Cal Football’s NFL Player of the Week for Week 16

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 24: Cameron Jordan
NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 24: Cameron Jordan /

The penultimate week of the NFL regular season has come and gone, and numerous former Cal football players made impacts with the end of the season approaching.

New Orleans Saints’ defensive end Cameron Jordan has long been on the NFL’s best, but most under-the-radar defenders, but he’s turned his game up to a new level this season. On Christmas Eve, the 2011 first-round pick who cut his teeth for the Cal football team recorded two sacks and four quarterback hits. He dropped Atlanta Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan twice, both times on third down to bring drives to an end.

Jordan recorded two sacks in a game for the third time this season, and for the 10th time in his career. Previously, he’s recorded three sacks in a game twice, and 2.5 sacks another time. He’s up to 12 sacks on the season, tied for fifth in the NFL and just a half-sack shy of matching his career-high, set back in 2013.

He also batted another pass down at the line of scrimmage, his 12th pass defense of the season. That total leads all NFL defensive lineman, and is tied for second among all non-secondary players. His 16 tackles for loss are tied for fifth in the league. Jordan also recorded three solo tackles on Sunday, bringing him up to 44 on the season and surpassing his previous career-high of 41.

In his career, Jordan now has 58.5 sacks, good for fifth-most in Saints’ franchise history. That sack total also ranks as third-best in NFL history by a Cal alum, behind Ken Harvey’s 89 sacks and Andre Carter’s 80.5.

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Jordan is making a strong case to be named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year, making his presence felt as one of the most disruptive and dominant defensive players in the game.

The Saints beat the Falcons, 23-13, and improved to 11-4 on the season. They’ve clinched a playoff berth, but need to win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next weekend to clinch the division.

Honorable Mentions:

Denver Broncos’ running back C.J. Anderson followed up one of the best games of his career with another solid effort. He carried 15 times for 88 yards, and scored Denver’s only touchdown of the day for his 20th career score on the ground. He added seven catches, his most in a game since 2014, to surpass 100 grabs in his career. Anderson needs 54 yards in the season finale to reach 1,000 yards for the first time in the NFL.

Los Angeles Chargers’ wide receiver Keenan Allen continues to have a marvelous season, making five grabs for 63 yards in the Chargers’ win over the New York Jets on Sunday. He’s up to 93 catches (fifth in the NFL) and 1,260 yards (fourth), both by far the best totals in his career. His 68 first-down receptions rank second in the NFL. More impressively, he also recorded his first career interception on Sunday. He was on the hands team at the end of the first half, and came down with a Bryce Petty hail mary for the turnover, which he returned 32 yards before being tackled.

Los Angeles Rams’ quarterback Jared Goff had another nice day, completing 22 of his 36 attempts for 301 yards with four scores and no interceptions as the Rams clinched their first division title since 2003. On the season, Goff is two touchdowns away from 30 and 196 yards away from 4,000. For a more in-depth look at Goff and the Rams, check here.

Despite another loss for the Oakland Raiders, running back Marshawn Lynch had another productive day carrying the rock. He carried it 25 times for 95 yards, continuing the chase for 10,000 yards in his career. He’s up to 9,902 on 2,332 carries spread across 10 seasons. With another big game in the season finale, he could become the 31st player, and the first former Cal Bear, in the 10K club.

Next: Cal's NFL Player of the Week: Week 15

Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ safety Chris Conte recorded nine tackles in Sunday’s loss, bringing him up to 73 on the season to rank third on the team. He also has three forced fumbles, an interception, and eight pass defenses on the year.