As Greg Cossell said on ESPN’s The Herd today, Bengals defensive tackle is currently one of the best players in the NFL . Cossell said Atkins and Texans defensive end J.J. Wattt are the two best players he’s watched this season, and judging by Atkins’ 9.5 sacks and 36 QB hurries, that’s a pretty fair statement. If he gets one more sack, he’ll have the most for any DT since the Falcons’ Rod Coleman notched 11 sacks in 2004.
Atkins will have a chance to reach the mark while wreaking serious havoc against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, as starting left guard(and former Bengal) Nate Livings may miss the game after he was held out of practice with a knee injury today. Livings played the first six years of his career with the Bengals, and if he doesn’t play, it would be the first time he’s missed a game this year. After an average career in Cincinnati, Livings has thrived in his first year with the Cowboys, and is rated as Pro Football Focus’ 15th best offensive guard, despite the fact he’s allowed six sacks, the most of any of the 59 eligible offensive guards.
Either way, my money says Atkins gets Tony Romo on the ground at least once on Sunday.