Around the NFL writer Dan Hanzus expects that Watt will win the honor once again this coming season, having predicted each AFC team’s MVP in 2020.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Watt duplicated the feat this year. He was recently rated as one of the 50 best players in the NFL entering 2020, alongside Steelers’ defensive lineman Cameron Heyward. Meanwhile, Bud Dupree returns for at least one more season at the other outside linebacker position, forcing offensive linemen to account for another formidable pass rusher, hence the combo’s distinction as one of the top 5 edge duo’s in the NFL.
Some might expect that QB Ben Roethlisberger would be the favorite for team MVP, not to mention a great candidate for NFL Comeback Player of the Year. But Roethlisberger has only been named Steelers’ team MVP in one of his 16 seasons—in 2009.
Yet it’s also been many years since anyone has won the award in back-to-back years. The last player to do it was OLB James Harrison, who was named team MVP by his teammates in both 2007 and 2008. The next-most-recent defender to earn the honor in consecutive years was ILB Levon Kirkland (1998-99), who remains one of the most underrated linebackers in team history.
Watt is coming off a season in which he was named AFC Defensive Player of the Month for November 2019, and he also came in third in 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year voting.
It’s clear though, that Watt regards his success as an extension of the efforts of his teammates.
After winning the honor, he said: “I don’t like to be singled out on this defense because there are so many other guys. You look across [our] starting defense and even the guys that fill in behind us, there are so many playmakers, so many guys that don’t necessarily get the recognition. It’s remarkable how we are working together as a unit. That’s what makes things so fun. You can’t eliminate one guy from this defense because there are so many playmakers.”
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Team MVP Predictions for the Other AFC North Teams
In terms of the other teams in the AFC North, Hanzus expects that Lamar Jackson will be team MVP of the Baltimore Ravens and that Baker Mayfield will experience a resurgence and be named MVP of the Cleveland Browns. As for the Cincinnati Bengals, Hanzus predicts that fourth-year running back Joe Mixon will win MVP honors.
Steelers, Other NFL Teams Closing Offices for Juneteenth
In other Steelers’ news, the organization has announced that team offices will be closed on Friday June 19 in observance of Juneteenth, which celebrates the ending of slavery in the United States.
Reports indicate that at least a few other NFL teams plan to keep their offices closed on Juneteenth, including the Browns and the Atlanta Falcons.