NFL players of the week: Chargers have a lot to look forward to

Ezra Shaw

The San Diego Chargers will watch the rest of the playoffs, but have plenty to build on in 2014.

The Divisional round didn't give us some of the most scintillating individual performances, but there were a few bright spots.

Passer of the week: Philip Rivers, 18/27, 217 yards, two touchdowns, zero interceptions, 115.8 passer rating

It's astonishing that Rivers ended up being the best quarterback of the weekend after a game that saw him total 1 net passing yard for much of the day. His game was a case of getting hot too late, and by the time he and receiver Keenan Allen got on the same page, too much of the damage was done.

Rivers played really well this season, despite the disappointing end. There's a lot to build on moving forward, provided this team stays the course.

Rusher of the week: LeGarrette Blount, 24 attempts, 166 yards, four touchdowns

This performance had it all. Blount was excellent as a goal-line back, dynamic in the open field and became a key reason the Patriots were able to advance to the AFC Championship on an afternoon Tom Brady was struggling.

The Patriots are a different team in 2013, familiar in construction but wholly foreign in execution. This iteration is tougher on defense and the ground game could be the best left in the playoffs by virtue of how well Blount and Stevan Ridley work in tandem.

All year there's been this feeling that the NFC would rule supreme, but if one team is poised to "out-tough" the Seahawks or 49ers, it's the Patriots.

Receiver of the week: Keenan Allen, six receptions, 142 yards, two touchdowns

It's unclear whether Keenan Allen will be in the mix for Offensive Rookie of the Year, but he should. His performance against the Denver Broncos capped off why he's been so good this season, even in a losing effort. Allen was sensational and kept his team in the hunt.

San Diego found a franchise cornerstone in the third round of the draft. It's going to be fun to see how this team develops in 2014.

Defensive player of the week: Ahmad Brooks, six tackles, 2.5 sacks

There wasn't a lot of pass rushing to be had in the Divisional round, but Ahmad Brooks was a huge reason why Cam Newton was contained and the 49ers are moving on to the NFC Championship.

The pass rush stats alone are impressive, but Brooks was vital in stalling two Panthers goal-line drives that ensured Carolina walked away with three points instead of 14. It appeared the linebacker had worked out the offense's snap count (outside of one bad play) and he used that to his advantage all afternoon.

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