For the first time in his promising career, Micah Parsons is the +350 favorite to win the Defensive Player of the Year award. He surpassed Myles Garrett (+450) as the betting favorite at Caesars Sportsbook last Wednesday after opening with the fourth-best odds to win the award behind Aaron Donald, T.J. Watt and Garrett.
Bettors are flocking to Parsons as he's received the most bets (19%) and highest percentage of money (37%) to win the award since it opened.
Those wagers could pay off if he continues to be an absolute game-wrecker. Entering Week 3, Parsons leads the NFL in sacks (4.0), pressures (13) and is second in pressure rate (22%). He's also Pro Football Focus' highest-graded edge defender (92.2) this year.
Micah Parsons by the numbers -- entering Week 3
He's answering the question, what happens if the Cowboys use him exclusively as a pass rusher? Parsons is lining up as an outside linebacker on 79% of his snaps this year, up from 39% last year.
He is also getting better. He's pressuring the quarterback in roughly two seconds on average (2.01), the fastest among the top 40 players in pressures this year, and significantly better than his mark last year (2.36). If you look at the seven players with 10 pressures this season, there's a stark difference between Parson's time to pressure (2.01) and the rest of the group's (2.46). That half-second is an eternity if you're a quarterback. He also has more pressures in under two seconds (5) than 17 entire teams.
Most pressures in 2022 -- entering Week 3
Time to pressure
Micah Parsons, Cowboys
Myles Garrett, Browns
Shaquil Barrett, Bucs
The impact is evident. The Cowboys have allowed negative yardage (-3) this season on Parsons' 13 pressures. Dallas also held two high-powered offenses (Buccaneers and Bengals) to roughly 10 points below their 2021 season average, and escaped with a win against Cincinnati without Dak Prescott.
That's just the tip of the iceberg when talking about Parsons' skill set, though. According to ESPN metrics powered by NFL Next Gen Stats, Parsons beats his block on nearly 60% of his pass rushes this season, easily the best pass-rush win rate in the league. Think about that. If the most fundamental part about pass rushing is beating the offensive lineman, it's absurd that he's doing it well beyond half the time. The kicker, too, as you can see in the chart below (courtesy of ESPN Sports Analytics Writer Seth Walder), he's accomplishing this while getting double-teamed at one of the higher rates in the league, leaving him in a league of his own.
First win rate chart of the season!— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) September 21, 2022
Double team rate at edge (x) by pass rush win rate at edge (y).
Traffic jam at the bottom courtesy of Micah Parsons at the top! pic.twitter.com/WXWhvjf443
Parsons will take his show on the road in Week 3 on the big stage of "Monday Night Football" in front of an all-time great he's often compared with. Lawrence Taylor told the New York Post: "I'm quite sure I'm gonna see what he's got on Monday night 'cause I will be there," LT said. "I haven't analyzed it. But I will on Monday."
It could be quite a performance. He faces a Giants offensive line that's allowed the highest pressure rate in the NFL (49%) this year. While LT Andrew Thomas is Pro Football Focus' highest-graded offensive tackle in the league, rookie RT Evan Neal ranks 65th among 66 players. The Cowboys have been moving Parsons around, so expect them to find the right matchup. He has 38 snaps at right OLB this season and 55 at left OLB.
Giants head coach Brian Daboll knows how much of a threat he is. "He's a problem," Daboll said. "He's a dynamic football player. He can play multiple spots, he does. You see him at linebacker, you see him at defensive end. He has rare pass-rush ability, and we're gonna have a good plan for him. He's fun to watch when you're not getting ready to play him. … We have to obviously know where he's at."
Beyond Week 3, brace yourselves for a historic season. Parsons already has the most sacks by any player through 18 career games, and he's getting better.
Most sacks in first 18 career games
- Micah Parsons 17.0
- Aldon Smith 16.5
- Joey Bosa 16.0
- Jevon Kearse 16.0
- Clay Matthews 16.0
(Since sacks became official in 1982)
If he keeps it up, he'll be getting more than comparisons to LT. With a Defensive Player of the Year award in his sights, he can join Taylor (1981-82) and former Panthers star Luke Kuechly (2012-13) as the only players in NFL history to win Defensive Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in their first two seasons. Taylor won both awards as a rookie and added a second DPOY honor in his second season.
It's only two games into the year and 18 into his career. As Taylor's Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells would say, "put away the anointing oil."
I guess I'll keep it on standby.