BOSTON (CBS) — Going against the New England Patriots defense has been a frightening proposition for opposing offenses this season. While the entire unit is playing well, the most terrifying group on squad has been New England’s linebackers.

Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy have been an absolute force to start the season. Hightower is once again chasing down running backs, Collins is enjoying a rebirth in his return to New England, and Van Noy has been his usual steady self. The trio have combined for nine sacks (led by Collins’ 4.5) and 57 tackles, making life absolutely miserable for any team playing the Patriots.

Collins, who has forced four turnovers on his own, has come up with an extremely fitting nickname for the trio of playmakers: “The Boogeymen.”

“Yeah man, it’s cool. I think a lot of guys in the linebacking room have kind of embraced it a little bit,” Hightower said of the nickname on Tuesday. “We want to go out there and be the engine and the starting force of the defense. If we go out there and play well, then that will hype every other spot, whether that’s in the front seven or the back seven.”

It’s not just the linebackers propensity to make plays that strikes so much fear in the opposition. They’re all smart guys who know the game of football, and with all three of them working together, there isn’t much that the defense as a whole misses out on.

“All three of those guys are signal callers. They’ve all had the helmet, have been in charge of making checks,” said safety Devin McCourty. “Now we have all three of them out there. We don’t miss a beat. There has to be a lot going on for one of those guys not to notice something or check to something or get to something, or us just draw up on an adjustment that we did two or three years ago.”

Mix in John Simon (14 tackles, two sacks), rookie Chase Winovich (four sacks, four tackles for a loss), Ja’Whuan Bentley (16 tackles) and Elandon Roberts (14 tackles), and a date against the Patriots will make any opposing offense’s blood run cold.

Now the linebackers are asking fans to get clever with the nickname. Van Noy took to Twitter on Tuesday afternoon to find someone to come up with a fun design for the group, one they can put on a t-shirt or sweatshirt. Van Noy has offered up tickets to a Patriots game of their choice, and some autographs from the linebackers. He’s promised to announce a winner sometime before the weekend.

“I think it’s pretty clever,” running back James White said of the nickname. “Big, scary guys, right?”

Those big scary guys will now set their sights on the New York Giants and rookie quarterback Daniel Jones on Thursday night. In his four games this season, Jones has already been sacked nine times. Good luck, kid.

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