It takes into account which quarterbacks made plays, and which ones let their receivers do all the work. Which defensive tackles stood up offensive linemen to redirect runners. Which cornerbacks were bailed out by dropped passes.
So with that in mind, enjoy our Team of Week 15.
Quarterback: Drew Brees, NO (+6.2)
Looked back to his best after a couple of games where carelessness cost him and the Saints. The four touchdowns and 307 yards were nice touches, but the zero interception figure was bigger.
Running Back: Knowshon Moreno, DEN (+3.5)
Moreno didn’t make many guys miss (one forced missed tackle) but his quick, decisive cuts and ability to push the pile were what you would expect from a former first-round pick. Maybe it was too soon to write him off?
Full Back: Mike Cox, ATL (+1.8)
Not a vintage week for fullback play, but Cox made his presence felt.
Tight End: Dwayne Allen, IND (+5.0)
Sure, he didn’t have the receiving day of Tony Gonzalez, but the run blocking of Allen was a joy to behold. Throw in a touchdown and there’s more than enough reason for him to make the team.
Wide Receivers: Eric Decker, DEN (+4.0) and Andre Johnson, HST (+3.4)
Decker caused Cary Williams all sorts of problems and ended his game with 133 yards and a touchdown on the eight balls thrown to him. The Texans’ Johnson bested that figure (151 yards and a TD), though he did drop a ball.
Tackles: Eugene Monroe, JAX (+4.0) and Doug Free, DAL (+4.1)
Just what you like to see out of your left tackle — no pressure given up whatsoever. Sure, he didn’t have the toughest task, but credit to Monroe. It’s been a long time coming for Free who has really failed to live up to his contract. Well in this one he did, with the rotation at right tackle seemingly bringing out the best in him.
Guards: Ben Grubbs, NO (+4.2) and Brandon Moore, NYJ (+5.0)
Nice day for Grubbs, who made some big blocks in the running game to go with not giving up any pressure in the passing game. Another excellent performance from Moore. The “Butt Fumble” episode has clearly annoyed him and he’s been the best guard in the league since then.
Center: Dan Koppen, DEN (+3.3)
As good as Koppen has looked since moving into the starting lineup for the Broncos. A real nice job of getting to the second level and getting to work on the Ravens’ linebackers.
Defensive Front 4-3
Defensive Ends: Brandon Graham, PHI (+6.2) and Cameron Wake, MIA (+5.4)
I’m cheating a bit by having two guys who line up exclusively on the left side, but really the best performances this week all game from defensive left ends. Graham walked away with three sacks and five hurries, while Wake had a hit and five hurries with some superior work in the run game. Nice days.
Defensive Tackle: Desmond Bryant, OAK (+2.9) and Tommy Kelly, OAK (+2.7)
Not a vintage week for defensive tackles, but credit to the Oakland duo. They combined for two sacks, a hit and two hurries and regularly won their battles up front.
Linebackers: Von Miller, DEN (+5.8), Dont’a Hightower, NE (+4.7) and Karlos Dansby, MIA (+3.6)
Another big day for Miller, who picked up three QB hits and five hurries. Hightower had an impressive four defensive stops and didn’t allow a single pass into his coverage to be complete, while breaking up one ball. In the middle, Dansby gets the nod thanks to a complete performance.
Defensive Front 3-4
Defensive Line: J.J. Watt, HST (+7.7), Muhammad Wilkerson, NYJ (+6.1) and Ma’ake Keomeatu (+0.9)
Another performance from Watt to enhance his growing case for defensive player of the year. Wilkerson just bettered the excellent Calais Campbell but both men deserve credit. The level of nose tackle play this week wasn’t exactly off the charts, but Kemoeatu had one of his better games as a Raven.
Outside Linebackers: Courtney Upshaw, BLT (+4.4) and Clay Matthews (+3.5)
Let’s be honest, this wasn’t a great week for pass rushing from our outside linebackers. In the end, we’re going with two guys who really made their presence felt in the run game.
Inside Linebackers: Brad Jones, GB (+2.3) and NaVorro Bowman, SF (+2.1)
Jones has been a quiet success since moving to inside linebacker for the Packers. There’s been nothing quiet about the success of Bowman, however, who held up against the Patriots’ passing attack.
Cornerbacks: Greg Toler, ARZ (+5.3) and Jabari Greer, NO (+5.0)
A career day for Toler, who gave up zero receptions on six balls into his coverage. He did, however, break up three balls and intercept another that he returned for a touchdown. Greer himself had two picks and allowed only 5 of 10 into his coverage to be complete, for 22 yards.
Safeties: Eric Berry, KC (+5.7) and Michael Griffin, TEN (+4.2)
Was this the game Eric Berry got over his injury woes for good? He was fantastic against the Raiders, picking up seven defensive stops and, for a change, not being exploited in coverage. Griffin had one of his best performances of the year, allowing no receptions and picking off two.
Kicker: Blair Walsh (MIN)
Punter: Andy Lee (SF)
Returner: LaMichael James (SF)
Special Teamer: Dan Herron (CIN)
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