OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Russell Wilson / QB / Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks clinched a playoff berth, and Wilson strengthened his case for Offensive Rookie of the Year Sunday night in Seattle. Wilson had another highly efficient outing, completing 15-of-21 passes for 171 yards in the Seahawks’ 42-13 over the NFC West-rival 49ers. He threw four touchdown passes and the one blemish on his stat line — an interception — came on a play when his pass bounced off RB Robert Turbin’s hands and into the arms of diving 49ers LB Patrick Willis. Wilson was elusive, keeping plays alive by avoiding pass rushers when it looked like he was sure to be tackled for a loss, and was sacked only once for a loss of one yard. Wilson finished the night with six rushing attempts for 29 yards (4.8-yard average) and the Seahawks suddenly look like the team no one wants to meet in the playoffs.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Geno Atkins / DT / Cincinnati Bengals
Atkins has become the premier pass-rushing interior defensive lineman in the NFL. His performance — six tackles, 2½ sacks, forced fumble — was part of a Bengals defensive effort that lifted them to their first victory over either the Steelers or Ravens in 10 attempts. The Bengals earned a playoff spot because of the “D” and in spite of the offense and Marvin Lewis’ coaching decisions. Credit Atkins dominating the first defensive series of the first, third and fourth quarters, making big plays in each. His second-down pressure and third-down sack early in the fourth helped halt momentum that had shifted back to the Steelers in a see-saw game. He also chased Ben Roethlisberger on a third-down scramble after the two-minute warning that led to a crucial incompletion and a subsequent missed field-goal attempt.
SPECIAL-TEAMS PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Blair Walsh / PK / Minnesota Vikings
For the second week in a row, Walsh earns his way into this space. The Vikings’ rookie placekicker set an NFL single-season record in Week 16 with his ninth field goal of at least 50 yards, and he achieved a personal best at the same time. The record-breaking kick was a career-long 56-yard field goal in the second quarter of Minnesota’s 23-6 win at Houston. That kick tied the franchise record for longest field goal, and he made it with room to spare. Walsh — who is a perfect 9-for-9 from 50 yards or more — was not done for the day, though. He made a 41-yard attempt just before halftime and connected on a 39-yard try in the third quarter to help the Vikings extend their lead and secure a win that put them a Week 17 victory over the Packers away from advancing to the playoffs.