October 27, 2023 9:00am

The NFL's Pass Rushers

Who is the most feared pass rusher in the NFL today? Let us know! Also, Steelers or Jaguars?

Photo of Rick Gosselin
NFL Correspondent

The NFL today is a game dominated by quarterbacks. The better your quarterback, the better your chances of winning games, division titles and Lombardi Trophies – as Bart Starr (1960s), Terry Bradshaw (1970s), Joe Montana (1980s), Troy Aikman (1990s) and Tom Brady (2000s) have proven.

The most feared quarterback in the NFL today is Patrick Mahomes, who has taken the Kansas City Chiefs to three Super Bowls, winning twice, in his five seasons as a starter. The best way to challenge Mahomes – or any great quarterback -- is with a great pass rush. So in this week’s NFL Power Poll, we asked our panel of former players, coaches, officials, talent evaluators, writers and broadcasters who the most feared pass rusher in the NFL is and offered up 10 options, including past NFL sack champions Nick Bosa, Aaron Donald and T.J. Watt.

Myles Garrett of the Cleveland Browns won by a comfortable margin, receiving 84 of the 179 votes cast. Watt was next with 38 votes, followed by Micah Parsons with 28, Donald with 14, and Nick Bosa, Joey Bosa, Maxx Crosby, Danielle Hunter and Khalil Mack all receiving single-digit support.

Hunter leads the NFL in sacks through seven weeks with nine, followed by Watt with eight and Garrett with 7 ½.

After a seven-sack rookie season in 2017, Garrett has strung together five consecutive seasons in double figures, including back-to-back 16 sack seasons in 2021 and 2022. He has collected sacks in four of his six games this season, including 3 ½ in a game with the Tennessee Titans. He shares the league-lead with three forced fumbles.

“I love Parsons,” said Bruce Castleberry, the sports editor of the Boston Herald, “but he doesn't have quite the portfolio as Garrett.”

Watt is one of only 12 players in NFL history with a 20-sack season and led the league in both 2020 with 22 ½ and 2021 with 15. Injuries limited him to 10 games and 5 ½ sacks last season but he’s back among the league leaders this season.

“T.J. Watt has averaged almost one sack per game during his career and he's just approaching his prime,” said Hall-of-Fame voter Ira Kaufman of JoeBucsFan.com. “A second Defensive Player of the Year award appears within his grasp.”

Our second question focused on the game of the week. Kansas City sits atop the AFC with a 6-1 record. Five AFC teams are jockeying for position behind the Chiefs with two losses apiece: Baltimore, Cleveland, Jacksonville, Miami and Pittsburgh. Two of them go head-to-head this weekend when the 5-2 Jaguars visit the 4-2 Steelers. So we asked our panel -- who wins?

The Jaguars were the choice with 126 votes. The Steelers received the other 54.

“The Jaguars have won four of their last five in Pittsburgh and I think are the only team to beat the Steelers twice there in the same season,” said former Hall-of-Fame voter Vito Stellino. “So, as a history buff, I'll go with the Jaguars, who have won four in a row.”

The Steelers are coming off back-to-back upsets of the Baltimore Ravens and Los Angeles Rams.

“As long as Mike Tomlin is in Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh is in Pittsburgh, I'll take the Steelers almost every time,” said Bud Geracie, the sports editors of the Bay Area News Group.

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About Power Poll: Power Poll asks questions of significant key players in American sports today. It's member list draws on people from media, team management, and league management. It is not a scientific survey, but the results afford a fascinating glimpse into the thoughts, opinions, and beliefs of those who know most about the sport.

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