Every Tuesday, PFF will be releasing its Team of the Week, representing the highest-graded players at each NFL position for that week. But Senior Analyst Sam Monson gets a jump on that by picking out the 10 most impressive individual performances from Sunday’s games.
Here are the 10 best players from Sunday’s Week 9 action:
1. Khalil Mack, DE, Oakland Raiders
Mack tore the Denver Broncos to pieces on “Sunday Night Football,” beating Broncos right tackle Donald Stephenson for eight total pressures, and notching 10 overall in the Raiders' win. Mack was a one-man wrecking crew against Denver, which for the second game against Oakland in a row did nothing to slow down a player who was single-handedly destroying their offense. Mack has been reborn over the past two weeks and vaulted himself back to the sharp end of the PFF rankings among edge defenders. (Note: PFF grades and positional rankings are subject to PFF's review process.)
2. Aaron Donald, DT, Los Angeles Rams
Donald had two sacks this week against the Panthers in the Rams' 13-10 loss, but also recorded another nine QB pressures, and is back to owning a share of the league-lead with 49. The sacks should bring some added attention to Donald, but he has been a constant source of pressure all season long, and hasn’t recorded fewer than three pressures in any one game of 2016. He was a big reason this was a low-scoring game, but the Rams' offense wasn’t good enough to make it matter.
3. Andrew Adams, S, New York Giants
An undrafted free agent, Andrew Adams made his fifth start for the Giants in their win over Philadelphia on Sunday, and this was by far the biggest impact he has made. He led the team in tackles by two from his safety position, and recorded an interception and pass breakup in coverage as a true standout for the Giants this week. His four games coming into Sunday were all various shades of average, but this was a true game-changing performance from the rookie.
4. Thomas Davis, LB, Carolina Panthers
Owner of a spectacular diving interception this week, Davis had the best game of his season so far, notching nine tackles and three defensive stops, but also getting work done on the blitz as a pass-rusher in Carolina's win over the Rams. In eight blitzes, Davis recorded a sack and two hurries.
5. Jason Witten, TE, Dallas Cowboys
Witten was thrown the ball nine times in Dallas' 35-7 win against the Browns, and he caught eight of them for 134 yards and a touchdown. Rookie QB Dak Prescott had a passer rating of 155.8 — just 2.5 points below perfect — when throwing Witten’s way, and he beat six different Cleveland defenders for catches over the course of the game, racking up 52 of his yards after the catch. This was an excellent performance from Witten, who showed there is still plenty of gas in his tank.
6. Cameron Wake, DE, Miami Dolphins
Speaking of players with gas still left in the tank, Wake set about stamping his authority on the New York Jets in Miami's win this week when it came to rushing the passer. Wake recorded a pair of sacks, plus three more hurries and another that was nullified by penalty on just 24 pass-rushing snaps. He showed the speed and burst that has been his hallmark over his career and proved that he is well deserving of a full-time role rather than the situational gig he had to open the season.
7. Brandon Linder, C, Jacksonville Jaguars
In 49 pass-blocking snaps, Linder didn’t allow a single pressure in Jacksonville's loss against the Chiefs, and was the only member of the Jaguars' offensive line for whom that can be said. But his real work was in the running game, where he got the upper hand time and time again. Linder was able to consistently execute reach blocks on Dontari Poe and others on the Chiefs defensive line, and then get to the second level and take out a linebacker. This was an excellent performance from a player who has now forced himself into the top five of PFF's center rankings.
8. Jurrell Casey, DE, Tennessee Titans
As always seems to be the case, Casey had another excellent performance this week, and it was a well-rounded one, too. He notched three pressures from his 29 pass-rushing snaps, but also tallied three defensive stops and was a strong presence against the run, even if the Titans defense as a whole capitulated and wound up surrendering 208 rushing yards at over 5 yards per clip in the loss to San Diego.
9. Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego Chargers
Another player who showed Sunday that veteran savvy can take you a long way, Gates recorded 75 receiving yards and a score against the Titans defense in San Diego's win, beating four different players for catches. Unusually for Gates, he also run-blocked well, earning positive grades for his work on the edge against the Titans' linebackers and being a big part of the huge San Diego day on the ground.
10. Golden Tate, WR, Detroit Lions
The final play of the game was pretty emblematic of the kind of day Tate had, catching the pass heading towards the sideline, showing excellent footwork to stay in bounds, making a pair of defenders miss and then somersaulting into the end zone for the overtime game-winner over Minnesota. Tate caught 11 passes for 79 yards overall, breaking five tackles with the ball in his hands and ultimately sealing a victory in overtime.