NFL News & Analysis

NFL Week 17 Team of the Week and Player Awards

From the Cincinnati Bengals defeating Patrick MahomesKansas City Chiefs and winning the AFC North to wide receiver Antonio Brown leaving the Tampa Bay Buccaneers mid-game, Week 17 certainly didn’t disappoint.

Now that the first run of PFF analysis has been made available in PFF's Premium Stats, it’s time to highlight Week 17’s top performers. Here, we present PFF’s Team of the Week and player awards from Week 17 of the 2021 NFL season

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PFF TEAM OF THE WEEK

Offense

QB: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
RB: Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers
WR: Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals
WR: Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers
TE: Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Flex: Braxton Berrios, New York Jets
LT: Rashawn Slater, Los Angeles Chargers
LG: Alijah Vera-Tucker, New York Jets
C: Brian Allen, Los Angeles Rams
RG: Michael Schofield III, Los Angeles Chargers
RT: Larry Borom, Chicago Bears

Defense

DI: Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams
DI: Arik Armstead, San Francisco 49ers
Edge: Arden Key, San Francisco 49ers
Edge: Rashan Gary, Green Bay Packers
LB: Micah Parsons, Dallas Cowboys
LB: Darius Leonard, Indianapolis Colts
CB: D.J. Reed Jr., Seattle Seahawks
CB: J.C. Jackson, New England Patriots
S: Chuck Clark, Baltimore Ravens
S: Kyle Dugger, New England Patriots
Flex: Chidobe Awuzie, Cincinnati Bengals

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Offensive Player of the Week and Rookie of the Week: WR Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals

At this point, it’s no secret that Ja’Marr Chase made history on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs. The rookie wideout caught 11 of his 12 targets for a franchise-record and rookie-record 266 receiving yards, adding three touchdowns in the process.

One of the best plays of the day came on a simple out route thrown just past the sticks, which Chase managed to turn into a 60-plus-yard catch and run, burning and evading several defenders to make it a 14-7 ball game. 

In all, Chase generated 6.05 yards per route run and a perfect 158.3 passer rating when targeted. He also reeled in four of his five contested opportunities.

Biggest Game-Changing Moment: Joe Burrow to Ja’Marr Chase on third-and-27 late in the fourth quarter

One of those contested grabs turned out to be the biggest game-changing moment of the week. Tied at 31 with just over three minutes to play, the Bengals faced a third-and-27 and were in danger of punting the ball away to Mahomes and Co.

Instead of attempting to claw their way into field-goal range, Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase opted to go for the conversion, and they connected on a back-shoulder go-ball for a first down.

This play boosted the Bengals' win probability by over 25 percentage points.

Defensive Player of the Week: CB D.J. Reed Jr., Seattle Seahawks

Reed had the single best performance of his four-year NFL career on Sunday against the Detroit Lions. Of course, going up against a backup quarterback like Tim Boyle will help matters, but the 2018 fifth-rounder made some savvy plays in coverage.

The 5-foot-9 cornerback came down with two interceptions in Week 17. One was a broken-up pass he knocked out of 6-foot-2 KhaDarel Hodge’s hands…

…and the other one came courtesy of a perfectly read Cover 2 holeshot.

Reed forced another incompletion and recorded two passing stops in addition to his interceptions and allowed only one first down in coverage for the game. He ended up with a 92.8 coverage grade, the highest of his year by over 15 grading points.

Offensive Line of the Week: Los Angeles Chargers

The Denver Broncos’ defensive front was largely ineffective against an L.A. offensive line that performed better than any other group in Week 17.

The Chargers finished with an 86.3 PFF pass-block grade as a group and allowed just two pressures on 33 dropbacks. What makes it more impressive is that they did that while being tasked with a true pass set on over half of their snaps.

Rookie Rashawn Slater anchored the group and finished with the highest PFF grade of his rookie season. He didn’t lose a single rep in pass protection and allowed no pressure for the second consecutive week.

Secret Superstar of the Week: Edge Arden Key, San Francisco 49ers

Key is a rotational player who had only made a modest impact before Week 17. Through the first 16 weeks of the season, he had earned just a 61.2 PFF grade and 69.0 pass-rush grade.

But then he went off on his limited Week 17 snaps, recording seven pressures — one sack, three hits, and three hurries — on 17 pass-rush snaps and posting a 47.4% pass-rush win rate. Key earned a 94.2 pass-rush grade as a result, the highest of his career by nine grading points. 

Plays of the Week: Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady’s game-winning holeshot in New York

Overall, Tampa Bay had a nightmarish performance in Week 17 and had to deal with arguably the biggest sideline distraction of all time when Antonio Brown stripped and stormed off the field.

But, as one would expect, quarterback Tom Brady stayed composed and lifted the team for a comeback against the lowly New York Jets. Brady played well overall, recording four big-time throws and a top-three passing grade for the week. He also delivered the game-winning touchdown pass with seconds left on the clock.

Down 24-20 at the 33-yard line with just 22 seconds left to play, Brady surprised no one by uncorking a big-time throw on an “Ohio” route concept.

Brady wanted the touchdown as soon as he saw the go-route open up. He waited until the final moment when there was just enough daylight between his receiver and the closing safety, and the 44-year-old quarterback put it right on the money to prevent one of the biggest upsets of the year.

Las Vegas Raiders QB Derek Carr saving the team’s playoff hopes

Due to wins by the Chargers, Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots, a Raiders loss in Indianapolis would have eliminated them from the playoff picture. It was coming down to the wire and looked like it’d be decided in overtime before Carr made a season-saving play.

After a game-winning field goal following that unbelievable play, the Raiders have a win-or-go-home game in Week 18 on Sunday Night Football against the Chargers.

Arizona Cardinals special teamer Jonathan Ward’s best David Tyree impression on a fake punt

Minnesota Vikings center Garrett Bradbury’s immaculate reception

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