PFF Week: Up North, Week 14
It’s your last chance to get caught up on the happenings at PFF before the next slate of games is upon us, and our new ‘PFF Week’ posts provide quick access to the week that was. The ‘Up North’ edition covers all things pertaining to the AFC and NFC North divisions for a one-stop Saturday shop built to keep you in the loop and on top of your football-watching game.
Week 14 gave the leaders of the NFC North and AFC North a little breathing room, while seemingly whittling down the number of challengers to their position. The Lions and Bengals each earned big victories, while the Ravens knocked the Steelers down a notch, and the Browns and Bears suffered heart-breaking — perhaps season-ending — losses.
So where do we go from here?
Week 13 Wrap
The Thanksgiving Day triple-header ushered in an eventful Week 13 of NFL action. As always, PFF’s analysts cut to the heart of each matchup by detailing three key outcomes for every team in the Re-Focused series. Take a look back at how your team fared below.
Those performances earned nine Northerners a place on the PFF Team of the Week, including the team’s FB, RB, and both WRs. In contrast, just 4 players made the ‘Had a Bad Day’ Team, two Bears and two Ravens.
The good news for Lions fans continued as Larry Warford moved up to second in the PFF Race for Rookie of the Year, while Giovanni Bernard and Eddie Lacy remained in the Top 10, and Warford’s line mate in Detroit LaAdrian Waddle was tabbed as one to watch.
While those young stars have enjoyed consistent starts to their careers, typically form fluctuates across the league. Ben Stockwell has been tracking those fluctuations in his NFC Stock Report and AFC Stock Report. As an example, Cincinnati’s Vontaze Burfict is currently riding a hot streak, while his QB is on a downward trend.
Two players who are definitely trending upward are the Minnesota duo of Jerome Felton and Audie Cole, both of whom featured in this week’s Secret Superstars article.
Cleveland’s Johnson Bademosi came in for some special praise this week, ranking equal third on Neil Hornsby’s weekly list of the league’s best special teams performances, as part of the Third Phase feature.
Cincinnati’s presumed LT Andrew Whitworth also enjoyed a Week 13 to remember, although for quite unexpected reasons. As Sam Monson explains in his Analysis Notebook, Whitworth was asked to moved inside to guard as injuries ravaged the Bengals, and he put in arguably his finest performance of the season. Sam presents his Analysis Notebook twice a week, and his second entry this time around focused on the trick the Jaguars were able to play on the Texans, one that led to a wide-open touchdown.
Taking a broader view, this week’s 32 Observations took a look at the progress of the 2011 draft class. It’s a case of so far so good for A.J. Green, who has seen his Yards Per Route Run increase every year since entering the league, while the Packers’ Devon House has allowed the league’s fifth-highest touchdown ratio on coverage targets.
After all the sound and fury of 13 weeks of NFL action, the PFF analysts seem to have settled on a top tier of this year’s contenders. The PFF Power Rankings for Week 13 continue to include Detroit and Cincinnati in the Top 10, but the Ravens, Bears, and Packers have fallen away to join the Steelers the middle of the pack.
Looking Ahead to Week 14
Week 14 offers Cincinnati and Detroit the chance to pull further away at the top of the NFC and AFC North trees, but they’ll have to do it against likely playoff teams. Should they stumble, the Ravens and Bears could close the gap a little with wins at home. As always, PFF has every game covered as Week 14 continues, with the regular Three to Focus On series.
To add a little extra spice to the PFF weekend, things are getting interesting in the PFF Pick’em. Our Top 5 are separated by just two points as we enter the final quarter of the season, and there’s enough disagreement among the top group to make Week 14 a potential turning point in the year.
Each week Steve Palazzolo takes a look around the league to indentify the emerging trends in the game, in his Palazzolo’s Pitch. This week he analyzes the play of Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate Tyrann Mathieu, before turning his attention to a few offensive line mishaps.
As the season draws to a close team depth charts around the league are getting tested. Peter Damilatis takes a weekly look at whose been thrust into the starting line-up due to injury, and, more importantly, just how they are coping, in his Next Man Up feature.
As always, if you want to see just how your team is really playing on the grid iron as we head toward the playoffs, sign up for PFF Premium. It provides access to all PFF’s Signature Stats, analysis, and of course the famous PFF grades.