Running the Numbers: Predicting 2012 Sack Totals
I just posted an article on 2012 sack projections over at DallasCowboys.com. To obtain the projections, I simply took last year’s team pressure totals and multiplied them by the average sack rate of 25.7%. Certainly some players and teams bring down the quarterback at a higher rate than others (even in regards to their pressure totals), but over the long run, NFL teams have generally brought down the quarterback about one in every four snaps that they pressure him.
The numbers work out in the Cowboys favor. Ninth in total sacks in 2011, the ‘Boys are due to finish fifth this season. Obviously there is a lot more that goes into sack totals than pressures and sack rate. Nonetheless, I did similar calculations for the past five seasons, and using pressures/sack rate to predict future sacks was far more accurate than using the prior season’s sack totals.
One of the reasons the Cowboys are likely to improve this season is the probable improvement of Anthony Spencer. Even if Spencer garners the same number of pressures this season as last, he’ll acquire three extra sacks even at a league average sack rate.
Other good news for the ‘Boys. . .the Giants will almost certainly see a steep decline in sacks in 2012. They were one of the luckiest teams in the NFL last year, sacking the quarterback on 29.4% of pressures. At a league average sack rate, they’ll drop from fourth in sacks to the bottom half of the league.