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NFC NORTH: Pro Bowl candidates for each team

The NFL opened the Pro Bowl voting to fans this week, so what better time than this week's NFC North column to take an early look around the division and see who could be trending to earn a spot on the NFC team:


Record: 8-2

Last week: Green Bay 24, Carolina 16

Up next: Bye

Top Pro Bowl candidate: Running back Aaron Jones

Jones has quickly become one of the best dual-threat backs in the league. He's averaging 4.4 yards per carry with 11 rushing touchdowns. He's also added 35 catches and another three scores. His 14 total touchdowns are tied with Christian McCaffrey for the NFL lead.

Sleeper pick: Linebacker Blake Martinez

The fourth-year linebacker doesn't get enough credit for just how much of a tackling machine he's become for the Packers' defense. He's recorded back-to-back 144-tackle seasons and already has 102 tackles on the season, which leads the NFL, and the Packers still have six games still remaining.

Should be in running: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers (102.7 passer rating), linebacker Preston Smith (10.0 sacks), linebacker Za'Darius Smith (8.5 sacks), tackle David Bakhtiari (two sacks allowed).


Record: 7-3

Last week: Minnesota 28, Dallas 24

Up next: vs. Denver (3-6)

Top Pro Bowl candidate: Running back Dalvin Cook

The third-year back is the league's leading rusher through Week 10 with 991 yards. He's also notched 10 rushing touchdowns and is averaging 4.9 yards per carry. He's the Vikings' second-leading receiver with 40 receptions for another 424 yards. Cook's 1,415 total scrimmage yards leads the NFL.

Sleeper pick: Quarterback Kirk Cousins

Cousins is having a sneaky-good season for the Vikings that's somewhat being overshadowed by what Cook is doing. His passer rating this season of 112.0 trails only Russell Wilson (114.9) and Patrick Mahomes (114.1). He has 18 touchdown passes and only three interceptions. His completion percentage of 69.1 is the third highest in the NFC.

Should be in running: Defensive end Danielle Hunter (8.5 sacks), defensive end Everson Griffen (6.0 sacks), safety Harrison Smith (57 tackles), linebacker Anthony Barr (48 tackles), defensive tackle Linval Joseph (31 tackles, 3.0 sacks), linebacker Eric Kendricks (80 tackles).


Record: 4-5

Last week: Chicago 20, Detroit 13

Up next: at Los Angeles Rams (5-4)

Top Pro Bowl candidate: Linebacker Khalil Mack

The perennial Pro Bowler still has 5.5 sacks despite the attention opponents pay him. His four forced fumbles are the second most in the league behind Chandler Jones' five. He's still the best player on a top 10 defense in the league.

Sleeper pick: Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

The former Packer and first-year Bears safety is putting together a pretty nice season in Chicago. Opposing passers have just a 40.8 passer rating throwing his way this year with no touchdowns and two interceptions. The longest pass opposing quarterbacks have completed all year with Clinton-Dix in coverage is 13 yards. He has an interception return touchdown to go along with 44 tackles.

Should be in running: Cornerback Kyle Fuller (3 INT), kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson (29.1 average).


Record: 3-5-1

Last week: Chicago 20, Detroit 13

Up next: vs. Dallas (5-4)

Top Pro Bowl candidate: Wide receiver Kenny Golladay

The third-year receiver currently leads the NFL with eight touchdown receptions and is on pace for a monster season with 697 receiving yards and those eight touchdowns in just nine games. His eight touchdown grabs are one more than Mike Evans and Amari Cooper.

Sleeper pick: Center Frank Ragnow

Pro Football Focus' highest graded center after 10 weeks has been a good fit at his more natural spot after playing mostly guard as a rookie. He's allowed just one sack and two quarterback hits all season.

Should be in running: Quarterback Matthew Stafford (106.0 passer rating), cornerback Darius Slay (83.8 passer rating against), wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. (612 yards, 6 TDs), kicker Matt Prater (17-20 converting field goals), safety Tracy Walker (56 tackles).

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