The season is ending and NFL Most Valuable Player talks have started to heat up. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have had their names bantered about as usual. Adrian Peterson also has had his name thrown into the mix. It seems that whenever the MVP talks come up, offensive players get all the attention. The old football adage however is, " offense wins games, defense wins championships! "
Defensive end J.J Watt of the Houston Texans and outside linebacker Aldon Smith of the San Francisco 49ers are two names that have seemed to have gotten lost in the shuffle in the MVP conversation. Both of these players are having outstanding seasons and have their teams in playoff and Super Bowl contention.
J.J. Watt is the defensive leader of a Texans team that is 11-2 and tied for the best record in the entire NFL. His 16.5 sacks lead the AFC. He leads his team with 52 solo tackles and has assisted on another 12 tackles. Also, he has 15 pass deflections and two forced fumbles. The Houston Texans defense is ranked 6th overall in the league. If the Texans finish out the regular season and acquire home field throughout the AFC playoffs with the best record, Watt would be a huge part of the reason why.
Aldon Smith has been stellar all year long as well. He is the league sack leader with 19.5. He needs four more sacks to eclipse the single season sack record of 22.5 set in 2001 by Michael Strahan. When he hits the 20 sack mark, he would become the 9th player in NFL history to hit that plateau. He would also join Lawrence Taylor, Derrick Thomas, and Chris Doleman as the only players to accomplish this feat while playing for a playoff team. Smith is 3rd on his team in tackles with 46 and leads his team in forced fumbles with three. By the way, the San Francisco 49ers defense is ranked 1st overall with Smith's sack total accounting for almost two-thirds of team's sacks.
When you talk about the MVP race it would be disrespectful to leave these two players out of the mix. Their contributions to their teams have been impactful enough for them to be thrust into the MVP talks. Lawrence Taylor, in 1986, is the only defensive player to win MVP in NFL history. It might be time for L.T. to have some company!