The New England Patriots were snubbed in the AFC Player of the Week procedure following their 26-3 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Despite seeing several standout performances from their players, the three awards went to others.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon took home the trophy for the AFC’s top offensive player of Week 9. Meanwhile, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Justin Houston and Los Angeles Chargers kicker Cameron Dicker received the awards for defense and special teams, respectively.
Mixon stood virtually uncontested after a five-touchdown day against the Carolina Panthers, but the Patriots’ struggling offense would not have anybody seriously challenging him anyway. The other two trophies, however, might very well have ended up in New England given the performances in each area of the game.
On defense, the Patriots saw two three-sack games: linebackers Matthew Judon and Josh Uche both took down Colts quarterback Sam Ehlinger three times each; Judon also made a fourth-down stop and registered six tackles. Instead of him winning his second AFC Defensive Player of the Week award this season, or Uche winning his first ever, the league picked Justin Houston.
Houston had a solid performance as well, notching 2.5 sacks and an interception. The award going to him over Judon or Uche is not an unreasonable outcome based on the stats; an interception is usually valued more than an additional half-sack.
However, the statistics speak a pretty clear language in the kicking game category: Nick Folk was snubbed.
One week after picking up AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors, the Patriots’ place kicker had another strong case. He made all four of his field goal attempts, from 49, 43, 43 and 28 yards out. Additionally, Folk also went 2-for-2 on extra points. In total, he contributed to 14 of New England’s 26 points.
Cameron Dicker, meanwhile, went 2-for-2 on field goals from 31 and 37 yards and 2-for-2 on extra points. And yet, he ended up the winner.
Why? It appears the NFL decision-makers valued his game-winning field goal over the Atlanta Falcons higher than Folk making all six of his kicks, including three from plus-40 territory.
Obviously, though, the Patriots themselves will not be too worried about that and any of this. Individual accomplishments are rarely singled out among team success, and at 5-4 there is still plenty of room for improvement in that latter department.