NFL Week 9: Winners and Losers
Updated: Nov 25, 2020
By Max Saito.
In the National Football League, as in the deep reaches of the Twilight Zone, not everything is quite as it seems. Some teams who win are actually losers, and some who lose are actually winners. Of course, some teams who win are actually winners and some who lose are actually losers as well. We return to help you make sense of the logical paradox that was Week 9 in the NFL:
On paper, the Los Angeles Chargers pulled one of the most Chargers losses of all time - a walk-off TD being overturned on the last replay as Donald Parham failed to survive the ground.
However, I came away from this game being totally wowed by the Chargers, who are still a team who desperately need to attract some fan interest if they are to avoid playing in front of empty stadiums even in a post-COVID world. Justin Herbert is The Dude, and is rapidly becoming one of my favourite players to watch.
Herbert showed toughness after taking a wallop on a wild TD throw to fullback Gabe Nabers, and even on the back to back incomplete passes to end the game, his ball placement was nigh-on perfect. The Chargers’ total watchability is hugely helped by their new uniforms this season - and this week’s midnight blue outfits might be the best in the league. The yellow outline bolt with the blue interior and the bold numbers on the side of the helmet.. I think I’m in love.
Having a high pick next year might not be the worst thing in the world for a team with a franchise quarterback who looks likely to drag the Chargers kicking and screaming into playoff contention for years to come.
Peddlers of Steelers Narratives
This might be the 17,398th time you’ve read this, but the Mike Tomlin/Ben Roethlisberger era Steelers play down to the level of their opponents. Never was this more apparent than in Jerryworld on Sunday, as Pittsburgh scored all of 9 points through three quarters against an insipid Cowboys defence.
On top of this, just like that dodgy party trick your uncle brings out at the Christmas party, Roethlisberger once again played up an injury before returning to lead his team to a win. To be fair to Ben, the experience of overcoming a genuine challenge whilst making the biggest possible deal out of it is deeply relatable.
Pittsburgh always plays a few close games against bad teams each year, often losing, and were perhaps fortunate that they played against a Dallas team which at this point resembles little more than a collection of warm bodies trying to navigate from one game to the next.
The Steelers will be hoping that this season is the one that they can buck their tradition of losing in the playoffs, and as the last unbeaten team in the league they look set to have a great chance to do so.
Dalvin Cook has been the best running back in the league in the past two weeks, and it hasn’t been close. The Florida State product racked up 252 scrimmage yards against the Lions at a clip of 10.5 yards per touch to go with the 226 against Green Bay in Week 8. Dalvin had 109 yards on 4 receptions in the last two games, and has single-handedly dragged the Vikings back to 3-5 in an NFC that is closely bunched at the top.
The Vikings are riding Cook back to playoff contention, and with the 4th year back shredding divisional foes, Minnesota (and more specifically Kirk Cousins) can sit back and pile up Ws without having to do too much else.
Honorable mentions: Tua Tagovailoa, Josh Allen, Antonio Brown karma, COVID-19, Davante Adams, Raheem Morris’ long-term job prospects, the photographer who snapped this photo (https://ton.twitter.com/1.1/ton/data/dm/1325543881438531593/1325543876216696833/25WU_9pW.jpg:small), Isaiah Johnson, Joe Flacco?
Dalvin Cook was a big winner in Week 9, and led the league with 206 rushing yards. This, however, is not enough to explain the fact that he had more rushing yards than the 2nd and 3rd leading rushers COMBINED. In fact, Cook was the only running back to top 100 yards, with Jacksonville’s James Robinson running for 99.
Kyler Murray was the only other player to reach a century, going for 106 yards in a close game against Miami. Lamar Jackson, Ezekiel Elliott, Derrick Henry, Alvin Kamara, Christian McCaffery, Aaron Jones, and Josh Jacobs were all held under 70 yards rushing, and the top 10 featured the likes of Damien Harris, Chase Edmonds, Kalen Ballage, Alexander Mattison, Devontae Booker and Wayne Gallman. 2020 continues to be a brutal season for fantasy players (and everyone else).
Ever since Nick Foles entered the lineup, this Bears team has looked like a powder keg ready to explode at any time, and a third loss in a row is a fair reflection of how Chicago has played all year. The Bears went 2-15 on third down against Tennessee’s historically bad third down defence and ran for 56 total yards against a Titans team allowing 128 per game on the ground, and linebacker Barkevious Mingo was responsible for almost 20% of those 56.
The Bears have the league’s most penalised offense, and they look every bit as dire as the statistics suggest. Chicago started the season 5-1, and yet they look like an extremely good bet to miss the postseason, even with the 7th wildcard spot. We get the treat of watching this team in primetime on Monday Night Football in Week 10 as they host Minnesota, with four games against the Vikings and Packers in the run-in. Chicago is unmistakably on the precipice of a cliff in mid-November, and have won their 5 games by a combined 20 points.
Matt Nagy’s seat is getting awfully warm.
After comprehensive victories over the Packers and Raiders in Week 6 and 7. Just a fortnight later, however, and the Bucs aren’t even favourites to win the NFC South. Tampa Bay lost to the aforementioned Bears in Week 5, scraped past the Giants after a failed two-point conversion in Week 8, and then got the doors blown off by the Saints in Week 9.
Not only did the Saints hand the Bucs arguably the worst whipping of any team so far this season, but Tampa Bay had to watch on as former QB Jameis Winston ate a W on national television. Brady’s hideous 209 yard, three-pick game was compounded by an 8-yard rushing performance… from the entire Buccaneers offence!!!
Tampa Bay have shown that while their ceiling is among the league’s best, they may have the lowest floor of any true playoff contender in the league.
Honorable mentions: Russell Wilson’s MVP case, Quinton Dunbar, Zane Gonzalez, goal line fades, the $27,999 Richie Incognito donated to various Republican causes this year, Dwayne Haskins, Mike Evans, the Broncos and their painfully low Lock-era ceiling, Ben DiNucci, Dez Bryant watching Marcus Peters’ interception be ruled a catch in his first game since 2017.