With only a game remaining of the regular season, we cast an eye over the pass rush supremos who lead the way in the NFL's sack category and speculate which of these feared talents will finish at the top of the charts at the end of the NFL regular season.
#T3 Haason Reddick (Arizona Cardinals)
After chalking up another 1.5 sacks against the 49ers, Arizona Cardinals' linebacker, Hasson Reddick is tied 3rd in the league with 12.5 sacks to his name in total.
Following a statistically disappointing 2019 campaign, a season in which Reddick only notched up 1 sack, the Temple University graduate is finally living up to the hype that saw the Cardinals chance a first-round pick on him in the 2017 NFL Draft.
The Rams' offensive line has been nothing to write home about this year, and with playoff qualification on the line, the Cardinals rush will surely look to get pressure on untested, stand-in QB, John Walford, which could mean a big afternoon's work for Reddick (watch this space...).
#T3 Za'Darius Smith (Green Bay Packers)
One half of Green Bay's feared 'Smith Brothers,' Za'Darius leads the way in terms of sacks with 12.5 to brother Preston's 4.
The Packer's pass-rusher has been in dominant form all year and took the chance to remind Titans' QB, Ryan Tannehill of that exact fact when the 2 teams met in the late game this past Sunday, notching up yet another sack for his total (see below).
Smith might not finish top of the charts though: with the Packers having already lifted the NFC North divisional title, head coach, Matt LeFleur may opt to rest key-personnel for next week's game against the Bears.
#T3 Trey Hendrickson (New Orleans Saints)
Trey Hendrickson has been a real surprise-package this season: very few would have placed bets on him finishing up at the top of the NFL for sacks. But, the man out of Florida Atlantic University continues to get to opposition QBs and -- like Reddick and Smith before him -- has 12.5 sacks to his name; t-3rd in the NFL.
Here he is in action against Mahomes... (ouch!)
Hendrickson missed out on the Saints' Christmas day hammering of the Vikings with a neck injury and, -- for my money, and with the Saints having already wrapped up the NFC South in some style -- the defensive end is unlikely to be rushed back for New Orleans' final game against the Buccaneers. Why risk it?
Hendrickson may not finish atop of the sack category come season's end, but Saints fans will surely be hoping he's fit for the team's playoff charge - that pass-rush is a much scarier proposition when he's on the turf.
#2 Aaron Donald (Los Angeles Rams)
LA Rams' Aaron Donald managed to hit Seahawks' QB, Russel Wilson with another sack in America's Game of the Week on Sunday. The near-unplayable linebacker now has 13.5 on the season, and that's despite the fact he's constantly double-teamed at the line of scrimmage.
The Rams still need to put in a big performance against the Arizona Cardinals in Sunday's huge contest at the So-Fi Stadium to guarantee they make it into the playoffs. Expect to see Donald at the peak of his powers -- he could well finish top of that sack category when it's all said and done. But he'll need an incredible afternoon in the LA heat to manage the feat.
#1 T.J. Watt (Pittsburgh Steelers)
In my humble opinion, there are just two true contenders for the defensive player of the year award and they are Dolphins cornerback, Xavien Howard, and Steelers linebacker, T.J. Watt. The two of them have been in exceptional form in coverage and on a pass rush, respectively.
Steelers' Watt has amassed 15 sacks, 28 TFL, and 108-yards of turf this season but, with the Steelers having already sealed the AFC North division title, the league's most technically proficient pass-rusher could be set to miss out come Sunday. Mike Tomlin may well opt to rest T.J. up for the playoffs. Even so, it would take a monumental effort from the likes of Donald and Reddick to catch the University of Wisconsin product's sack total.
It's also worth noting that Watt leads the league in TFL and QB hits...
Not a bad season from J.J.'s little brother!Published 31 Dec 2020, 16:21 IST