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NFL: Top 5 Defensive Player of the Year Candidates

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NFL: Top 5 Defensive Player of the Year Candidates
Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

The focus is primarily on the offensive side of the ball in the early going of the 2011 NFL season, but a huge number of sacks are taking place as teams are throwing more than even.

As the season goes on, expect more sacks from not only usual but also unusual suspects, like Jason Pierre-Paul of the New York Giants, who already has seven. In a season about sacks, it's likely that a pass rusher will earn the Defensive Player of the Year Award.

Defense could wind up deciding the fate of many teams because the top teams' offenses are very close in production. It's hard to pinpoint specific players sometimes, because all parts must be working in order for a defensive unit to succeed, as the Philadelphia Eagles have shown through five games.

Offensive players can be judged more on numbers than defenders, and it's easier to determine the favorites for the Offensive Most Valuable Player Award.

These five players need to be highly regarded for the award in the early going, even if not every person listed is dominating statistically.

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