T.J. Watt is gaining ground on Micah Parsons, Myles Garrett in three-headed DPOY race

The Steelers might be bad, but don't count T.J. Watt out of the DPOY race just yet.

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The way the Pittsburgh Steelers have been playing so far in the month of December has forced some fans to check out early. Their 2023 season has crumbled before our eyes after suffering three straight losses in what should have been one of their easiest stretches on the schedule this year.

Another loss in Week 16 will certainly do the Steelers in and force fans to look ahead to the 2024 offseason. Injuries have compiled and the poor performances by Pittsburgh haven't given fans much to root for late in the season. However, there's still one attainable goal that fans would like to see by the end of the 2023 season.

This isn't a team goal, but it's one that has us intrigued. All-Pro defender T.J. Watt continues to chase the record books and build on his future Hall of Fame resume. Following a two-sack performance against the Colts in Week 15, Watt has gained significant ground in the 2023 Defensive Player of the Year race.

Last week, Watt had just +650 odds to win the DPOY award this year, courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook. Now those odds have skyrocketed. Bet MGM currently has Watt with +400 odds to win the award while DraftKings Sportsbook believes there's an even better chance at +360.

There are a few reasons for the significant shift in the odds in just one week's time. While Watt is coming off a two-sack performance against Indianapolis, frontrunner Micah Parsons was relatively quiet in the Cowboys' blowout loss to the Bills. Meanwhile, Myles Garrett is now on a four-game drought without recording a sack.

What must T.J. Watt do to win the 2023 DPOY award?

This isn't to take anything away from Parsons or Garrett. Both players are phenomenal and are having some of the best seasons of their careers. There is far more that goes into evaluating a pass rusher's performance than just tallying sack numbers. If it were as simple as that, T.J. Watt would likely run away with the DPOY race.

However, the Associated Press certainly factors in statistics when voting for the Defensive Player of the Year. Right now Watt leads the NFL in sacks with 16.0, while Garrett is 7th with 13.0 and Parsons is 8th with 12.5, per ESPN stats.

Unfortunately for Watt, his disrespected team could play a factor in the voting, and it doesn't help that Pittsburgh's defense hasn't been nearly as good as the Browns or Cowboys this season.

Realistically, for T.J. Watt to win the AP Defensive Player of the Year award for his performance during the 2023 season, it's probably going to take another 20-sack season combined with a few quiet performances from both Parsons and Garrett during the final three games of the season.

We saw how quickly the DPOY odds changed in just a matter of days. It could happen again if Watt has an outstanding performance against the Bengals in Week 16.