Number one let me get this out of the way... * This post in no way is an endorsement for gambling. It's just a fun way to get into a prediction for a player. Any Las Vegas talk, bookie talk, or overseas online gambling talk is strictly at the discretion of the reader. So if you happen to see bets being taken, legally or illegally, from my over/under number, it's simply a coincidence.
Julius Peppers has most Bears fans excited. No scratch that. Julius Peppers has most Bears fans ecstatic in anticipation for the season opener. We're hoping beyond hope that his Bears debut is better than the Bears debut of last years big off-season acquisition, Jay Cutler. Not that he'd have to do much to look better than Cutler did. But if Peppers doesn't register a sack, and the Bears somehow lose to the Lions I can see the front page headlines in Chicago now. "Peppers Brings No Spice To The Pass Rush" or "Peppers Has Salty Debut". And Chicago talk radio will no doubt be all over his failings as a player as well. But that's not gonna happen! Peppers will be dominant in 2010 and so will the Bears! Right?
Before setting the over/under for his sacks I need to look at his career as a whole (link to Pro Football Reference right here). Eight seasons and 81 sacks, for an average of 10.125 sacks per year. But since you can't really get .125 of a sack (not officially anyway) I'll round down to 10 sacks per season. Ten sacks is a good start. I'd be happy if he picked up 10 sacks, not as happy as 15, but double digit sacks is a must. And speaking of double digit sacks, he's hit that mark in 6 of his eight seasons.
He's a durable player. He's only missed 6 games in his career, and has started 120 of the 122 games in which he's played. Which gives him a sack per game average of .66, which if extrapolated out for a 16 game season gives us 10.56 sacks (which we'll call 10.5). So now we're moving up a half of a sack.
If this were figure skating (Is this the first figure skating reference on WCG?) you would throw out the high and the low and go from there. So... I'll get rid of the 2007 season and his 2.5 sacks and his 2008 season and his 14.5 sacks and recalculate. 81-17=64/6=10.66... And I'll round down to 10.5 sacks. Again.
If you line up his sack totals from highest to lowest to, it's looking like this;
14.5 - 13 - 12 - 11 - 10.5 - 10.5 - 7 - 2.5
That 11 and 10.5 is right there in the middle, and that 10.5 was hit twice. Something to consider...
Maybe he's on the downward spiral of his career, he is 30 years old now. His first four seasons in Carolina he had 40.5 sacks (wait a minute...), and the last four seasons in Carolina, yep, you guessed it, 40.5. I'll give Peppers this, he is fairly consistent. And it's that consistency that leads me to set the over/under for his sacks at 10.5!
He was a member of some really good defenses early in his Carolina career, and the 2010 Bears (on paper at least) have that kind of potential. If the Bears offense is clicking like a Mike Martz offense can, the Bears D-Line could be in pass rush mode quite a bit, leading to more opportunities to pick up some sacks. Me, I'm going with the Over. I see some good stuff happening with the defense this year, and if Peppers is indeed sacking at a high rate, the Bears will be playoff bound.