Splash’s NFL Divisional Round Team of the Week

Splash’s NFL Divisional Round Team of the Week

by January 26, 2022 2 comments

With the Divisional Round in the books, it is time to look at the best performers at each position from last week. It should be a mix of usual suspects and random one-game wonders. If a player is not on the list, it does not mean that the individual did not have a great game. Not all positions are created equal. Prior performance has no bearing on this list. With that said, let’s look at the best 11 offensive players and best 11 defensive players from the opening round of the playoffs.

You can find the NFL Wild Card Team of the Week here.

Quarterback: Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

Previously Appeared: Week 3, Wild Card

Allen ended his playoffs with a ludicrous 95.8 overall PFF grade. After a record-shattering performance last week, he was back with a mind-boggling game against the Kansas City Chiefs. He launched four more touchdowns and 329 yards en route to a 92.2 overall grade and 88.6 passing grade. His only faults in two playoff games were a fumble (that he recovered) and losing the overtime coin toss.

Running Back: Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers

Despite 13 total running backs (and Kyle Juszczyk) getting a carry in the round, the leading rusher ended up being Patrick Mahomes. Allen was second, and D’Onta Foreman was third. Foreman had four carries, but he motored for 66 yards. Instead, the pick here is Jones. He caught nine passes for 129 yards, tallying 170 scrimmage yards as the Packers came up just short. Leonard Fournette had an exciting game with 100 scrimmage yards and two rushing touchdowns, but Jones was a cut above.

Wide Receiver: Gabriel Davis, Buffalo Bills

There are few one-of-ones in NFL history. Davis had one of those performances on Sunday night. Since 1950, no player has ever posted as many fantasy points in a playoff game (PPR) as Davis did. He became the first player in playoff history to have four receiving touchdowns. He also surpassed 200 yards to add insult to injury. It is the best game by a wide receiver in 2021, and it is on a shortlist of the greatest performances ever.

Wide Receiver: Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs

Previously Appeared: Week 1, Week 4, Week 15

Hill caught 11 passes for 150 yards and an exhilarating 64-yard touchdown in the dying minutes, but he was still the second-best receiver in his game. His touchdown to give the Chiefs’ the lead almost became the Marcus Paige (North Carolina men’s basketball) of NFL moments as Allen hit Davis for a fourth touchdown seconds later, but Hill and the Chiefs scored again in regulation and won the game in overtime.

Wide Receiver: Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams

Previously Appeared: Week 2, Week 6, Week 7, Week 14, Week 15

Kupp needed just a slight boost to propel him over A.J. Brown. He did so by hauling in a heart-stopping 44-yard pass over Antoine Winfield. His catch and run is the longest play in that situation (under one minute to go in regulation of a playoff game) since Pro-Football-Reference began tracking individual plays. Kupp ended with 183 yards and a touchdown.

Tight End: Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

Previously Appeared: Week 2Week 10Week 15, Wild Card

While Hill caught the go-ahead touchdown in regulation, Kelce caught the game-sealing touchdown in overtime. He boxed out a Bills defender and put the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game for the fourth year in a row. He ended with just 96 yards, a paltry tally compared to the three receivers, but he led all tight ends in yards, and Kendall Blanton was the only other tight end to score.

Left Tackle: Trent Williams, San Francisco 49ers

Previously Appeared: Week 1, Week 14

Every left tackle allowed at least one pressure in the round. Orlando Brown was the top-graded left tackle, but he allowed a trio of pressures. Williams gets the nod here after receiving the top run-blocking grade and allowing just one pressure. Taylor Lewan and Dion Dawkins had solid days as pass protectors, but both were subpar run blockers. The disaster of the week goes to Donovan Smith who allowed a ridiculous 11 pressures. The other seven left tackles allowed just 13.

The Joel Bitonio Award for Best Left Guard: Laken Tomlinson, San Francisco 49ers

Sticking with the 49ers, Tomlinson gets the spot here. He was the only left guard to have a 60.0 or better in both run-blocking and pass-blocking. While he did surrender a sack, that was the only pressure he allowed. Ryan Bates successfully traversed the week without allowing any pressure, but he earned a 45.3 pass-blocking grade. The dud of the week is David Edwards who earned a 27.4 pass-blocking grade and was the lowest-graded left guard.

Center: Mitch Morse, Buffalo Bills

No center received a grade above Morse’s 67.1. Similarly, no center had an above-average performance as both a run blocker and pass blocker. It was an ugly week of football for the centers as only two did not allow a pressure. Morse earned the top pass-blocking grade of the week, and he edges out Ben Jones who also did not allow pressure.

The Zack Martin Award for Best Right Guard: Nate Davis, Tennessee Titans

Continuing the theme of poor offensive line play, all eight right guards allowed a pressure. Even Davis allowed two, and he had a subpar grade as a pass-blocker. However,  he held his head above water just enough as a run-blocker to win the spot over the likes of Lucas Patrick and Alex Cappa. On the bright side, Hakeem Adeniji will likely have a better pass-blocking grade than 21.2 next Sunday.

Right Tackle: Rob Havenstein, Los Angeles Rams

Previously Appeared: Week 1

Havenstein had a legitimately good week for the Rams. While six of his compatriots allowed three or more pressures, Havenstein allowed just one. In one of the world’s greatest Uno reverse cards, Isaiah Prince of the Cincinnati Bengals managed to escape without allowing pressure. Joe Burrow may have been sacked nine times, but Prince was never at fault. However, he was poor as a run blocker while Havenstein was sturdy.

Interior Defensive Line: Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams

Previously Appeared: Week 2Week 3Week 8Week 12Week 13Week 14Week 16Week 17, Wild Card

Donald has played 19 games this season. He has made the Team of the Week 10 times. For this week’s legendary performance, he notched eight pressures including a sack. His eight pressures are the second-most by a player so far in the playoffs. He recorded a trio of defensive stops, two quarterback hits, and he had solid grades across the board. Donald has earned a 71.3 grade. or better in 18 of 19 games.

Interior Defensive Line: Jeffery Simmons, Tennessee Titans

Previously Appeared: Week 9, Week 10

As mentioned with the Havenstein/Prince blurb, the Titans got to Burrow for nine sacks. Simmons feasted for three of them in his third multi-sack game of the season. While the Titans lost (and Simmons had a poor performance as a run defender), Simmons flashed why he is an elite interior defender on Saturday afternoon. He had six defensive stops to lead all defensive players.

Edge Defender: Nick Bosa, San Francisco 49ers

Previously Appeared: Week 15

Bosa is on a fast track to being the greatest-ever defensive player in the playoffs. He has 6.5 sacks in five playoff games, recording at least a half-sack in each game. Against the Packers, he even added a forced fumble. He has as many playoff sacks as legends such as Derrick Thomas, Lawrence Taylor, Julius Peppers, and Robert Mathis. Bosa would be in the top 15 ever with just 3.5 more sacks.

Edge Defender: Von Miller, Los Angeles Rams

Miller is still the gold standard for modern edge defenders in the playoffs. It was no different on Sunday as he posted 10 pressures, a sack, and a forced fumble en route to a sensational 93.8 PFF grade. As dominant as Miller was in his 2015 Super Bowl run with the Denver Broncos, he never had 10 pressures in a game, maxing out with eight (twice).

Linebacker: Fred Warner, San Francisco 49ers

Warner was PFF’s highest-graded defensive player, edging out Miller. He had three defensive stops, a forced fumble, and he did not miss a tackle. He allowed a microscopic 42.4 rating when in coverage, allowing one completion to go for zero yards. Warner was a key cog in an all-around defensive for the ages, keeping the Packers to just 10 points on the night.

Linebacker: Logan Wilson, Cincinnati Bengals

Wilson was the only linebacker to nab an interception this week as he shut the door on the Titans’ offense late in the fourth quarter. Wilson registered a hit on Ryan Tannehill, and he earned a stellar 90.1 grade in coverage. After Germaine Pratt iced the Wild Card game and propelled the Bengals to the second round, Wilson completed the task in the Divisional Round. Which linebacker will end the AFC Championship Game with an interception and lift the Bengals to the Super Bowl?

Cornerback: Mike Hilton, Cincinnati Bengals

Previously Appeared: Week 12

Speaking of the Bengals, Hilton makes his second Team of the Week. He had a beautiful sequence that led to Tannehill’s second interception. He swatted the pass, maintained balance, intercepted the pass, and added extra return yards. Even if it was just one play (the only interception by a cornerback this week), it did enough to solidify Hilton’s spot in the Team of the Week.

Cornerback: K’Waun Williams, San Francisco 49ers

Previously Appeared: Wild Card

Williams has been a ball production machine in the playoffs. After just one interception (Week 13) and one pass breakup (Week 11) in the regular season, Williams has an interception and a pair of pass breakups in the playoffs. He was heavily targeted against the Packers, but he came up clutch with two pass deflections, helping the 49ers to an iconic victory at Lambeau Field.

Safety: Amani Hooker, Tennessee Titans

By pure PFF grade, Hooker should be the odd man out as Winfield earned a higher grade, but unlike Winfield, Hooker did not cost his team the season. Hooker had an interception and an additional pass deflection, giving him a flawless 0.0 passer rating allowed. He was reasonably effective as a tackler, securing seven of his eight available tackles, and he had a balanced grading performance.

Safety: Jessie Bates, Cincinnati Bengals

Previously Appeared: Wild Card

Bates has been a brand-new safety since the playoffs began. During the regular season, he did not have a PFF grade above 84.0. He has done so twice in two playoff games, earning his top-two coverage grades of the season in the process. Bates intercepted Tannehill on the first play from scrimmage, and he dominated the rest of the game. He allowed a 2.8 passer rating when in coverage, surrendering just three yards.

Defensive Back: Nick Scott, Los Angeles Rams

Scott was PFF’s top defensive back of the week with a 91.5 grade and 89.2 coverage grade. Like Hooker, Scott nabbed an interception and an additional pass deflection. He converted all five of his tackles, and he also allowed a 0.0 rating when in coverage. Scott was asked to play a free safety role in the Rams’ defense on 64 of 72 snaps, and he was excellent Sunday.

Be sure to check out our NFL Team of the Week every week for the playoffs.


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I’m Ryan Potts. Some people affectionately call me Splash. I am renowned for being a misplaced Ravens, Cavs, Wings & Braves fan. Twitter: MrSplashMan19

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