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As the Los Angeles Rams and Chicago Bears face off Sunday night, all eyes will be on Khalil Mack and Aaron Donald.

Mack, outside linebacker for the Bears, and Donald, defensive tackle for the Rams, have put on quite the show this season. Recently, both have been called the best defensive players in the league.

Recently, both had especially impressive games. Mack forced his fifth fumble, the most in the league, and recovered it. NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth spent Sunday night’s game singing Mack’s praises.

Then, on a Monday night showdown with the Chiefs, Donald had two strip-sacks, bringing his sack total to 14.5 (now at 16.5), the league’s best. In response, ESPN’s Booger McFarland called Donald the best defensive player in the NFL. Bears Hall of Fame linebacker Brian Urlacher then tweeted at McFarland to say that Mack was the best in the league.

Comparing Stats

This isn’t the first time that the debate of Mack or Donald has come up. Both are so good that they have the potential to make the difference in Sunday night’s game. Their stats have them pretty much neck and neck.

Donald won defensive player of the year last year, while Mack won the title while on the Raiders in 2016. Donald has 55.5 career sacks, and Mack has 49.5. Donald has forced 13 career fumbles, while Mack has forced 14.

This year, Donald has 44 combined tackles, 16.5 sacks, and four forced fumbles. Mack has 33 combined tackles, nine sacks, and five forced fumbles through 10 games. Mack missed several games this season due to an injury.

Looking at their combined stats like 40-yard dash and vertical jump measurements, Donald had a 4.68-second 40-yard dash time, 35 reps on bench press, a 32-inch vertical jump, a 116-inch broad jump, a 7.11-second three-cone drill time and a 4.39-second 20-yard shuttle. Mack had a 4.65-second 40 time, 23 reps on bench press, a 40-inch vertical jump, a 128-inch broad jump, a 7.08-second three-cone drill time and a 4.18-second 20-yard shuttle. Overall, Donald received a grade of 6.34, and Mack received a grade of 6.7. Donald ended up going 13th in the 2014 draft, while Mack went fifth.

Both players are 27 and in their fifth seasons. In August, Donald signed a six-year $135 million contract extension that included $87 million guaranteed. The next day, after he was traded to the Bears, Mack got a six-year $141 million contract with $90 million guaranteed.

Mack And Donald Face Off

So who’s the better player, and who should win defensive player of the year? That’s a difficult question to answer. McFarland has said it’s Donald, while Urlacher has backed up Mack. Recently, New York Giants starting right guard Jamon Brown said he’d go with Donald too. Sunday’s game may give us an answer, and the player that performs better may be the deciding factor in the game.

The 11-1 Rams, who clinched the NFC West title last week, play the 8-4 Bears Sunday night at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Scott Huntington

Author Scott Huntington

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Sports Al Dente 2019

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