NFL.com writer Chris Wesseling ranks Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack third on a list of top 10 NFL MVP candidates through the first four weeks of the season.
The NFC defensive player of the month for September, Mack ranks second in the NFL with five sacks and tops the league with four forced fumbles. He has recorded a strip/sack in each of the first four games and returned an interception for a touchdown in the season opener in Green Bay.
The fifth-year pro is the first NFL player with a sack and a forced fumble in four straight games since the Colts' Robert Mathis in 2005. Mack is also the first player to record four forced fumbles in the first four weeks of the season since the Jaguars' Tony Brackens in 1999.
"The vaunted 1985 Bears defense was notorious for sending quarterbacks to the hospital," Wesseling wrote. "This year's swaggering Mack-led iteration simply sends them to the bench. If your mind's eye conjures up images of Lawrence Taylor and Derrick Thomas while watching Mack, you're not alone. The 2016 Defensive Player of the Year has tied a modern-day NFL record with a strip-sack in four consecutive games. For good measure, he's thrown in a pick-six and a QB hit that caused an interception.
"Against all odds, Mack has managed to exceed lofty expectations in the wake of a blockbuster trade that netted him the richest contract for a defensive player in history. An upstart team with a puncher's chance to make waves has suddenly morphed into a legitimate contender. Just how legitimate? Despite blitzing less than any other defense, the Bears have become one of just seven teams this century to amass at least 18 sacks in the first four games. The other six, per "The Ringer NFL Show," made it to the second round of the playoffs. The Monsters of the Midway have won three straight games for the first time since 2013. If not for Aaron Rodgers' uncanny ability to walk on water, they'd be one of three remaining undefeated outfits."