Who could be NFL Defensive Player of the Year?

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  • Who could be NFL Defensive Player of the Year?

Who could be NFL Defensive Player of the Year?

With the end of the 2010 season coming to a close, there is an ongoing debate for many of the awards that will be given out over the coming week, ending with the National Football League (NFL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) award given out on Sunday February 6, the day of Super Bowl XLV between the AFC Pittsburgh Steelers and NFC Green Bay Packers.

The leading contenders for the award are Steelers’ linebacker James Harrison, Packers’ linebacker Clay Matthews, Chicago Bears’ defensive end Julius Peppers, Steelers’ strong safety Troy Polamalu and Miami Dolphins’ linebacker Cameron Wake.

Most football fans will be looking at Polamalu because of his incredible impact on the Steelers’ defense but an even better candidate for the award would be his teammate, Harrison. The outside linebacker has recorded 100 tackles and 10.5 sacks over the 2010 Regular Season. He might not be the most popular choice for the award because of all of the fines that he has received for helmet-to-helmet hits and other big hits that were deemed illegal or unnecessary.

Harrison is just a dominating player. The offensive tackles that have to go up against him don’t do it happily because of his natural brute strength and his relentless motive. He is not a typical outside linebacker but instead a dominating bull rusher who also plays to run well. He has two interceptions over the season, which is two more than any other quarterback in the NFL has. He is an all-around, complete player who is a total ball hog and is one of the few players that no one else wants to play against. He also has a reputation this season of being the most fined player in the NFL.

There is another great player who would be the best option for the award. It’s another all around player and linebacker, but from Green Bay. Matthews makes plays all over the field. He runs from sideline to sideline and even plays the zone blitz scheme when the team needs him to. He can excel in coverage, play the run and make big plays overall. He sacks the quarterback, sometimes even making three sacks in a game. He can make big plays at the start of the game to give the Packers a lead and can make big plays to close out the game.

In the few games that Matthews wasn’t there, such as their home game loss against the Dolphins in Week 6, the Packers’ defense seems like an entirely different one. They had no ball control and you could tell that the defense was hurting for Matthews. He may very well be the catalyst and the best player in the best defense in the NFL. He’s an all around impact and big play guy and has played great this year and, hopefully, will do the same for a long time to come.

It’s interesting that both of the top candidates for the Defensive Player of the Year award are linebackers. A lot of players are saying that you have to go with the offensive line’s front seven because you can throw away from Darelle Revis or play away from Polamalu but you just can’t get away from the linebackers. They are always in your face and trying to take you down. Not block your passes or make an interception. They want to take you down, forcefully if needed.

Andrew Whitworth, offensive tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals, actually compared Harrison and Matthews as being similar players because their overall brute strength. Offenses can’t slide guards or centers over to the line to protect from Matthews or Harrison because both players seem to just steamroll them. Harrison is probably the nastier of the two and is someone that the Packers would rather not go against this season after losing to the Steelers in Week 15 of the 2009 season.

Super Bowl XLV will be on February 6 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

These are the writers own opinions and do not reflect bettor.com's editorial policy.