10 best players from Sunday's Week 15 NFL action
Every Tuesday, PFF will be releasing its Team of the Week, representing the highest-graded players at each NFL position for that week. But Senior Analyst Sam Monson gets a jump on that by picking out the 10 most impressive individual performances from Sunday’s games.
Here are the 10 best players from Sunday’s Week 15 action:
1. Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona Cardinals
There’s something oddly fitting about this season for the Cardinals, who finally saw a performance from their QB Carson Palmer reminiscent of his amazing 2015 play, and lost the game anyway as the defense shipped 48 points to the New Orleans Saints. Palmer was excellent, completing 70 percent of his passes for 320 yards, and if anything he was short-changed by those numbers because three drops from his receivers cost him at least 67 yards (plus ample run-after-catch opportunity).
2. Jalen Ramsey, CB, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Texans certainly weren’t shy about going after rookie CB Jalen Ramsey – targeting him 14 times in the game – but perhaps they should have been given how he played. He did allow 78 yards across six catches, but broke up four of the incompletions and notched an interception to counter that yardage, and was very effective in the run game, one of the hallmarks of his college play. Ramsey and the Jags lost the game, with head coach Gus Bradley being fired after the game, but he is a promising building block moving forward.
3. Terrance Mitchell, CB, Kansas City Chiefs
In the last two weeks, Mitchell has been thrown at 15 times, and allowed just 28 total yards combined from all of those targets. In the loss against the Titans this week he was targeted on seven occasions and allowed just one catch for four yards while breaking up two of the incompletions. Marcus Mariota had a passer rating of 39.6 when throwing the ball his way, or exactly the same as if he had just thrown the ball into the ground every snap instead.
4. Clint Mosley, LB, Baltimore Ravens
Mosley put together one of the more complete linebacker performances you will ever see in the win against the Philadelphia Eagles. Mosley graded well against both the run and pass, and recorded 10 solo tackles, two hits on the blitz and allowed a total of 27 yards in coverage on five targets, limiting TE Zach Ertz in particular in the passing game when the two were matched up.
5. Ty Montgomery, RB, Green Bay Packers
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) December 19, 2016
I’ve been championing Ty Montgomery as a running back since his time at Stanford, and this was the game we finally got to see something approaching a full-time workload at the position for him, at least as close as the Green Bay offense gets to that. Montgomery rushed for 162 yards on 16 carries, but 160 of them came after first contact, and he broke seven tackles to get that far. Montgomery looked like a legitimate running back in the win for the Packers, who are always better on offense when they have one of those, even if they seem reluctant to use him as much as most offenses would.
6. David Bakhtiari, T, Green Bay Packers
Pass protecting 40 times and allowing no pressure at all is good, especially running up against an edge rusher like Leonard Floyd who had averaged six total pressures in his past four games. Bakhtiari shut him down and run blocked well over the course of the game, putting in one of his best performances in what has been a career year for him.
7. Jahri Evans, G, New Orleans Saints
This was a throwback game to the best play of Jahri Evans’ career, play that is sadly largely behind him at this point. He didn’t allow a single pressure against the Cardinals in 54 snaps of pass protection, and wasn’t flagged for a penalty, either, but we also saw some powerful run blocking that brought back memories of his best play of years gone by. The Saints rushed for 4.3 yards per carry overall, but 5.7 either side of Evans.
8. Brandin Cooks, WR, New Orleans Saints
With no true No. 1 receiver, no Saints player drew the assignment of Patrick Peterson all game, and each saw a selection of Cardinals defensive backs throughout the game. Cooks had the most success, beating safeties and slot defenders in particular for big gains, ending the game with 186 yards and two scores on just eight targets. He beat five different players for catches – including Peterson – although just 10 of the yards and one catch came against Arizona’s best coverage defender.
9. Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) December 19, 2016
Atlanta’s offensive line was certainly opening some holes, but the quickness, burst and power shown by Freeman deserves recognition in its own right, and not just as a product of the blocking. Freeman gained 139 rushing yards and scored three times, breaking seven tackles on 20 carries. He did fumble in the game, marring an otherwise outstanding game, but it wasn’t enough to remove him from this list — such was the quality of the plays he was making.
10. David Irving, Edge, Dallas Cowboys
Irving only played 38 snaps against the Bucs in Dallas’ win on “Sunday Night Football,” but he was a constant force against Tampa Bay’s right tackles, notching two sacks and four hurries on 31 pass rushes. Irving recorded two defensive stops and played well enough that the Bucs needed to make a change at right tackle during the game, benching Gosder Cherilus in favor of Leonard Wester for the final half-dozen snaps they had on offense.