J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus sack Andrew Luckby Shawn Maher (@ShawnBenMaher)
Cold, Hard Football Facts’ Sultan of Swine

With the fresh memories of a spoiled trip to Boston, wearing letter jackets that reflected their amateur-level play against the Patriots, Houston decided to play grown man football in a divisional game against a young quarterback.

Houston, who moved up to the second spot in the Defensive Hog Index, dropped Andrew Luck five times and knocked a fumble out of Mewelde Moore. It is now an era in which the Texans are the heavy hitters of the South.

The Hog Report’s favorite player singlehandedly demoralized the Colts, cementing his status as the rightful recipient of defensive player of the year.

Prime Cut: J.J. Watt and Aldon Smith Sniffing the Sack Record

Against Indianapolis, the Texans had a 15.63 NPP% on the strength of their five sacks. With three of those sacks, Watt personally accounted for 9.38 NPP%. That would be the 11th-ranked NPP% on the current DHI out of all the teams, by one hog alone.

Both Watt and Aldon Smith are in outstanding position to break Michael Strahan’s record (since it became an official statistic) of 22.5. Unfortunately, neither of them will likely have the benefit of Brett Favre gifting them a record-breaker. What they do have is outstanding company in reaching 19 sacks in 14 games.

 Through 14Total
1984 Mark Gastineau1922
1986 Lawrence Taylor19.520.5
1987 Reggie White1921
1990 Bruce Smith1919
2008 DeMarcus Ware1920
2012 Aldon Smith19.5 
2012 J.J. Watt19.5 

(Bolded totals led the league)

But those sacks alone do not show Watt’s total impact, even if double-digit sacks alone is a staggering enough feat for a 5 technique defensive end. Watt is only one of four players to have 19 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries in an ENTIRE season. This is very high-class company to keep.

Players with at 19 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries
2011 Jared Allen22464416
1989 Chris Doleman21945516
1990 Derrick Thomas20636215
2012 J.J. Watt19.5623214

Chris Doleman enters the NFL Hall of FameThe numbers are comparable to Derrick Thomas, which is impressive considering Thomas’ pass-rushing specialty and Tomahawk Chop strip sack, which led to his clear edge with 6 forced fumbles.

Chris Doleman registering 94 tackles and 21 sacks show why he joined the late Thomas in the Hall of Fame.

But Watt also uses his telephone-pole-esque arms to put up pass defended numbers that make a cornerback jealous.

These are the best ENTIRE seasons by a defensive lineman with passes defended this millennium, and Watt already has the best total.

And, yes, Jason Taylor did play some outside linebacker in the 3-4 defense, but he was classified as a defensive lineman these seasons by Pro Football Reference.

2012 J.J. Watt15
2011 Greg Hardy11
2006 Jason Taylor11
2004 Jason Taylor11
2005 Jason Taylor10
2006 Jared Allen10
2007 Jared Allen10
Six other linemen10

Combining the sack prowess and sun-blotting, pass-swatting abilities like that is unprecedented. Only Jared Allen in 2007 could rival those lofty totals. And Allen missed two games that season, so Watt is having a season on par when Allen, an every-down 4-3 defensive end, was arguably the best defensive player in the league.

Players with at least 15 sacks, 10 passes defended
2007 Jared Allen15.5301014
2012 J.J. Watt19.5321514

For Watt to put up numbers that can hang with some of the great edge rushers, but still have the 3-4 defensive end’s ability to control blockers as well as anybody not named Justin Smith, is more than a small achievement. It is a season that Watt could cause the same revolution to his position that Tony Gonzalez had at tight end.

Hog Report’s Super Bowl Barometer: Broncos Regain Lead as Seahawks Keep Climbing

It’s a passer’s world, baby, and Super Bowl champion hogs protect their quarterback, while disrupting the opposing passer. A 3.5 NPP% differential is the threshold for a world champion.

 D NPP%O NPP%Differential

Seattle has improved from a -1.23 NPP% differential in Week 8 to 0.99 currently, a rapid improvement that reinforces the notion that they are the most dangerous team in the league currently. They moved up five spots to a 10th ranking in the OHI, and rushed for 8.44 YPA against Buffalo with 8 NPP%.

The Hawks’ o-hogs are ranked fourth in the league in rushing yards per attempt with 4.82, and Marshawn Lynch outshone his eventual replacement in Buffalo, C.J. Spiller, rushing for 10.22 YPA to Spiller’s 6.06.

Roasted Pork Butt: Giants Lose Lead in NPP% Differential and Continue their Downward Spiral

The Broncos found their way back to the top, in no small part due to the Falcons’ drubbing of the Giants, who topped the list last week in NPP% differential.  Big Blue is still second in the Offensive Hog Index, but they fell from 5.14 to 4.41 in dirty south.

Atlanta had a squeaky clean 3.45 NPP%, and looked more than capable in pass protection against the vaunted Giants defensive line. The Giants, however, had an embarrassing 11.54, and a -8.09 NPP% differential. That is what makes it such a big win for Atlanta, they are not known to out-physical a physical team.

The last time the Giants won a game with a sack and no interceptions, with the opponent passing for over 250 yards, was in 2008 against Philadelphia. In that overtime win, with Eli Manning hitting Plaxico Burress for a game-winning 31-yard touchdown pass, Philadelphia still was entirely mediocre. Their 350 passing yards came on 45 attempts for 7.78 YPA, while they only rushed for 3.57 YPA.

Best Worst Stat of the Week: Belichick Really Took Notes on Chip Kelley's Offense

Bill Belichick has met with Oregen coach Chip Kelley to learn the secrets of how he can keep his offense moving as blindingly fast as the Ducks fast-motion attack. It appears that New England has found the same formula successful after the Week 15 feat against San Francisco.

The Patriots ran 65 pass plays and 24 running plays, a feat that has only been accomplished three other times in the history of professional football. Sure, the faster playclock skews more towards the modern era, but the Patriots and the league's finest group of hogs can fly down the field.

It's too bad that a cadre of plays is not a sure-fire sign of a win.

Teams with 65 pass and 24 rush attempts
TeamPass YPARush YPAResult
2012 NE6.543.96L 34-41
2001 CIN5.934.86W 26-23 OT
1986 SDG5.864.37L 41-42

Trench Warfare of Week 16: New York Giants at Baltimore Ravens

Peria Jerry sacks Eli ManningThis matchup features two teams that reek of desperation, trying to regain control of divisions that once seemed firmly in their grasp. They both have been struggling, especially up front. The Giants can be up and down, while the Ravens are consistently a few ticks below mediocre.

The Giants are in the bottom half of the league in the DHI, while they are second in the OHI. The Ravens have a bottom-half ranking on the offensive front, but still are ranked 10th on defense.

The CHFF quality stats favor the Giants, and the disaster that is the Ravens offense does not show signs of life under the comatose-appearing Jim Caldwell. The Giants are ready for their patented cardiac-arrest-inducing finish, and it all begins up front.