In today's pass happy offenses of the NFL, it's important to have defenses that can consistently pressure the quarterback in passing situations. A pass rush can assist a secondary and throw the the quarterback out of his rhythm. Great quarterbacks like the Denver Broncos' Peyton Manning, the New England Partiots' Tom Brady, or the New Orleans Saints Drew Brees can't get a lot accomplished if they have consistent pressure.
But what teams have that kind of ability, and what are some of the their more notable pass rushers? Here are five of the best teams in that aspect:
1. Houston Texans - The Texans are arguably the most balanced team in the NFL and one of the best in the AFC when it comes to defenses. They have the league's sack leader in defensive end J.J. Watt, who has 9.5 sacks thus far, and excels at batting down ball at the line of scrimmage. In only his second year in the league, Watt has become a part of the generation of the NFL's next group of pass rushers. He also has great compliements in linebacker Brooks Reed and Connor Barwin. The team has 21 sacks on the season.
2. Minnesota Vikings - The surprising Vikings have benefited from a full off-season, a solid draft, and a healthier defense that allows them to get back to their pass rushing ways. The pressures are often led by defensive end Jared Allen, one of the best defensive ends in the league, and a nice compliment on the other side in Brian Robinson, not to mention two disruptive defensive tackles in Kevin Williams and Letroy Guion. Allen leads the team with seven sacks.
3. New York Giants - The Giants have had one of the deepest rotations of defensive linemen in the league, and one of the most disruptive front fours as well. On the outside, Jason Pierre-Paul and Osi Umenyiora are the dynamic duo at defensive end, while on the inside, the likes of Rocky Bernard, Justin Tuck, and Chris Canty serve as great rotational players. What is unique is the fact that all of the Giants' defensive linemen have the capability to play both inside and outside, giving New York the flexibility to move around their defensive line and make it hard to key in on just one player.
4. Arizona Cardinals - The biggest surprise out of this Cardinals' team was the improved pass rush of this defense. Notching 22 sacks thus far, the Cards have linebackers Daryl Washington and Sam Acho to thank from the outside, while Darrell Dockett and Calais Campbell man the interior along the defensive line. The Cardinals are indeed one of the more dangerous teams when it comes to rushing the passer and pressuring the quarterback.
5. Green Bay Packers - A team with a lot of youth on defense, the Pack tout one of the league's best in Clay Matthews, who is the league's second leading player when it comes to sacks, trailing the Texans' Watt by half a sack. Matthews has a nose for the quarterback, and has come into 2012 with a vengance after aslump in the sack categorey in 2011 with only 6.5 sacks after having at least ten sacks his first two seasons. Matthews is the only one of this group with no notable pass rushing compliment, but has a collection of linebackers in Erik Walden, rookie first-rounder Nick Perry, and defensive linemen BJ Raji and Jerel Worthy.