Winners: Patriots & Steelers
The AFC’s two powerhouses were sat at home this week on their byes and watched all their competition fall. First the Bills, a threat in the AFC East at 5-2, fell to the Jets on Thursday, then the Steelers main competition, Baltimore, lost in the early slate of games before the Kansas City Chiefs fell behind in the race for home field advantage with a loss against the Cowboys.
By doing nothing, both the Patriots and Steelers saw their chances for a division title, a bye week, and a travel-less road to the Super Bowl improve. Not a bad week off.
Losers: The fans
once again, the NFL served up some very uninteresting games. With Deshaun Watson’s injury sucking the fun from the Texans-Colts game, the Raiders and Dolphins combining for 21 penalties in prime time, and the NFC South duels both putting up duds it was not the most exciting weekend to be an NFL fan.
Winner: AJ Green’s UFC career
A shove after the play from Jalen Ramsey was one step too far for AJ Green, as a chippy in-game rivalry boiled over. Green went full GSP as he slipped behind for a choke takedown on Ramsey and then threw down the hammer fists. It was an impressive, if foolish, display from Green and saw him rightly removed from the game, Ramsey too, rather harshly, was ejected in a moment that will be shown again and again all week.
Loser: Leonard Fournette’s Rookie of the Year bid
Coming into Week 9 Leonard Fournette was arguably ahead in the Rookie of the Year race. He had amassed 732 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns, with a very impressive 4.6 yards per carry. Unlike Kareem Hunt in Kansas the entire offense was on Fournette’s back and he was still steaming downhill through defenders.
And then he broke a team rule and was summarily benched by head coach Doug Marrone. No one is above the team, and the rookie had to be taught a lesson.
Unfortunately for Fournette’s chances of silverware, Chris Ivory did a stand-up job in his stead and Blake Bortles showed that he can actually play quarterback from time to time as the Jags walked out 23-7 winners. Maybe he isn’t the vital piece everyone assumes…
Winner: Carson Wentz’s MVP bid
With Watson out, Tom Brady and Le’Veon Bell on a bye and the Chiefs slumping, the door was open for Carson Wentz to make a statement on Sunday, and he did just that. While he completed just 55.6% of his passes and threw for 199 yards, he also connected for four touchdowns as the Eagles torched Denver 51-23.
Wentz threw some of the prettiest balls he has all season on Sunday as he moved safeties around at will and connected outside the numbers against the best trio of corners in the NFL. It was another great day from Wentz as he grabbed the spotlight and showed just how good he can be.
Loser: Ben McAdoo
Not only did the Giants play defense like they were trying to get McAdoo fired, which they might actually be at this point, as they gave up 51 points and a touchdown on a 3rd & 33 play, but he grabbed the award for the worst post-game answer from Chuck Pagano as well…
There is no saving the Ben McAdoo era, he needs to be taken behind MetLife and put out of his misery.
Winner: Jacoby Brissett
With Andrew Luck officially shut down for the year now, Jacoby Brissett is going to get 16 games under center to showcase his talents, and so far so good for the young Colt.
He put up 308 yards and a pair of touchdowns while completing 20 of 30 passes against the Texans and brought the Colts record to 3-6.
He has looked far better than the situation around him should warrant, and if Luck returned to full strength for next season Brissett is lining himself up very well to become an important asset and a quarterback of the future somewhere else.
With a lot of the old quarterbacks starting to age out of the league there will be plenty of teams calling about Brissett come March.
Loser: Atlanta Falcons
The 20-17 loss to Carolina puts them behind the 8-ball in the NFC South race as they now sit two wins behind both the Panthers and Saints.
Last year the Falcons offense were an unstoppable machine, akin to the T-1000 as they sliced through defenses at will, now they look more like ED-209.
The thing is, this isn't all the loss of Kyle Shanahan and the shortcomings of Steve Sarkisian. Matt Ryan is missing throws, Devonta Freeman isn't breaking tackles the way he was last year, teams are finding ways to manage Julio Jones. The Falcons offense is broken and they need to right the ship if they don't want to be yet another Super Bowl loser who misses the playoffs the next year.
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