With the likes of the Philidelphia Eagles and Washington handing out early sacks for Christmas in week-14, we've decided to salute the 5 teams leading the NFL in sacks this season:
(in descending order)
#5 Washington Football Team (40 sacks)
If coach, Ron Rivera, can get his offense firing, there are the makings of a great team up in Washington. The defense is talented across the board, and the pass rush is certainly one of the best in the league -- just ask Sunday's beaten opponents, the 49ers, who found rookie Chase Young and co. in particularly boisterous form (see below) for 'the football team.'
Against the 49ers, the 'football team' chalked up another 4.0 sacks in total, bringing their season total to 40.0. The pass rush does a great job of stuffing the run, too: Washington is ranked 9th in the NFL against the rush (107.2-yards per game).
Washington runs several schemes to get pressure behind the line, so the responsibility of splattering the opposition QB across the canvas is spread across the unit. That said, defensive end, Montez Sweat leads the team with 7.0, and Ryan Kerrigan and Chase Young have 5.5 sacks apiece.
#4 Tampa Bay Buccanneers (40)
Tied 4th with Washington on 40 sacks, is the NFC South's Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Led by the excellent Jason Pierre-Paul (9.5 sacks) at linebacker the Buccaneers pash-rush has laid waste to many an opposition QB this season, including 6.0 sacks on Vikings' Kirk Cousins this past Sunday (wk-14).
Linebacker, Shaquil Barret (8.0), and defensive tackle, Ndamukong Suh (5.0) are the two other Buccaneers' most likely to be found wrapped around a quarterback's ankles.
If Tom Brady and Tampa Bay don't make it to the Super Bowl this year, one thing's for sure: it won't have been the fault of the pass-rush -- those boys are flying.
#3 Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles Rams' star defensive tackle, Aaron Donald leads the NFL in sacks this season, with 12.5 to his name. But he's not the only guy doing the business over in the city of angels; linebacker, Leonard Floyd has found his way to the quarterback 7.5 times, and defensive tackle, Michael Brockers has 5.0 sacks to his name, too.
This increase in output from the likes of Floyd and Brockers is causing opposition OL to think twice before subjecting Donald to double (even triple) blocking schemes, so perhaps it's this indecisiveness at the line of scrimmage that is enabling 'Cheat Code' to bolster his stats, after a slightly quieter 2019 (by his own very high standards).
Rams' pass rush managed to flatten Patriots' Cam Newton 6.0 times during last Thursday's 24-3 win at the SoFi Stadium, moving them on to 42.0 for the year.
Put simply: if you enjoy watching large, bearded men dance upon the metaphorical graves of sacked QB's, watch the LA Rams; you'll get your fill.
#2 Philadelphia Eagles
For my money, the New Orleans Saints have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL this season - there haven't been many defenses that managed to get past the likes of Ramcyzk and Armstead and put real pressure on QBs Drew Brees/ Taysom Hill in the pocket; the Buccaneers did it well in spurts, but that's about it...
Step forward, the Philadelphia Eagles' pass rush: Fletcher Cox and co. caused Sean Payton's men all kinds of problems on Sunday and managed to sack a highly mobile Taysom Hill 5 times, taking their combined total for the year to 43.0.
The always-game Brandon Graham leads the way with 7.0 sacks to his name; Fletcher Cox has 6.5; Josh Sweat has 6.0, and Derek Barnett has 5.5.
Quarterbacks making the trip to Lincoln Financial Field would do well to take a spare change of briefs for half time!
#1 Pittsburgh Steelers
They might be on a little run of bad form (back to back defeats vs Washington and Buffalo) but, when fit, the Pittsburgh Steelers still boast the meanest defense in the league (what has it been now, like 40 years?).
Led by the insatiable T.J Watt at linebacker (12.0 sacks), Mike Tomlin's pass rush has been unstoppable at times this year. It's not just Watt finding success either. No, no: the Steelers haven't been discriminatory when it comes to which member on D eats first: combined, they've tallied up 45.0 sacks so far; Watt's accomplice at LB, Bud Dupree, has chalked up 8.0 of those, leaving him level with defensive end, Stephon Tuitt who also has 8.0 to his name heading into wk-15.
(I put Dupree ahead of Tuitt simply because of this cool celebratory dance routine he does with TJ Watt (see below)
If the Steelers can get everyone back fit and firing in time for the playoffs, it's going to take one hell of an offense to ditch them out of the competition (here's looking at you Kansas!).Published 17 Dec 2020, 12:50 IST