NFL Predictions Week 3: Which Defensive Players Will Dominate?

John RozumCorrespondent ISeptember 23, 2011

LANDOVER, MD - SEPTEMBER 18: Linebacker Brian Orakpo #98 of the Washington Redskins celebrates after defeating the Arizona Cardinals at FedExField on September 18, 2011 in Landover, Maryland. The Washington Redskins won, 22-21. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

If there's anything that can give the defense a significant boost versus any offense, it's having that one player who can takeover the game.

Whether it's a lock-down corner, stud pass rusher, or a safety that robs every pass like a center-fielder robbing home-runs in baseball.

And there are plenty of plays as such in the NFL.

Therefore, here are three individual defensive players who dominate in Week 3.


Jim Leonhard: Safety, New York Jets

It's too easy to pick CBs Darelle Revis and/or Antonio Cromartie when it comes to players who dominate on a consistent basis, as they're more known.

The man playing safety behind them however, Jim Leonhard, is one of the best in the game, but he's hardly known as he doesn't get all the popular stats like interceptions.

That said, Leonhard has a lot of versatility for being only 5'8" and 185 pounds.

He's a great blitzer who knows how to time up the snap count in addition to disguising it.

When in coverage, he's arguably as good as any safety in playing over the top in cover-2, and he patrols the zones very well in cover-3.

Against Oakland he'll most likely be used more in the box to help with Raiders' RB Darren McFadden.

GLENDALE, AZ - AUGUST 27:  Cornerback Patrick Peterson #21 of the Arizona Cardinals during the preseason NFL game against the San Diego Chargers at the University of Phoenix Stadium on August 27, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Chargers defeated the Cardin
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

But when Rex Ryan drops him back, QB Jason Campbell won''t be aware of him since Revis and Cromartie appear to be a more threatening presence.

That's where Jim will do his damage in the pass defense.


Patrick Peterson: CB, Arizona Cardinals

Although he still has a lot of room to improve in the NFL, Cardinals' rookie DB Patrick Peterson is already a defensive presence.

However, Arizona's Week 3 game at Seattle is the breakout game for his rookie season.

Seattle has a weak offense any way you slice it, and although Arizona has struggled as a defensive unit in allowing just over 21 points per game, all that changes this Sunday.

Peterson will shut-down any WR opposite of him, and if QB Tarvaris Jackson tries him, Peterson will win.

In addition, Patrick is also the team's punt returner and the Seahawks are susceptible in special teams as Ted Ginn took a kickoff and then a punt back for a TD in consecutive touches.

Peterson gets at least one pick, maybe two, and has a bunch of return yards with a TD.


Brian Orakpo: OLB, Washington Redskins

On Monday night it's a huge NFC East battle between the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys.

However, it won't matter who's under center for Dallas because the Redskins defense is better than given credit for, and OLB Brian Orakpo is one of the best pass rushers in the league.

Through two seasons Orakpo has compiled 20.5 sacks and forced three fumbles, which have earned him two consecutive Pro Bowl selections.

Washington has a excellent core of LBs that also include captain London Fletcher, rookie Ryan Kerrigan, and Rocky McIntosh.

Orakpo though, may be the best of all four, and it will show big time on Monday because he'll force the QB to throw early, or he'll delay blitzes, and then force fumbles.

Either way you look at it, Orakpo is slated to have a dominating game, and it couldn't come at a better time for the 'Skins.


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