Tamba Hali(notes), DE, Kansas City Chiefs -- This has been a nightmare season for the Chiefs, but Hali has been a rare bright spot. Against the Broncos last Sunday, he picked up three sacks, forced two fumbles, and drove All-World left tackle Ryan Clady(notes) nuts. "He's had a lot of almost-sacks and a lot of pressures," Clady said. "I think he's one of the best in the game right now." Hali's sack total was the highest for a Chiefs defender since Jared Allen(notes) slapped on the extra mayonnaise and picked up three quarterback takedowns in 2005. It was a fitting performance on the day set aside by the Chiefs to honor Derrick Thomas, the late Hall-of-Fame pass rusher.
Jon Beason(notes), LB, Carolina Panthers -- Bucs rookie quarterback Josh Freeman(notes) was throwing up goatballs all over the place against the Panthers; his five interceptions included three in the red zone. Beason came up with two of those picks, leading the league last week, and he added six solo tackles to his stat line (he's third in the league with 84 solo stops)as the Panthers beat Tampa Bay, 16-6. However, challenges face Beason and his team down the stretch -- the linebacker was recently charged with aggravated assault, and the Panthers finish the season with a brutal four-game stretch: New England, Minnesota, the New York Giants, and the New Orleans Saints.
Bert Berry, DE, Arizona Cardinals -- Any one of five or six Cardinals could take this spot after what that defense did to Brett Favre and the Vikings last Sunday night. Berry gets the nod because he picked up two of Arizona's three sacks and helped solidify a line that stuffed Adrian Peterson for 19 rushing yards on 13 carries.
Karlos Dansby(notes), LB, Arizona Cardinals -- Actually, we'll sneak a second Cardinals player in here. Not only did Dansby come up with seven solo tackles and an interception, he's an incredibly versatile player for the soon-to-be NFC West champs. In Bill Davis' defensive schemes, you'll find Dansby just about everywhere -- stunting inside on a four-man rush, trailing a tight end outside, and even lining up in center field between the safeties to confuse enemy quarterbacks. His versatility was a primary reason that Favre has such trouble reading Arizona's defense all night.
Clint Session(notes), LB, Indianapolis Colts -- Indy's defense doesn't get the headlines, but no team goes 12-0 without balance on both sides of the ball. Session may be the best representation of that Colts' defense -- he's a lunchpail guy who doesn't play to get his name in the papers, but his performance is becoming difficult to ignore. Session was all over the place in the 27-17 win over the Tennessee Titans. He forced a fumble and racked up 12 solo tackles, helping the Colts keep superback Chris Johnson under control and the Titans' pocket-to-option offense from breaking away.
- Arizona Cardinals
- Brett Favre