While we were busy handing out some seriously low grades for quarterbacks, we were handing out some seriously high grades for pass rushers. So the only question is, who made the team? Let’s find out, shall we.
Quarterback: Matt Schaub, HST (+4.6)
A big day for Schaub, who completed 78.2 percent of his passes in a wild Texans win over the Jaguars. It’s not every day you throw for 527 yards and five touchdowns.
Running Back: C.J. Spiller, BUF (+3.0)
He may not have topped 100 yards rushing, but with another 3 yards after contact per attempt, and eight forced missed tackles, Thursday Night Football showed why there isn’t a more elusive back in football.
Fullback: Bruce Miller, SF (+2.6)
He was on the field for only 26 snaps but Miller made them count. He’s one of the best lead blockers out there. Marcel Reece warrants consideration for his work with ball in hand, but I wanted to get back to basics this week.
Tight End: Rob Gronkowski, NE (+4.5)
It really is a shame that Gronkowski won’t be making this team for a while after injuring his arm, but he left us with another fine performance. The 137-yard, two-touchdown stat line really does tell it all.
Wide Receivers: Andre Johnson, HST (+5.3) and Justin Blackmon, JAX (+4.3)
Not many receivers went over 100 yards this week, but these two combined for 509 yards. They both had big touchdowns and both did some damage after the catch. Johnson left with the win, but the Jaguars finally got to see what made Blackmon a first-rounder. Smiles all around?
Tackles: Duane Brown, HST (+5.8) and Tyson Clabo, ATL (+5.4)
Neither man gave up any pressure or a penalty in Week 11, while their run blocking was impressive. Weeks like this make you think Duane Brown could be the best left tackle in football.
Guards: Wade Smith, HST (+4.8) and Alex Boone, SF (+4.4)
That may have been the best I’ve seen Smith look since his first year in Houston. Perfect in pass protection and exceptional in the run game. Nice bounceback game from Boone after his season-worst display against St Louis.
Center: Chris Myers, HST (+4.4)
This really was Myers at his best. He does seem to enjoy his tangles with the Jaguars.
Defensive Front 4-3
Defensive Ends: Jason Babin, PHI (+5.3) and Greg Hardy, CAR (+4.1)
Babin has been a bit of a disappointment this year in Philadelphia, but he made the most of limited opportunities against Washington to pick up seven quarterback disruptions. Hardy held off some stiff competition, but his one-sack, three-hit and seven-hurry day was big, with most of it coming against Donald Penn.
Defensive Tackle: Geno Atkins, CIN (+8.9) and Nick Fairley, DET (+7.3)
How about these two defensive tackles coming at you? Atkins had a sack, hit and hurry (with another called back), forced two fumbles, and added three defensive stops in the running game. He was at his terrorizing best. The same goes for Fairley, who needs to remain the starter in Detroit for a long time. He’s an impact player in a bigger way than Ndamukong Suh has ever been. Yeah, I said it.
Linebackers: Von Miller, DEN (+9.7), Thomas Davis (+5.4), DeMeco Ryans, PHI (+2.6)
There isn’t a better player in the NFL right now than Von Miller. On either side of the ball and at any position. He had another ridiculous day pass rushing. Still, his performances are not as remarkable as the recovery Thomas Davis has made. That he’s playing is a minor miracle. That he’s playing this well is breathtaking. Sure the Eagles were bad, but credit where’s it due. Ryans played well, something he’s done all year.
Defensive Front 3-4
Defensive Line: Barry Cofield, WAS (+5.5), J.J. Watt, HST (+6.7) and Justin Smith, SF (+6.3)
There are times when you watch Cofield and just can’t help but be impressed. He destroyed young center Dallas Reynolds whether the Eagles ran or passed the ball. Leaving Muhammad Wilkerson out was hard, but in the end the superior work of Watt and Smith rushing the passer got them the nod. A more balanced line.
Outside Linebackers: Aldon Smith, SF (+9.8) and Paul Kruger, BLT (+5.1)
Remember we count half sacks as full sacks. So six of them for Smith, who also had two more hits. That’s pretty impressive. Kruger was no slouch himself in picking up two sacks, three hits and five hurries. Shame he missed two tackles in the run game.
Inside Linebackers: Patrick Willis, SF (+4.8) and A.J. Hawk, GB (+3.0)
Willis didn’t appear on the stat sheet a lot, but he made plays in every facet of the game, with his two pass deflections sticking out. Hawk showed some nice closing speed to hold the four of five receptions into his coverage to just 10 yards.
Cornerbacks: Casey Hayward, GB (+4.6) and Davon House, GB (+4.2)
The Packers’ duo both earned their spot in this team with some fantastic play. Their combined stat line read: thrown at 12 times with two receptions allowed for 14 yards. Throw in a pick and four pass deflections and you have dominance.
Safeties: Jairus Byrd, BUF (+5.3) and Reshad Jones, MIA (+2.7)
Thursday Night Football provided one of those rare games where safeties on both sides of the ball were making plays like it was going out of fashion. Byrd’s pick was quite wondrous, while the closing ability of Jones was in full force as he made eight defensive stops.
Kicker: Matt Bryant (ATL)
Punter: Shawn Powell (BUF)
Returner: Keshawn Martin (HST)
Special Teamer: Darrell Stuckey (SD)
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