Defense wins championships in the NFL — or so they say. Quarterbacks tend to grab the headlines, but if you look at the best teams with the best overall records in league, chances are they have at least one candidate to win the 2018 NFL Defensive Player of the Year award on their roster.
With that being said, here’s a look at the players the Las Vegas oddsmakers are giving the best odds to take home the prestigious award following the 2018 season.
J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans (+650)
Coming into 2018, there were questions about Watt’s health and how effective he would be early in the season. Needless to say, the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year has silenced any and all of his doubters through the first seven weeks of the season.
Watt’s 7.0 sacks puts him 1.0 sack behind league leaders Aaron Donald and Danielle Hunter.
Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams (+650)
Donald continues to state his case for being arguably the best overall player in the NFL on a weekly basis. The former Pitt standout leads the NFL with 8.0 sacks, which is truly an amazing feat for an interior defensive lineman. If the Rams continue to roll through their schedule, Donald’s odds will only get better here.
Side note: Donald held the distinction of being the highest-paid defensive player in league history for all of two days in early September before Khalil Mack, his chief competition for this award, landed his massive deal from the Chicago Bears.
Khalil Mack, DE, Chicago Bears (Even)
Mack has been nothing short of outstanding in his first season in Chicago. He has been a disruptive force rushing the passer, he has been stout against the run, and he even recorded a pick-six in Week 1 against the Green Bay Packers. When it comes down to it, Mack has been the best defensive player in the league in 2018 — by a fairly wide margin.
Needless to say, the Bears’ decision to trade away two first-round picks and make Mack the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history has paid off.
Other notable names to watch:
- Myles Garrett (+750)
- Von Miller (+2000)
- Geno Atkins (+2000)
- Danielle Hunter (+2200)
- T.J. Watt (+2200)
- Yannkick Ngakoue (+2500)
- Fletcher Cox (+2800)
- Jaylon Smith (+2800)
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