NFL News & Analysis

NFL Week 16 Team of the Week and Player Awards

With just two regular-season weeks left to play, the Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals have secured a spot in the NFC playoffs, while the Kansas City Chiefs is the only team to clinch an AFC playoff spot.

The next two weeks will bring chaos as teams compete for the final wild-card spots, but before we get there, it’s time to highlight Week 16’s top performers. Here, we present PFF’s Team of the Week and player awards from Week 16 of the 2021 NFL season.

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PFF TEAM OF THE WEEK

Offense

QB: Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
RB: Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns
WR: A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans
WR: Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals
TE: Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons
Flex: Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens
LT: Joel Bitonio, Cleveland Browns
LG: Landon Dickerson, Philadelphia Eagles
C: Creed Humphrey, Kansas City Chiefs
RG: Chris Lindstrom, Atlanta Falcons
RT: La’el Collins, Dallas Cowboys

Defense

DI: Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams
DI: Isaiah Mack, Baltimore Ravens
Edge: Josh Sweat, Philadelphia Eagles
Edge: Maxx Crosby, Las Vegas Raiders
LB: T.J. Edwards, Philadelphia Eagles
LB: Anthony Walker, Cleveland Browns
CB: Artie Burns, Chicago Bears
CB: Darius Slay, Philadelphia Eagles
S: Jonathan Owens, Houston Texans
S: Jordan Whitehead, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Flex: Vonn Bell, Cincinnati Bengals

Offensive Player of the Week: QB Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

Bill Belichick‘s defense has performed up to his elite standards in 2021. Entering Week 16, the New England Patriots ranked No. 1 in the NFL in team coverage grade, and they had held over half of the quarterbacks they had faced to a PFF grade below 60.0.

However, Allen had no issue against the Pats in Week 16, a game with significant playoff and division title ramifications. Allen earned a 91.0 PFF grade in Buffalo’s 33-21 win over New England in Week 16, the highest grade by a quarterback against the Patriots this season.

Allen’s arm talent shined throughout as he delivered several off-platform big-time throws in the face of pressure. In all, Allen finished with four big-time throws to one turnover-worthy play across 49 dropbacks.

Defensive Player of the Week: DI Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams

The Rams star earned his fifth 90.0-plus pass-rush grade of the season on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.

Donald racked up seven pressures and a 30.2% pass-rush win rate, an impressive feat considering that he rushed the passer over 40 times. But that wasn't all, as he also racked up three tackles for loss or no gain against the run.

No one made more high-level plays in Week 16 than Donald, who has now generated roughly one win above replacement this season, the most among all defenders. He is putting together what should be another Defensive Player of the Year kind of season.

Rookie of the Week: TE Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons

Pitts needed over 320 receiving yards across his final three outings in order to break Chicago Bears legend Mike Ditka’s rookie tight end receiving record. And he got off to a good start on Sunday against the Detroit Lions with a six-reception, 102-yard outing.

Three of his six receptions went for a gain of 15 or more yards, bringing his season-long total of 15-plus-yard plays to 28, tied with Mark Andrews for the most at the position. And what’s most impressive about Pitts’ strong outing in Week 16 is that he ran 10 of his 22 routes as an outside receiver, with seven of those coming against press coverage. 

The Falcons tight end earned a 91.1 receiving grade for his efforts, the third elite-graded performance above 90.0 of his rookie campaign.

Say what you will about him not being a prototypical in-line tight end, but very few 6-foot-6, 240-pound tight ends are able to produce as well on the outside. Pitts now owns the second-highest receiving grade among all pass-catchers when lined up wide versus press coverage.

Offensive Line of the Week: Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia’s offensive line shined on Sunday, whether they were pass blocking, making holes for the ground game or receiving downfield.

Lane Johnson was the standout, as he not only came down with a touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter, but he also pitched a shutout with zero total pass-block losses. Most of the other Eagles’ front five had as much success as Johnson did on the pass-protection front, too, as four of the five starters didn’t allow a single pressure and combined for one pass-block loss.

In total, the Philly OL allowed just three pressures, all of which were from right guard Nate Herbig, and they finished the game with the best PFF pass-blocking grade of the week.

Secret Superstar of the Week: S Jonathan Owens, Houston Texans

Owens was a 2018 undrafted free agent out of Missouri Western State and entered Week 16 with only 116 career snaps to his name. Expectations were relatively low for the safety as he made his second career start against Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, but those expectations were shattered, as Owens came out with a position-leading 91.4 PFF grade that was buoyed by an impressive interception on a Herbert deep ball.

Play of the Week: Chicago Bears wide receiver Damiere Byrd’s game-winning 2-point conversion

While meaningless in the grand scheme of things, the Chicago Bears-Seattle Seahawks snow show was one of the most aesthetically pleasing and exciting games of the week.

After falling behind by a touchdown with just under three minutes left to play, Chicago QB3 Nick Foles got the ball back and helped the Bears down the field. He ultimately threw a 15-yard touchdown pass on a third-and-14, and Chicago made the right decision to go for the go-ahead two-point conversion.

Foles missed the wide-open receiver by pump-faking instead of releasing, but Byrd stood strong and went up for an unreal contested catch while managing to stick his knee inbounds for the points.

Biggest Game-Changing Moment: Controversial no-call at the end of the Cleveland BrownsGreen Bay Packers game

As badly as Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield played at Lambeau Field on Christmas Day, Cleveland had a legitimate chance to win outright against one of the league’s top teams.

Down just two points with the ball at midfield and under a minute left to play, the Browns faced a big third-and-10. Had they converted, they would have found themselves in field-goal range. But Mayfield ultimately threw his fourth interception of the game on that third-and-10, which didn’t go against his grade as a turnover-worthy play due to a missed holding call on the Packers that would have given the Browns a first down and inched them closer to a game-winning field-goal try.

Had the Browns been given the penalty, their win probability would have swung to just above 50%. Instead, it tanked to almost nothing.

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