Shutdown Corner

Divisional weekend’s five most valuable players

MJD
Shutdown Corner

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AP

See the week's five least valuable players here.

Vernon Davis, Tight End, San Francisco 49ers. When people called this the "Year of the Tight End," no one even really had Davis in mind. Somehow, though, on Saturday, he became the dominant force he was always supposed to be. Too fast for linebackers to cover, too big for corners or safeties, Davis finally made big play after big play. When he broke down in tears, I couldn't help think back to where his career was and how he turned himself into a player a coach could win with. How could you not be happy for him?

[ Related: Tom Brady makes NFL history in blowout victory over Broncos ]

Tom Brady, Quarterback, New England Patriots. So much attention automatically goes to Tim Tebow that it's sort of easy to overlook the fact that Brady just annihilated a pretty good defense. That looked like a seven-on-seven drill for Handsome Tom. Not even seven-on-seven. Seven-on-six, maybe, because having Rob Gronkowski is akin to a dude on another dude's shoulders, and they get to ride a motorcycle.

Justin Smith, Defensive End, San Francisco 49ers. Smith just wrecked the Saints' backfield all day. Against the run and against the pass, he was a machine. It seems like Smith is always winning his individual battle, no matter what kind of play it's on. Watch him put Jermon Bushrod on roller skates here. He didn't get a sack ‒ he didn't even shed his blocker ‒ and he still forced an incompletion.

[ Related: Hail Mary turns Giants' fortunes in stunning win over Packers ]

Hakeem Nicks, Wide Receiver, New York Giants. I don't know why the Giants opted for a Hail Mary before the half, instead of just moving the ball into field goal position, but Nicks made the call look pretty smart. He snatched the ball out of the sky and created a touchdown there, just like he created a touchdown earlier when he bounced off a Charlie Peprah "tackle" and outran everyone else to the end zone. His totals on the day were seven catches for 165 yards and two touchdowns.

Alex Smith, Quarterback, San Francisco 49ers. Three 49ers on the list? Yeah, why not? I'd say if you're a neutral NFL fan, the 49ers generated at least 60 percent of the excitement this weekend, and a pretty good bit of that come off the fingertips of Smith. You'd have thought that if the 49ers were going to win that game, they'd have to ugly it up and make it a 13-6 type of affair, but things went into shootout mode, and Smith was able to match Drew Brees. He was brilliant.

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