By Steve Silverman
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The game doesn’t matter a fig.

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But the honor of getting selected to the Pro Bowl is important. It is recognition for doing a consistently excellent job in a league where the competition is often brutal and taxing.

The NFL is a league that likes to march to the beat of its own drummer and will only rarely get deterred. Those occurrences come when the league is placed under the glare of public scrutiny. Just ask Roger Goodell.

But the league appears not to care at all about honoring its best players. Instead of having a blue-ribbon panel of electors, it spreads the vote three ways. Players, general managers and fans get to vote, and the results are often hit and miss.

Many of the selections this year were excellent, but several of them were head scratchers. Here’s a look at the most deserving, least deserving and biggest snubs. (We are not including choices like Cam Newton, Tom Brady, Adrian Peterson, Odell Beckham Jr. and Rob Gronkowski because these selections are obviously justified.)

Most Deserving

QB Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers – While Roethlisberger does not have the numbers that some of the other Pro Bowl quarterbacks have, he is a no-brainer choice. When Roethlisberger is in the starting lineup, as he has been in nine of the 14 games the Steelers have played, they have been an explosive offensive team capable of lighting up the scoreboard. The Steelers have scored 30 points or more in six straight games, and they may be the most dangerous AFC challengers to the Patriots if they sustain their end-of-season run and make the playoffs.

When Roethlisberger has been under center, receivers Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton have come to life. When he has been sidelined by injuries, they have been dormant. Roethlisberger has completed 271 of 399 passes for 3,369 yards, with 18 TDs and 12 interceptions. His presence has turned the Steelers into an offensive juggernaut.

WR Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals – When the Cardinals opened training camp, there were questions about how much Fitzgerald had left in the tank. The skeptics thought he had little to offer and would have a hard time getting open for Carson Palmer.

Head coach Bruce Arians liked what he saw from Fitzgerald this summer. Once the season started, he liked it even more. Fitzgerald may be 32 and in his 12th season, but he has been a difference maker for the Cardinals with 99-1,131-7. He can make big plays and he is also Palmer’s security blanket. When all else fails, the quarterback knows he can find Fitzgerald.

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DT Kawann Short, Carolina Panthers – The undefeated Panthers clearly have a number of worthy Pro Bowlers, and Short may be the least appreciated. He is a powerful force in the middle of the defensive line who regularly punishes and pounds opposing guards and centers. He keeps opponents from running up the middle and he is a dominant interior pass rusher with 9.0 sacks. Short has batted down four passes, forced three fumbles and recovered two more.

Least Deserving

RB Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons – Pro Bowl honors are supposed to go to the players who have the best seasons, not the players who simply get off to the best starts. Freeman was most deserving for his play over the first six weeks of the season. He had back-to-back three-TD games in Weeks 3 and 4 against Dallas and Houston, respectively. However, Freeman has been pedestrian since Week 8, and his play has mirrored that of his slumping team.

TE Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs – While we appreciate Kelce’s effort and believe he is an excellent player who has made a contribution to the Chiefs, he has not been the same player in the second half of the season that he was in the first. Kelce resembles a mini-Gronk because he runs in a violent manner after the catch, but Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith has limited his targets in the last two months.

SS Kam Chancellor, Seattle Seahawks – It’s called a reputation selection. There is little doubt that Chancellor was a big part of the Seahawks’ success in 2013 and 2014, but he has not had his best season in 2015. He has played in 11 of 14 games this season, and he has 74 tackles but just two interceptions and one forced fumble. The Seahawks were ordinary defensively in the first half of the season, and so was Chancellor.

Biggest Snubs

RB DeAngelo Williams, Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers lost All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell to a suspension early in the year and to injury shortly thereafter, but they did not miss a beat at running back thanks to Williams. He has rushed for 799 yards, a 4.5 yards per carry mark and nine TDs, and he has also caught 32 of the 39 passes that have been thrown in his direction. There is no way the Steelers would have a 9-5 record without Williams’ contribution.

WR Eric Decker, New York Jets — While No. 1 wide receiver Brandon Marshall made the Pro Bowl as a result of his robust numbers (93-1,261-11), we would have gone with Decker in a heartbeat. Marshall does make some spectacular plays, but he also makes egregious mistakes. Decker has posted 72-930-10, and he also has 14 receptions of 20 yards or more. He can make the tough catch in traffic and also dominate in the red zone.

TE Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins – As the season got underway, nearly every respectable preseason publication laughed at the Redskins and figured them for last place in the NFC East and a legitimate contender for the No. 1 draft pick, yet they are in first place. Reed has become the team’s most dangerous receiver and a legitimate red zone weapon. Reed has put up 74-778-9, and he can outmuscle and overpower defensive backs when he has a chance to make the catch. Reed rarely drops the ball, and he should have been a Pro Bowler.

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