Which Steelers have the best chance of winning postseason awards?

In many ways, football is the ultimate team game. If nothing else, team success is always more important than individual honors.

That being said, when teams have individuals who win awards, that typically bodes well for the team. Of course, the Steelers are hoping to surprise fans by getting back to the playoffs this season. If you are thinking of placing any bet related to the Steelers, many sportsbooks in Pennsylvania offer a wide range of markets involving the NFL and the other major sports leagues. These sites all have unique features and welcome offers for new users.

Even though individual honors seldom outshine the result of the team’s season, they’re still an important way of acknowledging the hard work a player put in during the year. Just for fun, let’s look at some Steelers who might have a chance to pick up a postseason award in 2024.

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T.J. Watt

Watt won NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2021 and is always in the running for the award.

An injury-plagued 2022 season prevented him from defending his title, but Watt was back in the thick of the race last year, but to the chagrin (and surprise) of many, was beaten out for the award by Myles Garrett.

In a league where “almost sacks” counted more than actual sacks (Watt led the NFL in 2023) one has to wonder if the system is rigged against T.J. His 2023 was full of accolades, as he surpassed the franchise career sacks record of James Harrison and went on to have 19 sacks total: it’s the second time he has reached at least 19 sacks in his career. Only his brother J. J. Watt, DeMarcus Ware, and Mark Gastineau have reached that many sacks twice.

Watt was also named the AFC Defensive Player of the Month in September on his way to becoming the first player in NFL history to lead in sacks three times.

Despite some fierce competition with Garrett, the Bosa brothers, and Micah Parsons, there’s no reason to think that Watt won’t be among the leaders in sacks again in 2024 – or that he won’t mount a serious case to be Defensive Player of the Year with the hope of one day matching his brother as a three-time recipient.

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Mike Tomlin

Somehow, Mike Tomlin has never won Coach of the Year honors. Hall of Famer Bill Cowher remains the only Pittsburgh coach to take home the award, all the way back in his first season in 1992.

Tomlin’s problem is that the Steelers have been too consistent under his command. Winning Coach of the Year typically requires exceeding expectations, which is difficult when the bar is set high.

With the Steelers failing to win a playoff game since the 2016 season and experiencing plenty of turmoil at quarterback, expectations have been lower for Pittsburgh over the last few seasons. That could work in Tomlin’s favor with regard to his Coach of the Year candidacy.

If the Steelers end up winning 10 or more games, going to the playoffs, and challenging for the AFC North crown, Tomlin will have a strong argument for the award, especially considering everything else he’s accomplished with the Steelers.

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Payton Wilson

I know I’ve tried to quell the high expectations of Wilson being a “draft steal” but there’s a lot that could also work in his favor to win an award too.

It might be a long shot, but Wilson could become the first Steeler to win Defensive Rookie of the Year since Kendrell Bell in 2021. He could potentially follow Shaq Leonard’s path to Rookie of the Year in 2018.

Wilson could potentially emerge as the heartbeat of the Pittsburgh defense and lead the league in tackles. That’s what Leonard did in 2018 and Wilson could do the same, depending on what happens in front of him on the depth chart with Elandon Roberts (usually not on the field in passing situations) or Cole Holcomb (returning from a serious knee injury).

Wilson won the Butkus and Chuck Bednarik Award in college last year, so anything is possible.

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Russell Wilson

Many things are aligned for Wilson to potentially win Comeback Player of the Year honors. His standing as a top-tier quarterback has disintegrated over the last two seasons, and while everyone is doubting Wilson, there are just as many people rooting for him to bounceback.

Despite some fans believing that his best days are behind him, and that he’s no longer capable of being an elite quarterback, Wilson is getting a chance to prove his doubters wrong.

Joe Flacco and Baker Mayfield were in the running for this same award last season. Quarterbacks usually have the best chance of raising their profile for this individual award too, so if Wilson can get back to playing at a Pro Bowl level and guide the Steelers to the playoffs, he will have a great argument for being the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year.

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Arthur Smith

After falling from grace as the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons the last three seasons, Arthur Smith is out to prove he’s still a top tier coach in the NFL.

Smith joined the Steelers as an offensive coordinator this offseason, returning to his previous role held when he was with the Tennessee Titans. With the Titans, Smith took their offense to new heights: something that Pittsburgh is desperately looking for after nearly three rocky seasons with Matt Canada at the helm.

If Smith can turn the bottom dwelling Steelers offense into a successful one (which would coincide with Russell Wilson’s comeback story) then there’s no reason to think he won’t be named the NFL’s assistant of the year when it’s all said and done.

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