Best player at every position in NFL Week 14
Week 14 of the 2016 NFL season is complete, and Pro Football Focus’ grades for every player to take a snap are in the books. Here are the top performances over the week at every position:
Week 14 offense
Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers, 86.8
The real Aaron Rodgers is back, as he absolutely carved up the Seattle defense this week. Rodgers completed 78.3 percent of his passes for a QB rating of 150.8, just shy of a perfect score. He was able to do this while still holding onto the ball for an average of around 3 seconds per dropback—far longer than he ever used to do—as he surveyed the defense and waited for the play to present itself. Rodgers has been the top-graded QB in the league since Week 7, and is raising his play at just the right time for the Packers.
Running back: Bilal Powell, New York Jets, 89.0
Le’Veon Bell was close to this, but Bilal Powell’s running dragged the Jets back into the game this week, and ultimately to the win over the 49ers. Powell racked up 145 rushing yards from 29 carries, breaking seven tackles along the way and gaining 98 of those yards after contact, scoring two rushing touchdowns in the process.
Wide receiver: Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos, 83.1
It wasn’t a vintage day for the Denver offense, but Demaryius Thomas caught 10 passes from 14 targets to put up 126 receiving yards on the day, breaking a tackle after the catch and proving to be too tough to cover for the Tennessee defense. He beat six different Titans for catches.
Wide receiver: Marqise Lee, Jacksonville Jaguars, 83.3
Marqise Lee pulled in five passes for 113 yards on eight targets against the Minnesota Vikings defense, beating five different defenders for receptions. He also drew a pass interference penalty on a go route against rookie CB Mackensie Alexander and gained 46 yards after the catch by making people miss and extending the play.
Slot receiver: Dontrelle Inman, San Diego Chargers, 82.7
Chargers WR Dontrelle Inman was thrown at seven times by Philip Rivers this week, catching six passes for 71 yards and a touchdown, beating the rookie Panthers CB duo of James Bradberry and Daryl Worley each for three receptions. Rivers had a passer rating of 148.5 when throwing in Inman’s direction in the game.
Tight end: Trey Burton, Philadelphia Eagles, 83.6
Aside from being involved in long-snapping trials on the sideline during this game after the Eagles lost their regular long snapper, Jon Dorenbos, as well as the emergency long snapper, Brent Celek, Trey Burton also caught seven passes for 65 yards on 10 targets and became an important target for Carson Wentz during the game.
Left tackle: Duane Brown, Houston Texans, 83.1
On 29 pass-blocking snaps against the Colts, Duane Brown surrendered two hurries, but it was his run blocking that was dominant in this game, crushing Indianapolis’ defensive line. The Texans averaged 4.5 yards per carry on the ground, but 7.5 on runs that went either side of Brown’s blocking.
Left guard: James Carpenter, New York Jets, 83.7
Jets guard James Carpenter allowed a pair of hurries on 46 snaps of pass blocking against the 49ers, but his run blocking was exceptional, particularly in tandem with center Wesley Johnson, who combined to lay waste to San Francisco run defense. Carpenter was also not flagged all game, bouncing back from an ugly run over the past month or so.
Center: Cody Whitehair, Chicago Bears, 87.7
Jets C Wesley Johnson narrowly misses this list for his crushing display against the 49ers, but Bears rookie Cody Whitehair was excellent, too, against the Lions, and just edged him out. Whitehair had a perfect game in pass protection, allowing no pressure or penalties across 37 snaps of pass blocking; he also run blocked well, while the guards either side of him had their struggles.
Right guard: Jonathan Cooper, Cleveland Browns, 84.8
Former first-round pick and reclamation project Jonathan Cooper had an excellent game for Cleveland in his first start for the team. Cooper didn’t allow a single pressure against the Bengals in 34 snaps, nor was he flagged during the game; he also run blocked well, and at least on that evidence, could be a key find for the team.
Right tackle: Doug Free, Dallas Cowboys, 86.2
Doug Free has typically been the weak link in this Dallas offensive line, but not in Week 14. Getting the break of not having to face Jason Pierre-Paul, Free had a far easier time of things, and was impressive in getting to the second level to move the Giants’ linebackers and create some space for the run game. Often struggling with pass protection this season, Free was good in that area on 41 pass-blocking snaps.
Week 14 defense
Edge defender: Cameron Wake, Miami Dolphins, 90.9
Rain may cause passes to fly from the hands of quarterbacks and receivers and cause players to slip and slide across the field, but it does little to slow down the relentless pressure from Cameron Wake, who had himself a day against the Cardinals in monsoon conditions in southern Florida. Wake had a sack, two hits, and three hurries across his 28 pass rushes, and was once again one of the most impactful players in the game.
Defensive interior: Mike Daniels, Green Bay Packers, 88.1
Going up against the Seattle offensive line will often aid a player’s efforts to make the PFF Team of the Week, and Mike Daniels was the beneficiary in Week 14. Daniels recorded a hit and four hurries, but was dominant against both the run and pass. The damage he did was limited more by the QB and the run play than it was the guy trying desperately—and failing—to block him.
Defensive interior: Kawann Short, Carolina Panthers, 87.0
Kawann Short continues to come on strong as the 2016 season progresses, and was once again a force for the Panthers in the middle of their defense. Short recorded a pair of sacks, three more hits, and three additional hurries from 38 pass-rushing snaps; he notched three defensive stops, proving to be too much for anybody on the Chargers’ offensive line to handle.
Edge defender: Whitney Mercilus, Houston Texans, 89.4
The Houston Texans may be without J.J. Watt, but they are still able to generate plenty of pressure, thanks to Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus, making the team long for what could have been with a healthy Watt. Against the Colts, Mercilus didn’t record a sack, but he did knock Andrew Luck down four times and record 10 total pressures on 42 pass-rushing snaps, as well as a batted pass.
Linebacker: Sean Lee, Dallas Cowboys, 95.0
This was a game that reminded people just how good Sean Lee can be at his best. Lee was dominant against the Giants, excelling in every facet of the game on Sunday night. He recorded a monstrous 14 solo tackles, four assists, and 10 defensive stops.
Linebacker: Deion Jones, Atlanta Falcons, 91.5
Deion Jones was only thrown at four times by Jared Goff and the Rams, but he broke one of the passes up, and returned another for a touchdown, while dropping what could have been a second interception on a hitch route in which he had close coverage at the time.
Cornerback: Janoris Jenkins, New York Giants, 97.0
Janoris Jenkins spent much of his game covering Dez Bryant, and on seven targets, caught as many passes (one) as Bryant did. On the lone completion surrendered to Bryant, Jenkins came in and forced the ball out after the catch for a fumble and turnover.
Cornerback: Cre’Von LeBlanc, Chicago Bears, 92.0
The 2016 rookie class has made a habit of turning up on the Team of the Week, and this time, it’s Cre’Von LeBlanc, who had a busy day in coverage for the Bears. LeBlanc was thrown at eight times, allowing just three catches for 24 yards, while breaking up three passes and intercepting a poorly-thrown Matthew Stafford ball for a pick-six. Stafford had a passer rating of just 6.3 when throwing into LeBlanc’s coverage.
Slot cornerback: Jimmie Ward, San Francisco 49ers, 92.1
Jimmie Ward was covering anybody the Jets sent his way this week, seeing targets to six different receivers come his way. On nine total targets, he allowed just 36 yards, while breaking up two of the incompletions and earning himself an interception on a pass intended for Quincy Enunwa.
Safety: Kurt Coleman, Carolina Panthers, 89.7
Kurt Coleman was excellent in coverage this week for the Carolina Panthers against a San Diego team that is dangerous in the passing game. Coleman picked off a crucial pass late in the game on a deep ball to effectively seal the win, but also broke another pass up and had close coverage on another play that turned into a scramble drill when pressure forced adjustments from Rivers and his receivers.
Safety: Keith Tandy, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 88.6
Thrown at five times in primary coverage, Keith Tandy allowed just one catch for 6 yards, and made the hit immediately after that catch. He broke up one of the incomplete passes and intercepted another on his way to an excellent day in coverage for the Bucs against a Saints team that had been pretty free-scoring through the air.
Week 14 special teams
Punter: Johnny Hekker, Los Angeles
With seven punts this week for the Rams, Johnny Hekker had none returned, and saw six of them result in opposing drives starting inside the 20-yard line. Four were fair caught, with two downed and one out of bounds.
Kicker: Nick Novak, Houston Texans
Nick Novak went five-for-five on field goal attempts in Week 14, with the longest coming from beyond 50 yards. He also had an average kickoff distance of 70.4 yards against the Colts.
Special teamer: Shea McClellin, New England Patriots.
Leaping clean over the center to snap Justin Tucker’s field goal streak with a blocked kick, Shea McClellin made the special-teams play of the week on Monday night.
Return specialist: Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs
Back on Thursday night, Tyreek Hill was the beneficiary of a kick deep down the middle of the field, away from the coverage team’s angle of attack, and he punished the Raiders by returning it 78 yards for a touchdown.