A Visual Look at the Race for the NFL Sack, Receiving Yards Leaders
With the NFL season winding down, we’ve reached the tail end of the races for the various statistical titles. Particularly, the race for the sack title has heated up after Khalil Mack’s five-sack effort in Week 14 put him in the lead with 14 on the season. Mack’s top competitors for the spot are the Lions Ezekiel Ansah and reining defensive player of the year J.J. Watt, each with 13.5 sacks. With an outside shot at the title are Muhammad Wilkerson (12.0) and Aaron Donald (11.0). Carlos Dunlap (10.5), Chandler Jones (10.5), and Von Miller (10.0) then round out the rest of the players with 10 or more sacks. Above is a unique visual look at how the sack race has progressed thus far this season, with players color coded by their team. It looks like we’re in for quite a finish.
We’ve also included the race for the receiving title. It’s been a great year for receivers in the NFL, with a lot of young pass-catchers ascending to elite ranks (Deandre Hopkins, Allen Robinson, Odell Beckham, etc). Once again, we’ve traced the yardage totals throughout the year of the players currently ranked 1-5 in receiving yardage. Rounding out the top 10 are A.J. Green (1,169), Larry Fitzgerald (1,088), Allen Robinson (1,084), Demaryius Thomas (1,067), and tight end Rob Gronkowski (1,018).
I also thought about including the passing and rushing titles, but the passing title really is a two man race between Tom Brady and Carson Palmer (sorry Phillip Rivers). This is even more so for the rushing title, with Adrian Peterson and Doug Martin at 1,200+ rushing yards while third-place rusher Jonathon Stewart is well behind at 989 yards. This race would probably be much more interesting had Todd Gurley not missed the beginning of the season with injuries, or had Devonta Freeman been employed as the lead back sooner, or even if the Seahawks had used one of Marshawn Lynch/Thomas Rawls for the entire year.
Oh, and while we’re at it, after all the speculation on how last year’s rushing leader Demarco Murray (1,845 yards in 2014) would perform, Murray is currently ranked 27th with 603 yards. Meanwhile, 2014 sack champion Justin Houston is currently stagnating at 7.5 sacks after missing the past few weeks due to injury.