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How Good Is Jared Allen's Shot At The Single-Season Sack Record?

Helmets? Helmets!? WE DON'T NEED NO STINKING HELMETS!  (Photo by Adam Bettcher /Getty Images)
Helmets? Helmets!? WE DON'T NEED NO STINKING HELMETS! (Photo by Adam Bettcher /Getty Images)
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According to the NFL's numbers, Minnesota Vikings' defensive end Jared Allen added three more sacks to his total yesterday, giving him 17.5 for the season (already a career-high with three games remaining), and 100.5 for his career. Before we get into the last three games of the season, let's check out this tweet from Jon Ekstrom of the Minnesota Vikings' PR department to see what kind of rarified air the game's best pass rusher finds himself in.

Through 8 seasons, only 1 player has more sacks than Jared Allen (100.5) and that is Reggie White (124.0). Derrick Thomas is 3rd with 98.0.
Dec 12 via TweetDeckFavoriteRetweetReply

Yep, only one player in NFL history has reached the 100-sack plateau faster than Jared Allen, and it's the guy that is considered by a lot of people to be the best pass rusher the NFL has ever seen. That's fairly elite company right there, ladies and gentlemen.

Former New York Giant Michael Strahan holds the record for the most sacks in one season with 22.5* (and you know damn well what that * is for). That means he needs 5 over the final three games of the season in order to tie Strahan's record, and 5.5 to break it. How good are his chances of getting that done? Well, let's take a look.

Our next game is a home date at the Metrodome against the New Orleans Saints. The Saints, in terms of yardage, are the best passing offense in the NFL, and Drew Brees has one of the quickest releases in the NFL. Also working against Allen and the Vikings in this case is the fact that only six teams have allowed fewer sacks this season than the Saints' 23. So, on average, teams aren't even getting to Brees twice a game. I would like to think that Jared Allen could get a sack or two in this one, but one might be the extent of it, if even that.

The final two games of the season, however, could be where he makes some serious hay. The final road game of the season is a trip to Washington, D.C. to take on the Redskins on Christmas Eve. The Redskins have allowed the ninth-most sacks in the league, with 35 allowed through their first 13 games. We also need to take into consideration the fact that the Redskins just lost their starting left tackle, Trent Williams, to a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, so Jared will be facing a backup left tackle in that one. The Redskins are in the top half of the league in passing yardage, but their quarterback. . .well, their quarterback is still Rex Grossman. Interpret that however you wish.

In the finale, the Vikings will host a Chicago Bears team that may or may not have Jay Cutler behind center, and may or may not have Matt Forte behind him. The status of both of those players might depend on how Chicago fares in the wild card chase from here on out. If they've somehow fallen out of it in the next two weeks, I don't know if they would risk Cutler and Forte in what will have become a meaningless game. Allen did manage a sack of Cutler in the first meeting between these two teams, but I think we can all agree that, in terms of sack potential, he would rather see Caleb Hanie back there than Cutler. And just between you, me, and your desk, Caleb Hanie. . .well, he's kind of terrible. Not only has he thrown six interceptions to only two touchdown passes, but he's taken at least four sacks in each of his three starts, and has been sacked a total of 15 times in those three starts. (By contrast, Cutler took 23 sacks in the ten games he's started for Chicago this season.)

Jared Allen has had at least half a sack in 11 of Minnesota's 13 games this season, and has had multiple sacks in five games. With the Vikings' last three opponents being who they are, how many sacks do you think #69 will finish the 2011 season with?