Although the NFL didn’t want it, there were a number of teams that rested some of their starters. Because of that, many players who typically play well but not well enough for the team made it, and some who don’t typically see a lot of time showed they deserve some more of a chance.
Despite a lot of questionable players in the skill positions and both front sevens, with Peyton Manning leading the way behind a strong offensive line, and a veteran secondary, I believe this team would find a way to have success.
Quarterback— Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (+8.6)
This was Manning’s third game this season with a +8.6 rating. His raw numbers don’t look spectacular, but six of his passes were dropped and he had some great throws.
Running back— Michael Bush, Oakland (+3.4)
Last week he was on the bench, and this week he is on the All-PFF team, having a strong game running with 5.5 yards per carry, and some excellent work in the passing game.
Fullback— Vonta Leach, Houston (+1.8).
Houston did an amazing job running against Jacksonville, and Leach was there to pave the way. Not always consistent, Leach started and ended the season on this team.
Wide receiver— Nate Burleson, Detroit (+3.4)
Although he isn’t the best receiver on his team, this week he was the best in the league. He had six catches for 83 yards, and had a nice 20 yard run to go with it. Watching his double spin move was pretty impressive.
Wide receiver — Rashied Davis, Chicago (+2.4)
He didn’t start, but he caught 7 passes for 63 yards. You know it’s a crazy week when your two receivers might not even be in the top 10 receivers in their division.
Tight end— Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta (+3.8)
Clearly the top tight end of the week, with the best receiving grade as well as the second best run blocking grade. It’s rare to be so close to the top in both of those categories, and rarer still to see the 2010 version of Gonzalez doing so.
Left tackle — Joe Thomas, Cleveland (+3.7)
After being mediocre to start the season, Thomas has returned to being one of the best left tackles in the league. How good could his season have been if he didn’t play hurt?
Left guard — Kris Dielman, San Diego (+3.8)
In a week full of little known players stepping up, Dielman is one of the few players who has been playing well all season to make this team.
Center — Chris Myers, Houston (+5.9)
Most of the Texans offensive linemen came close to making the team thanks to their amazing run game, but Myers had one of the best games by a center this season thanks to his amazing run blocking.
Right guard — Chilo Rachal, San Francisco (+3.9)
He quietly had a very good season for the 49ers, becoming one of the more reliable right guards in the league.
Right tackle — King Dunlap, Philadelphia (+5.4)
In his first meeting with the Cowboys just a few weeks ago he was close to the had a bad day team. Now he was the best right tackle this week by a fair margin.
3-4 Defensive Front
Defensive end — Justin Smith, San Francisco (+5.0)
If you were to put money on who would make this team each week, Justin Smith would probably be the safest bet. Another big day.
Nose tackle — Mike Devito, New York Jets (+4.0)
Devito typically plays defensive end, but thanks to some starters resting Devito moved to tackle where he had a great day stopping the run. Remember when losing Kris Jenkins hurt this team?
Defensive end — Adam Carriker, Washington (+4.2)
After having a quiet season, for the second straight week Carriker makes the team thanks to a pass rush where he had a sack, a hit and three pressures, as well as some strong run defense.
Outside linebacker — DeMarcus Ware, Dallas (+4.6)
Ware took advantage of Philadelphia playing it’s backups, and had three sacks as well as three pressures which saw him end the season as the NFL sack leader.
Inside linebacker — Wesley Woodyard, Denver (+3.1)
Woodyard joins the short list of players who went from the had a bad day team one week to the all PFF team the next. He had a nice game in both run defense and pass rush.
Inside linebacker — Bradie James, Dallas (+2.9)
A lot of inside linebackers were close to making this list, but no one else had the nice balance of a good game against the run as well as in coverage.
Outside linebacker — Manny Lawson, San Francisco (+4.2)
It’s to be expected that whenever a team faces the Cardinals, they have a few people make this team. Lawson started the season strong, then regressed, but this was a nice way to end the season.
4-3 Defensive Front
Defensive end — Raheem Brock, Seattle (+8.7)
The Seahawks needed to win in order to make the playoffs, and from the bench Brock played like a veteran wanting to make the playoffs. He had three sacks, a hit and seven pressures.
Defensive tackle — Desmond Bryant, Oakland (+5.3)
Bryant has become a force for the Raiders coming off the bench. Like the rest of the 4-3 line he had both a great game in pass rush and stopping the run.
Defensive tackle — Antonio Johnson, Indianapolis (+4.4)
This was just his second start of the season, and still only played a little more than half the game. He played well enough in that half to warrant a spot on this team. We’ve never seen Johnson play this well.
Defensive end — Osi Umenyiora, New York Giants (+8.4)
It was a great week for 4-3 defensive ends. Umenyiora had two sacks, three hits and four pressures, and performed well against the run too.
Outside linebacker — Adam Hayward, Tampa Bay (+4.1)
This was just his third start of the season, but he played well in coverage despite being taken out in nickel situations. A hidden gem Tampa Bay may not have known they had.
Middle linebacker — Ray Lewis, Baltimore (+3.1)
We have criticized his play in the second half of the season, but Lewis has gotten hot right when the Ravens need him to.
Outside linebacker — Danny Clark, New Orleans (+3.4)
You would not expect a Saints linebacker to make this team, but if any of them were to do it, it’s no surprise it was Clark. He has been a consistent run stopper for the Saints and has gotten better as the season has gone on.
Cornerback — Ronde Barber, Tampa Bay (+4.5)
It could have been Barber’s last game of his career, and if it is he is going out on top. He played a great game in coverage, and his play against the run and pass rush helps.
Safety — Edward Reed, Baltimore (+3.3)
Reed was thrown at three times. He caught two of the balls, and the ground caught the other. Stay away from Ed Reed quarterback.
Safety — Adrian Wilson, Arizona (+2.8)
While we have called his Pro Bowl berth undeserving, Wilson has played well in recent weeks and this week found his way on our all PFF team.
Cornerback — Charles Woodson, Green Bay (+4.2)
Woodson’s ability to rush Cutler was game changing for the Packers in their clinching a playoff spot. How important will it be when the Packers visit the Eagles?