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Talk pro football with SI.com's Andrew Perloff in Huddle Up, a forum to discuss the hottest topics around the NFL.
11/13/2006 12:01:00 AM

Picking Peppers

Quick. You can pick one player to build a team around, but he's gotta be a guy on defense. Who is it?

Not so easy when you take offensive stars like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady out of the equation (note: if you read this column before, you'll understand why my bosses will never again allow me to write about Brady).

I asked SI.com's NFL writers for their one defensive guy. Jeff Chadiha chose Tommie Harris, Michael Silver went with Champ Bailey, Don Banks picked Shawne Merriman and Peter King tabbed Julius Peppers.

You can't go wrong with any of those players, but I would choose Peppers in a second. Every time I see him he makes plays he absolutely shouldn't be making. He can get from one side of the field to the other faster than any other big man in the NFL. He's relentless and has a knack for being around the ball. Most importantly, he's getting better and, at 26, is having his best year.

He entered the weekend tied for third in the NFL with eight sacks, but he's gone two games without a sack -- both losses. I think Peppers has a shot to move up on the sacks list tonight against Tampa Bay. With veteran tackle Kenyatta Walker injured, the Bucs turn to rookie Jeremy Trueblood to try to slow down Peppers. Obviously, Trueblood will get help, but Peppers has owned Tampa Bay in the past and should get to Bruce Gradkowski multiple times.

The Panthers have actually led going into seven of eight games this year and probably shouldn't be 4-4. You haven't heard their name much when talking about NFC Super Bowl hopefuls. But with the Falcons and Saints looking vulnerable, Carolina has a good shot at capturing a division it was supposed to win. If that's going to happen, it starts with Peppers tonight against Tampa Bay. Prediction: Carolina 23, Tampa Bay 17

Let me know which player you would start a team with and how you think the Panthers will fare against the Bucs.

posted by sidotcom | View comments |  

Comments:

Posted: 5:12 PM   by Anonymous
Here's hoping Peppers does very well against the Bucs -- and the rest of the Panthers too, for that matter. I need to win back the money I lost on Sunday! :(
Posted: 5:20 PM   by Anonymous
My prediction is that Julius Peppers lives in the back field and grabs himself at least one sack. Carolina pulls ahead to stay in the second half and wins 27 to 13.
Posted: 5:28 PM   by Zach, Charlotte Observer Hopeful
Undoubtedly, Julius Peppers is a beast among men when it comes to athleticism and a knack for making big plays. My pick would be Peppers, whether or not I had the choice to pick an offensive player or not. He is the only defensive player that can potentially, single-handedly, when a game for you because he posseses an innate ability to shed blockers, and the superb genetics to avoid injury. My pick is Panthers, 31-16.
Posted: 5:52 PM   by Anonymous
The bucs are due. Tampa 28 Carolina 21
Posted: 6:15 PM   by Federico Pacheco
The Panthers are very much like last year: they win big games but they also lose easier ones. If they want to go to the Super Bowl, they should start winning. This is the right time to do it; defeating a rival team, that is not at its best, at home. They won't shoot them out, but they will end up winning. My pick: Panthers 17, Bucs 10.
I would start a team with a leader, a player that everyone would respect and that can win games. That player is usually a quaterback or maybe a good linebacker. I would prefer a QB because it is easily to score with him, you can easily Peyton Manning and the Colts on their 2 minute drills.
Posted: 6:56 PM   by Anonymous
I would have to go with Derrick Brooks or Brian Urlacher. Brooks is getting older, but that does NOT mean he is getting worse. His awareness on defense is second to none in the NFL, and he seems to make the guys around him play better (the Bucs that have left the team from the defense don't usually do much).

Urlacher is a young gun, and is the second coming of Mike Singletary (well, as close as you can get).

But I would have to give Brooks the nod.
Posted: 6:59 PM   by Anonymous
What about Troy Polamalu? He can rush the QB, defend the pass, and help in run support. His work ethic is incredible, and I think he makes players around him better.
Carolina should win tonight, 20-10.
Posted: 7:12 PM   by Anonymous
Don Banks picked Shawne Merriman- I guess steroids arent that important to him.
Posted: 7:29 PM   by Eric Zuckerman
Jonathan Vilma

Spreads the field and makes tackles despite not having a stud defensive line and being undersized. Plus, he's young and only going to get better
Posted: 9:35 AM   by Anonymous
I do not get why Troy Polomalu didnt get picked. Or Joey Porter (SIs most feared) - personall I wuld go with Troy
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