Every team with a top-10 defense this season has won at least five games. In other words, defense is where it’s at. Teams that can generate pressure with their front four are nearly impossible to contain. The best example of this in the NFC is the New York Giants. That’s why I’ll take Justin Tuck as one of my DE’s. And the best example of this in the AFC is the Tennessee Titans. So give me league MVP Albert Haynesworth at DT.
As for the other two spots, I have to give 10-sack DE John Abraham his due. Atlanta has turned things around and he’s a big reason why. Playing DT next to Haynesworth is Shaun Rogers. The Browns have been terrible, but not Rogers. I realize he’s a 3-4 NT, but that’s okay, because as you’re about to learn, I’m actually going to take the liberty of running a 4-4-4.
There are simply too many pass-rushing OLB’s these days to use a 4-3. DeMarcus Ware of the Cowboys has been a force. It’s hard choosing just one other OLB – Joey Porter, LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison are all deserving (by the way, not a bad commentary on the Steelers, huh?). Harrison is the most versatile of the bunch.
At ILB, I continue to fall deeper in love with Carolina’s Jon Beason (a natural MLB). And London Fletcher has been a beast for the Redskins.
In the secondary, CB play has been huge this season. Just ask the Titans – they wouldn’t be undefeated without the emergence of Cortland Finnegan. Finnegan is easily the No. 1 CB in football this season. Playing opposite him…how about Washington’s Carlos Rogers? The man surprisingly returned from an ACL this year and has broken up a league-leading 17 passes. True, about six of those 17 have been dropped interceptions, but corners are here to stop plays first and foremost.
At SS, Troy Polamalu has been himself, which is why Pittsburgh’s D ranks first in the league. And at FS, you still can’t ignore what Ed Reed means to that dominant Ravens defense.
A good kicker can make a world of difference for a team. No one talks about John Kasey, but the man hasn’t missed yes this season. And he still has power. For punter, Philadelphia’s Sav Rocca is netting over 41 yards per boot, and he’s downed 14 inside the 20 (with just one touchback).
Devin Hester hasn’t been himself in the return game this year. Darren Sproles has been the most dangerous player when you factor in both kicks and punts. I’d still take Hester if I’m building a team, but in terms of awarding people through the first half, Sproles is most deserving. And finally, for a special teams maven, Melvin Bullitt has been superb for the Colts. Plus, he was great filling in when Bob Sanders was hurt.