10 best players from Sunday’s Week 8 NFL action

Tom Brady, A.J. Green and Ezekiel Elliott are among those that make our list of this Sunday's top 10 performances.

| 1 month ago
(Brett Carlsen, Getty Images)

(Brett Carlsen, Getty Images)

10 best players from Sunday’s Week 8 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. But 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 Sunday’s Week 8 action:

[Check out the 10 worst performances from Sunday of Week 8 right here, or access our Player Grades tool to see how every NFL player measures up through three weeks of the season.]

1. Brandon Graham, DE, Philadelphia Eagles

You won’t find a more typical Brandon Graham performance than the one he managed on “Sunday Night Football” against the Dallas Cowboys. Graham totaled 11 pressures – eight hurries and three hits – but didn’t end the game with a sack on the stat sheet, and the Eagles ended up losing in overtime, so it will largely go unnoticed. Cowboys QB Dak Prescott was under pressure on 23 snaps, and just under half of them were because of Graham alone. He also recorded four defensive stops in the run game and was generally one of the most destructive players in the game overall. He now sits atop PFF grades among all edge defenders for the season.

2. Tyler Eifert, TE, Cincinnati Bengals

Getting Eifert back turns the Bengals offense into an entirely different proposition to defend. The Redskins tried to take A.J. Green away by having Josh Norman track him (more on that later), but Eifert was too much for them to contend with elsewhere. He was thrown at 11 times in the tie with Washington, catching nine of them for 102 yards and a score, and he earned good grades as a run-blocker, too. A healthy Eifert isn’t just a game-changer for the Bengals, but he is one of the league’s best tight ends.

3. Khalil Mack, DE, Oakland Raiders

The 2015 version of Khalil Mack made a return this week. In Oakland’s win over Tampa Bay he notched three sacks, but also had two hits, five hurries and five defensive stops for the game, as he dominated in both the running and passing games over his 55 defensive snaps. This was the Mack we have been waiting to see all year, and if the Raiders can get this player the rest of the season rather than the guy who has been good but unspectacular before this week, they are a different beast on that side of the ball.

4. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys

Coming into this week’s overtime win over Philadelphia, Elliott has had no trouble generating yardage. The Dallas offensive line has been one of the league’s best, and it has been generating him huge yardage simply via blocking. Only five runners had a greater percentage of their rushing yardage come before contact than Elliott heading into this week, but against the Eagles that disappeared. He posted 96 rushing yards, but 89 of them came after contact, and he needed to break seven tackles on 22 carries to get that far. This was the game we got to see what Elliott could do outside of the framework of a dominant offensive line, and it was very impressive.

5. Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

Brady simply carved up the Buffalo defense this week in the Patriots’ victory. He completed 87.0 percent of his passes for a perfect passer rating of 158.3 when he was kept clean in the pocket by the Patriots blockers, and the Bills just didn’t get enough pressure (14 of 38 dropbacks) for the other plays to matter enough. Brady passed for 288 yards from those clean pockets alone, and showed a masterful command of the position.

6. Dont’a Hightower, LB, New England Patriots

Hightower might be New England’s best pass-rusher. He doesn’t come from a typical edge-rusher alignment, or lined up on the defensive line, but he is a monster on the blitz from his inside linebacker spot. Against the Bills he led the team with five total pressures (from only 12 blitzes), getting a sack, hit and three hurries in his pass rushes. Add in a good display against the run and in coverage and you have one of the best performances of the week at any position.

7. Kawann Short, DT, Carolina Panthers

Like Mack, Short is another 2015 stud making his first real impact of the 2016 season. This was Short at his best, and it’s no coincidence that the Panthers won the game when it happened. Short wrecked the interior of the Arizona line – Mike Iupati in particular – to the tune of two sacks, a hit and two hurries over the course of the game, and was the kind of game-changing force he was for most of the last season.

8. A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

If you’re going to try and cover Green with just one guy – even a really good one – the Bengals are going to take those odds and roll the dice. A lot. Green was targeted 15 times over the game, catching nine passes for 121 yards, 76 of which came against Josh Norman. That doesn’t even count the four (!) penalties Green drew for illegal hands to the face from Norman’s attempted jams at the line, which effectively bought the Bengals four free first downs. You better bring more than one guy if you’re gonna try and stop Green.

9. Bradley Roby, CB, Denver Broncos

Stepping in to start for an injured Aqib Talib, Roby was tested often by the Chargers, and responded with the kind of coverage Talib would be proud of. Nine passes were thrown his way during the game, but just two were caught for 34 yards, while he caught one himself for an interception and batted another away. Overall, Philip Rivers had a passer rating of 3.2 when throwing it at Roby in the Broncos’ win.

10. Brandon Brooks, G, Philadelphia Eagles

Nobody gives the big uglies much love, but free-agent acquisition Brandon Brooks was excellent on Sunday night for Philadelphia. Brooks didn’t allow a pressure of any kind across 52 snaps of pass protection – the only member of the Eagles offensive line that didn’t – and was solid as a run-blocker, too.

| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN.

  • Derrick Constantino

    Um…Derek Carr…?

    • KingCheese

      Who?

      • Anthony

        Who? Seriously? A top 5 quarterback who is the reason his team wins. That’s who cunt.

        • KingCheese

          They ain’t winning nada. Can’t wait until they play the Broncos so they can be brought down to Earth…cunt.

          • Mr McMurderer

            Broncos fans have no room to talk as we split with them last year. Broncos will probably will Sunday, but the Raiders will whoop that ass in Denver….again….because they are a much better team on the road

          • Neo Maxie Zoom Dweebie

            “Broncos will probably ” will” (win?) Sunday? Are you soft?
            Look up the matchup before you speak!! Some Raiders fan.
            I think I interrupted two 12 year olds in an ignorant tiff….

          • Mr McMurderer

            It’s called logic, and I use it. Raiders have been bad at home this year, the Chiefs game is a pretty good example, as well as the Falcons. While they are good teams, so are the Broncos, and our roster is young and nor accustomed to paying in front of a national audience, so some jitters (especially by our QB) should be expected. So, if Carr isn’t at 100%, and the rest of our team is nervous, what do you think the likely outcome would be against a super bowl caliber defense? I think we lose this time, but beat them in their house to end the season and earn or first trip to the playoffs in over a decade in the process. That’s if I’m being honest and not just being a Homer about it.

          • Neo Maxie Zoom Dweebie

            I don’t believe in a team winning or losing at home as a “thing.”. The Raiders lost at home to two good teams. It has nothing to do with home or away. I believe the Raiders will pass for 300 yards against the Broncos this Sunday, AND, the Dline will pressure Semien into a couple of turnovers with 3 or so sacks.
            And don’t call me a homer. I predicted the Raiders would lose to NO and KC this year. (Homers pick their team to win every weekend right?)
            I just believe they win this weekend in a FG fest of a game. I doubt either team gets more than 2 TDs.
            It should be a great game. I hope you’re wrong too.:)

          • Mr McMurderer

            Well, it seems strange that you would question my fandom when I stated the Raiders would probably lose this Sunday, only to confess you did the same, but we’ll let bygones be bygones sobe were rooting for the same team. I will say that if Carr manages to throw for 300+ yards on the Denver D he will silence all those wet blanket douchecanoes who keep trying to discredit him and firmly put himself into MVP consideration, which is what I want more than anything for him.

          • Neo Maxie Zoom Dweebie

            Bygones. We both want them to win right? And Raiders fans shouldn’t quibble with so many obnoxious Donkey fans out there who are usually quite uninformed when it comes to this sport with the pigskin!
            “Wet blanket douche-canoes.”. Lol. That’s good.
            I’d love to see the Raiders get a couple lucky bounces for pick-sixes like the Donkey’s got last week. I think Mack has a day and Seabass makes up for last week with 3-4 FG’s.
            Raiders 26 or 23 – Broncos 17.

          • Blaze Gunn

            Being a much better team on the road is kinda sad so do the Raiders even want homefield advantage in the playoffs if this is true?

          • Neo Maxie Zoom Dweebie

            Fail….

          • Hawnk

            Oakland held Denver to zero offensive TDs last year!

          • Neo Maxie Zoom Dweebie

            They play this weekend. Some Broncos fan you are. You don’t seem to even know when they play!!
            No wonder you have no idea how great Carr is!
            Let me clue you in: The top two QBs in the league in the last 4 weeks is Tom Brady and Derek Carr.

            Carr: 2321 yards. 17 TDs. 3 INTs. 100.9 QBR.
            MVP front runner. (All caught up dingus?)

          • Blaze Gunn

            But he never said he didn’t know when they played he said “Can’t Wait until they play” could just be excited to see them play this weekend. Also Derek Carr has been a Top 5 QB his season but like most QBs they don’t have very good games vs the Broncos Defense

          • Neo Maxie Zoom Dweebie

            Are you a professional or amateur apologist?

          • Daddy_Luck

            Carr is a good quarterback no doubt. But the Raiders as a team are really nothing special. Slightly above average at best. Any team that has the amount of penalties they did on Sunday cant be taken seriously. And you’re defense is absolutely horrendous. In case you didn’t know, when your teams final score looks like it could have been the score of a basketball game, it’s really bad! Just be happy that Tampa is bad as they are and couldn’t capitalize on those laughable penalties. Lastly, let’s not forget it was just 2 weeks ago that you got o’wned by KC. Holla

    • Mike Riley

      His grade would have actually been higher had Coop not dropped that fade on the left sideline in the 4th.

      • Anthony

        Amari’s drop has no barring on the grade Derek gets.

    • Mr McMurderer

      If you dont know who Derek Carr is then you dont know anything about the NFL.

  • Silver Sadist

    Can not believe Carr got left out of this one…Over 500 yrds, 4 TDS, NO PICKS, no fumbles and a game winning TD on 4th Down to win the in OT! If Brady, Brees, Rodgers, or Newton had these stats, it would be massive news. But it’s Oakland, so the media just let it slide. No worries though, playoffs are in our future and Carr’s MVP season will be the biggest reason why.

    • Hawnk

      Only the third player in NFL history with 500+ Yards/4 TDs/0 INTs.

      • Neo Maxie Zoom Dweebie

        Ben Roethlisberger. Y.A. Tittle. And Derek Carr. But he’s not one of the ten best Sunday. A guard for the Eagles is on this list because he “didn’t allow any pressure(s)..”

    • Neo Maxie Zoom Dweebie

      He lost a fumble in the 1st. But it doesn’t change the fact that he had the !most prolific passing day in Raiders history and is the 20th passer to throw for 500 yds. EVER.

  • Neo Maxie Zoom Dweebie

    Derek Carr? Hello? Are you kidding?

    Also, Khalil Mack had two sacks vs the Bucs, not three. Nice research. But I guess now it makes sense you left Carr, who was only one of three QB’s in NFL history to throw for 500 yds,. 4 TDs and 0 INTs. The other two? Roethlisberger and Y.A. Tittle. But he didn’t make your list…..? Lol.

  • Neo Maxie Zoom Dweebie

    Sam Monson.

    I’m guessing east coast “writer?” Eagles or Pats fan…..?

  • David Pergrin

    Unbelievably Derek Carr is not on this list wow

  • bobbyv

    I understand PFF relying on hard numbers to grade, but somewhere in those statistics you have to factor in the fact Carr delivers when the pressure is on big time, a touchdown to tie the game and put the team in scoring position 3 times in OT, finally delivery a TD on a fourth down with time winding down.