In week with 6 teams on the bye it felt like the league started to take a more definitive shape. Like when Jello first starts to solidify in your favorite mold. (If you don’t have a favorite Jello mold you are a savage.) It wasn’t pretty and I’m not sure that some of the teams wins mean much more than the fact that they won and that gives them a big advantage in gaining a playoff spot, or in playoff seeding.
Carolina won ugly, but winning ugly takes character, especially when you are able to do it against Aaron Rodgers. Plus they now have a 2 game lead on home field advantage throughout the playoffs. That is no tiny advantage when you have a home crowd like Carolina does.
The Giants reaffirmed their grip on the NFC East, and even though Philly beat the downtrodden Cowboys, if they play like they did against a hot Bucs team, they control their own destiny.
The Broncos gave up a big some serious playoff capital by losing to Indy. WIth both Cincinnati and New England taking care of business that leaves the Broncos road to the Super Bowl having to go through one or both of those locales.
The Steelers and Raiders both showed they would be great fun teams to see in the playoffs as Wild Cards. Good hard competitive football, that was entertaining and back and forth. Who doesn’t want to see either of them in the playoffs? Hell I’d love to see a rematch, but Denver or Cincy would have to fall apart completely for that to happen.
The last team I want to touch on is the Minnesota Vikings. They are a poor performance on that weird second Monday Night game to open the season from being 7-1 and a couple of plays downfield against the Bronco’s from being 8-0. They sit at 6-2 right now. Tied with Green Bay atop the NFC East and for the second seed in the playoffs, which nets a first round bye.
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Some of those teams have some big injury issues that we will deal with briefly in the summation and address when we know more on Thursday’s NFL:64. So let’s sum it up, week 9 summation is now!
|CLE (2-6) @ CIN (7-0)|
|GB (6-1) @ CAR (7-0)||WAS (3-4) @ NE (7-0)|
|TEN (1-6) @ NO (4-4)||MIA (3-4) @ BUF (3-4)|
|STL (4-3) @ MIN (5-2)||JAC (2-5) @ NYJ (4-3)|
|OAK (4-3) @ PIT (4-4)|
|NYG (4-4) @ TB (3-4)||ATL (6-2) @ SF (2-6)|
|DEN (7-0) @ IND (3-5)|
|PHI (3-4)@DAL (2-5)|
|CHI (2-5) @ SD (2-6)|
GAME NOTES – THURSDAY NIGHT EDITION
I wanted to see the Bengals come in and take care of the bad Browns like a 7-0 team should do at home. They did exactly that. There is a little concern that the run game is a bit out of sorts, but the best cure for that maybe a couple extra days off and the team that comes to visit on Monday Night, the Texans. A couple weeks ago Lamar Miller made the Texans defense look like Swiss cheese. Jeremy Hill, Giovanni Bernard and the offensive line should be able to make the Bengal faithful forget about the running woes of weeks gone by.
The Browns put together some nice pieces of this game. Johnny Manziel should continue to start because even if they run the table and end up 9-7 (highly doubtful) I don’t see that getting them into the playoffs. I also think it’s as likely that they catch lightning in a bottle and run the table with Manziel as they might were Josh McCown to start again.
- 1-0 for the week, 73-49 for the season.
GAME NOTES – 1 O’CLOCK EDITION
The Panthers are just winning baby. And held Aaron Rodgers in check just long enough. Were there mistakes? Very much so. No need to be throwing the ball at the end. The offense really needs to start doing a better job of possessing the ball in the second half because the defense has just been on the field way too much and you can see it in the way they play. They have to maintain focus and go on the road to a Titans team who just upset the Saints.
The Packers need to reboot, and maybe the second half of the Panthers game was the start of that. The loss of Jordy Nelson has really altered the offense in ways that they haven’t been able to simply overcome. They are extremely beat up, but with a little tweaking and the effective return of Devante Adams, they should be able to get to 90% of what they are with Jordy.
The Patriots lost Dion Lewis for the season. He had changed the dynamic of the RB position for the Pats and will be missed, but I don’t think it’s a loss they can’t overcome. Sebastian Vollmer though would be the second left tackle they lost and that would be devastating. Patriots also head to Jersey to face the hated Giants. I’m very excited to see what Bill Belichick has in store for Odell Beckham Jr.
The Redskins never got going at all. Deferring the kickoff, allowing a pretty easy TD and then coughing up the onside kick meant their offense didn’t take the field until they were already down 14. Then an immediate pick made it 17-0. They never had a shot at that point. and the TD was scored essentially as the clock expired. They aren’t ready to face the big boys of the AFC yet, but could still win that division if they can possess the ball, control the clock and play defense.
That’s a great win for the Titans, in overtime, in New Orleans, under interim head coach MIke Mularkey. They capitalized on Saints mistakes and didn’t look like a 1-6 team. They host the undefeated Panthers and it won’t be as easy, but they don’t have to win to build confidence, just compete. Hell even with a loss they aren’t near out of the race in the awful AFC South.
A bad, bad, bad loss for the Saints. The offense is finally clicking and the Saints defense looks exactly like a Rob Ryan defense. Awful and giving up leads. That needs to be addressed or the Saints will be looking up at the Wild Card.
The Bills bounced back with a convincing win over the division rival Dolphins. Not if you asked My Friend Craig. He is so upset the Mets lost the World Series he thinks the Bills lost this game. He is also still asking for EJ Manuel. the poor kid is sick with grief. If the Bills can go to Jersey and beat the Jets Thursday night maybe some of his sanity will be back.
Well the Dan Campbell experiment may have lost its steam. Can they regain it in the city of brotherly love? They better be able to or Dan Campbell will be on the street looking for a job on Black Monday.
I think Teddy Bridgewater is going to be ok and if he is the Vikings have announced themselves as serious NFC contenders. The offense, defense and special teams are all very balanced. It shows with the way they put up yards and points against the Rams and held Todd Gurley in check.
The Rams need a little more out of their passing game to make Gurley more effective. They are fine defensively even with a few injuries because they have great depth, but is Wes Welker the answer? Hard to say what he has left or how long he will be able to stay on the field, be it a hamstring or concussion. They also are going to need to address the idea that they are targeting valuable players on other teams. Gregg Williams was the architect of BountyGate and he likely needs to go away to make sure his tainted body of work infects the Rams.
The Jets defense played about how I expected, which is worse than they looked early this season. The offense though was far better than I expected and Ryan Fitzpatrick didn’t look hurt at all. It wasn’t a pretty game, but every win is important for an AFC team with playoff aspirations, not in the AFC South of course, you can’t give that division away.
The Jags could have stolen the AFC South had they done just a few things differently. They didn’t though and now sit at 2-7 and still with a chance to win the AFC South if they are perfect the rest fo the way and get some help. Amazing. I want them to pull it off because I think they have things like moxie and spunk and would be fun team to watch in the playoffs, but the likelihood is they make a bigger jump next year when they add 2 high first round picks to the team.
I saw this game playing out the moment I started looking ahead to week 9. I saw points all over the place, I saw it going back and forth and I saw a field goal winning it. I’ve said it for a few weeks now and the Raiders are legit. They can run, throw and play enough defense that they force a few turnovers and get off the field enough on 3rd down to stay in games. Look out Broncos you aren’t walking to the AFC West title without a fight.
Losing Ben Roethlisberger, even for 2 weeks, might be enough to keep the Steelers out of the playoffs. I’ve said it a bunch the AFC playoff picture is crowded and every win is important right now. Can Landry Jones take care of the Browns at home? I think he probably can and if he does and then they have a bye the Steelers could be ok.
- So that’s 4-3 for the 1 o’clock games, 5-3 for the week and 77-52 for the season.
GAME NOTES – 4 O’CLOCK EDITION
The Giants stay ahead of the NFC East pack with a good solid road win against a hot team. In a year where they have lost a couple of games they shouldn’t have they can’t lose the ones they need to win anymore. The last two games they have fed Odell Beckham Jr. and it has put them in a spot to win both games. I imagine they will try and continue that trend going forward.
Even had they beat the Giants their road to the playoffs was a long shot. They are proving to be a team that isn’t going to be an easy win though, even if their head coach was last relevant 10 years ago.
The Falcons are giving away all the good will and playoff advantages they gained early in the year. It’s a strange twist and one that they need to fix in the bye week or there will be some big questions about what’s wrong in Hotlanta.
I don’t believe that anything is going right in San Fran. I don’t believe Blaine Gabbert is anything more than an emergency back up QB and I don’t think Jim Tomsula should be coaching anywhere but semi-pro or below. This organization is still a mess and yet they have 3 wins.
Down go the Broncos and at the first sign of an issue tempers flared, bad penalties abounded and the defense, which had previously saved the Broncos all season, cost them a chance to to even try and win. It will be interesting to see how the team reacts because Gary Kubiak’s teams have historically struggled with maintaining composure in the face of adversity, will this be a one time thing? Or is something deeper festering underneath the surface a mile above sea level?
They can win about 3 more games and clinch their division. They looked very good and like the Colts of 2013/2014. Will that be enough for them to make noise in the playoffs? I doubt it. The roster isn’t good enough, on either side of the ball. Plus one win isn’t going to stem the tide of infighting that has been going on between Owner, Head Coach and Gm.
- So that’s 1-2 for the 4 o’clock game, 6-5 for the week, and 78-54 for the season.
GAME NOTES – SUNDAY NIGHT EDITION
I don’t think the Eagles are any good or even very compelling. I don’t think that Chip Kelly gets this team to 10-6 like he has the last 2 years. I think they are a lot like the kid at the science fair whose project has gone bad and stinks to high heaven because there hypothesis was to see how fast different types of milk curdle. That whole milk has been sitting unrefrigerated for months now and the kid is following the scientific method to the letter. The kid is just being a dick. (The kid was named Robin for me in 8th grade and he used fruit, not milk, but it was still disgusting.) Chip Kelly knows he isn’t getting fired and he knows that Sam Bradford isn’t the answer, so he is just being a dick. That’s how I feel about the Eagles.
I don’t have a lot of love lost for Cowboys fans, but this season has been excruciating. I wouldn’t wish this on any sports fan. They should have won at least twice in this Tony Romo less stretch. Are they out of the playoffs? Not entirely, but they need to win in Tampa Bay or they might as well sit Dez Bryant back down, let Tony Romo comeback in 2017, and rid themselves of the cancerous Greg Hardy.
- So that’s a loss on Sunday night, 6-6 for the week, and 78-53 for the season.
GAME NOTES – MONDAY NIGHT EDITION
The Bears could be sniffing the playoffs is they had been a little more aggressive during the overtime of the Lions game. To be clear they aren’t a playoff team, but in the NFL this year there aren’t 14 real playoff teams and someone has to make it. In the long run it’s probably better to have a better draft pick. The offense is legit and were able to overcome 2 Jay Cutler turnovers. If you take the pick 6 off the board this game isn’t even very close. While I don’t love the Bears in St. Louis to win next week I don’t hate the opening line of them getting 7 points!
It’s been a lost season for the Chargers for a while now. They are losing guys to injury at what has to be a record rate and they have lost all their fans because the tea leaves are pointing in the direction of Los Angeles. So while they are on bye this week keep in mind that if the Chargers are at home and are giving points, take the points. There is zero homefield advantage anymore.
SIDEBAR: Since week 6 I have been working the lines more so than I ever have before. Right now am 26-25-2. Not amazing, but I’m up in terms of dollars and cents. I’ keeping a lot of data about all this and next year will likely only track the picks against the spread in 2016 and beyond. My picks that will be listed are still straight win picks, but if you want to know how I’m picking against the spread simply look at my predicted score and the line and you can very easily figure it out.
- So the Monday night win makes me 7-6 for the week and 79-53 for the year.
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