All-Star Team of the Week: Week 16
We’re almost there, just one more game to go in Week 16 and then we’re onto the final week of the regular season, which feels like it has passed in a flash. Still, we’ve got plenty to look forward to next week, with playoff spots and division crowns up for grabs. Before we get to that, however, let’s focus on the best players from Week 16, as we dig into the Team of the Week.
(Note: Team will be updated as needed after Monday Night Football and by Wednesday when All-22 footage helps us study plays in even more detail.)
Quarterback: Tony Romo, DAL (+5.8)
Completing 90% of his passes, and throwing for four touchdowns, Romo’s big performance edged his place in the Team of the Week ahead of Russell Wilson. A smart and efficient performance with plenty of good throws throughout, Romo has the Cowboys on a roll heading into the playoffs.
Honorable Mention: Russell Wilson, SEA
Running Back: Lamar Miller, MIA (+3.8)
A nice all-around performance from Miller, with the Dolphins’ running back amassing 150 yards from scrimmage and scoring a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings. A much stronger second half to the season from Miller, and Sunday also saw his biggest workload of the season so far.
Honorable Mention: Marshawn Lynch, SEA
Fullback: Bruce Miller, SF (+2.1)
Another nice game for Miller, who is finishing the season strong, as he lead the way with the highest run-blocking grade for a fullback this week with some consistently impressive blocking.
Honorable Mention: John Kuhn, GB
Tight End: Jason Witten, DAL (+4.3)
Romo’s favorite target on Sunday, Witten caught all seven passes thrown his way for 90 yards and a touchdown. That was similar to Philadelphia’s Zach Ertz, but Witten beats him to the starting spot due to his impressive work as a blocker too.
Honorable Mention: Zach Ertz, PHI
Wide Receivers: Rueben Randle, NYG (+4.6) and Jordy Nelson, GB (+3.5)
A big day for Randle saw him average 22 yards per reception as he racked up 132 yards and a touchdown against the St. Louis Rams. Nelson wasn’t far behind with 113 yards and a touchdown of his own, with both catching every ball thrown their way.
Honorable Mentions: Dez Bryant, DAL and Julio Jones, ATL
Tackles: Donald Penn, OAK (+6.3) and D.J. Fluker, SD (+4.7)
Penn and Tyron Smith finished Sunday with the same grade, but a stronger showing from Penn in pass protection saw him just win out. On the right side it was Fluker’s work as a run blocker on Saturday night that saw him as our top-graded right tackle so far this week.
Honorable Mentions: Tyron Smith, DAL and Derek Newton, HOU
Guards: Evan Mathis, PHI (+3.9) and T.J. Lang, GB (+6.3)
Mathis keeps his place in the Team of the Week once again with another perfect day in pass protection. Over on the other side, Lang was also perfect, adding in some quality blocks in the running game to cement his place in the team.
Honorable Mentions: Orlando Franklin, DEN and J.R. Sweezy, SEA
Center: Maurkice Pouncey, PIT (+2.2)
In a week that lacked a dominant performance from a center, Pouncey was solid and efficient, not allowing any pressure and adding some solid blocks in the running game.
Honorable Mention: Rodney Hudson, KC
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 (+16.2) and Stephen Paea, CHI (+7.4)
Taking advantage of seeing plenty of time against an undrafted rookie, though he also found success elsewhere, Watt was at his dominant best once again. Blowing up runs and leaving quarterback Joe Flacco under seemingly constant pressure it was the type of performance that jumps out even against the rest of his dominance this year. Paea makes the Team of the Week for the second time, with another big performance, finishing the game with five total pressures and some nice work against the run.
Honorable Mentions: Cameron Heyward, PIT and Sheldon Richardson, NYJ
Defensive Interior – Nose: Quinton Dial, SF (+3.9)
A nice performance for the second straight week from Dial, who is starting to take to his role in the middle nicely. A sack and four hurries gave him his best showing as a pass rusher yet, while he was once again solid against the run.
Honorable Mention: Brandon Williams, BAL
Edge Rushers: Khalil Mack, OAK (+7.8) and James Harrison, PIT (+6.4)
Several big performances from outside linebackers this week, including Scott Solomon impressing in Cleveland but just not playing enough snaps. Both Harrison and Mack impressed against the run and as pass rushers, with Mack having his best day as a pass rusher since entering the league.
Honorable Mentions: Derrick Morgan, TEN and Wallace Gilberry, CIN
Linebackers: Mychal Kendricks, PHI (+5.6) and K.J. Wright, SEA (+4.0)
Saturday night saw the best performance from an inside linebacker so far this week, with excelling both in coverage and as a pass rusher. Next to him, K.J. Wright had a nice, well-rounded performance with his play against the run in particular standing out.
Honorable Mentions: Dont’a Hightower, NE and Luke Kuechly, CAR
Cornerbacks: Rashean Mathis, DET (+4.3) and Aqib Talib, DEN (+3.9)
Mathis was targeted plenty on Sunday, but allowed just 24 yards on five receptions from the 11 passes thrown into his coverage. Talib allowed just 14 yards on two catches, adding an interception which he returned for a touchdown.
Honorable Mentions: Jeremy Lane, SEA and A.J. Bouye, HOU
Safeties: Glover Quin, DET (+3.0) and Morgan Burnett, GB (+5.7)
A nice day for Quin in coverage, as he picked off the only pass thrown his way. Burnett didn’t allow much either, with just a 4-yard reception against him, but it was his work against the run that really made us take notice, finishing the game with a total of eight defensive stops.
Honorable Mentions: Will Hill, BAL and Darian Stewart, BAL
Kicker: Matt Bryant, ATL: A perfect 3-for-3 on field goals for Bryant, including one from 50+.
Punter: Matt Bosher, ATL: Completing the kicker-punter double for the Falcons, Bosher dropped four of his five punts inside the 20-yard line.
Returner: Adam Jones, CIN: A big night on kick returns for Jones saw him returns three kickoffs for 134 yards, adding another 23 yards on punt returns.
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