All-Star Team of the Week: Week 8
Most of the teams in the league are now halfway through their season so we’re starting to see who the most likely contenders are, not just for the playoffs but also for individual end of season awards.
You’ll have noticed some of the same names popping up week to week in our Team of the Week, so who made the cut in Week 8?
(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: Ben Roethlisberger (+10.7)
A week with two sensational performances at quarterback but it was Pittsburgh’s Big Ben who came out on top. He flirted with records and had almost as many touchdowns (6) as incompletions (9). Simply put, one of the greatest showings we’ve seen from a signal-caller since we began grading games.
Honorable Mention: Tom Brady, NE
Running Back: Mark Ingram, NO (+3.5)
Created 10 missed tackles with just 24 carries, 118 yards after contact and 172 total yards on the ground. Proving he can be a big asset to the Saints offense, Ingram returned with a bang on Sunday night.
Honorable Mention: Eddie Lacy, GB
Fullback: Anthony Sherman, KC (+2.9)
Another standout performance from Sherman saw him standout as a lead blocker while adding a 24 yard reception. At his best he’s the premier blocking fullback in the league, and he’s shown that the past two weeks.
Honorable Mention: James Develin, NE
Tight End: Rob Gronkowski, NE (+6.4)
An absolutely monstrous performance from the best tight end in the league. Caught all nine passes thrown his way for 149 yards and three touchdowns, forced a missed tackle and had the second highest run blocking grade amongst all tight ends in Week 8.
Honorable Mention: Jason Witten, DAL
Wide Receivers: Brandon LaFell, NE (+3.7) and Mohamed Sanu, CIN (+2.7)
Another of Brady’s targets from Week 8 makes our team of the week along with Gronkowski. LaFell caught 11 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown against the Bears. Sanu continued his strong season with some highlight-reel catches against the Ravens, picking up 125 yards on five receptions.
Honorable Mentions: Antonio Brown, PIT and Andrew Hawkins, CLE
Tackles: Joe Thomas, CLE (+3.9) and Lane Johnson, PHI (+4.3)
Making his third start of the season on Sunday, Johnson continued his impressive start to 2014 with a perfect day in pass protection. On the left Thomas allowed one hurry, but has the highest run blocking grade of any offensive tackle in Week 8 so far.
Honorable Mentions: Tyron Smith, DAL and Paul Cornick, DEN
Guards: Kelechi Osemele, BAL (+3.0) and Brandon Linder, JAX (+4.8)
Similar reasons for both Osemele and Linder making the Team of the Week with neither struggling as pass protectors while excelling as run blockers. Linder has made a strong impact in recent weeks while the Ravens were glad to get Osemele back in the lineup.
Honorable Mentions: Matt Slauson, CHI and Louis Vasquez, DEN
Center: Chris Myers, HOU (+6.8)
A stunning performance as a run blocker, Myers rolled back the years after an up-and-down start to 2014 with a showing that reminded us of him at his best. He did allow a pressure, but his run blocking was so good that it kept him well above the rest this week.
Honorable Mention: Nick Mangold, NYJ
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 (+9.2) and Sharrif Floyd, MIN (+5.5)
We’ve long since run out of superlatives to describe him, but Sunday saw Watt at his best again. Two sacks, a hit, five hurries and a batted pass from just 38 passing snaps. Unstoppable. Floyd wasn’t quite the pass rusher Watt was but came away with a well rounded performance, with a sack and a total of five defensive stops.
Honorable Mentions: Haloti Ngata, BAL and Gerald McCoy
Defensive Interior – Nose: Dontari Poe, KC (+2.0)
There wasn’t much to separate Poe from our honorable mention, Tennessee’s Al Woods. In the end, the fact that he played a bigger roll while performing well against the run saw him win out.
Honorable Mention: Al Woods, TEN
Edge Rushers: Khalil Mack, OAK (+6.1) and Justin Houston, KC (+5.1)
Our edge rushers this week come from the AFC West, with the rookie Mack coming away with two hits and four hurries, while adding some nice work against the run. Opposite him Houston had a whopping 10 total pressures, including four sacks in the win over the Rams.
Honorable Mentions: Cameron Wake, MIA and Everson Griffen, MIN
Linebackers: Preston Brown, BUF (+5.9) and Demario Davis, NYJ (+4.9)
Excellent in coverage? Check. Good against the run? Check. Brown, a third round rookie from Louisville had by far the best outing of his career so far. Davis was almost as impressive on the opposite sideline, with five tackles resulting in a defensive stop.
Honorable Mentions: Brandon Marshall, DEN and Wesley Woodyard, TEN
Cornerbacks: Darrelle Revis, NE (+3.6) and Bashaun Breeland (+3.7)
Revis was thrown at eight times in the game against the Bears, but gave up just three receptions for 23 yards and came away with an interception. Breeland gave up a touchdown, but also had three pass breakups and allowed just five of the 11 passes thrown into his coverage to be caught in Monday night’s win.
Honorable Mentions: Aqib Talib, DEN and Jason McCourty, TEN
Safeties: Eric Weddle, SD (+3.9) and D.J. Swearinger (+3.8)
Swearinger saw two passes thrown into his coverage against the Titans, breaking one up and picking off the other. Weddle also saw two passes into his coverage, allowing just the one reception which went for no gain. Combined, our starting safeties this week allowed 0.0 yards per coverage snap.
Honorable Mentions: Tashaun Gipson, CLE and J.J. Wilcox, DAL
Kicker: Justin Tucker, BAL: The only kicker to make two field goals of 50 yards or more so far this week, with some booming kickoffs to top it off.
Punter: Chris Jones, DAL: Four punts from Jones with an average of 51.5 yards per punt and some impressive hangtime and positioning to go along with it.
Returner: Knile Davis, KC: Just the one kick return from Davis, but it went for 99 yards and a touchdown, hard to complain with that output.
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