The regular season marks the culmination of an extensive investigation into who your team will be that year. By this point, you’ve gone through free agency, the draft, training camp, and the preseason. You feel good in your decisions insofar as you can create clarity without having played meaningful games. But there are still plenty of uncertainties that remain, whether at the start of the regular season or the end, and new ones continually develop over time.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: T.J. Watt will set the Steelers’ single-season sack record today.
Explanation: T.J. Watt has 16 sacks this season in 11ish games played. That is already tied for the most sacks ever recorded by a Steelers in a single season, so the next sack, or split sack, would set a new record. He has four games left to do it, but today is as good a day as any.
At this point in Watt’s career, it’s more likely that he does get a sack in a game than he doesn’t, so you have to favor him getting the record today. He has only failed to record a sack in three out of 11 games this year, and one of those games was the last one, during which he only played 25 snaps due to a groin injury. Another was the embarrassing Cincinnati game when he was coming back from injury and he had a pretty non-descript game.
Watt’s performance as a pass rusher this season rivals anybody else’s in pretty much any metric you feel like coming up with, whether it’s sacks or pressures or hits or win rate. Take all the measurements and all of them predict sustained production.
On top of that, Ryan Tannehill has already been sacked 37 times this season. He’s getting sacked on more than eight percent of his dropbacks. He’s going down, and Watt will be taking him there.
As I mentioned up top, Watt has not been his dominant self when he is coming back from an injury—and he is coming back from an injury now. Even his two-sack game against the Packers after missing the previous week was a soft performance—one of his sacks should actually have been a tripping penalty.
Moreover, the Titans are a run-first team, and the Steelers are a run-over-us defense. Tennessee hasn’t changed its personality just because Derrick Henry isn’t available. Watt will get his 17th sack, but it won’t be this week.