In a tight victory over the Chargers in Oakland on Christmas Eve, Raiders punter Marquette King kicked the ball eight times for a total of 400 yards. This news alone is not unusual for King, now in his third year as Oakland's every day punter. He has always been associated with a dynamite leg, like a driving specialist in golf. But against San Diego, six of those eight punts pinned the Chargers inside their own 20-yard line. There is absolutely no question that such miserable starting field position changes the game, and King, according to ESPN, has already set the Raiders' franchise record for most punts inside the 20-yard line this season (35). The Raiders, by the way, have employed some pretty good punters over the years.
King also has one of the lowest return rates in football, one of the lowest return yard totals in football and is tied for the longest single punt of the year (70 yards). Punters and kickers are often bypassed during the players of the week highlight, but sometimes it's good to stop and think about just how much they can impact a game. Kudos to King, who earned this week's AFC special teams player of the week award.
Now, onto the other winners:
Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick: Fitzmagic is real, and Jets fans are slowly starting to realize why this former seventh-round pick is never out of work. In an overtime victory against the New England Patriots on Sunday, he went 26-of-41 for 296 yards and three touchdowns, including a game-winner to Eric Decker. Fitzpatrick, over the last five weeks, has thrown 13 touchdown passes and one interception. He has a quarterback rating over 100 and he's completing nearly 65 percent of his passes. For a player that was dealt for a conditional seventh-round pick, the production is unbelievable.
Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones: Jones continued an unbelievable season last Sunday against the Panthers with a performance that helped ruin Carolina's perfect season. Jones caught nine of his 11 targets for 178 yards and a touchdown, including a highlight-reel high point that was replayed over and over again. Jones averaged almost 20 yards per reception on Sunday.
Cardinals pass rusher Dwight Freeney: Freeney's incentive-laden contract has been big business in Arizona, especially after another brilliant performance against the Packers on Sunday. Freeney had three sacks (the team had nine total), which triggered another $300,000 in bonus money. In Freeney's deal, every sack he hit after No. 4 costs Arizona $100,000 apiece. Cha-Ching.