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Can T.J. Watt Keep NFL Lead in Sacks, QB Hits & TFL without Playing vs. Browns?

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Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt will sit out the team’s regular-season finale at Cleveland on Sunday, according to a report by Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

That means that Watt will stand pat with his league lead for quarterback sacks, quarterback hits and tackles for loss. He could become just the fifth player since quarterback hits became an official stat in 2006 to lead the league in all three categories, if his lead can hold. Can someone else pass Watt? Let’s take a look.

NFL TACKLES FOR LOSS LEADERS

23, T.J. Watt, Steelers
17, Roquan Smith, Chicago
15, Devin White, Tampa Bay
15, Joey Bosa, LA Chargers

The NFL record for tackles for a loss in a game in six, held by a half-dozen players, including Joey Bosa and T.J.’s brother J.J. Watt, who did it twice. So it’s technically possible that Roquan Smith could have a monster game and tie Watt’s tackle for loss total, but it seems pretty unlikely.

QB HIT LEADERS

41, T.J. Watt, Steelers
31 Carl Lawson, Cincinnati
28, Chris Jones, Kansas City
27, Joey Bosa LA Chargers
26, Aaron Donald, LA Rams
Carl Lawson and the Bengals are facing notoriously tough-to-hit Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens, and just about everyone else seems pretty comfortably out of reach of Watt’s 41 quarterback hits over 15 games.

NFL SACKS LEADERS

15.0, T.J. Watt, Steelers
13.5, Aaron Donald, LA Rams
12.5, Trey Hendrickson, New Orleans
12.5, Haason Reddick, Arizona
12.5, Za’Darius Smith, Green Bay
12.0, Myles Garrett, Cleveland

There’s clearly a few players that could catch Watt in this category, most notably Rams monster defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who needs just 1.5 to tie Watt and two sacks to pass him. The Rams host Haason Reddick and Arizona in a game with playoff implications for both teams.

The Saints have clinched the NFC South, but can earn a bye with a win over Carolina and a Green Bay loss at Chicago.

Cleveland is in a near-must-win scenario against Pittsburgh, with Garrett potentially getting to tee off against a Pittsburgh offensive line that reportedly will not include center and leader Maurkice Pouncey.

Derek Thomas once had seven sacks in a game for the Kansas City Chiefs and 15 current players, including Donald and Reddick have had four or more in a game, so Watt’s top mark is certainly in jeopardy here.

Watt not playing against the Browns would also mean that he will not be able to set the franchise record for sacks in a season. Watt needed one sack to tie and 1.5 sacks to pass James Harrison, who set the mark with 16 sacks in 2008. Watt is currently tied with Mike Merriweather, who had 15 sacks in 1984, for second place.

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