Who's Hot, Who's Not After NFL Week 7?
As always, with the current weekend's football wrapped up (Monday night being the only thing left) we've taken a look to see which players played well and which ones played poorly.
Of course, with limited space, we won't hit everyone—not even close. And before the All-22 film comes out, it's really hard to call out defensive players, though two stood out immediately this weekend.
Either way, is someone not on the list and should be? Hit the comments, tell us who and why.
Meanwhile, we'll get on with our own list.
HOT: Robert Griffin III
Sure, Robert Griffin III threw another interception, but overall, he had one of his best games this season.
It's not just about the 298 passing yards, the 84 rushing yards or the two passing touchdowns either.
It's about how much more comfortable, more confident—more like RG3—he looked than he has all season long.
He got a bunch of help from Roy Helu (three touchdowns), Alfred Morris (95 yards) and Jordan Reed (nine catches for 134 yards and one touchdown), but the takeaway is how much better Griffin looks.
He is heating up just in time to keep Washington in the hunt for the division title in a relatively weak NFC East.
NOT: Ray Rice
With the exception of Week 5 against Miami, when he totaled 102 yards and two touchdowns, Rice has not had the best season.
His 72 total yards (just 45 on the ground with a 3.0 yards-per-carry average) is just another in a long line of subpar outings for Rice. Through six games, he has just 242 rushing yards and 114 receiving—well below his standard.
Yes, the offensive line isn't helping him all that much, but even when it opens holes, he's not hitting them quickly enough.
Hard as it is to imagine, Rice is cold as ice.
HOT: Jarrett Boykin
I have to admit, Jarrett Boykin didn't impress on most of his reps in Week 6. He had one impressive catch and run, but even then he looked slower than you'd like. Overall, he looked overmatched by Baltimore's defense and it was hard to see him improving that much against a tough Cleveland defense.
Except the Browns defense wasn't all that tough. I had wondered whether a week's worth of practice with the first-team offense might help Boykin, but eight catches for 103 yards and a touchdown was beyond what I would have expected as a best-case scenario.
But he looked solid, and even after Jermichael Finley left the field with a frightening neck/head injury, Boykin kept playing well.
Maybe it isn't a surprise—it seems like Green Bay can turn out great receivers from the bench with scary regularity.
NOT: C.J. Spiller
Like Ray Rice, C.J. Spiller has been having an awful season. He's had an ankle injury to deal with, but has kept coming out to try to run the ball. He's not himself, and frankly, you have to wonder if it'd be smarter to bench him a week and let him rest.
Sunday was another mess with just 11 yards on six carries and negative-four yards on three catches.
Spiller hasn't played all that well, though he gets points for gutting out a tough injury. Until he can get right though, he's going to keep struggling.
HOT: Vincent Jackson
Mike Glennon may not be the answer for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he and Vincent Jackson have finally gotten on the same page—though it took 22 targets to do it on Sunday.
Jackson had an incredible game with 10 catches for 138 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He was difficult to contain, and if Glennon had been more on target with his throws, Jackson's day could have been even bigger.
NOT: LeSean McCoy
Maybe this isn't the worst game LeSean McCoy has had, though I'd struggle to remember another one which was worse.
It's not just the 55 yards on 18 carries. McCoy constantly tried to do too much and force a bigger play rather than take what was there, and he often was worse off for it.
The entire Eagles offense struggled (more on that in a bit), so of course, "Shady" McCoy did as well.
I'd expect a much better performance against the struggling New York Giants next week, as the Giants can't stop a nosebleed. On top of it, he was more effective receiving, though he was certainly hampered by poor quarterback play.
HOT: Antonio Allen
One of two defensive players on the list, Antonio Allen isn't a name you'll see very often, unless you cheer for the New York Jets.
But the former seventh-round pick from 2012 did an excellent job at safety for the Jets. He was frequently in on tackles and covered Rob Gronkowski during some key moments for the New York Jets in their overtime victory over the New England Patriots.
Allen also had a key pick-six early in the third quarter which shifted momentum in the Jets' favor and seemed to stun Tom Brady and the Patriots offense.
The Jets secondary has struggled. Antonio Cromartie has been hurt, as has rookie Dee Milliner (who has also struggled), and Kyle Wilson has never lived up to expectations.
Allen has been reliable several times, including against the Patriots in Week 2 when Milliner and Wilson were struggling.
NOT: Nick Foles/Matt Barkley
You might give Nick Foles a pass because he left the game injured in the fourth quarter, but let's be honest—he was awful before he hurt his head.
He was inaccurate, held the ball too long (which resulted in his apparent concussion) and simply played about as bad a game as we've ever seen.
Until Matt Barkley went under center.
Now, Barkley wasn't ready to go from the standpoint that he's raw in many ways and didn't get first-team reps.
That doesn't excuse three interceptions, though it explains them a bit. He was definitely pressing a bit (he admitted that himself postgame), but he avoided sacks (unlike Foles).
Neither quarterback was good at all though, and it makes sense that if Mike Vick is at all healthy, he'll be the starter next week against New York.
The Giants are a great matchup given their struggles. We'll see if the Eagles can right the ship against a struggling defense regardless of who their quarterback is.
HOT: Vontaze Burfict
Remember when people were questioning Vontaze Burfict's character, work ethic and ability?
Burfict went from a first-round pick to an undrafted free agent in an epic free fall of draft stock you don't usually see. The Bengals picked him up as an undrafted free agent, and he has done nothing but pay off since.
Burfict totaled 13 tackles (eight solo, five assisted, two for a loss), registered a quarterback hit and defended against two passes against the Detroit Lions. That brings his season total to 74 tackles (49 solo, 25 assisted), one sack, one interception and three passes defensed.
Burfict has been a difference-maker for the Bengals. Give credit to defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, who has been able to utilize Burfict's skills to the fullest while keeping him focused.
Against the Lions, Burfict made some big plays and helped the Bengals steal a win from Detroit.
NOT: DeAngelo Williams
I'm certain DeAngelo Williams would say he'd rather have the win than the stats—and the Panthers certainly won convincingly against the St. Louis Rams.
Williams has been on a downward trend, though, and after three great games to open the season, he has struggled to gain yardage.
The last three games (including this Sunday), Williams has totaled 39, 64 and 40 yards on the ground. In each case, he had less than 20 carries, so that makes it harder to really compile yards.
It shouldn't come as a surprise that quarterback Cam Newton has been playing better over the three-week span, which has seen a downturn in Williams' production.
It may take some time to regain balance in the offense. But Williams—who is still working off the huge contract he signed in 2011 (although this particular year is cheaper than the others in his deal)—isn't looking like the back who was so good the first few weeks of the season.
He's cooled off, and it's hard to say when he will be able to turn it around—if at all.
Andrew Garda is a member of the Pro Football Writers Association. He is also a member of the fantasy football staff at FootballGuys.com and the NFL writer at CheeseheadTV.com. You can follow him at @andrew_garda on Twitter.