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Miami’s Xavien Howard Finally Given Odds to Win NFL DPOY, Listed as Top 5 Contender

Xavien Howard Miami Dolphins
Miami Dolphins' Xavien Howard (25), left, breaks up a pass intended for New York Jets' Breshad Perriman (19) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Corey Sipkin)
  • Miami Dolphins cornerback Xavien Howard has +2500 odds to win NFL DPOY
  • Howard leads the league in interceptions (7), and has picked off more passes than any other player since 2017 (18)
  • Is he a good bet to win the award at this price?

Ask any NFL receiver who the toughest cornerback to matchup against is, and my guess is Xavien Howard would be a pretty popular choice. The Miami Dolphins’ corner is in the midst of a breakout season, but hasn’t gotten much publicity until now.

NFL DPOY Odds

Player Odds to Win
T.J. Watt (Steelers) +200
Aaron Donald (Rams) +225
Myles Garrett (Browns) +400
Joey Bosa (Chargers) +1400
Khalil Mack (Bears) +2500
Xavien Howard (Dolphins) +2500
Jalen Ramsey (Rams) +2500
Jaire Alexander (Packers) +2500
Minkah Fitzpatrick (Steelers) +3300
J.J. Watt (Texans) +3300

Odds taken Dec. 3rd at DraftKings.

Howard, the NFL’s leader in interceptions (7), is finally making his first appearance in the NFL DPOY odds, slotting in with the fifth shortest odds alongside some pretty elite company. He’s looking to become the second consecutive cornerback to win the defensive player of the year award, after Stephon Gilmore accomplished the feat in 2019.

Howard Island

Prior to Gilmore claiming the hardware last year, no corner had taken home the prize since Charles Woodson in 2009. Howard has an uphill battle to leapfrog front runners Aaron Donald and T.J. Watt, but his resume is pretty stacked.

In addition to his NFL best 7 picks, Howard has also accumulated 35 tackles and 15 pass breakups. By comparison, Gilmore won the award with just six interceptions and 20 pass breakups on his resume.

Howard is Pro Football Focus’ highest graded cornerback, ahead of Green Bay’s Jaire Alexander and LA’s Jalen Ramsey, among others, who have the same DPOY odds. He’s allowed just 48.5% of the passes thrown in his direction to be caught, and has yielded the third lowest passer rating to enemy QB’s while in coverage.

He’s racked up 19 interceptions in 51 career games, which is a higher INT rate than Hall-of-Famers Charles Woodson, Ronnie Lott, Rod Woodson, Darrell Green, Deion Sanders, and Champ Bailey.

Stacking Up Versus Stud Receivers

Howard is the signature piece on one of the NFL’s top-two scoring defenses. He’s routinely left to defend the opposing team’s best receiver, while safety help is shaded towards the opposite side of the field. Last time out versus the New York Jets, he surrendered just three receptions on 10 targets in coverage, but that kind of performance is nothing new.

Four weeks ago, he held DeAndre Hopkins to three catches and 30 yards, and the following week he was a big reason why Miami was able limit the league’s reception leader Keenan Allen to just three catches.

This week he’ll clash with a Cincinnati team quarterbacked by Brandon Allen, and although shutting down the Bengals receivers won’t garner much hype, his following few matchups will.

After Cincy, Howard is primed for a showdown with Tyreek Hill, and then three weeks later a date with Stefon Diggs. Hill ranks second in the league in receiving yards, while Diggs has caught the second most passes in 2020. Shut down those high profile stars in games the whole football world will be watching, and Howard’s stock will go through the roof.

A Longshot to Usurp Watt

As high as Howard’s ceiling is, it’s going to take either an injury to Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt, or for the stud linebacker’s play to fall completely off a cliff, for him to give up his grasp on this award.

He’s the best player on the league’s best defense, and ranks first in the NFL in sacks, tackles for loss, QB hits and pass rush win rate. With the last name Watt, he’s a household name thanks to his brother J.J, and he also has the advantage of constantly being in the spotlight. Pittsburgh is one of the most popular teams in the league and are consistently the focus of nationally televised games.

Howard and Miami meanwhile, have had just one primetime contest all season, and are often buried on Sunday in the 1 pm EST window.

At +2500, Howard’s an intriguing value bet to win DPOY, just know that he’s likely going to need a lot of luck, in addition to balling out versus KC and Buffalo to have a legitimate chance.

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