The Pittsburgh Steelers haven't given us much to root for in what has been a pretty sorry waste of an NFL season. During the summer of 2023, Steelers fans were filled with promise. New general managers Omar Khan and Andy Weidl appeared to have crushed their first NFL Draft, and Kenny Pickett had a perfect passer rating in his second preseason.
But things got ugly pretty quickly. Pittsburgh suffered blowout losses twice in the first four weeks before winning a few games that included ugly offensive performances by both the Steelers and their opponents.
The latest stretch of games has been the most brutal to watch. Mike Tomlin's team recently suffered their third straight loss. After getting humiliated by the Cardinals and Patriots -- teams that were both 2-10 at the time -- the Steelers allowed 30 straight points to the Colts in Week 15 in a 30-13 loss.
Immediately after their defeat, Pittsburgh plummeted out of the playoff race, and their odds of entering the postseason dropped to just 9 percent. Judging by their recent performances (and their utter lack of offense over the past few seasons) it's highly unlike this team to make the late-season surge it needs. Fortunately, there's still one thing fans can be rooting for.
T.J. Watt is chasing the Defensive Player of the Year award
As the Steelers fall apart, their odds of entering the postseason crumble. Even if they were able to win out and miraculously make the tournament, fans have no hope that a team averaging 15.9 points per game could do enough to superior opponents to leave a mark, and this team certainly isn't ready to compete for a Super Bowl.
Fortunately, fans do have one thing they can root for: T.J. Watt is chasing history.
The former 2021 Defensive Player of the Year is once again firmly in the DPOY race. This comes after a two-sack performance against the Colts in Week 16. With this showing, Watt essentially doubled his odds of being named the Defensive Player of the Year for the 2023 season.
Watt currently leads the NFL with 16.0 sacks -- narrowly surpassing Danielle Hunter's 15.5 sack mark entering Week 16. Two other pass rushers (Khalil Mack and Trey Hendrickson) have recorded 15.0 sacks entering the final three weeks of the season.
Watt's biggest competition is with Micah Parsons and Myles Garrett. Despite a bad team performance against the Bills, Parsons was able to muster up a sack and is the frontrunner for the award entering Week 16. Garrett narrowly trails him and is currently 7th in the NFL in sacks, according to ESPN stats.
Unfortunately for Watt, this is often a team award, and the Steelers as a whole aren't cutting it this year. This could impact things when it comes to the Associated Press award voting for the 2023 season. Parsons and Garrett have both shown to be deserving of this honor thanks to their dominant performances this season.
Regardless of whether or not T.J. Watt rakes in his second DPOY award, he's continuing to build on his future Hall of Fame resume. Watt needs 4.0 sacks in the final three games of the season to hit the 20-sack mark for the second time in his career.
Watt and Michael Strahan hold the single-season sack record at 22.5. With just three games remaining, it's unlikely that the Pittsburgh Steelers star can break his own sack record this season.