Jenkins, Ross and Collins poised to be defensive difference-makers

The old adage is that defense wins championships. A trend that has permeated into the NFL in recent years, as evidenced by the most recent Super Bowl champions. Nine of the last 12 Super Bowl winners have featured a top-10 defense.

This year figures to be no different. NFL.com will spotlight three defensive difference-makers each week, looking at players who can change a game with just one play. Jets defensive tackle Kris Jenkins, Giants cornerback Aaron Ross and Packers safety Nick Collins are players to watch in Week 14.

Kris Jenkins, DT, Jets
Jenkins was a dominant force for the Panthers from 2001-03, making two Pro Bowls and leading his team to the Super Bowl. But he spent two years on injured reserve and it looked like his career could be over before the Jets took a chance on him. Jenkins had questions about his health and if he could adapt to the 3-4 defense, but he is the leader of the Jets defense that ranks fourth against the rush and he has emerged as an MVP candidate. Jenkins will look to slow down Frank Gore and the 49ers this week.

Aaron Ross, CB, Giants
Ross has emerged as a shutdown corner and has been an integral part of the Giants defense which has allowed just over 279 yards a game, third in the NFL. Ross, who has three interceptions this season, will go up against Donovan McNabb and the Eagles on Sunday. New York won the previous meeting this season, but McNabb had three touchdowns. Cornerbacks often have short memories, but Ross and the Giants will remember that and will look to shut down McNabb.

Nick Collins, S, Packers
Collins has been a ball-hawk for the Packers this season and has returned three interceptions for touchdowns in 2008. Collins is tied for second in the NFL with five interceptions and is a constant force for the Packers' fifth-ranked passing defense. Green Bay, which still has a chance for the playoffs, hosts Houston this week. Texans quarterback Matt Schaub could make his first start in five games, and Collins will be ready if Schaub shows any rust.

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