We’ve got the usual assortment of All-Pro’s but you’ll also find some rookies on the roster with a couple of defensive tackles standing out above their move experienced peers. Elsewhere, there is a cornerback thankful for Tebow, a receiver trying to break records, and a sophomore stud who warrants more attention.
Just another Team of the Week article then.
Quarterback: Eli Manning, New York Giants (+8.1)
When the Giants seemed to be crumbling, one man stood taller than all the others. Okay, granted that was Kareem McKenzie because he’s a big unit, but it was the poise and near flawlessness of the younger Manning’s play that pushed the Giants to victory. Excluding drops and throwaways completed 81.4% of passes.
Running Back: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings (+4.0)
Six other running backs had more rushing yards, but the work Peterson did in the passing game proved the difference-maker as he forced seven missed tackles this week. A special mention to the excellent LeSean McCoy.
Fullback: Vonta Leach, Baltimore Ravens (+2.2)
He got the highlight reel block on Rashad Johnson to help Ray Rice pick up his third touchdown, but he did more than just that.
Tight End: Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers (+2.0)
The Patriots’ plan to keep the Steelers from going deep on them meant Heath Miller had plenty of room to work underneath. Not a week where TE play stood out.
Wide Receivers: Anquan Boldin, Baltimore Ravens (+4.1) and Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions (+2.4)
I can only urge people to watch some of the catches Boldin made against his old teammates. They were that good. Johnson picked up, yawn, another touchdown. Anyone surprised? These two men also led the league in receiving yardage this week.
Tackles: Jason Peters, Philadelphia Eagles (+6.2) and Michael Oher, Baltimore Ravens (+5.9)
It was a great day for Peters who may have given up a penalty but avoided surrendering any sacks, hits or hurries to the Cowboys while dominating in the run game. Oher wasn’t quite so dominant, but had a career day in not putting a foot wrong in the passing game.
Guards: Nate Garner, Miami Dolphins (+2.8) and Stephen Peterman, Detroit Lions (+3.0)
Miami may have stumbled into something with Garner’s performance. He was perfect in pass protection and made a number of impressive blocks to spring Reggie Bush. Peterman gets the nod over Jake Scott because, while he wasn’t as impressive in the run game, he was perfect in pass protection and didn’t have the luxury of facing the Colts’ interior.
Center: John Sullivan, Minnesota Vikings (+4.5)
To quote Sam Monson, it appears someone has fixed John Sullivan. This was his fourth game in the green, and his best of the season with a commanding performance against a weak Carolina defensive tackle pairing.
4-3 Defensive Front
Defensive Ends: Terrell Suggs, Baltimore Ravens (+5.8) and Carlos Dunlap, Cincinnati Bengals (+11.7)
Not often you’ll see a defensive end picking up nine tackles (with eight defensive stops), but that’s what Suggs was able to do. That he also managed a sack, hit and three pressures all but guaranteed a place on this team. It’s time people started realizing just how good a player Carlos Dunlap already is, and that starts with the Bengals. They gave him a season-high 58 snaps and what was the result? Carnage on the right side of the Seattle line.
Defensive Tackle: Marcell Dareus, Buffalo Bills (+5.7) and Karl Klug, Tennessee Titans (+4.9)
An all-rookie pairing who, between them, combined for four sacks, a QB hit and six more hurries. Oh, and a batted pass. They weren’t all that bad in the run game either, with both men nuisances on their combined 78 snaps.
Linebackers: Jarret Johnson, Baltimore Ravens (+3.2), Ray Lewis, Baltimore Ravens (+4.3) and Justin Durant, Detroit Lions (+2.6)
We’re going for some run stuffers on the outside, with Johnson always a problem whether matched-up with lineman or tight ends. The Lions are doing a good job of putting Durant in situations where he excels, and keeping him out of those where he struggles (i.e. dropping in coverage) the Broncos game was another example. Lewis might not be the athlete he once was but don’t think that stops him from being as good as any MLB out there right now. He’s playing that well and was excellent against Arizona.
3-4 Defensive Front
Defensive Line: Vaughn Martin, San Diego Chargers (+3.7), Jay Ratliff, Dallas Cowboys (+3.6) and Calais Campbell, Arizona Cardinals (+2.9)
We’ve got two very different types of 3-4 ends, with Martin putting in an excellent display in run defense and Campbell delivering the pressure (one sack, two hits, and three pressures). On the nose, Jay Ratliff may not have got to the QB (outside of one hit) but he did hurry Michael Vick five times.
Outside Linebackers: Antwan Barnes, San Diego Chargers (+3.9) and Cameron Wake, Miami Dolphins (+4.9)
Neither man picked-up multiple sacks like Tamba Hali or DeMarcus Ware, but the consistency and quickness of their pressure earned them their spots.
Inside Linebackers: Brian Cushing, Houston Texans (+4.6) and Derrick Johnson, Kansas City Chiefs (+4.3)
Nothing new from our two men in the middle, with both already putting in a string of impressive performances this year. Johnson is playing as well as anyone at any position right now and added seven defensive stops (one of which was a sack) against San Diego. Cushing didn’t allow any receptions on the four balls thrown his way and picked one off. Is as good now as he was as a rookie.
Cornerbacks: Chris Houston, Detroit Lions (+3.6) and Brandon Flowers, Kansas City Chiefs (+2.3)
The Tebow affect? Houston certainly benefited from it with just 2-of-8 balls thrown his way complete for 12 yards. He himself managed a pass break up and an interception. The Chiefs’ Flowers was targeted 11 times by Philip Rivers (and gave up 75 yards) but he was more than up for the challenge and won the battle.
Safeties: George Wilson, Buffalo Bills (+3.0) and Jairus Byrd, Buffalo Bills (+2.6)
With each passing game, the Bills’ safety pairing plays so well it makes it all the more frustrating that Wilson had to sit out most of last year.
The Titans Rob Bironas (+2.0) nailed two kicks from 50 yards plus … Dustin Colquitt (+3.7) had another great day … When you return a punt like Patrick Peterson (+2.6) did, you’re never far away from making this team … Tommie Campbell (+1.5) made three special teams tackles, but it wasn’t all good. His dive against the Colts would have made a soccer player proud.