in the final month of this season, Dalton still threw for 25 touchdowns and 3,250 yards vs just seven interceptions, good for a career-high 106.3 passer rating. He also rushed for three scores and helped lead the Bengals to a 10-2 start and were atop the AFC standings before going down.

Dunlap, now in his sixth NFL season, leads the Bengals with 10.5 sacks to go with 45 total tackles and two forced fumbles. He was leading the NFL in sacks going into Week 11, and still is just 4.5 sacks shy of Kahlil Mack's NFL-high 15 QB takedowns.

Peerman, now in his seventh NFL season, has played a pivotal role in the Bengals special teams being among the league's best since coming to Cincinnati in 2010. He has 14 special -teams tackles this season and is the team's best special teams coverage man.

For the third straight year, the Pro Bowl will be "unconferenced." Instead of the AFC vs. NFC matchup that was previously the format, players were selected without regard to conference in voting by fans, coaches and players. Players will be assigned to opposing teams during the 2015 Pro Bowl Draft on NFL Network which takes place on January 27, 2016.

During the live draft, Michael Irvin and Jerry Rice will serve as NFL Legends Captains to determine the teams for the league's all-star game. Rice and Irvin will select their teams for the Pro Bowl in a fantasy football draft.

The draft will take place over two days, with the second day televised. The first day typically includes players selected at the unheralded positions like long-snapper, kickers and punters. That will be followed by the live selection of players at positions like quarterback, receiver, defensive end, and cornerback on Wednesday, January 27th.

The Pro Bowl game takes place on January 31, 2016, in Honolulu, Hawaii. Alternates will be activated for the game to replace any Pro Bowl selections who are from the two teams playing in the Super Bowl and for any players who drop out due to injury.

Last week was the final week for fans to vote and have their voices heard on who made the Pro Bowl. Dalton finished third in overall and quarterback voting (Cam Newton and Tom Brady were top vote-getters overall) while Atkins was first at defensive tackle and Andrew Whitworth was first at offensive tackle.

However, fan voting makes up a third of the total, with players and coaches each counting for a third of the total. That means winning the fan vote does not mean as Pro Bowl berth is guaranteed. That's why Dalton will only get in as a first alternate.

This was probably the hardest year to decide which Bengals should be in the Pro Bowl with so many players deserving of it on the roster. You could have made a great case for nine different players to make it, but thinking all nine would make it was unrealistic.

The most players one team will put in the Pro Bowl is usually 6-8 on the initial selection. Just last week, Pro Football Focus released their Pro Bowl selections with six Bengals among them.

Here is the full roster of Pro Bowl players:

Offense

Quarterback

Tom Brady, Patriots
Cam Newton, Panthers
Carson Palmer, Cardinals
Aaron Rodgers, Packers
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers
Russell Wilson, Seahawks

Running back

Devonta Freeman, Falcons
Todd Gurley, Rams
Doug Martin, Buccaneers
LeSean McCoy, Bills
Adrian Peterson, Vikings
Jonathan Stewart, Panthers

Fullback

Marcel Reece, Raiders
Mike Tolbert, Panthers

Wide Receiver

Odell Beckham, Giants
Antonio Brown, Steelers
Larry Fitzgerald, Cardinals
A.J. Green, Bengals
DeAndre Hopkins, Texans
Calvin Johnson, Lions
Julio Jones, Falcons
Brandon Marshall, Jets

Offensive Tackle

Jason Peters, Eagles
Tyron Smith, Cowboys
Joe Staley, 49ers
Joe Thomas, Browns
Andrew Whitworth, Bengals
Trent Williams, Redskins

Guard

David DeCastro, Steelers
Mike Iupati, Cardinals
Zack Martin, Cowboys
Josh Sitton, Packers
Trai Turner, Panthers
Marshal Yanda, Ravens

Center

Travis Frederick, Cowboys
Ryan Kalil, Panthers
Alex Mack, Browns
Mike Pouncey, Dolphins

Tight End

Tyler Eifert, Bengals
Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
Travis Kelce, Chiefs
Greg Olsen, Panthers

Defense

Defensive End

Ezekiel Ansah, Lions
Michael Bennett, Seahawks
Chandler Jones, Patriots
Khalil Mack, Raiders
J.J. Watt, Texans
Muhammad Wilkerson, Jets

Interior Linemen

Geno Atkins, Bengals
Calais Campbell, Cardinals
Fletcher Cox, Eagles
Aaron Donald, Rams
Gerald McCoy, Bucs
Kawann Short, Panthers

Outside Linebacker

Jamie Collins, Patriots
Thomas Davis, Panthers
Tamba Hali, Chiefs
Justin Houston, Chiefs
Von Miller, Broncos
DeMarcus Ware, Broncos

Inside / Middle Linebacker

NaVorro Bowman, 49ers
Luke Kuechly, Panthers
Clay Matthews, Packers
Bobby Wagner, Seahawks

Cornerback

Malcolm Butler, Patriots
Chris Harris, Broncos
Josh Norman, Panthers
Marcus Peters, Chiefs
Patrick Peterson, Cardinals
Darrelle Revis, Jets
Richard Sherman, Seahawks
Aqib Talib, Broncos

Free Safety

Tyrann Mathieu, Cardinals
Reggie Nelson, Bengals
Earl Thomas, Seahawks

Strong Safety

Eric Berry, Chiefs
Kam Chancellor, Seahawks
Charles Woodson, Raiders

Special Teams

Punter

Sam Koch, Ravens
Johnny Hekker, Rams

Placekicker

Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots
Dan Bailey, Cowboys

Return Specialists

Darren Sproles, Eagles
Tyler Lockett, Seahawks

Special Teamer

Matthew Slater, Patriots
Justin Bethel, Cardinals