A great week capped off with winning the AFC Defensive Player of the Week, Elvis Dumervil still has his eyes set on something more. The prolific pass rush talent, Dumervil and Kansas City's Justin Houston are currently atop the sack standings with 16. There is no doubt in my mind that Dumervil would love to set his name in the record books, or even be surrounded with names at the top.
The 22.5-sack record set by Michael Strahan is quite far away. Dumervil has a very small shot, but that may be all he needs. With the last three games fighting to secure a wild card possibility, Dumervil will have enough fuel to take down any quarterback.
First game up, the Jacksonville Jaguars. The current right tackle for Jacksonville is a toss up between Josh Wells or Sam Young. Either way, they seem to both be a decent right tackle talent. Young played Week 14 and attempted his best at stopping powerhouse MVP candidate J.J. Watt. By the end of the game Young gave up a sack and three total pressures. Wells, the other possibility at right tackle, played in the Week 13 outing against the New York Giants, and did not allow a single pressure. I don't know if Elvis will be able to snag Bortles down with a three-sack afternoon, but it is definitely a likelihood with his terror inducing speed off the edge.
Possibility of confidence the next week after Jacksonville, Dumervil will match up against Houston Texans right tackle Derek Newton. This season, Newton has given up only two sacks, six QB hits, but a big 32 QB hurries. The most eye-opening being Week 7 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, in which Newton gave up eight hurries and one sack. The exciting part of this matchup, and the key to victory in Week 16, the wide receiver vs. cornerback battle. Ryan Fitzpatrick holds onto the ball for too long, which could allow Dumervil to pull down the Texans quarterback. But the Baltimore secondary may not stop DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Johnson fast enough, allowing Fitzgerald to sling the ball before Dumervil lays the wood. I'm very excited for this game, and watching this matchup could be the most fun over the next three weeks.
Dumervil may get a break here in week 17, as Mitchell Schwartz has given up five sacks on the season for the Browns. But the entire Cleveland line is the ranked second in pass blocking. Granted, that may be the dominating combo of Joe Thomas and Joel Bitonio. Joe Thomas has been the most consistent powerhouse left tackle in the NFL for years and is considered one of the best in the NFL. Bitonio, a rookie, is also on the left side. It's good to hear for Dumervil, who specializes on the opposite side, and will be attempting to out-duel the right side of Cleveland blockers.
The biggest question mark is the starting quarterback on Week 17. Johnny Manziel is currently holding the reins on the Cleveland Browns after coach Mike Pettine benched Brian Hoyer after a miserable past few games. During the next two weeks, Johnny Football could possess the possibility to snag the team to a Week 17 battle of a "win and in" situation. If so, I truly do expect a violent pass rush by Dumervil. He has come up big in games already, and I expect nothing less than a dominating performance if this case were to occur.
Now, do I expect Dumervil to take over the sack record? Not really. There is a reason it's not falling every year. It is flat out hard to do. It's not a game of Madden. It's fighting off guys 6-4 and over and 300 pounds, and their job is to beat you down as much as possible. I do, however, believe he finishes the season owning this year's sack title. The man has been a force to be reckoned with.
His 16 sacks in fourteen games is something to celebrate. Breaking a Baltimore defensive record is never easy, and Dumervil snatched the single season sack record for Baltimore, previously owned by Peter Boulware, with three games left in the season. If Dumervil were to rack up four more sacks in the next three games (a very good possibility) he will be in the record book tied for eighth all-time in single-season sacks with Derrick Thomas and DeMarcus Ware (20 sacks apiece).
No question about it, Dumervil would be caught smiling as his name is notched up high.