PFF Team of Week 14
Even the lowliest undrafted free agent -- or third-round rookie QB -- deserves his day in the sun. So Khaled Elsayed presents Week 14's kings for a day.
PFF Team of Week 14
It takes into account which quarterbacks made plays, and which ones let their receivers do all the work. Which defensive tackles stood up offensive linemen to redirect runners. Which cornerbacks were bailed out by dropped passes.
So with that in mind, enjoy our Team of Week 14.
Quarterback: Nick Foles, PHI (+6.1)
You read this right. You know Nick Foles, the guy who has looked pretty terrible so far. Well, this was Nick Foles the guy who could have a future in this league. He took more sacks than you’d like and still made some horrible throws, but he also made the kind of plays that make him an intriguing guy going forward.
Running Back: Marshawn Lynch, SEA (+3.9)
David Wilson will have to settle for a role as returner because Lynch was at his beastly best against the poor Cardinals. Just 11 carries for 128 yards with three touchdowns and five forced missed tackles.
Full Back: Rhett Ellison, MIN (+4.2)
The Vikings have found themselves some fullbacks. Jerome Felton has stepped his game up this year, and this time it was the turn of Ellison to deliver some punishing lead blocks. Jim who?
Tight End: Martellus Bennett, NYG (+3.3)
The touchdown for Bennett just gave him the nod over Jason Witten. Both men had fine days in the run game.
Wide Receivers: Steve Smith, CAR (+4.3) and Victor Cruz, NYG (+4.3)
Smith does love playing against the Falcons, doesn’t he? In a somewhat disappointing year he looked like the dominant receiver of old in a classic display. That’s as well as Cruz has played all year, snagging eight of nine passes his way for 121 yards and a touchdown.
Tackles: Anthony Castonzo, IND (+6.4) and Andre Smith, CIN (+4.3)
If Castonzo can keep playing like that it will go some way to limiting the damage the Colts mess of an interior can do. Smith plays with more talent around him, but he’s in the zone at the moment. Outside of verbal altercations with Rob Ryan he’s turned into the leagues’ top right tackle this year.
Guards: Amini Silatolu, CAR (+5.0) and Brandon Moore, NYJ (+4.5)
Neither of our starting guards gave up a pressure, earning them spots over Logan Mankins and Shawn Lauvao. For the rookie Silatolu, that’s the first grade in the green since Week 3 in a tough first year. For Moore, it’s the sixth in a row with his game going to a new level since ‘butt-fumble-gate’.
Center: Nick Mangold, NYJ (+4.0)
Better from Mangold. He’s looking near his best after a shaky (by his standards) 2012.
Defensive Front 4-3
Defensive Ends: Michael Bennett, TB (+7.1) and Jason Pierre-Paul (+6.0)
I liken Bennett to a bully. When he knows he can beat you, he’s relentless and unforgiving. That’s why he ended up with 10 quarterback disruptions and a couple of stops in the run game. JPP was all over the Saints line with nine QB disruptions of his own. He’s been crying out for a game like that.
Defensive Tackle: Geno Atkins, CIN (+8.5) and Vince Wilfork, NE (+7.9)
Can you believe that a +7.3 grade from Gerald McCoy (as well big grades from Michael Brockers and Sen’Derrick Marks) weren’t enough this week? Well, that’s because Atkins added to his DPOY case as he mauled the Cowboys’ maulers. Then you had Vince Wilfork reacting to the eyes of the nation on him with his best performance in a long time. Great week for defensive line play.
Linebackers: Von Miller, DEN (+6.2), Lavonte David, TB (+4.0) and Bobby Wagner, SEA (+5.4)
Yawn. Miller does it again, creating havoc as few can. David has been a real bright spot for Tampa Bay and moved himself to fourth in our 4-3 OLB rankings with some fine work in coverage. When you’re up against the Cardinals quarterbacks like Wagner was then you know you’ve got an opportunities to make some plays. He did in a fine display.
Defensive Front 3-4
Defensive Line: J.J. Watt, HST (+7.1), Cam Thomas, SD (+5.9) and Aubrayo Franklin, SD (+2.3)
If you think Watt was shutout against the Patriots, you weren’t watching close enough. Four hits on Brady and two hurries should make you think otherwise. Thomas, who played some nose tackle as well for the Chargers, had his best game as a pro, bullying the Steelers’ interior and walking away with six QB disruptions of his own. Back in a 3-4, Franklin excels the way San Diego are using him.
Outside Linebackers: Paul Kruger, BLT (+4.7) and Aldon Smith, SF (+4.3)
Kruger, benefiting from lining up against Tyler Polumbus, walked away with two sacks and seven hurries. Smith himself had two sacks and four hurries.
Inside Linebackers: Patrick Willis, SF (+3.7) and Larry Foote, PIT (+3.5)
There was a time when I questioned whether Willis was the best linebacker on his own team. Not any more, as he has reestablished himself as the top inside linebacker in the league for any who doubted. For Pittsburgh, not everyone let themselves down, with Foote doing some fine work in the run game.
Cornerbacks: Brandon Carr, DAL (+3.2) and Richard Sherman, SEA (+4.4)
In trying circumstances Carr had his best game as a Cowboy, picking off one ball and allowing only one reception, for 11 yards. Sherman was thrown at five times with one pass break up, two interceptions and just one completion allowed. Nice day.
Safeties: George Wilson, BUF (+4.1) and Ronde Barber, TB (+4.6)
Eric Weddle may feel aggrieved at missing out, but the active play of Barber just earned him the nod. Wilson had less competition, able to overcome them with some good work in pass coverage that including two passes defensed.
Kicker: Josh Brown (CIN)
Punter: Pat McAfee (IND)
Returner: David Wilson (NYG)
Special Teamer: Mark Herzlich (NYG)
Follow Khaled on Twitter: @PFF_Khaled