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Week 13 NFL Player of the Week: Justin Herbert, George Kittle, and T.J. Watt take honors this week

The NFL Player of the Week awards the top player in three categories for Week 13. One performance was so dominant, there were no challengers.

The NFL Player of the Week recognizes the top player in three different categories, and in Week 13, it wasn’t too difficult to decide on any of them. Many of the top statistical performers lost on Sunday. Unless somebody has a Herculean effort, losers don’t make the list. However, circumstance and dominance elevated one such player on this list.

NFL Player of the Week | Week 13

Tom Brady could have won this award, but trying to give the Atlanta Falcons a fighting chance to compete in that game is something a rookie should avoid, let alone a 20-year veteran that happens to be the greatest of all time.

Jonathan Taylor is becoming a regular candidate for Player of the Week, but this week’s winner almost single-handedly won the game for his team. In fact, it was difficult to choose between two players on losing teams this week. Justin Jefferson shined as the Vikings’ only offensive piece to compete at a high level against the Lions, but the winner had just a bit more production. Meanwhile, as I watched the defensive performances this week, one stood out far above the rest.

NFL Quarterback of the Week | Justin Herbert

Justin Herbert’s reputation is beginning to elevate to a mythical level. His arm draws the desire of NFL fans everywhere who wish their quarterback could make some of the plays he can. Yesterday was particularly impressive, and it earned him NFL Player of the Week honors for Week 13.

His long touchdown rolling right was more of a “YOLO” ball than anything, but that wasn’t even among his top three most exceptional throws of the day. The most impressive was not a downfield dart but a cross-body strike to Keenan Allen on an in-breaking route. Herbert got pressure, stepped up, slid left, and somehow torqued his midsection and fired a strike to Allen, who had settled down in an open zone.

We’ve clambered for Herbert to be let free from the Joe Lombardi chains that seemed to bind him, and that’s exactly what happened against Cincinnati. The second-year QB threw an interception on a deep shot, but it was a ball stolen away by Chidobe Awuzie, who would have been flagged for pass interference had Shawn Hochuli’s crew been officiating.

Despite his 10.7 average depth of target (aDOT), Herbert completed 74.3% of his passes, which was 14.6% higher than expected. If the Chargers can protect him, he has the mental capacity and arm talent to attack tight downfield windows for big plays.

NFL Offensive Player of the Week | George Kittle

This was a difficult decision. I’ve long surmised that George Kittle might be one of the league’s top five most valuable skill-position players.

There is a clear difference in the 49ers’ rushing attack when he is on the field compared to off it. San Francisco’s poor performance on the ground was almost a reason not to give Kittle the award, but that would have been an ignorant decision on my part.

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Unfortunately, with Deebo Samuel sidelined, Kittle is a bit of a crutch for Jimmy Garoppolo. Jimmy G.’s interception over the middle was a misread and a bad throw over Kittle as he crossed the field underneath. However, Kittle’s value as an in-line blocker and as a receiving weapon is unrivaled in the NFL today.

His long touchdown up the left sideline was the easiest “is this art” question ever answered by ArtDecider. Kittle finished with a 9-181-2 line, and his 12 targets accounted for 40% of Garoppolo’s attempts. He’s a freak of nature and would be considered the best tight end in the league if he wasn’t so much like Rob Gronkowski that he mimics his inability to remain healthy.

NFL Defensive Player of the Week | T.J. Watt

Speaking of the best player at their position — Trent Jordan Watt, everybody!

T.J. Watt is the best pass-rushing outside linebacker in the NFL. Myles Garrett is the best defensive end. We don’t necessarily have to argue between the two. Watt single-handedly demolished the Ravens’ hopes of successfully converting on offense in Week 13.

By my count, Watt had a million pressures against Lamar Jackson, and even when Jackson attempted to escape, Watt used his Predator-like thermal vision to track his prey. He officially finished with 3.5 sacks, 3 tackles for loss, and 6 QB hits while also forcing a fumble along the way.

Watt’s performance was the most deserving NFL Defensive Player of the Week award I’ve extended in 2021. It was so dominant that there were no other contenders worth noting. But what was so impressive about Watt’s performance was the discipline in his rushes. He was methodical in his approach, not allowing himself to overcommit in any one way while allowing Jackson to scramble about.

Without Watt, the Steelers would have lost on Sunday. He’s worth every penny of his record-setting deal.

Dalton Miller is the Lead NFL Analyst at Pro Football Network. You can read more of his work here and follow him @daltonbmiller on Twitter and Twitch

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