3. Voters will have an asterisk next to T.J. Watt's Week 18 performance
With an average team defense and not quite elite advanced metrics this year, Watt's best chance to steal some Defensive Player of the Year votes is by crushing the league in some impressive categories. As mentioned, Watt is already tied for the league lead in sacks. He also has a combined 7 forced fumbles and fumble recoveries to go with a pick and a defensive touchdown this year.
Sadly, this won't be enough to take home his second DPOY trophy. Let's assume that Watt has a career game and goes off for 4.0 sacks against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 18. This would give him 21.0 sacks on the season -- the clear league leader in this department and likely the only player to edge the 20-sack mark this year. However, this would still be fewer sacks than he earned in 2021 when he tied the all-time single-season record with 22.5 sacks.
But even if he accomplishes such an unlikely feat this week, AP voters will put an asterisk next to this Week 18 performance. The Ravens are resting QB Lamar Jackson and all of their best players this week, so if Watt shows up big, votes will say that it happened in a meaningless game for the Ravens in which they rested their players.
T.J. Watt has some brilliant surges this year and some monstrous performances. Unfortunately, there just isn't enough time left for the Pittsburgh Steelers star to realistically claim Defensive Player of the Year honors for his performance in 2023. This doesn't change the fact that he's still on a Hall of Fame pace, but he won't be adding another DPOY award to his trophy case this year.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference