Each week the staff at Pro Football Focus watches over a combined 400 hours of football to ensure we know who the best players are. It makes us the premier outfit in player evaluation, used by NFL teams and fans alike to understand which guys are getting the job done and which guys aren’t.
It’s with this knowledge we can put out our Team of the Week, going beyond the box scores and the highlight reel plays to see who were the best players on every play of every game.
Here’s the Team of Week 5.
(Note: Team will be updated after Monday Night Football games are analyzed and on Wednesday when All-22 footage helps us study plays in even more detail where needed with an asterisk noting any changes.)
Quarterback: Tony Romo, DAL (+8.9)
Imagine where this grade would have been had he not thrown that ill-fated interception. As it is, let’s not forget just how good Romo was for 98% of his drop-backs with arguably the finest play we’ve seen from him in going toe-to-toe with the Broncos’ high-powered offense.
Honorable Mention: Andrew Luck (IND)
Running Back: Marshawn Lynch, SEA (+1.9)
He was exceptional in breaking nine tackles, especially in a first half where he was just too powerful for the Colts’ tacklers. Unfortunately for Seattle, they got to grips with him as the game wore on, but it was still a fine display.
Honorable Mention: LeSean McCoy (PHI)
Fullback: Jamize Olawale, OAK (+0.6)
No it wasn’t a vintage week for fullbacks. Olawale edged it with his work in the passing game even though that only amounted to two receptions.
Honorable Mention: Bruce Miller (SF)
Tight End: Jason Witten, DAL (+3.0)
A good week for tight ends with Witten just about holding off the competition with his 121 big yards. In another week we could very easily have gone for any number of guys.
Honorable Mention: Tony Gonzalez (ATL)
Wide Receivers: Alshon Jeffery, CHI (+4.8) and Terrance Williams, DAL (+2.9)
Nicely done Alshon. With a staggering 6.06 Yards Per Route Run Jeffery was the star of the Bears’ offense with a real breakout performance. He wasn’t the only one making a name for himself, with Williams showing Dallas he’s ready to step up with his own 151-yard day.
Honorable Mentions: Vincent Brown (SD) and T.Y. Hilton (IND)
Tackles: Joe Staley, SF (+3.7) and Andre Smith, CIN (+4.9)
Both of our tackles gave up a sack, but so good was their game outside of that (particularly with their run blocking) that they still earned spots on this team. It didn’t hurt that they didn’t give up anything else in pass protection.
Honorable Mention: Duane Brown (HOU) and Joe Barksdale (STL)
Guards: Kevin Boothe, NYG (+4.1) and Mike Brisiel, OAK (+3.2)
It wasn’t all bad for the Giants with Boothe having his best game of the season, even if it did come in a losing effort. After a difficult first year in Oakland, Brisiel is really justifying the decision to keep him around with a much improved year No. 2.
Honorable Mention: Andy Levitre (TEN) and Brian Waters (DAL)
Center: Scott Well, SL (+2.3)
Bounced back nicely after a really difficult outing against the 49ers. It wasn’t just that he was perfect in pass protection, but he also really impressed with his run blocking.
Honorable Mention: Manny Ramirez (DEN)
Each week we put forward a hybrid defense that features two edge rushers (4-3 defensive ends or 3-4 outside linebackers), three players on the “interior” of the defensive line (3-4 defensive ends or defensive tackles and two linebackers (all inside linebackers and 4-3 outside linebackers).
Defensive Interior – Ends: J.J. Watt, HOU (+7.2) and Randy Starks, MIA (+7.7)
Watt is already at the top of his game and that consistency seems to assure him of a place in this team, week in, week out. It was his work against the run that really won us over this week. Joining him Starks was superb in all phases of the game, but his three hits and four hurries really showcased his talent.
Honorable Mention: Geno Atkins (CIN) and Calais Campbell (ARZ)
Defensive Interior – Nose: Dontari Poe, KC (+4.5)
He’s really delivering on his talent this year. After flashing as a rookie, Poe is a relentless nuisance to opposing offenses whether they try to run or pass. If you don’t believe me ask Rob Turner.
Honorable Mention: Marcell Dareus (BUF)
Edge Rushers: Robert Quinn, STL (+6.8) and Robert Mathis, IND (+5.4)
A big day for both with Quinn getting back to his best with a three-hit, five-hurry day. After two so-so weeks that was exactly what the doctor ordered. Joining him, Mathis made a couple of big plays at the end of each other that proved critical, while sprinkling in more than a few throughout the rest of the game.
Honorable Mention: Mike Neal (GB) and Manny Lawson (BUF)
Linebackers: Brandon Spikes, NE (+7.4) and Philip Wheeler, MIA (+5.6)
After a slow start to life as a Dolphin Wheeler started to repay the faith (and money) invested in him with a big, six-stop and four-QB-disruption day. Over in Cincinnati, New England linebacker Spikes showed that it’s not just defensive linemen that the Patriots need to step up. He was at his best against the run with a fantastic eight stops.
Honorable Mention: Luke Kuechly (CAR) and Kiko Alonso (BUF)
Cornerbacks: Tarell Brown, SF (+4.1) and Brandon Flowers, KC (+3.1)
Brown was one of those cornerbacks making life difficult for Matt Schaub, allowing just 25 yards on seven balls thrown into his target. Elsewhere, Flowers expanded his repertoire by successfully handling slot duties. So continued his impressive, if understated, season.
Honorable Mention: Tramaine Brock (SF) and Lardarius Webb (BAL)
Safeties: Eric Berry, KC (+3.1) and Bernard Pollard, TEN (+3.3)
The former Raven hasn’t exactly set the world on fire in his start with Tennessee, but delivered the goods with some fine all-around work this week. Berry has been far more consistent this year and added his third grade over +3.0 for the season already.
Honorable Mention: Will Hill (NYG) and Donte Whitner (SF)
Kicker, Justin Tucker, BAL: Another day, another round of perfection including a game-winner. It’s what he does.
Punter, Brandon Fields, MIA: Has days where his boot is a real weapon. This was one of them.
Returner, Travis Benjamin, CLE: Was unstoppable on Thursday Night Football and, in the end, the real difference-maker.
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