Week 9 helped bring more clarity to NFL fans and gamblers. Here are some of our most-compelling takeaways.
New York Jets 20 – Buffalo Bills 17
The Jets’ terrific start to the season had been spoken of as fortunate, but perhaps this victory will give legitimacy to those who claim the Jets to be among the best teams in the NFL. The team’s defense is flat-out impressive, and it was extremely encouraging to see second-year QB Zach Wilson play with care of the football. The quarterback’s recklessness had been discussed ad nauseam, and for him to play a clean game versus such a stout opponent will calm those worried about his future in the NFL. If this day is any indication, expect to see New York in the playoffs, and be assured that nobody in the AFC will want to face this team.
Miami Dolphins 35 – Chicago Bears 32
Best Offense, Best Second Year QB?
The Bears’ inability to defend Miami was expected, but perhaps not to such a degree. Miami averaged greater than seven yards per play, and it was their own miscues late in the game which prevented them from laying 40+ on Chicago. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s continued efficiency in operating this offense cements the Dolphins as one of the most threatening teams in the NFL. Fun stat: the Dolphins have yet to lose when Tua starts and finishes the game.
As to the Bears, let Chicago’s own offensive efforts not be a footnote. Over the past month, the Bears have suddenly and surprisingly become one of the most efficient offenses in the NFL. The coaching staff’s willingness to adapt the offense to better suit QB Justin Fields’ skillset has been a revelation and should allow Chicago to challenge teams in the back half of the season. In a stunning turn of events, Fields now owns the highest QBR among all QBs in the NFC North.
Los Angeles Chargers 20 – Atlanta Falcons 17
Still In It
The Chargers look nothing like a contender, and they shouldn’t. The team’s injury woes have been well documented, and such unfortunate circumstances have caused many to discount them as contenders. The issue is that the team keeps winning. It hasn’t been pretty, but the Chargers remain entrenched in the AFC playoff hunt. Health permitting, the Chargers are more than capable of making noise in the AFC.
Cincinnati Bengals 42 – Carolina Panthers 21
Cincy In Control
The Panthers were a trendy pick this week, but this was a much-needed reminder of Carolina’s rank in the NFL hierarchy. The team’s newfound ‘success’ came at the expense of the reeling Bucs, and a middling Falcons team. The Panthers are anything but threatening, and their personnel prevents them from keeping pace with the NFL’s best.
Furthermore, let us not forget about the Bengals’ offensive potency. Their abysmal performance on Halloween spurned concern, but this game emphatically indicated that Cincinnati will be just fine. The Bengals enter their bye at 5-4 and have the potential to replicate their late-season run of 2021. Cincinnati is right where they need to be.
Minnesota Vikings 20 – Washington Commanders 17
The 7-1 Vikings are coasting to the NFC North division title, but their status as a contender in the NFC remains in question. Minnesota continues to demonstrate an inability to play complete games, and their results in one-score games suggest their record is a fortunate one. A double-digit comeback victory is hardly a bad result, but subpar play leading to such a deficit cannot be ignored. Happy homecoming, Kirk– but no flowers are awarded for struggling to beat the Commanders.
Detroit Lions 15 – Green Bay Packers 9
What the Rodgers
It has been easy to attribute the Packers’ downfall to a lackluster WR corps, but that is a lazy explanation of the team’s fall from grace. The team’s personnel decisions have been overwhelmingly confounding, and their execution in key moments has been uncharacteristic of an Aaron Rodgers-led team. Further, today Rodgers looked like Brett Favre in all the wrong ways, and his carelessness with the football was the reason for the loss. This is no doubt the low point of the Packers’ season, and I’m not sure what this team can do to right the ship. There are no gimme’s on the schedule when you can’t beat the Lions.
Jacksonville Jaguars 27 – Las Vegas Raiders 20
I’m Not Mad, I’m Just Disappointed
The Raiders have six losses in one-possession games this season but do not misconstrue this as a sign of misfortune. Vegas is prone to collapse, and the team has surrendered three leads of 17+ points on the year (most in the NFL, probably). This team should be a lot of fun, but instead, they are overwhelmingly disappointing. The Raiders have crumbled under the weight of expectations, and this is a lost season regardless of what transpires in the back half of 2022.
New England Patriots 26 – Indianapolis Colts 3
All About the Defense
The Colts never had a chance. Bill Belichick has throttled young QBs throughout his coaching career, and this was no deviation from the norm. New England continues to tread water in a crowded AFC, but eventually, their own offensive woes will hold them back against true competition. The Patriots’ offense averaged only 3.3 yards per play, and the unit has been unable to find a rhythm, or generate a spark when playing off-schedule.
Seattle Seahawks 31 – Arizona Cardinals 21
It grows exponentially frustrating to watch the Cardinals play football. There is no excuse for Arizona’s lack of production on offense, and it is confounding how much worse the Cardinals play in their home stadium. Glaring signs of coaching incompetence persist in Arizona, and it’s time to turn the page on this regime. I’m sick of talking about the Cardinals in such a negative light, this should be a fun team to watch.
The Seahawks, however, are a damn fun football team. Rookie RB Kenneth Walker III is running away with the OROY Award, and the team is making an unlikely run at an NFC West title. As the season progresses, it will be exciting to decipher where exactly Seattle ranks in the NFC’s pecking order.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16 – Los Angeles Rams 13
Buenos Noches Los Angeles
It took Tampa nearly sixty minutes, but Tom Brady and company got in the end zone when it mattered most. Brady’s game-winning drive propels Tampa into first in the NFC South, but it certainly does not absolve them of their inefficiencies on offense. Poor execution has been thematic in Tampa Bay, and its persistence threatens to waste what is likely Tom Brady’s last season in the NFL.
Consequently, this was very likely a ‘loser leaves town’ game, and there may be no coming back for the LA Rams in 2022. The Rams’ all-in approach which paved way for their Super Bowl run has left the team in debt, and it is clear that their roster does not have the depth necessary to compete given such significant losses to their offensive line. It may be time to say good night to the reigning champs.
Kansas City Chiefs 20 – Tennessee Titans 17
Tennessee Enters the Conversation
Tennessee, you’ve got our attention. The final result was not what the Titans had hoped, but the team’s effort in Kansas City causes one to believe that there may be another bonafide contender in the AFC. The Titans’ stifling of opposing QB Patrick Mahomes was inspiring, and unprecedented through nine weeks. It is admittedly a big if, but if Tennessee’s offense (specifically their passing attack) can match their defense, they have a shot to play spoiler in a top-heavy AFC.
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