It's the midway point of the NFL season which gives us plenty of data points to accurately project sack and tackle numbers for defensive players.
It's been obvious for years that Rashawn Slater and Lane Johnson are two of the toughest offensive linemen in the game to beat, which is why I'm fading their opponents on the sack props market.
I'm also digging into the NFL odds for tackles and backing a pair of linebackers who've been filling up the stat sheet for their respective teams. Here are my favorite sack and tackle NFL picks for Week 9 odds.
This week’s best sack and tackle props
- DeMarcus Lawrence Under 0.25 sacks
- Preston Smith Over 0.25 sacks
- Jermaine Johnson II Under 0.25 sacks
- Nate Landman Over 7.5 total tackles
- Bobby Okereke Over 5.5 solo tackles
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Best Week 9 sack picks
Cowboys vs Eagles: DeMarcus Lawrence
Dallas Cowboys edge DeMarcus Lawrence is coming off a game against the Rams where he was practically invisible and didn't have a single pressure in 18 pass rush snaps. Lawrence hasn't picked up a sack since Week 3 and he has an extremely tough matchup on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Lawrence lines up at left end which means he'll be going up against All-Pro right tackle Lane Johnson. Johnson is one of the best right tackles in NFL history and hasn't given up a sack since 2020. The Under 0.25 sacks for Lawrence is priced at -175 but given how dominant Johnson is, that's still great value.
DeMarcus Lawrence: Under 0.25 sacks (-175 at DraftKings)
Rams vs Packers: Preston Smith
Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Preston Smith has 17.5 sacks over the last two seasons but got off to a slow start this year. He had seven pressures and zero sacks through the first four games of the year but has been on fire since racking up 11 pressures and four sacks over the last three contests.
He'll face off against struggling Los Angeles Rams left tackle Alaric Jackson on Sunday. Jackson was undrafted coming out of college in 2021 and he's been a bit of a stopgap at multiple positions for the Rams.
While Jackson has allowed just one sack this year, he's given up a whopping 23 pressures so it's just a matter of time before those result in QB takedowns.
The Rams might also be starting backup Brett Rypien at quarterback. Rypien has made just four starts in four years and quarterbacks with little pro experience have a tendency to eat plenty of hits due to a lack of pocket awareness and defenses that are more eager to blitz.
Preston Smith Prop: Over 0.25 sacks (+124 at DraftKings)
MNF Chargers vs Jets: Jermaine Johnson II
Jermaine Johnson II is coming off a big game against the Giants where he picked up two sacks and had five total pressures.
Let's pump the brakes though because that was against a NYG offensive line that's allowed a league-high 41 sacks. Johnson had just one sack and 11 pressures in his previous five games and he'll face one of the best left tackles in the NFL this Sunday.
Rashawn Slater has been phenomenal ever since being taken in the first round by the Los Angeles Chargers in 2021. Slater was named a second-team All-Pro as a rookie and after suffering a season-ending injury last year he's back to dominating the league.
Slater has the third-best pass-blocking grade among tackles this season and has allowed just a single sack. Take the Under on Johnson's sack total which is inflated due to his performance last week.
Jermaine Johnson II Prop: To record a sack — No (-170 at bet365)
Best Week 9 tackle picks
Vikings vs Falcons: Nate Landman
Nate Landman has been a tackling machine for the Atlanta Falcons ever since taking over at inside linebacker for the injured Troy Andersen in Week 4. He's picked up at least eight tackles in five straight games and had a career-high 12 tackles against the Bucs two weeks ago.
The Falcons host the Minnesota Vikings this week and the Vikes will be forced to give fifth-round rookie Jaren Hall his first start at QB.
With Hall under center, they'll likely aim for shorter chunk plays, which will give Landman plenty of tackling opportunities close to the line of scrimmage.
Nate Landman Prop: Over 7.5 total tackles (-110 at bet365)
Giants vs Raiders: Bobby Okereke
It took Bobby Okereke a few weeks to figure out Wink Martindale's defensive system but he has quickly become the anchor of this New York Giants stop unit.
Okereke leads New York in tackles (73) and solo stops (47) and because of how good he is in pass coverage he never comes out of the game. That's right, Okereke has actually been on the field for EVERY defensive snap for the Giants this year.
The O/U for his solo tackles for Sunday is set at 5.5 with the Over priced at plus money. Okereke has eclipsed that number in five of his last six games and he's racked up 22 in his last three contests.
Bobby Okereke Prop: Over 5.5 solo tackles (+125 at bet365)
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How are sack and tackle props calculated?
It's important to read the wording associated with the sack props at each specific sportsbook. Most books will list an Over/Under number which is set at 0.25 or 0.75, since players can be credited for 0.5 sacks for sharing a sack with a teammate. Other books will mark a sack as a "yes" or "no" proposition in which case half a sack will count as the player recording a sack.
Books often have props for solo tackles, assists, and tackles which are made up of both solo tackles and assisted.
Best strategies to bet sack and tackle props
There are several factors to consider when handicapping sack totals. The most obvious involves the defensive player himself. How often does he get sacks both in terms of his recent history and also over a larger sample size, and does he consistently generate pressure. A player might have picked up sacks in three consecutive games but if he doesn't consistently beat his blocker, he's likely due for regression. On the other side of things, a player might be held off the sack sheet in four straight games, but if he's constantly pressuring opposing passers, it's only a matter of time before he gets a sack.
Who the defender is matching up against is also an important factor. How well does the projected starter opposite from him perform as a pass blocker and is that opposing player injured or playing out of position? In addition, is the offense able or willing to double-team the defender? Certain quarterbacks also hold on to the ball longer, have less pocket awareness, or don't have the mobility to evade pass rushers.
It's also important to consider how the rest of his team will affect a player's ability to get sacks. Perhaps his defensive coordinator is using him more in coverage, perhaps another defender is poaching his sacks or allowing him to get easier matchups. Improved play in the secondary can also lead to coverage sacks.
Game situation also matters since an offense that throws the ball a lot or is expected to play from behind, will also give a defense more opportunity to get sacks.
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