Aaron Donald and TJ Watt Still Tied for Best Odds to Win NFL DPOY


Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt

Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt (90) plays in an NFL football game against the Washington Football Team, Monday, Dec. 7, 2020, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

  • Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams and TJ Watt of the Pittsburgh Steelers are co-favorites to win the NFL DPOY Award
  • Both are at odds of +200
  • Donald was NFL DPOY in 2017 and 2018. Are either a good bet to win this year? See the odds for all the contenders below

Winning the NFL Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) Award is old to both Aaron Donald and the Watt family. However, it’s a whole new world to TJ Watt.

Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Donald was named NFL DPOY in 2017. He repeated the win in 2018.

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Watt is the younger brother of Houston Texans defensive lineman JJ Watt. The elder Watt has won a record three NFL DPOY Awards, a mark he shares with former New York Giants Hall of Fame LB Lawrence Taylor.

This year, though, it’s TJ who’s looking to add another piece of hardware to the family collection. To do so, he’ll need to overcome two-time winner Donald.

Oddsmakers are determining this race as too close to call. With a month left in the NFL regular season, Donald and Watt are the +200 co-favorites to win the NFL DPOY.

Odds to be NFL DPOY

Player (Team) Odds
Aaron Donald (Rams) +200
TJ Watt (Steelers) +200
Myles Garrett (Eagles) +400
Cameron Heyward (Steelers) +2600
Jalen Ramsey (Rams) +2600
Joey Bosa (Chargers) +2600
Xavien Howard (Dolphins) +2600
Budda Baker (Cardinals) +3700
DeForest Buckner (Colts) +3700

Odds taken Dec. 9th from FanDuel

If Donald were to win, he’d join Taylor and JJ Watt as three-time winners. If TJ Watt wins, he and JJ would be the first brothers to have won the award.

A Tight Race

Donald and Watt have been running neck and neck at the front of this race since it was initiated in late March. When the NFL Defensive Player of the Year odds opened, Donald was the +700 favorite. Watt was the second betting choice at +1100.

They stayed 1-2 until November 17. At that stage, Watt jumped into favorite’s status at +240. Last week, both Watt (+166) and Donald (+188) displayed their shortest odds of the season.

So Watt If He’s Biased

During Pittsburgh’s game Monday against the Washington Football Team, a social media campaign was launching to pitch Watt for the NFL DPOY. That campaign was undertaken by Watt’s brother JJ.

“DPOY. Plain and simple,” JJ Watt posted to Twitter.

TJ and JJ could soon share recognition as NFL DPOY. There’s also another title both could soon hold. TJ’s contract is up at season’s end. He’s expected to become the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL when he inks that new deal.

In 2014, JJ signed a six-year, $100-million extension with the Texans. At the time, it made him the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL.

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The Case for TJ Watt

His brother is biased but the numbers don’t lie. When it comes to being an impact player, there’s no denying that TJ is delivering the goods.

The Steelers linebacker is the NFL leader in sacks (12), tackles for losses (19), quarterback pressures (49), QB hits (37) and pass rush win rate (31.3%). He’s also picked off one pass, forced a fumble and scored a touchdown.

Twice already this season, Watt was named AFC Defensive Player of the Month.

The Case for Donald

Donald’s dominance was evident right from the season opener against Dallas. He recorded ten QB pressures, five hurries and a sack as the Rams won 20-17.

Since the NFL began tracking QB pressures in 2016, there have been just seven occasions where an interior lineman created ten in a single game. Donald’s been responsible for three of them.

For the season, he’s showing 11 sacks, 22 QB hits, four forced fumbles and nine tackles for losses.

Is There Value In Garrett?

At +400, Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett is the only other defender with odds shorter than +2600. Even though he missed two games due to COVID-19 restrictions, Garrett shows impressive numbers.

He’s recorded 10.5 sacks, eight tackles for losses, forced four fumbles and recovered two. But after collecting nine sacks through his first seven games, Garrett recorded just 1.5 over the past three contests.

Watts the Right Answer

The Steelers have fashioned an 11-1 slate via a fair to middling offense and a dominating defense. Watt is the leader of that powerhouse group.

He will soon put his name alongside Joe Greene, Troy Polamalu, Mel Blount, Jack Lambert, Rod Woodson and James Harrison as Steelers who’ve won the NFL DPOY.

Pick: TJ Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers (+200)

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Robert Duff

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