The theory that defense wins championships probably took some beating this year given the fact that a few teams with terrible defensive rankings did so well, and one of those teams, New England, is now playing for the Super Bowl crown.
This era of outstanding offenses and record-setting performances by quarterbacks only makes a truly great defensive player more valuable. And make no mistake about it, there still are a handful of true defensive studs.
Several players from this past season have a legitimate claim to the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award, but there will only be one.
Here are the front-runners and my guess at where they'll finish.