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Washington’s Brandon Scherff and Jonathan Allen voted to start for NFC in Pro Bowl

The Pro Bowl selection is the fifth for Washington guard Brandon Scherff, center, and the first for defensive tackle Jonathan Allen, right. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

The Washington Football Team has three critical division games left to try to secure a playoff spot, but two of its starters are guaranteed spots in the Pro Bowl. Right guard Brandon Scherff and defensive tackle Jonathan Allen, captains and key leaders for Washington, were voted NFC starters.

Five other Washington players were selected as Pro Bowl alternates: punter Tress Way (second alternate), long snapper Camaron Cheeseman (third), running back Antonio Gibson (fourth), kick returner DeAndre Carter (fourth) and wide receiver Terry McLaurin (fifth).

The game is scheduled to be played Feb. 6 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.

The selection is the fifth for Scherff, who also was chosen in 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2020, and the first for Allen, who leads Washington with a career-high 8.5 sacks.

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Scherff, playing on his second franchise tag, is on the covid-19 reserve list. In nine games (he missed four earlier in the season because of an medial collateral ligament sprain), Scherff has not allowed a sack (per Stats Perform) and has been the anchor of an injury-plagued offensive line, playing alongside four starting centers and three starting right tackles. Per ESPN, Scherff also has recorded the highest run-blocking win rate among offensive guards (76 percent).

Allen has filled a similar role on the other side as the crux of the defensive line. Allen signed a four-year, $72 million contract before training camp and has lived up to his pay raise. Analytics site Pro Football Focus graded him as the third-best interior defender through Week 15, behind the Los Angeles Rams’ Aaron Donald and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Cameron Heyward.

Coach Ron Rivera has praised Allen’s leadership and his improved pass-rushing. Although the starting ends, Chase Young (who went on injured reserve after Week 10) and Montez Sweat, garnered the most attention along Washington’s defensive line coming into the season, the interior has proved to be its strength, thanks to Allen and fellow tackle Daron Payne.

“He’s getting a little bit better feel for what we’re asking as far as the techniques and the styles we want him to use,” Rivera said of Allen in late November. “But at the same time, it’s just him doing the things that he does well. He has a great vertical push, he’s able to get off the blocker in time, he puts himself in position to affect the quarterback in the middle. He’s playing very well. And because he’s getting the sacks, he is getting the attention that he deserves.”

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Allen was also voted as the team’s Walter Payton Man of the Year for his work helping homeless youth. It’s the second consecutive season he was selected for the award, which puts him in contention for the national prize, to be announced the day before Super Bowl LVI.

If there’s any surprise about Washington’s Pro Bowl selections, it’s that Carter and McLaurin didn’t receive more votes to be higher-ranked alternates. Carter is second in the league with 814 kickoff return yards and led fan voting among NFC return specialists. (Fans, coaches and players each count one-third of the vote.)

McLaurin, Washington’s leading receiver who has played with eight different starting quarterbacks since being drafted in 2019, leads the league with 24 contested catches, according to PFF. He needs 141 receiving yards to hit 1,000 for the second consecutive season.

“Every time he’s one-on-one he seems to get open and make plays,” quarterback Taylor Heinicke said in October. “For anyone saying that he’s not a number one receiver, I don’t know what kind of film they’re watching.”

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