Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt (90) during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals on December 21, 2020, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, OH. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire)
- TJ Watt has overtaken Aaron Donald to be the favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year
- See how the odds have changed from last week where Donald was the betting favorite
- Is it a two horse race or are there any other players who could snag the award?
Following the Pittsburgh Steelers rousing 17-point comeback victory against the Indianapolis Colts, TJ Watt has propelled himself to the odds-on favorite to win the DPOY award with just one week to go. Watt was relentless against Philip Rivers and company as he collected two sacks and a forced fumble to lead the charge for the desperately needed W.
Aaron Donald, meanwhile, had a sack against the Seahawks to go along with eight total pressures to make Russell Wilson very uncomfortable. However, with the Rams falling to their division rivals, they squandered a chance at the NFC West title and could potentially miss the playoffs altogether in the final week of the season.
Subsequently, TJ Watt now leads in the NFL Defensive Player of the Year odds after he entered Week 16 with +260 odds to take home the crown compared to Donald’s seemingly insurmountable -145 line.
Is Donald worth betting on at his current price or does Watt have the award wrapped up, and does a player like Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard stand a chance to unseat both of them?
Odds To Win NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award
|TJ Watt (Steelers)||-180|
|Aaron Donald (Rams)||+220|
|Xavien Howard (Dolphins)||+600|
|Myles Garrett (Browns)||+2000|
|Cameron Heyward (Steelers)||+5000|
|Jalen Ramsey (Rams)||+5000|
|Minkah Fitzpatrick (Steelers)||+6500|
Odds as of Dec. 28 at FanDuel.
TJ Watt Poised to win first Defensive Player of the year Award
Through the first 13 weeks of the season, TJ Watt and Aaron Donald were neck and neck to win the award. Watt saw his grip on the prize wilt away when the Steelers were mired in a three-game losing skid following their perfect 11-and-0 start, with him losing his perch at the top as front runner when Buffalo defeated Pittsburgh.
Another loss followed against the lowly Bengals and Donald had one hand on the award but a sterling Steelers comeback and a Rams loss to Seattle Sunday has vaulted Watt back to the top.
.@_TJWatt is the:
• 1️⃣st player in #SteelersHistory with 14.0+ sacks in multiple seasons
• 7️⃣th player to register at least 15.0 sacks & 24 TFL in a single season since 1999
• 1️⃣4️⃣th player in NFL history with at least 14.5 sacks in back-to-back seasons pic.twitter.com/6IlziVOd6J
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) December 28, 2020
Watt has been in on a sack in eight of his last ten games, and he faces a Browns squad desperate to make the playoffs this weekend. Watt has posted a sack in six of seven career games against Cleveland as he’s racked up nine sacks in those contests. That’s the most he’s had against any opponent in his career and he has franchise history squarely in his sights.
TJ Watt has 15 sacks this Season. He can break James Harrison’s All-Time Sack Steelers Franchise Record of 16 with 2 sack’s against the Cleveland Browns next week. #Steelers pic.twitter.com/rD0Ed693XW
— Blitzburgh ✨ (@RenegadeBlitz) December 27, 2020
With the Steelers off the schneid and the Browns recording just one win in the last eleven meetings with Pittsburgh, if that trend along with Watt’s personal record against Cleveland continues, it’d be hard for him to lose his grip on the award now.
Super Bowl 55 Odds Tracker
Aaron Donald Losing Grip on Third DPOY Award in Four Years
Even though individual awards should only account for individual success and not team record, there is more often than not a direct correlation to team success resulting in players winning awards. With the LA Rams shockingly losing to the previously winless Jets and then the Seahawks, Aaron Donald’s odds to win his third DPOY award in four years has taken a serious hit despite still being an absolute monster.
Aaron Donald owns 32 of the 100 best single-game pass-rush grades at his position since 2016
Next closest player has nine 🤯 pic.twitter.com/wp15VdJNuh
— PFF (@PFF) December 26, 2020
Should the Rams lose Sunday to Arizona and the Bears upset Green Bay, the Rams would be on the outside looking in for a playoff spot with the Cards and Chicago owning the tiebreakers with identical 9-7 records, and Donald surely wouldn’t be able to survive that to unseat Watt.
Xavien Howard of the Dolphins has an NFL high nine interceptions on the campaign including a stretch of five straight games with a pick but he has none in the last two games. His +600 odds are intriguing to win the award, but it doesn’t seem likely that he can do enough in one week to unseat both Donald and Watt, especially since Miami might also fall out of the playoff picture.
Only one player since 2007 (Watt’s brother JJ in 2014) has won the award despite his team missing the post-season.
Pick: TJ Watt to win Defensive Player of the Year Award (-180)
Michael “Hound Dog” Harrison is well known in the sports industry as the resident statisitician for the Jay and Dan Show. He has worked at TSN for over 13 years, where he’s been featured on Sportscentre, That’s Hockey, That’s Hockey 2Nite, The Masters preview shows, and several more.