10 best players from the weekend's 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. 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 Saturday and Sunday’s Week 16 action:
1. Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings
This wasn’t a week to remember for the Vikings, but WR Adam Thielen had himself a career day against the Packers. Thielen was thrown at 14 times, catching 12 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns against a porous Green Bay secondary. Thielen spent the day victimizing Quinten Rollins, in particular, destroying the second-year corner with a succession of double moves to get open. He was also overthrown in the end zone by Sam Bradford on what could have been a third touchdown score.
2. Jalen Ramsey, CB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Over the past few weeks, rookie CB Jalen Ramsey has begun to show the exceptional play that made him such an impressive draft prospect. In Week 16, he was thrown at eight times, allowing only two of them to be caught for 16 total yards. He broke up one pass and picked off another to return it for a touchdown on the play, earning an exceptional coverage grade for the week.
3. Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams
Against the 49ers, Aaron Donald was once again too much to handle, even if he couldn’t rescue a win for his team. Donald recorded a sack, hit, and four hurries across his 57 snaps on defense, and had three defensive stops in the game. Whether it was in the run or pass game, Donald was virtually unblockable all day.
4. Jay Ajayi, RB, Miami Dolphins
Jay Ajayi has carried the Miami Dolphins on his back a few times this season, but there was no more obvious example than this performance against the Buffalo Bills. Not only did Ajayi rack up 206 rushing yards, 143 of which came after contact, but he came up big when the team needed him to save this game from reaching a seemingly inevitable tie in overtime. Ajayi rattled off another big gain deep in overtime before forcing his way for another couple of good carries to set up the easy winning kick.
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) December 25, 2016
5. Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
It seems incredible that we aren’t far removed from questioning what the problem with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense was. Rodgers was back to his mercurial best against the Vikings, completing 73.7 percent of his passes, despite three drops from his receivers. Under pressure, his passer rating was 139.2.
6. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots
The only QB right now that can hold a candle to Rodgers is Tom Brady, who continues to perform at a fantastic level since returning from the “Deflategate” suspension. Brady only attempted 27 passes against the Jets, but he threw for 214 yards and three scores, and did very little wrong over the entire game.
7. Cyrus Kouandjio, T, Buffalo Bills
Playing left tackle, Cyrus Kouandjio avoided the devastation that was wreaked on the other side by Cameron Wake, but against Miami, he was pretty much flawless. He didn’t allow any QB pressures at all over 46 snaps of pass protection, and his run blocking was excellent, helping the Bills to rack up 272 rushing yards at 5.6 yards per carry.
8. Calais Campbell, DI, Arizona Cardinals
For the second time this season Calais Campbell laid waste to the Seattle offensive line and wrought destruction on the team. He notched a sack, two hits, and four hurries over his 53 snaps rushing the passer, adding four defensive stops to his stat sheet. His quickness and power were far too much for Seattle to contend with in the run game, where he was constantly affecting the point of attack and forcing cuts.
9. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, New York Giants
Thrown at four times this week against the Eagles, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie didn’t allow a single catch, but he did pick one off himself by breaking on a late sideline pass thrown by Carson Wentz on the move. DRC also broke up two of the incompletions, meaning he got his hands to three of the four passes thrown into his coverage, bringing one in himself and giving Carson Wentz a passer rating of 0.0 when throwing the ball his direction.
10. Brandon Graham, DE, Philadelphia Eagles
Brandon Graham somehow came out of the game against the Giants without a sack, but watching the tape should immediately show people how dominant he was against the New York O-line. He managed four hits and five additional hurries from 44 pass-rushing snaps, and also made three defensive stops in the run game, where he also chipped in with some plays.