We’re two weeks into the season and that preseason hope has unfortunately turned to despair for many franchises across the country. Today though we’re going to highlight the performances that still gave fans hope. These were the highest-graded units in the NFL this past week.
[Editor’s Note: All of PFF’s player grades and advanced statistics are finalized and made available to ELITE subscribers before 5 pm ET on the Monday following each weekend’s slate of games during the season. Sign up today to gain access!]
Running backs: San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers had a field day on the ground against the Bengals. Matt Breida went for 121 yards on 12 carries, while Raheem Mostert had 83 yards on 13 carries himself. The 49ers’ backs combined for 10 first downs and two touchdowns while breaking six tackles. With so much money invested at the position, it’s the two former UDFA’s that led the way for San Francisco.
Receiving corps: Los Angeles Rams
The Rams’ wideouts may not have racked up a ton of yardage, but the yardage they did accumulate came in impressive fashion. They combined for six broken tackles — the most of any receiving corps this past week — on only 15 catches. Cooper Kupp’s slant route against Marshon Lattimore midway through the fourth that almost went for a touchdown was arguably the play of the year so far.
Offensive line: Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh was lights out in pass protection against the Seahawks’ defensive line on Sunday. Even with backup Mason Rudolph in the game, they only allowed six pressures on 40 pass-blocking snaps. Right tackle Matt Feiler, Left Tackle Alejandro Villanueva, right guard David DeCastro and center Maurkice Pouncey all allowed one pressure while right tackle Ramon Foster yielded two.
Defensive line: Houston Texans
The Jadeveon Clowney-less Texans defensive line still set the tone in this one, and they combined for 23 pressures on 43 passing snaps against the Jaguars. The surprise standout was rookie Charles Omenihu, as the fifth-round pick made his NFL debut this week and finished with a 90.2 overall grade on 28 snaps. He racked up a sack and two hurries on 24 pass-rushing snaps.
Linebackers: Carolina Panthers
You don’t really need to wonder whether or not Luke Kuechly made an impact on Thursday night — that dude brings it every week and earned himself a 90.6 overall grade and eight stops. But it was teammate Shaq Thompson who had himself a nice game to complement the future Hall of Famer. Thompson was targeted five times yet only allowed four catches for 21 yards while finishing with six stops.
Secondary: New England Patriots
The Pats’ corners and safeties combined to allow all of 12 catches for 136 yards on 27 targets while picking off two passes. The unit was led by none other than Stephon Gilmore (of course). The Pats corner was the highest-graded player at his position in all of football last season and the highest-graded corner in the NFL in Week 2. He was targeted six times, allowing two catches for 32 yards while adding a pick and two forced incompletions.