The Associated Press presents the NFL’s best defender with the Defensive Player of the Year Award. 50 AP sports writers vote on the award. 2021’s winner was T.J. Watt of the Pittsburgh Steelers, but this award has largely been dominated by Aaron Darnold and J.J. Watt in the past.
Favorite entering Week 1: Myles Garrett/TJ Watt (+700)
No surprises here. Despite the turmoil of their overall teams, one thing you can count on from the Cleveland Browns and the Steelers is that Myles Garrett and Watt are going to shine on defense. They are a quarterback’s worst nightmare, and teams always have to be aware of where they line up on the field. Watt being the favorite makes sense because he was the winner of the award in 2021.
Favorite entering Week 5: Micah Parsons (+200)
Parsons began to break out in the NFL. The Dallas Cowboys defense was continuing its dominance from a season ago, and Parsons was showing that he could play a variety of positions and maintain his success. He also benefited from Watt suffering a groin injury that sidelined him for the majority of the season.
Favorite entering Week 10: Micah Parsons (-225)
Parsons and Dallas continued their solid start to the season. Heading into Week 10, the Cowboys were coming off their bye week. Parsons had 36 combined tackles with eight sacks. He also had two forced fumbles and a 36-yard scoop and score.
Favorite entering Week 14: Micah Parsons (-450)
Parsons had his best odds to win the award heading into Week 14. Through 12 games, he had 12 sacks with 52 combined tackles. Parsons added one more forced fumble bringing his total to three at that point. He was dominating offensive lines and had a total of 22 quarterback hits.
Favorite entering Week 19: Nick Bosa (-1400)
You may have noticed a change here, and a drastic one at that. With not really any rhyme or reason, the Dallas defense fell off down the stretch of the regular season. Parsons began dealing with several minor injuries, but as a whole, the entire Cowboys defense started falling apart. San Francisco 49ers star pass rusher Nick Bosa was his consistent self and used the opportunity to surge ahead of Parsons.