- Rams star DT finished with 20.5 sacks last season
- Defensive Player of the Year had nearly half of team’s sacks in 2018
- Watt a favorite, but bet with caution
National Football League quarterbacks continue to be amazed with what Aaron Donald does on the field.
The Los Angeles Rams star defensive tackle and 2018 Defensive Player of the Year is coming off a solid season in which he recorded a league-leading 20.5 sacks.
“How he’s slipping through defenders and getting through double teams and even triple teams, it’s pretty crazy to watch on film the things he does,” Chicago Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky recently told USA Today in an interview.
Will Donald be just as dominant off the line next season?
Sportsbooks released opening odds for most regular season sacks and Donald, as expected, is right there as a +240 favorite.
2019 Most Regular Season Sacks Odds
Odds taken 07/17/2019.
Donald’s sacks count skyrocketed in 2018 after four previous seasons of recording anywhere between eight to 11.
What triggered that drastic improvement? The Rams are known for their strong pass defense, but the team made huge strides on the rush thanks in part to Donald, who posted nearly half of the team’s 41 total sacks in 2018.
20.5 sacks. Defensive Player of the Year. BEAST ?
?: Premieres July 22nd on NFL Network pic.twitter.com/w0gSUehJtP
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) July 15, 2019
Donald Looks Stronger, Faster
It also seems as if Donald ramped up his off-season workouts. The six-foot-one, 285-pound DT has posted videos of his off-season training regimen and let’s just say Donald looks stronger and much faster than ever before.
At +240, there is tremendous value in betting on Donald, who also finished with four forced fumbles in 2018.
Aaron Donald has generated 67 more pressures than any other interior defender since 2016. ? pic.twitter.com/jo2sWh2OBi
— PFF (@PFF) July 8, 2019
Who will be Donald’s biggest challenger heading into the upcoming NFL season?
Houston Texans DE J.J. Watt is listed at +500 — an intriguing price considering the five-time Pro Bowler finished with 16 sacks and second behind Donald for the league lead last season.
The Texans had one of the best defenses a year ago, allowing on average 19.8 points per game, which was the fourth-fewest in the NFL behind the Chicago Bears, Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans.
Can Watt Keep Pace With Donald?
Watt just turned 30 and despite having faced multiple injuries over the last couple years that kept him out for extended periods, the Texans star still has a lot of football left in his blood.
Will Watt return to 2012 and 2014 form when he posted career-best sack numbers of 20.5 in each season? Likely not at this point, but expect Watt to be in the 16-to-18 sack range, which may not be enough to record the most in the league with Donald in play.
Oddsmakers predict Khalil Mack will be among the league leaders in sacks and for good reason. Entering his second season on a stellar Bears’ defense, Mack will look to improve on 12.5 sacks from 2018.
Mack is listed as an enticing +600 underdog, but sits right behind Donald and Watt to challenge for most sacks in the upcoming NFL season. Mack saw his yearly sacks dip from 2015 when he recorded 15 as a sophomore with the Oakland Raiders. In 2016 Mack had 11 followed by 10.5 the next season before being traded to the Bears in a blockbuster deal.
Mack saw his sack totals improve to 12.5 and betters can expect another big jump heading into the upcoming NFL campaign.
Mack will have a better chance to challenge for the league lead than Watt at this point so +600 is considered a true value pick.