Khalil Mack is amongst the top faves to win the Deacon Jones Award in NFL betting markets. Is he the best bet though? With competition from Von Miller and JJ Wat, who is the NFL Pick here?
NFL statistics run the gamut, totting up tallies for just about everything and anything relevant to the game. Amongst these is the regular season sacks that is capped off by winning the Deacon Jones Award.
Regular season sacks became an official statistic in 1982, but not until 2013 did the NFL create an actual award for those recognised in this category. In 2013, Robert Maths of the Indianapolis Colts with 19.5 sacks became the inaugural Deacon Jones Award winner. A year later that honour was bestowed on Justin Houstin of the Kansas City Chiefs with 22.0 sacks. Last term, in indomitable J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans was awarded the honour with a season-ending 17.5 sacks.
To date, the record sacks by a player in a regular season is 22.5, a feat accomplished by Michael Strahan of the New York Giants in 2001. Only Mark Gastineau of the New York Jets (1984), Jared Allen of the Minnesota Vikings in 2011 and Justin Houston (all with 22.0 sacks) have come close.
Cracking 20-sacks is no mean feat as evinced by a quick glance at the leader board. To look at just the last 15 years (2000-2015) reveals only four players that have cracked this total. The aforementioned three players and DeMarcus Ware of the Dallas Cowboys in 2008 with 20 sacks.
One player, however, seems to think this season will see not only the 20-win mark cracked but also the 22.5 ceiling well and truly shattered. In a recent interview with SiriusXM's Mad Dog Sports Radio, Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr singled out Khalil Mack as the player to spot on the regular season sacks leader board, predicting the defensive end would register 30!
Given the fact that only four players have reached the lofty 20 mark in the last 15 years a 30 sack season does seem rather optimistic, if not outrageous. Consider NFL Team Sacks per game ranged between 1.2 to 3.5 last season with Atlanta at the bottom end and Denver at the top end of the spectrum. By that range we come up with a Team average of 2.35 sacks per game – a rate around which 22 teams fell last season.
Effectively Carr has Mack producing at the average rate of an entire team. Heck, the Raiders as a whole finished with 38 sacks in 2015! Eight more than the predicted 30 for, apparently, the human equivalent of a wrecking ball, Mack. No pressure, then.
Having said that Mack is the second favourite behind pre-season favourite and last season's winner J.J. Watt in NFL special markets: Player to make the most sacks. Mack is found trading at +400 NFL odds while Watt is trading at +350 NFL odds, bets available at Ladbrokes amongst several other sportsbooks.
Of course, this market pertains to winning the Deacon Jones Award when all is said and done and not Carr's imaginative prediction of a 30-sack season. Mack may well emerge the winner in this category so long as he finishes ahead of his competitors.
Consider J.J. Watt is coming of numerous surgeries in the offseason it's safe to assume he may not be 100% fit. As it is, mum's the word in Houston where Watt and his true status are concerned, and that is a red flag in this market.
Mack, however, has other competitors to contend with in the pursuit of the Deacon Jones Award. To begin with, he is sure to get a run for his money from the Super Bowl MVP Von Miller. Of the vaulted Denver Broncos defense that delivered the Super Bowl to John Elway and Peyton Manning last year and who is matched as the third best bet in this market. Although Von Miller is backed out to +450 NFL odds, with his Super Bowl winning credentials and involvement in the top defense in the NFL he might actually be the more sensible NFL pick than Mack.
On balance, the Broncos defense is better than the Raiders defense. Broncos finished with an average of 3.5 sacks per game last season (in first place) while the Raiders finished with an average of 2.4 sacks per game (in 14th place).
Justin Houston, who topped this category in 2014 with the Chiefs, is another player that might strike an attractive pose as the +500 bet on your NFL picks. However, NFL bettors should take heed of the edge rushers' ACL surgery in the offseason. It's definitely something that takes the shine off his rather favourable price tag, not unlike J. J. Watt.
Outside of the quartet of Watt, Mack, Miller and Houston, the rest of the field is priced at quadruple digits. Robert Quinn (+1200) Chandler Jones (+1600), Ryan Kerrigan (+1600) and Ezekiel Ansah (+2000) are some of the many contenders in this category. For a full list of players competing for sacks glory, check out the NFL specials market of your choice sportsbook.