CINCINNATI, OH - NOVEMBER 27: Geno Atkins #97 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates a sack of Colt McCoy #12 of the Cleveland Browns during their game at Paul Brown Stadium on November 27, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals defeated the Browns 23-20. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
ProFootballFocus.com, a site that grades players based on what they do on every snap, believes that Geno Atkins, the Bengals' second-year defensive tackle, is the best pass rushing defensive tackle in the NFL. He leads the Bengals with 7.5 sacks on the season, which leads all interior defensive linemen in the league.
Atkins has a PFF overall rating of 29.2, which is the second highest rating that they gave to any defensive tackle in the league. Only New York Jets defensive tackle Sione Pouha has a higher rating (30.0). The reason Pouha's rating is higher, though, is because he's rated as the best run-stopping defensive tackle in the league, with a rating of 27.2. Atkins has a run defense score of 6.6 but it's his pass rushing rating that sets him apart from other defensive tackles.
He has a pass rush score of 21.3, which is higher than any other defensive tackles in the league by just under five points. Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Richard Seymour is second in the league behind Atkins with a score of 16.6.
In addition to his 7.5 sacks, Atkins has 14 quarterback hits and 26 quarterback pressures. He also has 31 stops so far this season, which is tied for fifth in the NFL among defensive tackles. A stop, in PFF terms, is a solo defensive tackle which constitutes an offensive failure.
Atkins will be needed to pressure T.J. Yates through the middle of the line on Saturday if the Bengals are going to win their first playoff game in over two decades. If he, along with Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson, get into the backfield enough to make Yates uncomfortable when he drops back to pass, the Bengals linebackers and secondary would have a much easier time doing their jobs.