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Fact or Fiction: Pro Bowl Predictions


*The staff debates what to expect at the 2017 Pro Bowl this weekend: *

The best 1-on-1 matchup in the Pro Bowl is Janoris Jenkins vs. T.Y. Hilton.

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John Schmeelk: FICTION - The best wide receiver in the game is Odell Beckham Jr., and I'll enjoy watching both Broncos cornerbacks try to cover him throughout the game. I'll also enjoy watching the NFC's very talented group of offensive tackles (Tyron Smith, Trent Williams, David Bakhtiari) try to block Von Miller.

Dan Salomone: FACT -Janoris Jenkins made his first Pro Bowl by shutting down some of the NFL's best receivers this season, including holding all-star teammate Dez Bryant to two catches – one of which Jenkins forced a fumble on -- for 18 yards in two meetings. And who led the league in receiving yards this season? T.Y. Hilton with 1,448. That's a matchup to watch.

Lance Medow: FACT -Given how many players have been replaced, it's safe to say Janoris Jenkins vs T.Y. Hilton is one of very few marquee matchups to watch. Hilton led the NFL in receiving yards this season and Jenkins earned the label of shutdown corner, thanks in part to a new environment and scheme, so it's only appropriate two of the best in the league, at their respective positions, collide in Orlando. They're also both Florida natives, so that just adds to the storyline.

Landon Collins will record an interception in the Pro Bowl.

John Schmeelk: FICTION - You usually don't see quarterbacks throw the ball into harm's way. This is an exhibition that is based around offense, so I'll avoid betting on the defense in any way, shape or form.

Dan Salomone: FACT -Landon Collins isn't the type of guy who takes things for granted, so he's going to try and ball out in this game. He's going up against some of the best players in the league, and he's going to show that he belongs, like he did throughout the course of his breakout campaign. Collins is the only player in NFL history to have at least 100 solo tackles, two sacks, five interceptions, and 12 passes defensed in a season.

Lance Medow: FICTION -Landon Collins is coming off an impressive campaign in which he collected five interceptions. While his stats stood out this season, the five interceptions came during a four-game stretch from Weeks 7 to 11, meaning he had none in the last six contests. While seasonal trends may not be important when it comes to the Pro Bowl, the point is the majority of his interceptions this season came in bunches and thanks in part to a defense filled with playmakers who he was on the same page with for 16 games. I wouldn't be surprised if Collins records an interception but given AFC starting quarterback Alex Smith only had eight total interceptions, I'll lean toward fiction.

*The NFC Pro Bowl roster has more talent than the AFC. *

John Schmeelk: FACT - The real question here is which roster has more players who are missing the game due to injury or playing the Super Bowl. All in all, I think the NFC is more talented since guys like Derek Carr, Tom Brady, LeSean McCoy, Le'Veon Bell, C.J. Mosley, Marshal Yanda, Donald Penn, Amari Cooper, A.J. Green, Antonio Brown, Khalil Mack, Eric Berry, Marcus Peters and Devin McCourty are all missing the game. Those are some of the best players in the whole league.

Dan Salomone: FACT -Led by Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller, outside linebacker is really the only position where the AFC might have a leg up. Other than that, after taking away the injured players and Super Bowl participants, the NFC is ahead in every other category. Just look at its secondary: Janoris Jenkins, Landon Collins, Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman, Harrison Smith, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Xavier Rhodes.

Lance Medow: FACT -The NFC Pro Bowl roster has 15 replacements. In comparison, the AFC had to replace 20 players due to injury or the Super Bowl. The NFC has much more firepower at quarterback with Drew Brees, Kirk Cousins and Dak Prescott, while their targets will consist of Dez Bryant, Odell Beckham, Mike Evans, Larry Fitzgerald, Greg Olsen and Jimmy Graham. Plus, Ezekiel Elliott will run behind three-fifths of his regular season offensive line and the majority of the original defensive players selected for the team are participating in the game. The AFC roster took some big hits due to the injury bug. It lost two of the league's top pass rushers in Jadeveon Clowney and Khalil Mack, a pair of versatile running backs in Le'Veon Bell and LeSean McCoy, and three star wide receivers in Antonio Brown, Amari Cooper and A.J. Green.

The conference that wins the Pro Bowl will win the Super Bowl.

John Schmeelk: FACT -Sure, why not? Who wins the Pro Bowl is about as random as it gets. I have no clue who will win it. Therefore, how can I connect it to the Super Bowl? I can't. So here's a random "Fact" for you. I will also give you a "Fact" that Lance will write a convoluted paragraph here trying to justify whatever his answer is.

Dan Salomone: FICTION -Hey John, take it easy on Lance. This is Fact or Fiction, not Big Blue Kickoff Live. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will be so motivated by seeing the AFC's loss in the Pro Bowl that they will go out and win the Super Bowl for their conference, which they have now represented a record seven times.

Lance Medow: FICTION -Based on my previous answer, on paper, the NFC has a significant edge over the AFC in the talent department so if that holds true, the NFC should be in line to win the Pro Bowl. However, I think the Patriots will beat the Falcons in Super Bowl LI. It's a matchup between the league's No. 1 scoring offense (Atlanta) and number one scoring defense (New England). That's happened six previous times in Super Bowl history and the top defense has prevailed five times. While the Falcons have a tremendous amount of talent on offense, I think the Patriots' defense has been overlooked all season and will find ways to slow down Matt Ryan and company. If you compare New England's defense to Green Bay, it's not even close. The Patriots have allowed no more than 23 points during their current nine-game winning streak.

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