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Top 10 2012 Defensive Player of the Year Candidates

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Who will be Defensive Player of the Year?

Von Miller

The defensive player of the year candidate is always difficult to choose. It is essentially the defensive MVP, but unlike the regular MVP, defensive players on teams with losing records still have a good chance at winning the award. Terrell Suggs won the award last season, but a new player will win it this year with Suggs out with an Achilles injury.

This is a list of usual suspects, and there are plenty of great defensive players that did not make the list. Two of my top five may surprise you, as they did not get much consideration for the award last year. Can those guys take the next step?

Comment below if you feel I messed up the order or left off someone important.

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10. Jared Allen - Minnesota Vikings

Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

Jared Allen came just one sack short of setting the single-season record for sacks, but did not win defensive player of the year. He was no doubt held back by the Minnesota Vikings' poor season and could be this year as well. They are very much in a rebuilding mode. Allen should still be the dominant player he is, and I wouldn't be shocked to see him break Michael Strahan's sack record.

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9. Troy Polamalu - Pittsburgh Steelers


Troy Polamalu should be in this discussion as long as he can stay healthy. His contributions to the Pittsburgh Steelers defense are often overlooked because he's been so good for so long, but when he misses games it is clear the Steelers suffer as a result.

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8. Patrick Willis - San Francisco 49ers

Patrick Willis
Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE

Patrick Willis may not get the numbers of Aldon Smith, who notched an incredible 14 sacks his rookie year, but there is no doubting who is the best player on this San Francisco 49ers defense. It's Willis, and he should be a candidate if only for the reason he's the best player on the NFL's best defense.

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7. Jason Babin - Philadelphia Eagles


Jason Babin dominated in 2011 and was a bright spot on an other wise dark season for the Philadelphia Eagles. They've made considerable improvements on defense, which will only help Babin get to the quarterback even more.

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6. Darrelle Revis - New York Jets


It was pretty clear how much Darrelle Revis means to the New York Jets defense in their loss to the Steelers on Sunday. Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown each had decent games and that game is a much different one with Revis in the lineup. A concussion is not to be fooled around with, but hopefully Revis can come back sooner rather than later.

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5. Von Miller - Denver Broncos

Von Miller

You may be surprised to see Von Miller on the list or, if not, surprised to see him this high. I'm expecting big things out of Miller in his second season. He is a monster off the edge, collecting 11.5 sacks as a rookie. He should take a huge leap forward and be considered one of the best defenders in the game after this season.

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4. Clay Matthews III - Green Bay Packers

Clay Matthews

I may have actually left Clay Matthews off this list had I done it in the preseason. I was not impressed with him in 2011 and the way he finished in the playoffs against the Giants. However, I cannot ignore his six sacks in the opening two games. He appears to be back to his normal self, and getting 2.5 sacks against the 49ers' terrific offensive line is nothing to scoff at.

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3. Jason Pierre-Paul - New York Giants


The New York Giants would not have made the playoffs if it weren't for the heroics and dominant games from Jason Pierre-Paul. There were many times when JPP was the only Giants defender making plays and he carried the team on his back. His blocked field goal against the Dallas Cowboys kept the Giants' playoff hopes alive. The scary part is he is just beginning to realize his potential, and could get even better as a pass rusher.

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2. Julius Peppers - Chicago Bears


You'd be hard pressed to find a more dynamic player on the defensive line than Julius Peppers. He virtually has no weaknesses and can even drop back into coverage if need be. Offensive coordinators have to tailor game plans around this guy, and probably lose a lot of sleep in the process.

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1. DeMarcus Ware - Dallas Cowboys

The Star-Ledger-US PRESSWIRE

The Dallas Cowboys have had a pretty bad secondary over the years, yet DeMarcus Ware has always been able to rack up the sacks. He's one of the best all-around defenders in the game and, with a much improved secondary, could see his sack total approach Michael Strahan's record.