October is the spookiest month of the year, and these fine football players were causing plenty of frights for opposing teams.
With Halloween now in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to reveal the month’s best players in the NFL.
Leading the NFL in the standings and headlines is the Greatest Show on Surf, the Los Angeles Rams. Just two years after taking their talents west to the City of Angels, the Rams have lit the league’s hair on fire with their multidimensional prowess, defeating teams in a variety of fashions.
A big reason why they’re able to do so is the danger of running back Todd Gurley, who rushed for 462 yards (including a career-high 208 in Week 6) on 90 carries (5.13 yards per carry). Add in the passing game for Gurley, who made himself a dual threat by catching 16 passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns, and you have the top weapon on the league’s top team through eight weeks and the NFC Offensive Player of the Month.
Not to be outdone on the other side of the league is Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner, who has made Le’Veon Bell’s absence a nonfactor with his contributions in the running and passing games. Conner rushed for 367 yards and six touchdowns on 64 carries (5.73 yards per carry) and caught 13 passes for 159 yards in October, and as if one needed more convincing, Conner did that in just three games (Pittsburgh had a bye in Week 7). Conner’s production has directly contributed to a perfect 3-0 month for the Steelers, who are suddenly looking like the favorite yet again in the AFC North, and has landed him AFC Offensive Player of the Month honors.
A serious contender expected to be heard from deep into the winter is the Kansas City Chiefs, who feature linebacker Dee Ford. Ford’s October was among the league’s best, with the linebacker recording 13 tackles, 4.0 sacks (including 3.0 in Week 8) and three forced fumbles. Ford has been a welcome contributor to a Chiefs defense that was in need of a leader without Eric Berry, proving himself worthy of AFC Defensive Player of the Month.
On the defensive side of the other conference resides one of the league’s most fearsome players in the Rams’ Aaron Donald. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year hosted a sack-fest in October, recording 8.0 quarterback takedowns in the month as part of 17 tackles (which also included a forced fumble). Buoyed by a dominant four-sack performance in Week 7, Donald has proven himself worth the hefty contract he signed just before the start of the season and powers the defensive side of the league’s leading squad as the NFC Defensive Player of the Month.
In what has been a rough season for the game’s kickers, two constants emerged as reliable boots: New England’s Stephen Gostkowski and Carolina’s Graham Gano. Each accounted for a game-winning field goal in the month, with Gano drilling a 63-yard attempt to lift the Panthers over the Giants in Week 5 and land NFC Special Teams Player of the Month. Gano was perfect on field goals in October, making 8 of 8 attempts, while Gostkowski, the AFC Special Teams Player of the Month, made 11 of 12.
As for the youngsters, Quenton Nelson is quickly establishing his reputation as a budding star at guard for the Indianapolis Colts, earning Offensive Rookie of the Month. After a slow start, edge rusher Bradley Chubb came on strong in October, recording 5.5 of his 7.0 sacks in the month, good for Defensive Rookie of the Month.
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