NFL News & Analysis

NFL Week 16 winners and losers: Vikings' Justin Jefferson and Cowboys' CeeDee Lamb come out on top

Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (88) catches a pass for a touchdown as Philadelphia Eagles cornerback James Bradberry (24) defends during the second half at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

As part of PFF's grading process, we chart every matchup on the football field, allowing us to take a detailed look at the in-game battles and highlight the players who come out on top each week.

There can be obvious matchup victories, such as a wide receiver putting up 150 yards against a struggling cornerback or an edge rusher repeatedly beating the same tackle to sack the quarterback. But there can also be those hidden wins, such as a guard quietly beating his opponent on every pass-block rep or a cornerback holding his receiver to zero targets over a game.

Here are the players who got the better of their matchups in Week 16.

DI Cameron Heyward, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. LG Dylan Parham, Las Vegas Raiders

Heyward continued his dominance over opposing offensive guards, as he won 25% of his pass-rush reps against Parham despite being double-teamed on 14-of-28 plays. Heyward also sacked Raiders QB Derek Carr twice.

DI Dexter Lawrence, New York Giants vs. C Austin Schlottmann, Minnesota Vikings

Lawrence bullied Schlottman all day, generating six pressures from 34 pass-rush snaps. In total, the Giants defensive lineman won 10 of his pass-rush reps against Schlottman, even though the Vikings center received help from guard Ed Ingram almost half of the time.

RT Andrew Wylie, Kansas City Chiefs vs. EDGE Uchenna Nwosu, Seattle Seahawks

Wylie kept a perfectly clean sheet against Nwosu on 15 pass block reps — zero pass block losses and consequently zero pressures allowed.

RT Brian O’Neill, Minnesota Vikings vs. EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux, New York Giants

O’Neill makes this list for the second week in a row, but his time, he didn’t allow a single pressure against Thibodeaux on 23 pass block reps.

RT Lane Johnson, Philadelphia Eagles vs. EDGE Demarcus Lawrence, Dallas Cowboys

Johnson makes this list for the last time this regular season. That’s not because he wouldn’t be good enough to make it again, but he sadly got injured and has to sit out at least the remainder of the regular season. In his last game, he didn't lose a single pass block rep while going 23 times against Demarcus Lawrence.

WR Amari Cooper, Cleveland Browns vs. CB Alontae Taylor, New Orleans Saints

Cooper caught only 14 yards against Taylor for reasons that were not his fault, but on a small sample of nine routes, Cooper was positively graded (and Taylor negatively graded) six times. That's an incredibly high rate even for that low sample.

WR Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings vs. CB Fabian Moreau, New York Giants

Very few cornerbacks can shut down Jefferson, and Moreau is apparently not one of them, as Jefferson caught five first downs and 90 yards against him on 26 routes those two met.

WR CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys vs. CB Josiah Scott, Philadelphia Eagles

Lamb ran 10 routes against Scott, resulting in four positively graded plays, three first downs and 60 yards.

CB Michael Carter II, New York Jets vs. WR Christian Kirk, Jacksonville Jaguars

Kirk met Carter in the slot 13 times and couldn’t catch a single pass. He also was never positively graded for his route separation.

S Devin McCourty, New England Patriots vs WR Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals

Boyd usually has a lot of success from the slot, but in 11 snaps against McCourty, he was never positively graded for his route and couldn’t earn a single target as a consequence.

CB Sean Murphy-Bunting, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. WR DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals

Covering Hopkins for 24 snaps is usually a very tough assignment, but Murphy-Bunting did a tremendous job, as Hopkins was positively graded for his route separation only once. He still got seven targets because he is known to win at the catch point even without separation. Not this time, as he could catch only one pass for four yards.

CB Patrick Surtain II, Denver Broncos vs. WR Van Jefferson, Los Angeles Rams

If you ask Surtain to tackle a tight end like Higbee at the goal line, he is naturally overwhelmed; however, if you ask him to cover the opponent’s receiver, he usually does a very good job. He didn’t allow any separation against Jefferson and consequently didn’t allow any completions.


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