A crazy Week 16 in the NFL saw some impressive performances as the playoff landscape became slightly clearer. So who stood out in our alternative Players of the Week awards?
Offensive Player of the Week
AFC: Brandon Marshall, WR, New York Jets
Marshall got the better of Malcolm Butler several times with eight catches for 115 yards and two touchdowns. One of Marshall’s touchdowns went for 33 yards, and he becomes the first receiver in Jets history to eclipse 100 receptions in a single season, overtaking Al Toon’s record of 93 from 1988. Marshall has proved to be one of the best free agent signings of the year, not something the Jets are usually known for.
NFC: Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
Despite suffering with a torn plantar fascia; the same injury that has laid Peyton Manning low, Brees had a vintage performance at the Superdome. Brees completed 69.4% of his 36 passes for 412 yards and three touchdowns without an interception in a shootout win over Jacksonville. Whatever the Saints have planned for next season, Brees should certainly still be involved.
Honourable mention: Tim Barnes, C, St. Louis Rams
Offensive linemen don’t always get the glory or recognition they deserve, but Barnes’ clutch performance cannot go unnoticed. Barnes recovered two Rams fumbles on the same drive to keep them ahead of the Seahawks in Seattle. Barnes’ heroics led to a Todd Gurley touchdown run that made it 23-10 with five minutes left.
Defensive Player of the Week
AFC: J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans
Despite still nursing a broken hand, Watt had another disruptive performance against Zach Mettenberger and the Titans. Watt finished with two tackles, a pass defensed, a forced fumble, and a sack; keeping him in touch with Khalil Mack for this year’s sack crown. Watt is just 0.5 sacks behind with one game remaining.
NFC: William Hayes, DE, St. Louis Rams
Part of the reason why the Rams beat the Seahawks in Seattle for the first time in over ten years was because they generated consistent pressure on Russell Wilson. Hayes was the main architect, with three sacks. Hayes seemed to be ready every time Wilson stepped up or tried to scramble back to the line of scrimmage, and led the Rams with nine combined tackles.
Special Teams Player of the Week
Brett Kern, P, Tennessee Titans
Kern was the lone bright spot for Tennessee against Houston. While Marquette King stole the show on special teams this week for the NFL’s official Player of the Week awards, Kern wasn’t far behind. He punted nine times for 427 yards, averaging 47.4 yards per punt. Seven of his kicks landed inside the 20, so it’s a shame that the Titans couldn’t do more to make Kern’s performance count.
Drew Butler, P, Arizona Cardinals
Butler didn’t have to punt often as Arizona steamrolled Green Bay, but made it count when he did take to the field. Butler’s four punts averaged 43 yards. Three of his kicks landed inside the 20, and Butler kept the Packers out of the mix by allowing zero return yards.