PFF Team of Week 14
Khaled Elsayed looks across the games of Week 14 and picks out the top performers at each position.
PFF Team of Week 14
Each week the staff at Pro Football Focus watches over a combined 400 hours of football to ensure we know who the best players are. It makes us the premier outfit in player evaluation, used by NFL teams and fans alike to understand which guys are getting the job done and which guys aren’t.
It’s with this knowledge we can put out our Team of the Week, going beyond the box scores and the highlight reel plays to see who were the best players on every play of every game.
Here’s the Team of Week 14.
(Note: Team will be updated after Monday Night Football games are analyzed and on Wednesday when All-22 footage helps us study plays in even more detail where needed with an asterisk noting any change.)
Quarterback: Drew Brees, NO (+7.1)
Edges out our top-ranked QB on the year, picking apart the Panthers with a ruthless efficiency that bodes well for the Saints postseason hopes.
Honorable Mention: Peyton Manning (DEN)
Running Back: LeSean McCoy, PHI (+2.1)
While all around him were losing their feet, McCoy kept his moving along in a performance that was vital for the Eagles postseason hopes.
Honorable Mention: Eddie Lacy (GB)
Full Back: Erik Lorig, TB (+1.7)
Not the best week for bruising lead backs, but Lorig had a solid outing even if he was flagged for a penalty.
Honorable Mention: Marcel Reece (OAK)
Tight End: Jermaine Gresham, CIN (+4.6)
Your eyes do not deceive you. We’re often critical of Gresham but there’s no denying when he gets it right, he’s got the tools to put forward big performances. Now can he deliver like this going forward?
Honorable Mention: Charles Clay (MIA)
Wide Receivers: Marques Colston, NO (+4.3) and Brandon Marshall, CHI (+5.7)
The Panthers just couldn’t get a handle on Colston who beat man coverage and found soft spots in their zone to put them to the sword. Another big day for Marshall who picked up 100 receiving yards and lay some customary big blocks in the running game.
Honorable Mention: Anquan Boldin (SF) and Larry Fitzgerald (ARZ)
Tackles: Chris Clark, DEN (+6.1) and Orlando Franklin, DEN (+4.6)
A Denver Double, as their ends logged a load of snaps, generally kept their quarterback upright (one hit allowed) and were exceptional in the run game. You can’t really ask for more.
Honorable Mention: Jason Peters (PHI) and Jordan Mills (CHI)
Guards: Andrew Whitworth, CIN (+4.7) and Louis Vasquez, DEN (+5.1)
Another special performance from Whitworth who is really impressing in excelling at two spots on the line in two very different ways. Vasquez, this year, is the league’s best right guard. What a pickup for the Broncos.
Honorable Mention: Matt Slauson (NYJ) and Mike McGlynn (IND)
Center: Nick Mangold, NYJ (+4.4)
The highs and lows of Mangold. This has arguably been his most disappointing season since his rookie year, but he’s still capable of the big game.
Honorable Mention: Travis Frederick (DAL)
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 (defensive tackles or 3-4 defensive ends) and two linebackers (all inside linebackers and 4-3 outside linebackers).
Defensive Interior – Ends: J.J. Watt, HOU (+8.5) and Gerald McCoy, TB (+7.5)
These two are back in business after off weeks by their own high standards. Watt was a force on Thursday Night Football as he ended the day with three hits and four hurries (along with a batted pass). Meanwhile McCoy, our top ranked DT on the year had his own big pass rushing day with seven quarterback disruptions and a batted pass.
Honorable Mention: Calais Campbell (ARZ) and Cameron Jordan (NO)
Defensive Interior – Nose: Earl Mitchell, HOU (+2.8)
Mitchell gets his first Team of the Week nod of the year at a spot that has proven incredibly deep this year. His work in the run game earned him the nod.
Honorable Mention: Marcell Dareus (BUF)
Edge Rushers: John Abraham, ARZ (+4.8) and Robert Quinn, SL (+4.7)
Not your usual game from Quinn with just the one hit and two hurries. Some strong work against the run ensured he had the highest grade of any 4-3 defensive end this week though. As for Abraham his three sacks and two hits are exactly what you would expect from him when he makes this team.
Honorable Mention: Nick Perry (GB) and Cameron Wake (MIA)
Linebackers: Karlos Dansby, ARZ (+4.7) and Zach Brown, TEN (+4.2)
Of all the linebackers Tennessee rotated against the Broncos it was Brown who stood out for all the right reasons, having a fine day against the run. Still Dansby was even more impressive, making the most his second chance in Arizona. He’s now up to sixth overall in our inside linebacker rankings.
Honorable Mention: Derrick Johnson (KC) and Dont’a Hightower (NE)
Cornerbacks: Stephon Gilmore, BUF (+4.0) and Corey White, NO (+3.7)
If you’re a cornerback and you walk away allowing 1-of-5 balls thrown into your coverage for 10 yards, with an interception and a pass break up, you’ve done well. So Stephon Gilmore, you’ve done well. White was far less challenged but was in perfect position as the Saints baffled Cam Newton all day long.
Honorable Mention: Jimmy Smith (BAL) and Shareece Wright (SD)
Safeties: Andrew Sendejo, MIN (+4.8) and James Ihedigbo, BAL (+4.6)
Two men with something to prove. Sendejo is one of the a number of Viking safeties battling to be the partner of Harrison Smith and put forward a strong case against the Ravens. In the same game free agent to be Ihedigbo might be looking for a new home next year and you can bet his agent will be showing highlights from this one when if he does.
Honorable Mention: Will Hill (NYG) and Bernard Pollard (TEN)
Kicker, Matt Prater, DEN: Even in Mile High, 64 yards is pretty handy.
Punter, Johnny Hekker, SL: Already one of the best at his position in the league.
Returner, Jeremy Ross, DET: Snow can’t slow this man down.
Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled