As the saying goes, defense wins championships in the NFL. In recent years, we’ve seen teams such as the Denver Broncos (2015), Seattle Seahawks (2013), and New York Giants (2011) rely on their dominant defenses to carry them to Super Bowl titles. And for a defensive to be truly dominant, it will need to have game-changing individual talent — the type of talent that would allow a player to contend for postseason honors — all over the field. With that being said, here is a look at the NFL Defensive Player of the Years odds heading into the 2018 preseason.
Odds as of July 27, 2018 courtesy of Sportsbook.ag.
Von Miller, OLB, Denver Broncos (+1200)
As we saw during the Broncos’ postseason run and eventual victory over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50, Miller is a once-in-a-generation type of talent. The six-time All-Pro has a first step that rivals NFL legends Derrick Thomas and Lawrence Taylor, and his ability to bend around the edge is unmatched. Miller often faces double and triple teams, which severely limits his statistical production. But with Denver’s addition of Bradley Chubb this offseason, the Super Bowl 50 MVP may end up finding himself in more one-on-one pass rush situations this fall. If that proves to be the case, Miller will be a serious contender for this award.
Khalil Mack, DE/OLB, Oakland Raiders (+800)
Mack already has one Defensive Player of the Year award on his resume. He is in the midst of a contract dispute with the Raiders, making his status for the start of the season unclear. When he is on the field, there is no denying his talent, though. If he plays the entire season, expect Mack to contend for this award again in 2018.
Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams (+800)
Simply put, Donald, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, was the most dominant, and most impactful, defensive player in the league in 2017 — and it wasn’t even close. If he gets his contract situation sorted out by the start of the season, Donald has to be considered the best bet to take home the award again in 2018.
J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans (+750)
Watt missed all but five games in 2017 because of injury, but the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year is reportedly back to full health heading into the preseason. If he stays healthy, Watt will be tough to beat here.
Joey Bosa, Los Angeles Chargers (+700)
Bosa being the odds-on favorite to win this award came as a bit of a surprise. He is undoubtedly a rising star, but he is nowhere near as accomplished as his competitors. Regardless, if he builds off his stellar sophomore campaign in 2017, Bosa will be a legitimate candidate by the end of the 2018 season.
Statistics courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.
Other notable players to watch:
- Jalen Ramsey (+1600)
- Luke Kuechly (+2000)
- Cameron Jordan (+2500)
- Demarcus Lawrence (+2500)
- Myles Garrett (+2500)
- Bobby Wagner (+3300)
- Calais Campbell (+3300)
- Chandler Jones (+3300)
- Fletcher Cox (+3300)
- Landon Collins (+3300)
Follow Jimmie on Twitter: @jimmiekaylor.