So there’s no change at the top. But it’s looming close!
Trent Cole had to produce another stellar performance to retain his edge for DPOY after one of the best defensive displays we’ve ever seen as Kyle Williams destroyed the Steelers’ offensive interior. And he did, because time and time again that is what Cole does.
Those two men remain head and shoulders above the rest in a top 10 dominated by front-seven players (though Eric Weddle very nearly joined Brandon Flowers with a superb display against the Colts that summed up his season), as we’re getting to see a lot of truly elite play right now on defense.
There’s some controversy still as there is no place for Clay Matthews, while two Steelers defenders drop out of the top ten for different reasons (another penalty for James Harrison was the straw that broke this camel’s back, while Lawrence Timmons’ impact has dwindled with his playing time).
1. Trent Cole, DE, Eagles (+49.1)
Cole was never in danger of losing his top spot this week as he feasted on the Bears and their pass protection unit. Still the owner of the highest score we’ve ever given to a non-QB. We haven’t yet graded his performance versus Houston Thursday night, but at first blush he looked a lot like Cole always does: good. Last week: 1st
2. Kyle Williams, DT, Bills (+38.3)
This will be the fourth or fifth time I’ve waxed lyrically about Williams’ display against Pittsburgh. If you haven’t watched it, and you love defensive tackle play, go and watch it. It’s as good as it gets. Last week: 4th
3. Justin Smith, DE, 49ers (+32.9)
After a slow start, it’s great game after great game for Smith right now, who made “All-Pro” guard Alan Faneca into mincemeat on Monday night. Smith is as good as a 3-4 end can get. Last week: 3rd
4. Patrick Willis, ILB, 49ers (+29.8)
Another 49ers defender who has rebounded from a slow start and is starting to make the plays we’ve become accustomed to. Safe to say he’s the best inside linebacker in the league right now. Last week: 5th
5. Julius Peppers, DE, Bears (+34.4)
You saw Peppers get paid, and you thought he’d put up some decent sack numbers and that would be it. Wrong. Way wrong. Peppers has been a beast in run defense and is worth every penny right now. Last week: 6th
6. Tamba Hali, OLB, Chiefs (+35.8)
Dropping down the rankings and unable to sustain that early season form that made him the league’s most productive pass-rusher. That doesn’t mean he’s playing badly, but he set the bar so high for himself. Last week: 2nd
7. Bart Scott, ILB, Jets (+29.1)
The only real challenger to the dominance of Willis at the inside linebacker spot. If most linebackers could shed blocks half as well as Scott they’d be twice the players they are. Last week: 9th
8. Terrell Suggs, DE, Ravens (+33.3)
Why is nobody talking about how good Suggs has been? Already 50 QB disruptions on the year and our No. 2-ranked DE in the run game. He’s the star of that Ravens defense, whether anyone wants to admit it or not. Last week: Not ranked
9. Cameron Wake, OLB, Dolphins (+32.1)
A first appearance from Wake, who trails only Hali and Harrison in quarterback disruptions, and more surprisingly has done a more than serviceable job in run defense. Last week: Not ranked
10. Brandon Flowers, CB, Chiefs (+16.2)
Stays in (just) despite not playing this week. Tramon Williams wasn’t at his best against the Falcons, but with such a host of excellent guys beneath him, Flowers will need to get back on the field and quick if he’s to resume his All-Pro season. Last week: 10th
Dropped Out: Tramon Williams (Packers), Jason Jones (Titans), Lawrence Timmons (Steelers) and James Harrison (Steelers)
In The Mix: Chris Clemons (Seahawks), Kevin Williams (Vikings), Clay Matthews (Packers), Kamerion Wimbley (Raiders), Eric Weddle (Chargers), Champ Bailey (Broncos), Haloti Ngata (Ravens), DeMarcus Ware (Cowboys) and Quintin Mikell (Eagles)