Best players at every position from Week 12
There were some big box score performances on Sunday, as the yards flowed for quarterbacks and the sacks flowed for pass rushers. But going beyond that, who would the tape determine worthy of a place in the PFF Team of the Week?
Let’s find out.
Quarterback: Matthew Stafford, Lions (+7.3)
As bad as the Eagles were, Stafford made them look worse. It was the kind of display that makes you forget all the bad we’ve seen this season, as he threw for five touchdowns to kick off Thanksgiving’s slate of games.
Running back: Adrian Peterson, Vikings (+3.4)
The Falcons’ run defense has been a point of pride this year, but the way Peterson ran through it nearly made us forget about their past success. He forced nine tackles in a powerful effort.
Fullback: Patrick DiMarco, Falcons (+2.0)
There aren’t many full backs who generate as much movement on contact as DiMarco, a truly brutal lead blocker.
Tight end: Travis Kelce, Chiefs (+3.3)
Other TEs had more yards, but Kelce turned his four receptions into significant plays, and did a nice job with his blocking to edge out the competition.
Wide receivers: Markus Wheaton, Steelers (+4.3) and Calvin Johnson, Lions (+3.9)
You could pick six or seven other guys this week for the receiver spots, and we’d have no complaints—such was the high standard of play in Week 12. But Wheaton, with a 200-yard day, and Johnson, who scored three touchdowns, did just enough to win out.
Tackles: Matt Kalil, Vikings (+4.3) and Marcus Gilbert, Steelers (+5.6)
After a tough 2014, Kalil is rebounding with better play this year, with his effort against the Falcons a high point in that regard. Gilbert was expected to be in for a tough day, but did a great job in pass protection.
Guards: Andrew Norwell, Panthers (+4.9) and T.J. Lang, Packers (+6.4)
Norwell just holds off the more esteemed Josh Sitton and Logan Mankins, with his excellent run blocking being the difference. What a pickup he has proved. Lang, the often overlooked lineman in Green Bay, is having another excellent season, and this was his best grade of the year.
Center: Jason Kelce, Eagles (+3.9)
Too little, too late? Kelce hasn’t hit the heights of his superb 2013 season, but since a poor start to the year, he’s been run blocking as well as any center in the league.
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, Texans (+7.6) and Mike Daniels, Packers (+8.4)
Two men on the roster for very different reasons. Watt owes it all to his pass rushing, where he recorded two more sacks, a further six hits, and three additional hurries. Dominant. Daniels had four hurries himself, but his work disrupting the Bears’ running game stood out just as much.
Defensive interior – nose: Damon Harrison, Jets (+4.3)
When you have three first-round picks on the line, it’s easy to forget about the undrafted guy. Harrison is playing so well right now, he’s simply not letting you do that.
Edge rushers: Aaron Lynch, 49ers (+5.1) and Ryan Kerrigan, Redskins (+5.1)
These two just get the nod over the excellent Ziggy Ansah. Kerrigan did more damage rushing the passer, with eight disruptions (including two sacks). Lynch, who had himself nine total disruptions, was a bit more balanced with some strong work in the run game.
Linebackers: Anthony Barr, Vikings (+3.7) and Luke Kuechly, Panthers (+4.5)
Barr gets in over Tahir Whitehead on playing time, but also because he made some big plays that were pivotal in a Vikings win. As for Kuechly, what can be said about him that hasn’t already been said? The best linebacker in the league last year, he’s taken his game to another level that is as good as anything we have ever graded.
Cornerbacks: David Amerson, Raiders (+5.9) and Will Blackmon, Redskins (+4.7)
A crazy day for Blackmon, who may have been beaten for two touchdowns, but had a big pick of his own, as well as breaking up three passes. His day didn’t compare to former Redskin David Amerson. He was thrown at nine times, but allowed just one reception for 5 yards, while intercepting one ball and breaking up four more.
Safeties: Landon Collins, Giants (+3.4) and Kurt Coleman, Panthers (+2.6)
Coleman is proving to be one of the best pickups of the offseason, and added another shrewd interception to his total for the year. Over in Washington, Collins seemed inspired, earning the best grade of his young career.
Kicker: Graham Gano, Panthers
Gano was automatic, with his field goal kicking and kickoffs in supreme form.
Punter: Kevin Huber, Bengals
Only four punts, but he made them count.
Returner: Jeremy Kerley, Jets
Kerley made some nice moves on his punt returns.
Thanks to the support from Ohio Film Office.