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NFL Africa Zone: Who's your 'rookie,' bro?

ESPN Illustration

This is getting ridiculous. New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara is not sharing his toys with any other African NFL players, and it would be disingenuous to deny him our honours for a second consecutive week purely for sake of appearances.

The Liberian-American from Georgia had himself another highlight-reel game against the Panthers, while week 13 was otherwise a bit lacklustre elsewhere in the league.

Once again, Africa's Player of the Week is...

Alvin Kamara (New Orleans Saints #41) - Running back

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Saints' dynamic RB duo sparks big divisional win

Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram combine for 145 yards on the ground and three touchdowns as the Saints are alone in first place in the NFC South with a 31-21 victory against the Panthers.

Every Sunday in New Orleans has become The Alvin Kamara show. The rookie keeps passing each test placed in front of him with flying colours. This past Sunday the test was a game against their division rivals, a Carolina Panthers team with the 6th-ranked total defense in the NFL.

So Kamara went out and did the most anyway, as he helped the Saints defeat the Panthers 31-21, catching five passes for 66 yards for starters. He rushed for two touchdowns as he gained 60 yards on just nine carries, for fun.

Kamara shed tacklers, broke tackles, kept the legs chugging, and per Pro Football Focus, averaged over five yards after contact while forcing five missed tackles on his nine carries from the backfield.

Kamara is tied for the league lead in touchdowns with 11 on the season. No other rookie wide receiver or running back cracks the top 10. Kamara has also scored touchdowns in six straight games, the first time a rookie has done that in Saints team history. The next test for Kamara and the 9-3 Saints? Thursday Night Football against last year's division and NFC champions, the Atlanta Falcons.

Notable Performances

Nelson Agholor (Philadelphia Eagles #13) - Wide Receiver

Nigeria-born Agholor took his redemption season tour to Seattle and had himself quite a game, unlike last season when he had a nightmare of a game at CenturyLink stadium and experienced a crisis of confidence.

This time, he caught seven passes for 141 yards (his first 100-yard receiving game in the league) and one touchdown. Agholor had a 51-yard long catch (his third reception of more than 50 yards this season) in the Eagles' 24-10 loss to the Seahawks, and his touchdown took him to eight on the season... Which is five more than his career total from the past two seasons.

Agholor's eight touchdowns also put him at 8th in the league (seven receiving) as he is tied with two other wide receivers (Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Marvin Jones of the Detroit Lions).

The next stop on the Agholor redemption tour will be Los Angeles to play the Rams in what is sure to be an emotional game for him. The Nigerian receiver played his collegiate football for three years at USC, who play their home games at the LA Memorial Coliseum too.

David Njoku (Cleveland Browns #85) - Tight End

The Cleveland Browns rookie tight end makes his return to the notable performances list after receiving a few more targets this week in the Browns' loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

Njoku caught four passes for 74 yards and scored a touchdown on Sunday. The touchdown reception in the second quarter was his fourth of the season and put the Nigerian-American rookie in the Browns' record book as the most touchdowns by a rookie tight end in Browns history.

The return of wide receiver Josh Gordon will continue to enhance the Browns offense and increase Njoku's opportunities (as evidenced on Sunday). Gordon, coming off a multi-year suspension, is an elite receiver and will draw help from safeties over the top thereby leaving Njoku with winnable 1-on-1's against most linebackers.

Chidobe Awuzie (Dallas Cowboys #33) - Cornerback

As one of our players to watch from last week, Chido won the starting cornerback job that was up for grabs prior to the Washington game on Thursday night. The rookie from California had been eased back into the defense after dealing with persistent hamstring issues.

In the Cowboys' 38-14 win over Washington, Awuzie showed once again why the Cowboys selected him in the second round of the 2017 draft. With solid tackling and coverage skills on display, the Nigerian-American had three tackles and broke up all three passes thrown his way.

Awuzie played in 53 snaps, the most he has played since his debut in week 1 against the New York Giants, who are his next opponents this coming Sunday. The 6-6 Cowboys need to take care of business this week against the Giants and next week against the Raiders to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Special mentions

Chris Banjo (New Orleans Saints) - Our first special mention has to be Saints special teams ace Chris Banjo. He forced a crucial fumble on a punt return by Carolina in the fourth quarter of the Saints win.

Ezekiel Ansah (Detroit Lions) - Ziggy is feared more for his pass rushing ability but in the Lions' loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the Ghanaian was a run-stopping force as he had two run stops and five tackles.

Brian Orakpo (Tennessee Titans) - The Rak helped his Titans get a win over Houston with his three tackles, one sack and two quarterback hits, making things uncomfortable all game long for Houston QB Tom Savage.

Ndamukong Suh (Miami Dolphins) - Back to his disruptive best on Sunday, Suh had four tackles and two QB hits as he was a problem for the Denver Bronco's offensive line in the Dolphins' victory.

Jahleel Addae (LA Chargers) - The Ghanaian-American safety was once again all over the field but was excellent as he had six tackles with two pass breakups and a QB pressure in the Chargers win over the Browns.

Players to watch in Week 14

Mo Sanu (Atlanta Falcons #12) - Wide Receiver

The full-time receiver and part-time quarterback had a relatively quiet game against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. The Falcons host the Saints at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in New Orleans on Thursday, and the hosts have a revamped defense playing at a level their fans haven't seen in actual years.

Rookie Marshon Lattimore is one of the top young cornerbacks in the game but Sanu will likely find himself up against second-year DB Ken Crawley. Falcons All-Pro receiver Julio Jones will be in for a battle against Lattimore (if Lattimore is healthy by Thursday) and Sanu will have to win the majority of his battles against Crawley to give QB Matt Ryan another outlet other than Julio.

Robert Nkemdiche (Arizona Cardinals #90) - Defensive Tackle

Second-year defensive tackle Bobby Nkemdiche has been on the player to watch list a few times already this season and for good reason. Much was, and still is, expected of Nkemdiche but his constant injuries and subpar play have been obvious on an already poor Arizona Cardinals team.

This week, the Cardinals take on the Tennessee Titans and Nkemdiche will be called upon to shore up the interior of the Cardinals defensive line against the Titans' running back duo of DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. Nkemdiche needs to show a propensity to be disruptive in rushing the passer or stopping the run.

The remaining four games will be a great opportunity for Nkemdiche to show fans why he was rated highly and selected with a first round pick in 2016.