Another week down in the NFL and another round of fantastic games. But what made these matches so memorable? Well, it was the performances of course.
So as I do every week, I’m going to take you through the highest graded performances at each position to shower those who deserved it with praise they’ve earned.
Now let’s get to it.
Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers, GB (+9.0)
It’s amazing that some people were doubting Rodgers. After a six-touchdown performance where he ripped apart the league’s top team, maybe they realize that was a little premature? Topped the adjusted PFF QB rating with a score of 120.69.
Running Back: Shonn Greene, NYJ (+3.7)
Heading into the week Greene had forced just one missed tackle and was becoming something of a laughing stock around the NFL. Well he was all fired up against the Colts, adding eight missed tackles and three touchdowns to his season tally.
Full Back: Henry Hynoski, NYG (+2.0)
Seeing nearly 50% of the Giants’ offensive snaps, Hynoski was exceptional getting to the second level and winning his battles with the 49ers’ inside linebackers.
Tight End: Rob Gronkowski, NE (+1.9)
Not a great week for tight ends. Jason Witten led the way in the receiving department but with some sub-standard blocking was never going to make the team. Instead Gronkowski gets the nod, despite dropping a pass. His work in the run game plus 60 receiving yards was enough.
Wide Receivers: Percy Harvin, MIN (+3.5) and Denarius Moore, OAK (+3.8)
It should tell you something about how well Harvin played that he gets in even with a fumble. He broke an incredible six tackles as a receiver. Only four receivers have managed more throughout the entire season. Moore showed how much he means to the Raiders’ offense with a 104-yard day that highlighted just how much Oakland needs him on the field.
Tackles: Donald Penn, TB (+4.5) and Todd Herremans, PHI (+5.3)
A fine day for Penn who didn’t give up a single sack, hit or hurry while also doing some good work in the run game. Meanwhile, Herremans gave up a sack and two hurries, but that’s not a terrible return when you consider he pass blocked on 56 occasions.
Guards: John Greco, CLV (+3.0) and Kevin Zeitler, CIN (+3.0)
Two guards from the same matchup, with neither giving up a single pressure in the passing game. That’s not the sole reason they made the team though, with some fine work in the run game making me wonder why Greco has never seen more playing time.
Center: Phil Costa, DAL (+6.3)
The return of Costa provided a boost to the Cowboys’ rushing attack in a way that his previous performances never suggested was possible.
Defensive Front 4-3
Defensive Ends: John Abraham, ATL (+7.4) and Kamerion Wimbley, TEN (+5.5)
If you think Abraham is done, watch how he put both Willie Smith and Jared Veldheer in their place to the tune of three sacks and four hurries. Wimbley never got to the quarterback but his nine hurries constantly had Ben Roethlisberger on the move.
Defensive Tackle: Marcell Dareus, BUF (+3.4) and Nick Fairley, DET (+3.2)
The two top defensive tackles taken in 2011 both showed what they’re capable of in Week 6 of their sophomore years. Dareus feasted on Adam Snyder while Fairley overcame two penalties to put forth his strongest showing as a pro. They combined for two hits and eight hurries.
Linebackers: Wesley Woodyard, DEN (+3.9), Bobby Wagner, SEA (+2.3) and JoLonn Dunbar, SL (+3.8)
As is traditional, a Broncos linebacker makes the team, strangely though this time it’s Woodyard (and not Von Miller) who makes it in large part due to his five defensive stops and 7 yards allowed on four targets in coverage. Meanwhile on the other side, Dunbar continues to impress now he’s free from the shackles of Gregg William’s defense. Wagner gets the nod in his first game as an every-down starter, making an impressive seven defensive stops.
Defensive Front 3-4
Defensive Line: J.J. Watt, HST (+4.6), Mike Devito, NYJ (+2.1) and Justin Smith, SF (+3.6)
Called upon to fill in at nose tackle, Devito did a more than serviceable job disrupting the Colts’ running game. Watt makes his regular spot on the team, being joined by the man he has surpassed as the league’s most dominant 3-4 defensive end. In a bad day for the 49ers it was good to see Smith look something like his old self.
Outside Linebackers: Clay Matthews, GB (+5.9) and Jerry Hughes, IND (+2.2)
The Claymaker comes through again with a three hit and one hurry performance while also adding four defensive stops. It’s more of a surprise to see Hughes on the team, with the Colt looking less and less like a bust these days in their new 3-4.
Inside Linebackers: Sean Lee, DAL (+3.5) and Patrick Willis, SF (+2.2)
A fine day from Lee who picked up three quarterbacks hits and another hurry while more than holding his own against the Ravens’ linemen at the second level. Willis had some rough moments, but in a week low on quality inside linebacker play, did enough.
Cornerbacks: Sheldon Brown, CLV (+5.4) and Antoine Winfield, MIN (+5.4)
It’s truly amazing teams still try to run and throw screens to the side of the field Winfield is on. He was targeted only twice (with one pick) but still ended up with eight tackles so active is he. Brown sealed his spot in this team with a game-winning pick six, but let’s not forget he allowed only three completions for 22 yards and broke up two more passes.
Safeties: Jairus Byrd, BUF (+5.2) and Madieu Williams, WAS (+3.4)
Some defensive backs just have a knack for making plays, and the two big ones Byrd made essentially won the game for Buffalo. How do you think Minnesota fans felt watching Williams play so well? Not something they were overly accustomed to in his last few years with the club.
He didn’t get the highest grade of all kickers but a 55-yard game-winner pushes things in the favor of Matt Bryant … When people talk about the best punters in the league Brandon Fields is criminally overlooked … Randall Cobb is dangerous every time you get the ball into his hands … Jimmy Wilson and Darrell Stuckey got our highest grades for special teamers this week.
Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled