NFL Nutshell: Week 9

7 11 2011

NY Jets 27, Buffalo 11

The Jets extended their winning streak to three as all aspects of their game looked very solid. Their defense held the Bills to only three points until a touchdown at the very end of the game, but by then the outcome had already been determined. Mark Sanchez held his own with 230 passing yards and an efficient 71% passing rate; however, he still found a way to throw an interception – something he’s done in all but two games this year. The Bills and Jets now both sit at 5-3, and it will be interesting to see where each team goes from here.


Miami 31, Kansas City 3

Something happened in this game that many were beginning to feel would not happen this year: the Dolphins won… and won handily at that. Scoring his first rushing touchdown and actually making an impact to the game’s outcome with 92 rushing yards and 50 receiving yards, Reggie Bush offered Stephen Ross hope that his signing might not have been a total bust after all. Kansas City continues to confuse us. When they were 0-3 and Jamaal Charles went down, many marked off their season as a bust. However, fighting back against San Diego last week to make their record 4-3, the Chiefs’ bandwagon fans began to reemerge. With this crushing loss to the Dolphins and their inability to score in the endzone, it is hard to know which Chiefs will show up from week to week. If there’s any silver lining to their inconsistency, it’s that no team in their division has a record above .500.


San Francisco 19, Washington 11

Even though Alex Smith will never be a “must have” fantasy quarterback, he continues to play his role effectively and efficiently. He was 17/24 with 200 yards, a touchdown, and no interceptions. He has the fewest number of interceptions (2) among quarterbacks that have started every game this season. The 49ers took care of business in this game and showed America that, yes, there are college coaches out there that can transition to the NFL and be successful. Jim Harbaugh has his team sitting at 7-1 and 4-0 in their division, with the 2-6 Seahawks being their closest competition. Harbaugh and his coaching staff are changing the way this football team plays; they are creating a team where the players understand their roles and play for the benefit of the team. Even though this franchise provided some heartbreak for my hometown Cowboys in the past, I’m excited to see what this young team likely has in store for the playoffs.


NY Giants 24, New England 20

While the Eagles and Cowboys receive their usual media attention, the Giants have quietly put themselves at the top of the NFC East with a 6-2 record. Tom Brady did his usual thing and took his team down the field for what was thought to be a game-winning touchdown. However, Eli Manning took his team 80 yards down the field in 1:21 to leave 15 seconds on the game clock. Even though Manning failed to dominate the offensive side of the field for the majority of the game, he carried the team on his back when the game was on the line and put the Patriots in a three-way tie with the Bills and Jets for the AFC East. The Patriots have been AFC East Champions eight of the last ten seasons; however, if they want this trend to continue, Tom Brady – who has already thrown twice as many interceptions as he did for the entire 2010 season – will need to be more accurate with his throws, and the secondary will need to be better than dead last in the league with 323.1 passing yards given up per game.


Green Bay 45, San Diego 38

The Packers have now had two victories in a row decided by less than double digits, but a win is a win. It doesn’t matter if the game becomes a grind-it-out or air-it-out style of match, Aaron Rodgers and his Packers just find a way to win and have a certain sense of determination every time they step on the field. Phillip Rivers did have 138 more yards than Aaron Rodgers and was able to match his four touchdowns, but there was one glaring difference that has been a problem for Rivers – he had three interceptions compared to Rodgers’s none. To add insult to injury, two of these interceptions were returned for touchdowns in the first quarter that put the Chargers at too large of a deficit against too good of a team. There was a silver lining for the Chargers as Vincent Jackson collected 141 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Similar to the AFC East, the Chargers are also in a three way tie with the Chiefs and the Raiders. Their Thursday Night Football game against the Raiders will break this tie.


Baltimore 23, Pittsburgh 20

In a game I would say was more exciting than the previous night’s LSU-Alabama contest, the Steelers and Ravens had another classic match-up with a down-to-the-wire finish. These teams were very evenly matched throughout the game, but the Ravens had 19 more plays and eight more minutes of possession. Watching Joe Flacco take his team 92 yards in 2:09, leaving only eight seconds on the clock, I was reminded of Eli Manning’s game-winning drive against the New England Patriots earlier in the day. However, there was one major difference: Flacco was going up against a dominant Steelers secondary that is first in the league and is giving up only 171.6 yards passing per game. It’s amazing that this is the same Ravens offense that looked absolutely lost during their 12-7 defeat to the Jaguars on Monday Night Football a few weeks ago. With Cincinnati’s emergence (6-2) as a playoff contender, this AFC North will undoubtedly have an interesting finish.


Note: The away team won in every game I discussed, and only 4 of 13 teams at home won yesterday.


Monday Night Football:

Chicago v. Philadelphia – 7:30 p.m. CT

The Bears are coming off their first bye week and are currently in their first winning streak of the season while the Eagles have now won two divisional games in a row and look to be meshing quite well. Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy have found a rhythm and a nice balance with each other. Matt Forte continues to play a huge role on the offensive side of the field, being the sole owner of 672 of the team’s 803 total rushing yards – that is 83.6% of the team’s yardage. This heavy reliance will hurt the Bears when they go up against teams that know how to handle the run. With the current groove the Eagles are in and the fact that they’ve only given up 142 yards rushing in their past two games, I believe Forte will be unable to carry the load for Chicago like he usually does. Without Forte dominating the ground game, the Bears will struggle to move the ball in this game, and the Eagles will finally be back at .500, inching closer to a possible run for the AFC East title. Pick: Eagles.


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