NFL Defensive Player of the Year betting: Why the favorite is worth it

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It wasn't the flashiest season-long prop win, but we dug up the third choice for Defensive Player of the Year before the 2021 campaign and eventually cashed T.J. Watt (+800) tickets during the NFL Honors. The win came largely because we sussed out potential voting fatigue on the favorite, Aaron Donald.

Unlike the Offensive Player of the Year market, the top of this oddsboard has many familiar names from last year - just in a different order.

Defensive Player of the Year odds

PLAYER ODDS
T.J. Watt +650
Myles Garrett +650
Aaron Donald +900
Micah Parsons +1000
Nick Bosa +1000
Joey Bosa +2000
Shaquille Leonard +2500
Rashan Gary +2500
Chase Young +3000
Maxx Crosby +3000
Von Miller +3000
Danielle Hunter +4000
Derwin James +4000
Khalil Mack +4000
Brian Burns +5000
Chandler Jones +5000
Fred Warner +5000
Matthew Judon +5000
Randy Gregory +5000

Odds available on theScore Bet, players not listed above available at 50-1 or longer

Like Kupp on the offensive side, last year's winner is the favorite. Watt's win was the ninth time in 11 years that the DPOY award went to someone whose primary job was to pressure the quarterback. Even though Trevon Diggs had the most interceptions in my lifetime and returned two of those for touchdowns, he still didn't sniff the award. Micah Parsons' breakout rookie season also puts him in the mix for an award that's usually given to one of the top preseason choices.

Best bets

T.J. Watt (+650)

Watt recorded an outrageous 22.5 sacks in less than 15 games of action last season, so it's notable that he's just the co-favorite for this award. Even with five or six fewer sacks, he'll still be in contention for DPOY. He'll almost definitely be in the mix statistically and will repeat at a higher rate than his +650 odds and 13.3% implied win probability suggests.

Part of the calculus stems from the Steelers' success - voters could guiltlessly award Watt last season thanks to the team making the playoffs. It's a good bet that Mike Tomlin's team will still be respectable considering he's never had a losing season. If that's the case, the Pittsburgh defense will need to lead the way after finishing 22nd in the league in scoring defense (24.4) last season.

Nick Bosa (+1000)

The 49ers were a playoff team last year, so a repeat trip wouldn't be a surprise. Their defense was probably underrated, given they allowed the fifth fewest points per game and shut down Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay during their playoff run. They didn't have an extreme statistical leader, though. That might change in 2022.

Nick Bosa's 15.5-sack season coming off an ACL injury was nearly as ridiculous as Watt's. If Watt does take a completely reasonable step back to around 18 sacks, Bosa can join him in that upper echelon. Bosa's been able to work on strategy and technique instead of rehab this offseason, meaning he's primed for a career year.

Brian Burns (+5000)

Being an under-the-radar pick is particularly tough to overcome on defense, since the ball isn't in your hands. Success is less obvious to voters whose attention is often directed elsewhere on a play-to-play basis. However, in just three seasons in the NFL, only nine players have more sacks than Burns.

If the Panthers have a better year, they'll need to get complementary big plays from the defense, and Burns is capable of making the jump from nine sacks to a mark in the mid-teens. A few good bounces thanks to a forced fumble in one or two key spots could put him in the mix the same way Parsons was last year.

Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.

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NFL Defensive Player of the Year betting: Why the favorite is worth it
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