The NFL Player of the Week award recognizes the top player at three positional groups for Week 9. Unless you were living under a rock, you know that this week in football was extremely odd. All the better teams lost, every average team won, and bad teams remained bad. But even in a wacky week, there were a few performances that stood out.
NFL Player of the Week
This is where I like to tip my cap to the “almost winners.” Just because a player doesn’t win doesn’t mean they don’t deserve recognition.
First, the only other QB in contention was Carson Wentz, but he lost out because he was playing an FCS defense, and his performance was similar to the winner.
Jeffery Simmons was a game-wrecker on Sunday Night Football. Micah Parsons was the only positive from the Cowboys’ loss. Lastly, J.C. Jackson had 2 INTs and returned one for a TD, but it was against Sam Darnold, so is that really all that impressive? Josh Allen made noise against Josh Allen, but the media elevated Josh Allen’s performance because it was against Josh Allen. Did everybody follow that? Cool.
NFL Quarterback of the Week | Lamar Jackson
I’m not sure how much more I can say about Lamar Jackson. He might be the most unique player in NFL history, and given the lackluster Week 9 performances of Josh Allen, Matthew Stafford, and Dak Prescott, nobody should be at the top of the MVP odds other than Jackson.
It’s almost as if he and the Ravens are doing this on purpose. For years now, the criticism has been that Jackson couldn’t throw his way back into football games. Just this season, he has four fourth-quarter comebacks, and three have been multi-possession deficits.
He’s throwing the ball more than ever, and he’s receiving better results than ever. Against the Vikings, he threw for 266 yards. Although it was his least explosive day passing, he also rushed the ball 21 times for 120 yards. This game marked his 12th 100-yard rushing performance, an NFL record for QBs.
Jackson threw 2 interceptions, but one was tipped at the line by Anthony Barr, and the other was an outstanding diving catch by Camryn Bynum as Jackson and the Ravens tried to score before the half.
On a team that’s been having one-night stands with running backs this season, everything on offense comes down to Jackson, and he keeps leading the Ravens to wins. He’s currently on pace for 4,694 passing yards and 1,275 rushing yards. The most rushing yards for a QB throwing for 4,500 yards was 444 by Deshaun Watson in 2020.
Jackson is also on pace to break the single-season QB rushing record, which he set in his 2019 MVP season.
NFL Offensive Player of the Week | Jonathan Taylor
Derrick Henry is the most physically imposing runner in the league. I’ve long believed that Nick Chubb is the most gifted pure runner in the NFL. But man, Jonathan Taylor is right up there with Chubb, and he’s an even freakier athlete. He’s a superstar.
Sure, he had the 78-yard run on Thursday Night Football. But aside from that, he still had 18 other carries that went for 94 yards, an average of 5.2 yards per carry. He’s a freak, and he’s also a cautionary tale for draft evaluators everywhere.
I missed on Taylor. He had fumbling issues in college, wasn’t often used as a pass catcher, and didn’t appear to be a great receiver when he tried. None of that has mattered at the NFL level. Sure, his 3 fumbles in 140 carries are bad. That doesn’t matter at all.
He’s so dominant with the ball in his hands that you’ll take the fumbling issues from time to time. With Henry’s injury, Taylor should walk away with the rushing title.
NFL Defensive Player of the Week | Xavier McKinney
Xavier McKinney’s pick-six was literally the difference in the Giants’ game against the Raiders. His second interception came with just over five minutes left in the game and led to the field goal that gave New York a 7-point lead.
His first interception was a tremendous situational play. The Giants blitzed the slot cornerback on a third-and-7. They were in a two-high shell pre-snap, and McKinney swung down to cover Hunter Renfrow with over-the-top and inside leverage. However, he planned on the out route at the sticks and jumped the pass.
It was close — Renfrow nearly got his hands in there to break it up, but his momentum was carrying him away, and McKinney snatched it from him.
The second interception came as he played a half-field coverage on the back end. Derek Carr tried hitting the honey hole, and McKinney jumped it. It was nice to see the second-year player have a breakout game. It earned him NFL Player of the Week honors for Week 9.