All-Star Team of the Week: Week 7
Week 7 in the NFL saw more late drama with three of the early games seeing lead changes in the final minutes. We also saw plenty of standout performances throughout the league which leads nicely into our weekly look at the league’s best performers.
So with that in mind, let’s check out this week’s 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 (+7.0)
Few expected the Dallas Cowboys to be 6-1 at this point in the season, and quarterback Tony Romo is a big reason why they’ve been able to surprise. Improving each week as the season has gone on, his best performance came in yesterday’s win over the Giants.
Honorable Mention: Peyton Manning, DEN
Running Back: Le’Veon Bell, PIT (+3.7)
A solid night as a runner, where he ran for 57 yards on just 12 carries and forced three missed tackles, it was as a receiver where Bell really stood out. Eight catches for 88 yards and a touchdown, with another two missed tackles here. Quietly he’s been one of the best running backs in the league this year.
Honorable Mention: Chris Ivory, NYJ
Fullback: Anthony Sherman, KC (+2.3)
Showing the form that impressed us all so much a year ago, Sherman was the best lead blocker in the league in Week 7. A big part of why the Kansas City Chiefs were able to find success on the ground.
Honorable Mention: Jerome Felton, MIN
Tight End: Greg Olsen, CAR (+3.5)
It wasn’t a great day for the Panthers, but Olsen once again showed why he’s Cam Newton’s favorite target this year. Caught all eight catchable passes thrown his way for 105 yards, his highest yardage total of the year so far.
Honorable Mention: Charles Clay, MIA
Wide Receivers: Dez Bryant, DAL (+3.5) and Demaryius Thomas, DEN (+2.7)
You know it’s been a good day for the Dallas offense when all of their big three offensive players make our team of the week, and Bryant completed the set here after the best game of his 2014 season so far. 151 yards with three missed tackles forced for the Cowboys’ top receiver. Thomas had the highest receiving grade of all receivers in Week 7, and the most yards, averaging a whopping 10.1 yards after the catch per receptions and scoring two touchdowns.
Honorable Mentions: Sammy Watkins, BUF and Antonio Brown, PIT
Tackles: Branden Albert, MIA (+5.9) and Bryan Bulaga, GB (+4.5)
Albert gave up a sack at left tackle but was perfect in pass protection outside of that. Where he really stood out, though, was as a run blocker with by far the highest run blocking grade amongst offensive tackles this week so far. Bulaga had the third-highest mark as a run blocker and, unlike Albert on the left, he didn’t allow any pressure at all on the right.
Honorable Mentions: Joe Thomas, CLE and Phil Loadholt, MIN
Guards: Ramon Foster, PIT (+3.1) and Marshal Yanda, BAL (+4.4)
Marshal Yanda has always been one of our highest-graded guards year to year, but it’s possible that at 30 years old we may now be seeing him at his best, particularly as a run blocker, where he has been an absolute monster. That continued yesterday against the Atlanta defensive line in the Ravens big win. On the left, Foster had an impressive game as a run blocker, edging out Denver’s Orlando Franklin, who was better in pass protection but didn’t make as much space as Foster in the running game.
Honorable Mentions: Orlando Franklin, DEN and Brandon Brooks, HOU
Center: Rodney Hudson, KC (+3.1)
An impressive performance for the Chiefs’ center saw him pick up a positive grade for his work as a pass protector, run blocker and his blocks on screen plays. A nice all-around showing that made him stand out among several solid performances at the position.
Honorable Mention: Maurkice Pouncey, PIT
Click to Page 2 for the defense…
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: Sen’Derrick Marks, JAX (+5.9) and Muhammad Wilkerson, NYJ (+5.2)
Marks has been on quite the run this past month, with three of his past four games grading at +3.2 or better. Sunday was the best so far, with four pressures as a pass rusher and some nice work against the run. Wilkerson saw his best work come as an interior pass rusher, with three hits and two quarterback hurries on Tom Brady on Thursday Night.
Honorable Mentions: Aaron Donald, SL and Tyrone Crawford, DAL
Defensive Interior – Nose: Letroy Guion, GB (+2.1)
Guion has now had three positively-graded games in a row on the nose for Green Bay, and is starting to look like a solid offseason signing. He added another two pressures this week, despite a limited snap count and continues to look solid against the run.
Honorable Mention: Sammie Lee Hill, TEN
Edge Rushers: Jason Pierre-Paul, NYG (+7.9) and Jason Worilds, PIT (+8.7)
For the second time in three weeks we saw Jason Pierre-Paul make life utterly miserable for an opposing offensive tackle and this week it was Tyron Smith who felt his wrath. A force against the run, he added two sacks, a hit and a hurry to round his day out nicely. On the face of it, Worilds base stats might not jump out at you, with the Steelers pass rusher failing to register a sack or a hit on Monday night. He did however, have a whopping seven quarterback hurries and four tackles which resulted in a defensive stop.
Honorable Mentions: Von Miller, DEN and Jonathan Massaquoi, ATL
Linebackers: Curtis Lofton, NO (+5.9) and Telvin Smith, JAX (+5.6)
Two of the best performances you’ll see from an interior linebacker came from these two this week. Lofton was tremendous in coverage and against the run allowing just 17 yards after contact from the seven receptions in his coverage, finishing the day with nine total defensive stops. Smith was also a star in coverage, with the lone reception he allowed going for a 2-yard loss.
Honorable Mentions: Karlos Dansby, CLE and Daryl Smith, BAL
Cornerbacks: Vontae Davis, IND (+4.8) and Adam Jones, CIN (+5.8)
The Bengals went after Vontae Davis plenty on Sunday, but their seven attempts into his coverage netted just two receptions for 21 yards, while he came away with a pass breakup too. In the same game, but on the opposite sideline, Adam Jones allowed just 8 yards from two receptions and added some solid work against the run.
Honorable Mentions: Keenan Lewis, NO and Richard Sherman, SEA
Safeties: Robert Blanton, MIN (+4.1) and Harrison Smith, MIN (+2.7)
Our safety combination comes from Minnesota this week with both Blanton and Smith having big days in coverage. Blanton had a good day against the run as well, but came away with an interception to boost his coverage grade. Smith might have allowed two receptions, but they went for just 10 yards in the Vikings’ late loss in Buffalo.
Honorable Mentions: Calvin Pryor, NYJ and Patrick Chung, NE
Kicker Blair Walsh, MIN: A perfect 3-for-3 on field goals including one from 50+.
Punter: Pat McAfee, IND: Another huge week for the boot of McAfee, with just 20 return yards coming from his six punts.
Returner: Danny Amendola, NE: Consistently good work from Amendola on kick returns on Thursday night saw him make our Team of the Week this week.
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