News & Analysis

NFL Week 10: PFF Team of the Week, key takeaways, player awards and more

Week 10 gave us the best finish of a game to date this season with Kyler Murray’s hail mary to DeAndre Hopkins that won the Arizona Cardinals the game over the Buffalo Bills. Meanwhile, division foe Russell Wilson struggled against the Los Angeles Rams and is now coming off his two worst games of the season. And in a shocking turn of events, the NFC East had two of the better downfield passers of the week with Daniel Jones and Alex Smith.

PFF is here to break down NFL Week 10 in greater detail using advanced data and our unique play-by-play grading. Here, we present to you the PFF Team of the Week, a couple of big takeaways and player awards from Week 10 of the 2020 NFL season.

PFF TEAM OF THE WEEK

Offense

QB: Derek Carr, Las Vegas Raiders
RB: Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
WR: Cole Beasley, Buffalo Bills
WR: Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings
TE: Richard Rodgers, Philadelphia Eagles
FLEX: D’Andre Swift, Detroit Lions
LT: Duane Brown, Seattle Seahawks
LG: Quenton Nelson, Indianapolis Colts
C: Garrett Bradbury, Minnesota Vikings
RG: Wyatt Teller, Cleveland Browns
RT: Jack Conklin, Cleveland Browns

Defense

DI: Raekwon Davis, Miami Dolphins
DI: Akiem Hicks, Chicago Bears
EDGE: Montez Sweat, Washington Football Team
EDGE: Khalil Mack, Chicago Bears
LB: Demario Davis, New Orleans Saints
LB: Shaq Thompson, Carolina Panthers
CB: Darious Williams, Los Angeles Rams
CB: Nevin Lawson, Las Vegas Raiders
S: Jeff Heath, Las Vegas Raiders
S: Jessie Bates III, Cincinnati Bengals
FLEX D: Xavien Howard, Miami Dolphins

BIG TAKEAWAYS

Daniel Jones might be a little underrated

Jones has gone from overrated at the start of his NFL career to properly viewed to underrated in 2020. His fumbling woes were a massive issue in his 2019 rookie campaign — and they still are this season — but he has been quite impressive this year when free from pressure. This past week against Philadelphia was a prime example of that.

Jones’ 93.1 passing grade from a clean pocket in Week 10 ranked first among quarterbacks, as he completed all 18 of his such passes for 188 yards and four big-time throws. Jones now has a ninth-ranked 90.3 passing grade for the season when kept clean, separating himself from the 10th-place 85.5 mark. He put together one of his best downfield passing games of the year against Philadelphia, completing 7-of-9 passes targeted 10-plus yards for 167 yards.

That led to him being the highest-graded passer of the week on such throws. And that really has been no different from what he has done this season when he isn’t afraid to pull the trigger. When throwing over 10 yards downfield in 2020, Jones ranks fifth in the NFL in passing grade — behind only Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes. That’s pretty good company.

He has tossed up 19 big-time throws to just two turnover-worthy plays on those same passes. When throwing downfield and from a clean pocket, Jones proves lethal, producing a 74.5% adjusted completion percentage on such plays — the highest by nearly 5 percentage points.

I’m not saying Jones is an elite quarterback or that he is going to lead the Giants to overwhelming success anytime soon; he still has a lot of room to grow. But he has looked remarkably better on a throw-for-throw basis this year compared to his rookie season.

Alex Smith didn’t pull off the comeback win, but his first start since his gruesome injury was impressive — especially down the stretch

While Smith entered off the bench against the Los Angeles Rams and the New York Giants earlier this year, he hadn’t started since suffering a horrific leg injury in Week 11 of 2018. That streak came to an end this week against the Detroit Lions. Smith and the offense were conservative to start, causing them to rank just 20th in expected points added per pass play in the first two quarters among the 26 teams to play before Monday Night Football. Following a Detroit touchdown to open up the second half, Washington found itself down 24-3. And that’s when Smith turned it on and put together an impressive second half.

In the final two quarters of action, he led Washington to the second-most efficient passing offense and peppered the Lions downfield. He attempted 11 passes over 10 yards downfield and completed eight for 148 yards and three big-time throws. Overall, Smith completed 10 passes that traveled over 10 yards — the most in a single game by a Washington quarterback since Kirk Cousins in 2016. The Football team generated positive expected points added on 59% of their pass plays in Week 10. The last time this franchise had a rate that high was Week 1 of 2018 when Smith was their starter.

At the time of Smith’s catastrophic injury, it seemed like there was no shot of him ever starting another NFL game. Yet, he defied the odds this past weekend in incredible fashion.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK

G Wyatt Teller, Cleveland Browns

Teller was putting up historic numbers at right guard for the Browns this year until he suffered an injury in Week 5 that knocked him out until now. He earned a 94.4 PFF grade on 283 snaps to start the season — the best in the NFL and the best by an offensive lineman through the first five weeks of a season in the PFF era (since 2006). Teller made his return this week against Houston and didn’t skip a beat. He earned a 96.4 PFF grade against Houston in Week 10.

Teller was the PFF Offensive Player of the Week in his last full game played back in Week 4 before getting hurt for his dominant run-blocking, and he took home the award in his first game back for the same exact reason. No guard came close to sniffing him in positively graded run block rate, and only one edged him out in negatively graded run block rate. He thrived in Kevin Stefanski’s outside zone heavy rushing offense against Houston — especially in the fourth quarter — and did so as well at the start of the year. At this rate, we might just see Teller, who currently has a season grade of 96.8, set the new record for best single-season grade at his position.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK

CB Darious Williams, Los Angeles Rams

Williams had a game on Sunday that cornerbacks dream of. He was responsible for a 22-yard gain early in the game, and Tyler Lockett did beat him off the line not too long after on a go route in man coverage for an open deep ball that Wilson overthrew, but after that, the dude made plays and made no mistakes. In the final three quarters of action, Williams’ coverage grade jumped to 93.9 as he intercepted two passes and forced another two incompletions — the most ball production of any cornerback of the week.

The 2018 UDFA has been racking up highlight-reel plays this season. He had one of the best interceptions of the season back in Week 4 with a game-sealer against the Giants which ended up winning PFF Play of the Week, and Williams added a couple more incredible ones this time around. His first INT came in the end zone near the end of the first half to prevent Seattle from tying up the game, and his other came in the fourth quarter when he jumped an out route in single coverage.

Williams made tremendous reads throughout the rest of the game after that first mistake to start out. Following this outing, Williams is now the second-highest-graded outside corner in coverage behind only Green Bay’s Jaire Alexander.

ROOKIE OF THE WEEK

DI Raekwon Davis, Miami Dolphins

Davis didn’t have any pass-rush production at all against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, but he was a constant force against the run. The 2020 56th overall pick recorded the highest run-defense grade of any interior defensive lineman at 90.8. Davis finished the day with three defensive stops against the run and caused disruption for the ball-carrier a multitude of times outside of those stops. Most of which came at nose tackle — a position he didn’t play much to start the year but has been thrown into in recent weeks.

Considering Davis entered this contest carrying a season run-defense grade of 47.1, this was a promising performance for the rookie. The Chargers’ interior offensive line is perhaps the worst in the NFL, but at least Davis has now shown he can produce at a high level against poor units like L.A.’s after struggling to start his NFL career.

OFFENSIVE LINE OF THE WEEK

Cleveland Browns

Once again, the Browns take home PFF Offensive Line of the Week and their set of linemen are beginning to look like the clear-cut best unit in the NFL. Cleveland’s offensive line allowed just two pressures on 22 pass-block snaps and combined lost five total reps — the lowest marks in the NFL this week. Though, as always, the reason they were the top line of the week was because of their run-blocking from top to bottom. As a whole, the Browns had a run-block grade that was over 11 grading points higher than any other team in Week 10. The right side of the line was anchored by the highest-graded right guard (Teller) and right tackle (Jack Conklin) of the week. Those two especially helped the Browns ground game bust off five explosive runs of 10 or more yards in the fourth quarter, which in turn, helped give them the second-most efficient offense of the week in the final quarter of play and sealing the W over Houston.

SECRET SUPERSTAR OF THE WEEK

CB Nevin Lawson, Las Vegas Raiders

Lawson hasn’t necessarily ever been considered an imposing threat on the field throughout his seven-year career. He has yet to record a season coverage grade above 70.0 and leading up to the Raiders game against the Broncos in Week 10, he was on pace for one of the worst seasons of his career. Lawson had just a 50.7 coverage grade entering Week 10.

This week, however, Lawson didn’t look anything like a liability out there on the field for Las Vegas. In fact, he had the best performance of his entire NFL career. For the very first time, Lawson earned a single-game coverage grade above 90.0. He put on the clamps when manning the outside, allowing zero yards on 20 coverage snaps and raising his coverage grade to 92.3 on such plays.

PLAY OF THE WEEK

This one is an easy choice. Of course the play of the week is the Kyler Murray to Nuk Hopkins hail mary. Murray launched the ball in the right vicinity, and Hopkins held strong and won at the catch point as he always has throughout his NFL career with three defensive backs swarming him.

The Cardinals had the easiest schedule in the NFL up until Week 10, but this game was the start of a big stretch of difficult matchups. They have the eight-most difficult schedule from Week 10 and on, so stealing the W from Buffalo on this play is huge for Arizona and their pursuit for a high seed in the playoffs.

AN EARLY LOOK AHEAD TO WEEK 11…

This week’s edition of Thursday Night Football might be the best of the season, especially after that play listed above. The 6-3 Cardinals take on the 6-3 Seahawks — if Arizona wins,  they would secure the tiebreaker between the two teams and widen their chances at a shot at the division crown. But if Seattle wins, this race continues to be a tight one between these two teams along with the Rams. As of late, Russell Wilson has not been the MVP frontrunner that we saw through the first eight weeks of the 2020 season. His lowest-graded game in that span was 78.8 in Week 5, but that was still good enough to be seventh at the position that week. Over the last two games though, Wilson has posted PFF grades in the 50s while tossing up just two big-time throws and a whopping eight turnover-worthy plays. That right there is the big reason why the Hawks are on a two-game losing skid.

The other 6-3 team in the NFC West, the Los Angeles Rams, are fresh off taking down Seattle and will have a tough showdown in primetime as well on Monday Night Football as they take on Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Rams will field a coverage unit that ranks at the top spot in the NFL in EPA per pass play allowed, and they’ll be going up against a Bucs pass offense that is coming off a great bounce-back game. After ranking dead last in passing efficiency in Week 9, Brady led Tampa to the most efficient passing offense in Week 10.

It’s a big week for the NFC West that will ultimately mean a lot to the shape of the conference playoff picture.

Know tomorrow, today. Western Southern Financial Group.
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