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
|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.
Aaron Donald is on pace for his lowest graded season in 4 years
He’s still the highest-graded defender in the NFL (93.0) 🐐 pic.twitter.com/E794DMeRCG
— PFF (@PFF) December 9, 2020
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.
The man LEADS the NFL in…
– QB Hits
– Pass Rush Win Rate
Not 2nd, not 3rd, not 4th…
Plain and Simple.@_TJWatt
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) December 8, 2020
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.
TJ Watt has now tied Bruce Smith for most sacks over the first four years of an NFL career (44.5). Tied for 11th all-time. since the stat became official. #Steelers
— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) December 2, 2020
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.
Best pass rush win rate on 3rd down:
1. Aaron Donald – 31.5%
2. Joey Bosa – 30.0
3. Jonathan Allen – 28.7
4. Chris Jones – 27.7 pic.twitter.com/wmBztJ31oW
— PFF (@PFF) December 5, 2020
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.
Myles Garrett is the first player in Browns history with 3 straight seasons of 10+ sacks. pic.twitter.com/PSf3vWuqEg
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) December 6, 2020
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.
Is this the Defensive Player of the Year? 👀
Get ready for @steelers on SNF this weekend with an award-worthy wallpaper! @_TJWatt | #HereWeGo pic.twitter.com/M4yWni74Jd
— Sunday Night Football (@SNFonNBC) December 9, 2020
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)
An industry veteran, Bob literally taught the course on the history of sports at Elder College. He has worked as a Sports Columnist for Postmedia, appeared as a guest on several radio stations, was the Vice President of the Society For International Hockey Research in Ontario, and written 25 books.