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Instant Debate

More chances could lead to Strahan's sack record being broken

Vikings DE Jared Allen (12.5 sacks in eight games) and Cowboys OLB DeMarcus Ware (12 sacks in seven games) are both on pace to break Michael Strahan's single-season sack record of 22.5 set in 2001. Will either guy break the mark? Both? Or will Strahan's standard hold up?

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  • Brian Billick NFL Network
  • Pass rushers have more chances to sack QBs now

Both players have a legitimate shot at breaking Strahan's record, and they both have a couple of things working in their favor. As the weather starts to worsen in the latter months of the season, both the Vikings and the Cowboys have the luxury of playing in the steady climate of a home-field dome. Therefore, teams will be more apt to pass rather than have to grind it out in the rain or snow. Second, the NFL has seen a philosophical shift in offensive strategy in which the passing game has become much more prevalent. Based on my calculations, in 2001, the league's top five quarterbacks in passing attempts averaged 35 throws a game. In 2011, that number has inflated to an average of 38 attempts per game, meaning that each pass rusher gets an additional 48 attempts to bring down the quarterback during the course of a 16-game regular season. Giving exceptional pass rushers like Jared Allen and DeMarcus Ware an additional 48 rushes is significant.

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  • Jeff Darlington
  • Ware will break Strahan's mark

When it comes to piling up sacks, I've often noticed a general trend that seems to suggest a rule for defensive players to remember: It's always harder in the second half of the season. Teams begin to find ways to combat a hot player, even if it means leaving another area of the field more vulnerable. That was even the case during Michael Strahan's record-breaking season when he piled up 14 sacks through eight games in 2001. He was on pace for 28. He finished with 22.5.

With that disclaimer issued, I'm convinced this could be the season when DeMarcus Ware pushes to challenge the record. Ware has already proven the general trend doesn't always apply to him. Teams know they need to stop him, and they still struggle. In 2008, he had nine sacks in the season's first half -– and increased that pace by finishing with 20 for the season. This year? He has 12 sacks through seven games. And his eighth game is against the Seahawks, whose offensive line has given up more sacks (28) than any other team in the NFL.

So watch closely, Strahan. This might be the year your record falls.

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  • Charles DavisNFL Network
  • Can they break record? Yes. Will they? Nope

I love the pass rushers, and the intrigue every year about who will be next to challenge and possibly break Michael Strahan's record. Just one year removed from questions about whether he had lost a step, Jared Allen's play in 2011 offers an emphatic N-O as an answer. DeMarcus Ware's play continues to be remarkable.

Can either, or both, break the record? Yes. Will they? I say no, but both get to 20 and offer us a fun ride to the finish.

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  • Jason La Canfora NFL Network
  • Losing teams lead to less opportunities

I have a feeling the record stands. The weather will turn and field conditions will slow (yes, I know both players play home games in a dome).

Neither of these teams has been very good, and without big leads and opportunities to repeatedly tee off on a quarterback, you aren't getting 23 sacks. Even Strahan's record has the quasi-asterisk from the Favre flop -- was it or wasn't it really a sack -- and I'm not sure these guys will keep up quite this pace.

It will likely take at least one four-sack game and I'm not sure either can pull it off.

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  • Pat Kirwan
  • Five rushers could total at least 20 sacks

With the frequency of pass attempts, both Jared Allen and DeMarcus Ware will break the sack record. In fact, there's a solid chance five pass rushers will break the 20-sack mark.

Passing is up around the league, and that means sacks should be up as well. A few years ago we began to realize that 100-reception seasons were going to be easier for wide receivers to achieve. It had a profound effect on great wide receivers who are now retired and trying to get into the Hall of Fame with lower reception numbers from another era.

Well, the same thing is happening to pass rushers. Allen and Ware are both on pace to destroy the sack record, and Jason Babin, LaMarr Woodley and Jason Pierre-Paul are all within striking distance of the 20-sack mark this season.

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