Kansas City had the highest sack rate on defense in the NFL this season, which most likely played a big role in their stellar defense. By my adjusted passing success rate, Kansas City had the 3rd best defense.
However, Kansas City will see some regression in their sack numbers.
The first clue is that Kansas City has the 17th best PFF grade for pass rush as a team. In addition, the ratio of sacks to pressures for a defensive player has a big random element from early to late season.
To show this randomness, let’s break up the season in the first 9 weeks and the remainder of the season. I will consider 2020 through the current season.
Let’s focus on players classified as edge rushers by PFF, and only consider players that registered 10 pressures in both parts of the season. This gives a sample of 283 data points.
For the ratio of sacks to pressures for edge rushers, the R-squared between the early and late part of the season is 0.007. The results are the same for interior linemen.
There is a huge random element in the ratio of sacks to pressures for pass rushers. A defensive player can luck into more sacks than his pressure rate predicts.
Based on data from PFF, this is true for Kansas City’s two top pass rushers:
- Chris Jones, 15 sacks.
- George Karlaftis, 14 sacks.
In addition, Charles Omenihu is out with an injury.
In contrast, sack rate for a QB tends to be very predictive. The same type of early to late season study for a QB’s sack rate reveals an R-squared of 0.32. This is as predictive as player metrics get.
San Francisco QB Brock Purdy has a 5.5% sack rate for his career. Even if we assume Kansas City is better than average and Purdy should have a league average 6.3% sack rate in this game, I get a 65.5% chance that Kansas City goes under 2.5 sacks (-130 available at FanDuel).
Smarter sports betting in less than 5 minutes
This article was sent to The Power Rank’s email newsletter at noon Eastern on Friday, February 9, 2024. This newsletter is a free service that strives to be:
Every week, I send out 5-Nugget Saturday, my curated list of sports betting tips, analytics and humor. If you’re looking for action on a weekend, this is the service for you.
To get this free service delivered straight into your inbox, enter your best email address and click on “Sign up now!”