Steelers OLB T.J. Watt in a tight race for Defensive Player of the Year in 2020

Tommy Jaggi
T.J. Watt #90 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
T.J. Watt #90 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

Steelers edge defender T.J. Watt is gaining ground on Aaron Donald to become the Defensive Player of the Year in 2020.

I can’t say that this comes as a total surprise, but nearly halfway through the 2020 NFL season, Pittsburgh Steelers star edge defender, T.J. Watt, has the second-best odds to become the Defensive Player of the Year in 2020. The only player currently standing in his way is future Hall-of-Famer, Aaron Donald.

According to, Watt recently surpassed Myles Garrett for the second-best odds to earn DPOY honors after yet another stellar performance. This time, it was against the Baltimore Ravens in a game where he earned 3 tackles, 1.0 sack, 3 pressures, and a whopping 5 quarterback hits. Oddschecker now gives Watt +450 odds with Garrett still on his tail at +500. Aaron Donald still has a comfortable lead at +275, but it’s not hard to see why the gap is closing.

The Steelers star could close the gap

Though Donald is realistically deserving of this honor just about every year, there is certainly a case to be made for T.J. Watt. Nearly halfway through the season, Watt is on pace for very similar numbers that big brother J.J. Watt earned in two of his three Defensive Player of the Year seasons.

On tape, Watt is an unstoppable force off the edge. He has a remarkably rare combination of power, quickness, and bend that’s enough to give even the most elite offensive tackles nightmares. A few weeks ago, he humiliated former All-Pro tackle, Jack Conklin, in a game where Watt utterly manhandled him.

This trend has been the same all season: Go toe-to-toe with T.J. Watt, and you will be embarrassed. Even when the Steelers star defender isn’t raking in sack numbers, he is still making his presence felt on the football field. He is routinely the most double-teamed player on the Steelers, and his ability to routinely get pressure on the quarterback is uncanny.

Still, Watt has a lot of work cut out for him if he wants to earn the title of the best defensive player in the league this year. Myles Garrett has already tied for a league-high 9.0 sacks through his first 8 games, and it’s not unreasonable to think that he could end up with 20 this year. Meanwhile, Aaron Donald holds the other end of that tie. He is only going to continue to build on his 9.0 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and 22 pressures, so Watt will need to continue to be terrific.

In all honesty, this race is going to be tight enough all the way to the finish line, and it could come down to which player stays the healthiest throughout the course of the year. If Watt misses a game or two while Donald and Garrett are able to stay on the football field for all 16 contests, the Steelers standout probably won’t have a shot at securing the award in 2020.

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Whether T.J. Watt earns Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2020 or not, we all know he is a spectacular football player and one of the very best in the league. Watt continues to make strides, and this just feels like something he is going to accomplish in what will likely be a Hall-of-Fame career.