Virginia is for lovers, Saturdays are for the boys and the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year award is for anyone who lines up in the front seven.
The only defensive back over the last 11 years to claim the trophy was former Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who cashed 80-to-1 tickets in 2019.
Here are five front-seven long shots on BetMGM who have a real opportunity to win the award this year, including a 200-to-1 gem that I will never shut up about if it hits:
Joey Bosa, Los Angeles Chargers (20-to-1)
Ever since Ingram succumbed to injury and left, the Chargers’ pass rush has been Bosa and a bunch of dudes more helpless than the actors in Life Alert commercials. General manager Tom Telesco picked up the defense this offseason, though, by opening up the coffers and bringing in defensive studs like Khalil Mack. This front seven is going to eat in 2022 and Bosa will be a big part of that if he can stay on the field after missing 15 games over his last four seasons.
Khalil Mack, Los Angeles Chargers (25-to-1)
I know it’s socially unacceptable to double-dip, but we’re doing it. Opponents will no longer be able to gash the Chargers on the ground like they did in 2021. If the Los Angeles offense is anything close to what we expect this season (QB Justin Herbert has the fifth-shortest odds to win MVP), we could see a lot of teams taking to the air in an effort to catch up with the Chargers on the scoreboard. The more opponents pass, the more sack opportunities we get, and the more sacks we get, the better our odds become to cash this wager.
Mack may be 31 years old, but he’s still a dominant pass rusher with phenomenal instincts. He won this award in 2016 when he recorded 11 sacks, five forced fumbles, and a pick-six for the Raiders.
The revamped Chargers defense has the potential to be scarier than Los Angeles real estate prices. If they play up to that potential, Mack would likely be a key piece and could secure his second DPOY.
Maxx Crosby, Las Vegas Raiders (30-to-1)
Crosby is an absolute menace to opposing linemen and quarterbacks. He led the NFL in QB pressures last season, which is even more impressive when you consider that the Raiders blitzed a league-low 12.1% of the time.
The former fourth-round pick out of Eastern Michigan will enjoy a boost on a couple different fronts in 2022. Not only did Las Vegas bring in a new defensive coordinator who blitzes more than twice as often as Gus Bradley did, but they also acquired 2017 sack leader Chandler Jones to turn up the pressure on the defensive line. Crosby could post some monster numbers this season.
Rashan Gary, Green Bay Packers (80-to-1)
If I were tasked with creating a mythical creature who could stop Gary, I’d probably go with a rhinoceros’ body, an octopus’ arms, and an owl’s head. Even then, I wouldn’t feel great about my chances of stonewalling him. The guy is a hoss and a half.
Last year was Gary’s third season in the league, but his first time as a weekly starter and, boy, did the linebacker produce, compiling 9.5 sacks and 28 QB hits. More than half of the offensive lines he’ll face this season are bottom-tier units. I expect both the Green Bay defense and Gary to thrive in 2022, so I’m more than happy to take a DPOY flier on him at 80-to-1.
Haason Reddick, Philadelphia Eagles (200-to-1)
Here it is. The crown jewel. The pièce de résistance.
Two things in this life amaze me: the fact that they did surgery on a grape, and BetMGM offering 200-to-1 DPOY odds on an elite pass-rusher who has 23.5 sacks over the last two seasons.
The Eagles have been signaling a serious Super Bowl push for months, trading for receiver A.J. Brown, signing cornerback James Bradberry and shelling out $15 million per year for Reddick. This organization means business.
One hurdle for this bet is that Jonathan Gannon’s defense blitzed at the second-lowest rate in the NFL last season. Maybe that was based on personnel and we’ll see them send more pass-rushers now that Philly have the horses to run. I’m guessing they’ll want Reddick to do what he does best, which is hunt quarterbacks. This is going to be an exciting defense to watch and a potentially terrifying defense to play against.
At 200-to-1, I’m loading up on Reddick to win Defensive Player of the Year. This ticket will have me drinking raw eggs and running victory laps around Philadelphia like I’m Rocky Balboa if it hits.
Stats provided by Pro Football Reference, PFF, and sportsoddshistory.com.