Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs has led the AFC North in sacks the past two seasons. Now, with Suggs missing a significant portion of the season (if not all of it) with an Achilles injury, which pass-rusher will top the division in sacks this season?
Here are my top candidates to supplant Suggs as the AFC North sack leader:
Carlos Dunlap, Bengals defensive end: Dunlap only had 4.5 sacks last season, but he could be on the verge of a breakout season. In 2011, he recorded 13 quarterback hits and 20 quarterback pressures.
James Harrison, Steelers linebacker: He had three straight seasons of double-digit sacks until last season, when he had nine in 11 games. The one concern is his age (34).
Jabaal Sheard, Browns defensive end: The second-round pick from a year ago could be a major pass-rush force if he continues to improve. Sheard made an immediate impact as a rookie with 8.5 sacks and five forced fumbles.
LaMarr Woodley, Steelers linebacker: Like Harrison, he put together a string of three straight seasons with at least 10 sacks until last season, when he had nine in 10 games. Woodley led the division with 13.5 sacks in 2009.
Go ahead and register your vote. Let me know which pass-rusher you chose and why by dropping me some mail. Your comments could get published on the blog later in the week.