NFC South: Sack differential

Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas

There is one statistic that clearly demonstrates the difference between the top two teams in the NFC South and the bottom two.

It’s sack differential -- that’s the difference between the number of sacks a team has recorded and the number it has allowed.

The Falcons and Saints excel in this category. The Falcons rank fourth in the league in this category with a plus-8 differential. They haven’t been anything special on the pass rush, recording only 10 sacks. But they’ve been phenomenal protecting Matt Ryan, who has been sacked only twice this season and hasn’t been sacked in the last four games.

To show you how important this stat is, the only teams ahead of the Falcons are the Broncos, Colts and Giants. They have one combined loss.

The Saints are tied with Minnesota in the next spot after Atlanta. The Saints have a plus-7 differential. They’ve recorded 12 sacks and given up only five.

There’s a big drop after that in the NFC South. Carolina ranks 17th with a zero sack differential. The Panthers have recorded a division-best 13 sacks, but they’ve also allowed a division-worst 13 sacks.

The Buccaneers are in negative territory. They’re tied for 22nd with a minus-2 differential. Tampa Bay has recorded 10 sacks, but allowed 12.

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

If you're looking for a common thread on why the NFC South has been so successful this season, you might want to start with sack differential. That's the difference between sacks recorded and allowed by a team and all four NFC South teams are in positive territory. Here's a look at the league rankings:

By the Numbers: Sack Differential
Rank

Team

SacksSacks allowed
Sack Differential
1.Tennessee34
8 26
2.
Dallas40
18
22
T-3.
NY Giants3615 21
T-3.
Philadelphia3918 21
T-5.Denver22
8
14
T-5.
New Orleans
2410
14
7.NY Jets
35
23
12
8.Atlanta
24
13
11
9.Indianapolis
19
12
7
T-10.
Arizona
25
19
6
T-10. Carolina
2418
6
T-10.Pittsburgh
42366
T-13.Miami
28
23
5
T-13.Tampa Bay
25
205
15.
San Diego
23
19
4
16.Baltimore
26
23
3
17.
Chicago2422
2
T-18.Cleveland
15
15
0
T-18.Minnesota
33
33
0
T-20.Green Bay
20
25-5
T-20.Seattle
26
21
-5
T-20.
Houston
20
25
-5
T-23.
Buffalo
21
28 -7
T-23.
Oakland25
32
-7
25. Jacksonville22
33
-11
26.
Washington
19
32
-13
27.
St. Louis21
37
-16
28.
New England2340-17
29.
San Francisco
22
43
-21
30.
Detroit
23
45
-22
31.
Kansas City
6
32 -26
32.
Cincinnati
1343
-30

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

I was just looking through a large package of statistics from ESPN's Stats & Information department and one category really jumps out when it comes to the NFC South.

In terms of sack differential (sacks minus sacks allowed), each of the division's four teams is in positive territory. That's a good sign because the Giants and Titans, the team's with the league's best records, have the best differentials. The Chiefs, 49ers and Bengals have the worst differentials and it shows up in their records.

Sack Differentials: Top to bottom
Rank/TeamSacksAllowedDifferential
1. New York Giants
30
1020
2. Tennessee Titans
22418
T-3. Denver Broncos
20614
T-3. Philadelphia Eagles271314
5. New York Jets
291613
6. Dallas Cowboys
26179
T-7. New Orleans Saints
1477
T-7. San Diego Chargers17107
T-9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers1510
5
T-9. Arizona Cardinals
21165
11. Atlanta Falcons
16124
T-12. Miami Dolphins
18153
T-12. Seattle Seahawks
20173
T-12. Pittsburgh Steelers
32293
T-12. Baltimore Ravens
17143
T-16. Cleveland Browns13112
T-16. Carolina Panthers
13112
T-18. Indianapolis Colts
1091
T-18. Chicago Bears1615
1
20. Minnesota Vikings
21210
T-21. Green Bay Packers
14
17-3
T-21. Oakland Raiders
1922-3
23. Houston Texans1420-6
T-24. Washington Redskins
1523-8
T-24. St. Louis Rams
1826-8
T-26. Buffalo Bills1323-10
T-26. Jacksonville Jaguars
1121-10
28. Detroit Lions
1627-11
29. New England Patriots1429
-15
30. Kansas City Chiefs423
-19
31. San Francisco 49ers
1434-20
32. Cincinnati Bengals
930-21

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