Another week and another undefeated team goes down. Last week was it was Green Bay, this week it is Denver.
So it goes.
As week 9 ends with three unbeaten teams, it also ends with a myriad of injuries. Still, the great teams are standing out while others are finding ways to rise from the dead.
Lets break it down.
CLE 10, CIN 31
Those Bengals are playing at a high level. That offense is running like a well oiled machine that is churning out creative and exotic plays that gives defenses headaches. Cleveland was overmatched without Josh McCown, and Cincy had one of their best games in the year. No match.
WSH 10, NE 27
Never has a 17-point victory felt more disappointing for the Pats. Losing running back Dion Lewis for the year (ACL) and left tackle Sebastian Vollmer for the game (concussion) certainly slowed down the Patriots, but it didn’t stop them. This should have been a 30-point win, but sloppy turnovers, including Brady’s second interception of the year, and inconsistent momentum kept the blow out from getting out of control. Oh, and their defense is slowly getting scary good.
MIA 17, BUF 33
Getting Tyrod Taylor worked miracles for Rex Ryan’s Bills. Steamrolling the now reeling (again) Dolphins helped erase some of the bad memories of that London embarrassment. With Taylor under center, this is a different team.
GB 29, CAR 37
This was a 37-14 drubbing early in the fourth quarter before Aaron Rodgers led an admirable comeback before falling short. Still, even when we doubt the Panthers relentlessly, they continue to win. Got to give them props, Cam just keeps making plays. Meanwhile, the Packers are a flawed team, both in the offense and defense, and they a lot of work to do before the playoffs if they hope for a Super Bowl run.
STL 18, MIN 21
This was a tough win for the Vikings. With Teddy Bridgewater taking that cheap shot and getting knocked out but still finding a way to win it in overtime, it showed a lot of mental toughness from Mike Zimmer’s team. Best win of the year so far.
TEN 34, NO 28
Wow, I still can’t believe the Saints blew this one. This serves as a microcosm for their year – win a crazy game only to lose to a non-contender. Great win for Mike Mularkey, who took over the team as head coach after Ken Wisenhunt was fired.
JAX 23, NYJ 28
It came down to the wire, but the Jets held on for the win. The Jaguars just can’t get over the hump, and it was on display against Fitzpatrick, who threw for two touchdowns and zero picks.
OAK 35, PIT 38
Another one that came down to the wire. This game had two sides: Pittsburgh won but lost Big Ben for a couple of weeks and the Raiders lost but their confidence in Derek Carr has increased exponentially over the last few weeks with his play. The future looks bright in Oakland.
ATL 16, SF 17
Wait? The Blaine Gabbert-led 49ers defeated the Falcons. Wow. This was the upset of the week, and Tom Tomsula deserves props for rallying the troops around their backup quarterback. Things are falling apart in Atlanta, who are now 1-3 after their 5-0 start.
NYG 32, TB 18
The Giants are just the better team, and that was the case against the young and upstart Bucs. On another point, is it possible Lovie Smith is not the answer in Tampa Bay? The team is obviously young and has talent, but he should be able to do more with this team.
DEN 24, IND 27
And so goes another one. Denver falls to Indy, as Manning falls to 1-3 against his former team since leaving town. This was a 17-0 game at one point, and Peyton made a game of it, but he still fell short – in part due to some stupid defensive mistakes (hello, Talib). Andrew Luck had his best game of the year, only to get injured be knocked out for a month with a lacerated spleen and partially torn abdominal muscle. Tough luck (no pun intended).
PHI 33, DAL 27
I’ve reached the decision of not betting on the Cowboys to win until Tony Romo gets back. It’s just not going to happen. Just when you think they’re going to get over the hump, they lose. Again. And the Eagles have righted their ship. It’s their division to lose.
CHI 22, SD 19
I still can’t believe the Chargers lost this one, but that’s the story of their season: so close, yet so far. Cutler came back from a pick-six to deliver a clutch final drive to win the game. Rivers continues hi stellar play, but it isn’t enough as the Bolts fall to 2-7, including a 5-game losing streak – all by 8 points or less.
Lots of injuries have changed the landscape of the season, and entering the last half, this will continue to play an important role in determining the playoffs. Now lets see if the three undefeated teams can continue to keep those donuts in the loss columns.
Player of the Week: Blaine Gabbert, 15-25, 185 Yards, 2 TD, 2 Int, 1 Win (over ATL)