Don McPeak-US PRESSWIRE
Charles Tillman forced four fumbles on Sunday.
Houston Texans DE J.J. Watt has been the consensus favorite for NFL Defensive Player of the Year for weeks now. He didn't hurt his chances at all by abusing Buffalo Bills T Chris Hairston in Week 9.
Watt was credited with five QB hits on Buffalo QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, often causing him to throw the ball sooner than he wanted. Watt also added one sack and two tackles for a loss.
Watt leads the NFL with 10.5 sacks and is tied for No. 8 in the league with 10 pass deflections.
Who can realistically challenge Watt for the DPOY? Green Bay LB Clay Matthews has been in the running all year, but he hurt his hamstring in Week 9. Matthews might be forced to miss the next game or two, which won't help his cause for the DPOY.
Obviously, the NFL DPOY award is for one player, but if there were a team award, you'd have to reward the Chicago Bears. The Bears' defense continues to score touchdowns and create turnovers, helping the Bears cruise to a 7-1 start to the 2012 season.
Is there a legitimate Bears player for DPOY, or do they cancel each other out with the voters? Part of the problem is that they have so many guys who are having a great year in 2012. We will highlight CB Tim Jennings, CB Tillman, LB Brian Urlacher, LB Lance Briggs, DE Julius Peppers and DT Henry Melton.
Why these six players? Jennings leads the NFL in interceptions (six) and is tied for the lead in pass deflections (15). Urlacher leads the Bears with five tackles for a loss. Briggs leads Chicago with 48 tackles.
Tillman leads the NFL with seven forced fumbles. Melton and Peppers are tied for the Bears' team lead with five sacks. Tillman and Briggs are tied for the league lead with two interceptions returned for a touchdown.
To give you a better idea of how efficient the Bears' defense is playing right now, look at Briggs leading the team with just 48 tackles.The NFL leading tackler is Minnesota Vikings LB Chad Greenway with 94.
That is almost double the number of Briggs. The Bears' defense just doesn't spend very much time on the field because it is too busy scoring touchdowns, creating turnovers or forcing punts.
Tillman could teach a clinic on how to force fumbles, as he wound up with four forced fumbles on Sunday, which is the first time someone has done that in the NFL since 1992.
Elsewhere in the NFL, two other players are tied with Matthews at No. 2 in sacks. They are Denver LB Von Miller and Dallas LB DeMarcus Ware.
The San Francisco 49ers' defense is still very strong, giving up a ridiculously low average of 12.9 points per game. The Bears are No. 2, allowing 15 points per game. The 49ers who have the best chance to challenge for the DPOY are LBs NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis.