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Week 9's NFL Player of the Week honours the best performer in three categories. Despite a strange week, offensive stars shone brightly.
For Week 9, the NFL Player of the Week award honours the best player in each of three positional groupings. Unless you've been living under a rock, you're aware that football had an unusual week. The better teams all lost, the average teams all won, and the bad teams all stayed terrible. Even during a bizarre week, a few performances stood out.
NFL Player of the Week
This is where I like to give a shout-out to the "near-winners." Just because a player does not win does not mean they are unworthy of praise.
First, Carson Wentz was the only other quarterback in the running, but he lost out because he was playing against an FCS defence and had a comparable performance to the champion.
On Sunday Night Football, Jeffery Simmons was a game-changer. Micah Parsons was the sole bright spot in the Cowboys' defeat. Finally, J.C. Jackson had two interceptions and returned one for a touchdown, but he did it against Sam Darnold, so is that really impressive?
NFL Quarterback of the Week | Lamar Jackson
I'm not sure how much more I can say about Lamar Jackson without sounding like a broken record. Given the dismal Week 9 performances of Josh Allen, Matthew Stafford, and Dak Prescott, none other than Jackson should be at the top of the MVP odds.
It's almost as if he and the Ravens are intentionally doing this. Jackson has been chastised for years for not being able to throw his way back into football games. He has four fourth-quarter comebacks this season, three of which have been from multi-possession deficits.
He's throwing the ball more than he has in the past, and he's getting better results than he has in the past. He passed for 266 yards against the Vikings. He carried the ball 21 times for 120 yards, despite his least explosive passing day. This was his 12th 100-yard rushing game, an NFL record for quarterbacks.
As Jackson and the Ravens attempted to score before halftime, he threw two interceptions, one of which was tipped at the line by Anthony Barr and the other of which was an incredible diving catch by Camryn Bynum.
Everything on offence comes down to Jackson on a Ravens team that has had one-night stands with running backs this season, and he keeps leading the Ravens to victories. He's on pace for 4,694 passing yards and 1,275 rushing yards this season. Deshaun Watson, who threw for 4,500 yards, had the most rushing yards with 444 in 2020.
Jackson is also on pace to exceed the single-season quarterback rushing record he set in his MVP season in 2019.
NFL Offensive Player of the Week | Jonathan Taylor
Derrick Henry is the league's most physically imposing runner. Nick Chubb, I've long maintained, is the NFL's most gifted pure runner. Jonathan Taylor, on the other hand, is right up there with Chubb, and he's an even more bizarre athlete. He's a big deal.
He did, after all, have the 78-yard touchdown run on Thursday Night Football. Apart from that, he had 18 more carries for a total of 94 yards, averaging 5.2 yards per carry. He's a freak, but he's also a warning storey for all draught evaluators.
Taylor had escaped my notice. He struggled with fumbling in college, was rarely used as a pass catcher, and didn't look to be a great receiver when he did try. At the NFL level, none of this has mattered. Sure, he has three fumbles in 140 carries. It makes no difference.
You'll overlook his fumbling difficulties from time to time since he's so dominant with the ball in his hands. Taylor should win the rushing title as a result of Henry's injury.
NFL Defensive Player of the Week | Xavier McKinney
The Giants' game versus the Raiders was practically decided by Xavier McKinney's pick-six. With just over five minutes left in the game, his second interception resulted to a field goal that gave New York a 7-point lead.
His first interception was a brilliant move in terms of situational awareness. On third-and-seven, the Giants blitzed the slot cornerback. Pre-snap, they were in a two-high shell, and McKinney swung down with over-the-top and inside leverage to cover Hunter Renfrow. He opted for the out route at the sticks, however, and leaped the pass.
Renfrow came close to breaking it up with his hands in there, but his momentum carried him away, and McKinney took it from him.
The second interception came while he was on the back end of a half-field coverage. Derek Carr attempted to hit the honey hole, but it was hopped by McKinney. It was encouraging to see the second-year player have a strong showing. He was named NFL Player of the Week for Week 9 for his efforts.