They say the NFL is a passing league nowadays. Long gone is the era of pounding the rock down the opposition’s throat. But sometimes you get a week chock-full of old-school football, where the running backs take charge and play the game the way your granddad says it ought to be played. Week 6 of the 2017 season was one of those weeks.
Our three nominees are all very different kinds of runners and have all had varying fortunes so far this season. But which of them deserves to be crowned offensive player of the week? Take a look at who we’ve picked and then cast your vote at the bottom of the page.
Le’Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
The first player on our list has been regarded as one of – if not the best running back in the NFL since he came into the league in 2013, and on Sunday he showed us why. It took him a couple of games to get going this season after missing all of training camp, but his 179 yards on the ground against the Kansas City Chiefs – his fourth 100-yard game in a row against that opponent – laid Steelers fans’ worries to rest. And that’s not even counting this incredible run that was called back for a penalty:
Bell's performance also opened up opportunities for the rest of the Steelers offense, particularly wide receiver Antonio Brown, who picked up 155 yards through the air, the first time both Brown and Bell had each amassed 150 yards in the same game.
Adrian Peterson, RB, Arizona Cardinals
He's washed up! He can't run any more! He should just retire! Just some of the comments levelled at Adrian Peterson since leaving the Minnesota Vikings at the end of last season. In four games for the New Orleans Saints, he picked up just 81 yards on 27 carries (an average of 3.0 yards per carry). By the end of his first half in a Cardinals jersey, he had 11 carries for 85 yards (almost 8 ypc) and a touchdown. And what a touchdown it was:
First the jump cut to find the hole, then the speed to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defenders to the end zone - it's a reminder of what made Peterson the league's best for so many years. The 32-year-old finished the game with 134 yards and 2 touchdowns on 26 carries, his first game with 20+ carries since week 16 of the 2015 season. It's surely no coincidence that was also his last 100-yard game.
Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
Gordon is a different type of back to both Bell and Peterson, but that doesn't make him any less deadly as an offensive weapon. The third-year player was effective both on the ground and through the air against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, picking up 150 all-purpose yards, as well as both a rushing and a receiving touchdown.
After going 14 games without a touchdown to start his career, Gordon now has 19 touchdowns in his last 19 games, including seven so far this season, which puts him level with Todd Gurley and Leonard Fournette atop the 2017 touchdown rankings.
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