Shaq Barrett Favored To Win Sack Title, Cam Jordan Close Second
The NFL’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald led the NFL with 20.5 sacks last season. While he easily ran away with the race last year, he’s not going to win it for a second straight year. There are at least three or four guys still in the running as we have three games left. With betting odds on the board for the sack title, let’s take a closer look at who has a shot to win it:
SHAQUIL BARRETT, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
The quality of remaining opponents and the matchup styles provided will give us a sense of which player is in the best position to win the sack title.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ three remaining opponents are the Detroit Lions, the Houston Texans, and the Atlanta Falcons. These are all inconsistent teams and they have all had problems with pass protection. They’ve all allowed at least 35 sacks or more.
Tampa Bay has already soundly beaten Atlanta in a game where Barrett already collected a sack. He should be able to get work done against Detroit, which is playing with a backup quarterback, and Houston, whose quarterback takes a ton of sacks. Deshaun Watson has been sacked 39 times this year.
Barrett is the best bet to win not just because he has the sack lead but because his closing schedule is a lot easier than his competitors’ remaining games.
CAMERON JORDAN, NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Jordan faces the Indianapolis Colts, then the Tennessee Titans, then the Carolina Panthers.
The Colts have lost five of six games after starting 5-2, and this game is in the Superdome on Monday Night Football, an emotionally-charged environment in which the Saints are coming off a 48-46 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. The Saints should be very motivated to play well on defense against a fragile opponent which has lost all sense of confidence and belief.
Tennessee has been red-hot on offense. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been playing with great rhythm and tempo. He gets the ball out quickly and will therefore be hard for Jordan to sack – especially on the road. This will be the Saints’ toughest remaining challenge.
In Week 17, the Saints will very likely be playing for home-field advantage or a first-round playoff bye, or both, so that game will be important for Jordan and the rest of his New Orleans teammates. Carolina has – similar to Indianapolis – collapsed in the second half of the season, and the Panthers have also had their coach, Ron Rivera, get fired. Jordan can feast in Week 17.
CHANDLER JONES, ARIZONA CARDINALS
Chandler Jones faces the Cleveland Browns, then the Seattle Seahawks, then the Los Angeles Rams. Cleveland is the opponent Jones can truly dominate. Jones might be able to sack Russell Wilson due to Seattle’s inconsistent offensive line, but Wilson is still very elusive and hard to bring down. The Rams might be playing for a playoff spot in Week 17. That game is in Los Angeles. Jared Goff and the Rams’ offense dominated the Cardinals a few weeks ago, and keep in mind that the Rams are playing better than they had been in previous weeks. Jones has one of the tougher closing schedules of any of the players on this list.
T.J. WATT, PITTSBURGH STEELERS
Watt and Danielle Hunter of the Minnesota Vikings both have 12.5 sacks, but whereas Hunter has to play Philip Rivers and the Chargers in Week 15 and then Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in Week 16, Watt’s next two games are against the Buffalo Bills and young quarterback Josh Allen, then the lowly Jets in Week 16. It is true that Hunter gets the Chicago Bears and Mitch Trubisky in Week 17, and that Watt faces Lamar Jackson and the Ravens in Week 17, but Watt has two good games in which to make an impact down the stretch, and Hunter has only one.
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