NFL Week Nine Wrap-Up


by Ryan Meehan

Week Nine in the NFL was the 50 yard line of the 2014 season, and as we head downhill into the second half of the year a lot of questions have arose regarding the staying power of certain teams in the league.  There are some teams who are going to be able to dodge those questions depending on which divisions they play in, but as December is just right around the corner it’s obvious time is running out for those who might be pretenders as opposed to pretenders.   Let’s wrap it up like we’re sponsored by Trojan and get to what happened in week nine.
Saints 28, Panthers 10       
The Saints are back at .500, and are just now figuring out that the way to do that is to slow the pace of the game up a bit.  They’re not going to succeed in these “First one to 37 wins” type of games in the same way that they have done in previous years.  Instead, their new key to victory lies in running back Mark Ingram and his ability to allow Brees to back off of the pass game a bit.  That hasn’t happened enough this year, and if it had maybe we’d be talking about the Saints as an elite team.  But maybe not, as their defense is still weak at times.  However in this game, they were able to take advantage of the fact that the Panthers are a very disorganized offensive football team.  I can’t help but think that maybe they could actually benefit from seeing a little fire from him in the press conferences that we used to see before he “found himself”.  Because with the way things are going, if they can’t figure out how to manage their passing game he’s going to “find himself” in last place.
Cardinals 28, Cowboys 17
I’m going to get a lot of flack for this, but I think it was a smart decision by the Cowboys to not play Tony Romo in this game.  In my defense, I probably wouldn’t get any flack at all for it had they pulled off the Washington game – but they didn’t.  I’m not thoroughly convinced that with the way Arizona was stopping the run it would have mattered.  They held DeMarco Murray to under 80 yards rushing (which nobody had been able to do up until ball.  his point) and otherwise played great defensive football.  They were able to hold Weeden’s offense to just 3 third down conversions all game long, and even though they have the worst secondary in the NFL they were dead set on leaving Arlington with a win.  Speaking of wins, the Cardinals are now 7-1 and 3-1 on the road with their lone loss coming against the Broncos.  But I guess none of that matters, because we’re still not going hear about Arizona.  We probably won’t next week after they beat the Rams at home, and I guess I understand that.  So say that happens, and then the following week in Glendale they beat the Lions.  The media doesn’t trust the Lions (even though they look really, really good this year) so you’ll likely not hear anything about that either.  But if they beat the Seattle Seahawks at Century Link the following week after winning both those games, I’m going to be fucking livid if they sit there at 10-1 and still aren’t getting any attention from the folks at ESPN and NBC Sports.  What do they have to do?  Does Carson Palmer really look that bad on TV?  Those three touchdown passes he just had on the road sure didn’t.
Eagles 31, Texans 21            
Even with Nick Foles out of the game, Jeremy Maclin proved that he is every bit as important as the Calvin Johnsons and Dez Bryants of the league.  Once again, he continued to prove he should be in the same conversation as those guys and the Eagles got their sixth win.  The injury to Foles obviously a concern, but my question for Texans fans is:  How did you let this one get away at the hands of Mark Sanchez?  We know they had questions surrounding their offense (which was able to take advantage of some of Philly’s weaknesses, especially covering DeAndre Hopkins who had six receptions for 115) but they should have been foaming at the mouth when that guy waltzed into the huddle.  They should have eaten him alive, and they laid down as he threw for 200 yards.  Sure they picked him off twice, but as we all know Mark is going to throw interceptions.  I certainly hope Foles is OK because if he’s not I have to download that PDF full of hack Mexican jokes again, which of course every writer in America deleted because we really didn’t think this cat would ever see a field again.  Good Lord.  (Update:  Foles will be out 6 to eight weeks and it is highly unlikely that the Eagles will be able to use his services if Sanchez’s previous work history is any indication of how the next month and a half is about to go…)
Chiefs 24, Jets 10            


Michael Vick started this game in lieu of the Jets not having anyone else on the roster that’s even worth half of a starting spot.  (see above paragraph)  I will admit the Chiefs did play well, but I’d like to point out something that sports broadcasters have a tendency to do:  Every single week, somebody rips through that offensive line and then we have to spend all of halftime listening to Boomer Esiason talk about how great said defensive line is.  Is it possible that just maybe at 1-8 the Jets are just garbage?  Their only win has come against Oakland, so why do we have to be lauding whoever ran through that wet paper bag every week as if somebody just bum-rushed a wall full of five-time Super Bowl champions?  As for the Chiefs, they are still playing well even though they didn’t do jack squat in the second half.  Luckily for them, they have the world on a string due to the situation I’m about to address next…

Dolphins 37, Chargers 0    


I know I’ve done my fair share of flip-flopping this year as certain teams have struggled from week to week.  At the same time, I still believe in a few squads and the San Diego Chargers are one of them.  Even though they got completely pistol-whipped here and brought nothing to the table offensively, even though Philip Rivers was awful and this was their third straight loss, I have to think that there is still room to turn this one around.  The irony here of course is that when Miami was in the playoff hunt last year, the Chargers were the one team that they had to hope would bite it and that didn’t happen.  That’s interesting when you consider that the way things are headed, these two teams are likely to be fighting for a wild card spot again just about the time you’re fighting your fat brother for the last slice of Apple pie from Christmas Day.  Don’t get be wrong, this is a bad loss for the Chargers and I own that.  Any time where you have a guy like that throw for 138 and somehow Kellen Clemens winds up in the game, there’s a lot of film to watch trying to figure out where it all went wrong.  All that said, Ryan Tannehill deserves a lot of credit for what he’s been able to do.  They’re 5-3 and they’re better than a couple of other 5-3 teams.   (BUF and CLE)

Browns 22, Buccaneers 17


Hey Alex from the Bud Light commercial, how’s that new Buccaneers themed living room?  I saw an interesting stat about the Browns on CBS this week:  They have three different running backs who have a total of 250 yards through eight games.  Unfortunately for them, they couldn’t run for shit in this matchup and Brian Hoyer had a QBR of 31.8.  Ouch.  He also threw two picks and that’s why the Browns were able to get away with winning this game by a measly five points.  Tampa’s going to get buried in the news cycle anyway, so there’s no need to discuss what’s going with Mike Glennon win or lose.  Cleveland on the other hand is headed into a real rough stretch of their schedule and God knows that if they can’t take care of business against a team like Jacksonville, they are going to have a tough time surviving when they realize that they still have to play the Bengals twice (once in two days from now…) and still have to deal with the Colts before closing the year out at Baltimore.

Vikings 29, Redskins 26        

00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000vikesskinsThere was a brief scare in this game as the Redskins bus was involved in a crash on the way to the stadium, and – I can’t believe that I’m saying this in the same sentence but – Robert Griffin still played.  He actually played pretty well too, but at the same time in the end it wasn’t enough – and how many times have you heard that with him?  I think something should also be said for the fact that Teddy Bridgewater threw 42 passes and wasn’t intercepted once.  Respect to that, but they’re still under .500 for the year and exactly .500 at home.  Kind of makes you wonder what could have been…Also for you fantasy people that hate Jay Gruden due to your lack of being able to rely on his players for all of your passing needs, Alfred Morris had 2 touchdowns in this one.

Rams 13, 49ers 10


I am officially done with the San Francisco 49ers.  After picking them to roll through this season and eventually knock off their arch nemesis division rival Seahawks, they’ve blown two home games – one against the Bears and now one against St. Louis.  This one particularly hurts though because they were coming off of a bye week in which they absolutely had to get their shit together and not screw up.  Well, so much for that…I’m hearing a lot of noise from 49ers fans who are saying that Kaepernick was down before he fumbled the ball, but that’s not really the point, is it?  Why were Niners even in that situation to begin with?  Because they are a team who has a great roster, but underachieves to epic proportions.  Good for St. Louis for never giving up, but none of us are expecting them to go to the playoffs.  San Francisco already has a coach who won’t be there next season, and a whole mess of guys who can’t get on the same page with each other to save their lives.  So fitting they now find themselves a full three games behind Arizona halfway through the season.

Patriots 43, Broncos 21         


First off, whoever set the line at between 52.5 and 53.5 was insane.  How did you not know these two teams were going to cover the over there?  Anyway, I trusted my gut on this one and I was right.  There was no way that Peyton Manning was just going to walk into that building a three point road favorite without Tom Brady reminding him what a real trophy case looks like.  Now, did I know it was going to be this bad?  Of course not…But the point here is that the Patriots feel slighted by the way the media treated them after that Monday Night loss to the Chiefs.  And I can’t blame them because everybody was coming for their head after that as things looked really bad.  Anyway, the real story here was about how Rob Gronkowski was an absolute beast and about how the fantasy numbers you get from starting Peyton Manning don’t include redzone efficiency.  Additionally, I can’t help but notice that Julian Edelman looks a lot like another guy who ran out of the slot in a Patriots uniform recently – Wes Welker.  In this game it seemed only fitting that even Wes Welker didn’t look like Wes Welker, proof that karma may be catching up to the Broncos.  Look, the rest of Denver’s regular season doesn’t mean anything.  Even if they host the AFC Championship game, they’ll still be stuck facing these Patriots, who are much better than the skeleton crew they trotted out onto the field in last year’s game.  Peyton Manning has had an incredible career, but unfortunately for him a lot of that career will end up being defined by games like this one.

Seahawks 30, Raiders 24      


Another NFC West team that I’m not too impressed with is Seattle.  They were favored heavily here, didn’t cover, and let the Raiders sneak back into this game.  Once again, Russell Wilson was a bit of a disappointment, and once again the Seahawks relied on their defense to carry the weight of the game.  In addition, Seattle’s special teams are way off the mark…there’s a reason coaches say “we have to win in all three facets of the game”…That’s not simply a suggestion – it’s true.  Otherwise you find yourselves with a Super Bowl champion team that beats a winless Raiders squad by only two field goals, and the way things were going in that third facet you could have very well lost that game if you hadn’t recovered the onside kick.  I have a lot of questions about the way the Hawks are doing business, and I think for their sake it’s going to be a good thing that a lot of those same questions are going to be orbiting the San Francisco 49ers at the moment.  I’m not sure if they aren’t paying enough attention in practice, or if they simply don’t have the offensive firepower to get things done.  Whatever it is, here’s yet another reason for the Cardinals to be gnashing their teeth.

Steelers 43, Ravens 23


Every time these two teams meet in prime time, the announcers go nuts because of the intensity of the rivalry.  But for some odd reason, I just can’t bring myself to get excited about BAL/PIT.  A lot of times broadcasters will point to a game’s sloppiness and exaggerate the effort being put forth as if it can’t just be a messy game.  And for the most part, that’s exactly what happened here.  The way this game went for the Ravens could be summed up with how the extra point sequence went down after the Williams touchdown in the second quarter:  The snap was bad, and the hold was worse, so Suisham pulled up short.  This stuck Steelers punter Brad Wing with the task of making something out of a busted play.  He was able to find Matt Spaeth open in the end zone, which gave the Steelers twice as many points as they had intended to get out of an untimed down when they walked out onto the field.    That pretty much summarized how the rest of the game went…Jacoby Jones was able to pull off a return similar to the one he blew off in Super Bowl 47, but other than that the Ravens’ offense was stagnant at best as they sat on the sidelines watching Ben Roethlisberger march into the end zone drive after drive.  I still think the Ravens are the better team, but I think that for some reason when Baltimore goes to play in that stadium they turn into a team that’s completely impotent.

Bonus Thought from this game:  Joe Greene


At some point before the third quarter started, sideline reported Michelle Tafoya got to talk to Pittsburgh Steeler legend Mean Joe Greene.  During their conversation, I noticed something that caught me a bit off guard.  Greene played in the era where helmet to helmet contact was commonplace, and played on a lot of those Steeler teams where guys got knocked around a whole hell of a lot more than they do now.  But when he speaks, I don’t hear a bit of that suffering in his voice.  He doesn’t sound the least bit like somebody who’s ever even experienced a concussion, even though he’s had several of them.  I think it’s very bizarre that a guy who got clocked that many times in his pro career can even form a sentence let alone be so well spoken.

Colts 40, Giants 24   


It amazes me that with all of the controversy surrounding the Washington Redskins not changing their name upon the demand of several Native American rights activists that nobody bothered to suggest that the New York Giants should simply change their name to “Blown Coverage”.  When the Colts went up 37-10 in this game, I saw New York Giants long snapper Zak DeOssie holding his head on the sidelines in overwhelming frustration and I thought…”How irritating does it have to be to be a veteran on this football team right now?”.  After all of the years of hard work and even the Super Bowl rings, to see how the secondary of this franchise has cracked apart from every conceivable angle has to be devastating to watch from the inside.  Thankfully for the Monday Night Football audience, that was never an issue in this contest because Jon Gruden couldn’t stop drooling over every throw Andrew Luck made.  And while Luck was great in this matchup, I think that the real story here is TY Hilton.  As Reggie Wayne sort of fades into the Kobe Bryant era of his career, TY is in perfect position to grow up with Luck in the same fashion Marvin Harrison grew up with Peyton Manning.  OK…so maybe that’s a bad comparison, but you get where I am going with this.  Really interested to see how the Colts/Patriots game is going to turn out here in a couple of weeks.  The Giants’ season is over.

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