The Pittsburgh Steelers may have been an up-and-down team throughout the 2023 season, but one consistent staple continues to be star pass rusher, T.J. Watt. Despite the team's struggles, and the absurd amount of snaps he was asked to play this year, Watt found a way to make his presence felt in nearly every game (which is nothing we aren't used to seeing).
The Steelers don't have one of the league's top defenses this year thanks to some gaping roster holes and significant injuries. However, Watt has still found a way to be a top-three candidate for the 2023 Defensive Player of the Year award as we approach the final week of the NFL season.
There are two players who currently have better odds to take home this prestigious award, Browns All-Pro Myles Garrett and Cowboys star Micah Parsons.
According to FanDuel Sportsbook, Watt is a long shot to win the Defensive Player of the Year award at just +470 odds, while Garrett is the odds-on favorite entering Week 18.
This means that Watt needs to have a monstrous showing against the Ravens in the season finale to give himself an edge when it comes to end-of-the-year award voting. Because Watt doesn't have the advantage of a tremendous team defense (like both Garrett and Parsons), he would need to have some eye-popping raw numbers to warrant strong consideration for this award.
Entering Week 18, Watt is tied with Bengals pass rusher, Trey Hendrickson, for the league lead in sacks with 17.0. Not only does he need to finish with the highest mark in the league, but Watt probably needs to notch 20 sacks to grab the attention of the 50 sports journalists of the Associated Press who vote on the annual NFL awards.
This means that Watt would have to rake in at least three sacks in the final week of the season. If he's able to do this, Watt would earn his second season of 20-plus sacks and would become the first player in NFL history to lead the league in sacks in three separate seasons.
Of course, even a three-sack performance might not be enough to take home the 2023 Defensive Player of the Year award. Oftentimes, this honor goes to the player of the league's best defense. In this case, that would be Myles Garrett (which is probably why he has the best odds of winning the DPOY award this year).
Even if Watt has a monstrous game in Baltimore on Saturday, Associated Press voters may also take into consideration that the Ravens are resting their best players -- potentially leaving an asterisk next to his box score numbers for Week 18.
As the game changes and new metrics become available, the panel of voters can use these to make the case for Parsons or Garrett for the 2023 DPOY. Both of these edge rushers have compiled more pressures and have a higher pass-rush win rate -- which could be a deciding factor when it comes to voting.
Whether T.J. Watt wins his second DPOY award or not, Pittsburgh Steelers fans can still take comfort in knowing that they have one of the best defensive players in the league, and this isn't going to hurt his Hall of Fame track.
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.