NFL players of the week: Drew Brees leads Saints to playoffs

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

Week 17 offered some excellent single-game performance by some of the league's best.

The NFL regular season comes to a close with some stellar individual performances that will make us miss having 16 games every Sunday.

Here's the best from Week 17.

Passer of the week: Drew Brees, 24/31, 381 yards, four touchdowns, zero interceptions

New Orleans was in a must win situation to guarantee a playoff berth, and the Saints offense asserted their will over a talented Buccaneers defense.

Brees was the catalyst for the dominant win, completing over 77-percent of his passes and a finding a grand total of 11 different receivers in a victory that kept his team's season alive.

Rusher of the week: LeGarrette Blount, 24 attempts, 189 yards, two touchdowns

The Patriots seamlessly morphed from a pass-heavy team into an organization that relies on its running backs in 2014. Blount's Week 17 performance was one of the best rushing game of the year.

He averaged over 7.5 yards per carry, while scoring on two runs of 35+ yards to seal a victory. Denver's win meant that New England couldn't earn home field advantage, but they will still have a rest before the Patriots' first playoff game.

Receiver of the week: Jordy Nelson, 10 receptions, 161 yards

Nelson has had a great season independent of Aaron Rodgers, but with the franchise quarterback in the fold he's fearsome. Nelson creates huge matchup problems for teams that lack fast lateral linebackers, which the Bears didn't have to cover him.

Green Bay's win over Chicago gave them a shocking playoff spot that was once believed impossible, and made the Packers one of the most dangerous teams in the playoffs.

Defensive player of the week: Greg Hardy, six tackles, 4.0 sacks

Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy made sure he went out with a bang. A pro bowl selection and 15.0 sacks on the year will make it very tough for the Panthers to retain him in free agency, and he finished out the regular season with a bang.

Hardy was unblockable on Sunday. He broke though multiple offensive players to get sacks, and the Falcons tried to shift Tony Gonzalez into a blocking role to help stop him it didn't work. The Panthers finished with a franchise-high nine sacks and Hardy matched the franchise single-game record, along with Kevin Greene.

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