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NFL Week 9: Ten Things You Need To Know

Having now officially recovered from the amazing 2015 NFL International Series (props to Edd for covering me last week), it was great to enj


Having now officially recovered from the amazing 2015 NFL International Series (props to Edd for covering me last week), it was great to enjoy all the action from Week 9 of the season from where it should be enjoyed – the couch. Arguably, this has been the week of the season so far, so without further ado, let’s get to it:  

  1. The New England Patriots aren’t even fair. Seriously. They dominated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a modest 27-10 score line, but in truth, the gulf in class between the two teams was astronomical. Even when Tom Brady threw his second interception of the season (and the first that was on him), the Patriots simply forced a turnover on the next Buccaneers possession. There is a ruthless efficiency about Bill Belichick’s team, which should be enough to strike fear into the hearts of every other team in the NFL. One downside: running back Dion Lewis left the game with a knee injury midway through the third quarter. His absence provided Brandon Bolden with a chance to see some action, and he ended up hauling a touchdown pass from Brady to seal the victory.
  2. Peyton Manning will have to wait another week to break the all-time passing yards record in the NFL, as the Indianapolis Colts overcame the previously undefeated Denver Broncos 27-24. It would have been fitting if Manning had bested Brett Favre’s record mark of 71,838 yards, but ultimately his last pass was an interception, keeping him 3 yards shy. Manning and co. suffered for a first half where the Broncos offense failed to record a single point. Even so, despite being 17-0 down, momentum seemed to shift to the Broncos after an 83-yard punt return for a touchdown by Omar Bolden to end the first half, then a Manning 64-yard touchdown to Emmanuel Sanders early in the third quarter. However, an Adam Vinatieri field goal then a Manning’s interception, his second of the game, proved to be too much for the Broncos to overcome. The Colts improve to 4-5, giving them sole position of first place in the poor AFC South, while the Broncos slip to 7-1.
  3. Mike Mularkey’s first game in charge of the Tennessee Titans resulted in a topsy-turvy 34-28 overtime victory over the New Orleans Saints. The return of Marcus Mariota shouldn’t be understated, as he became only the second quarterback this season to throw for 4+ touchdowns without an interception (no prizes for guessing the other). If the appointments of interim head coaches have taught us anything this season, it is that the momentum last approximately two games, before blowing up in smoke. So, enjoy one more win Titans fans. Still, look here if you want reasons to be even more optimistic following Ken Whisenhunt’s departure last week.
  4. Another week, another game where the Jacksonville Jaguars contrived to lose. This time, despite playing a New York Jets team who: played a quarterback with one good hand, a wide receiver with one good leg, had no kicker, and lost players left, right and centre throughout, the Jags managed to turn the ball over three times in the final quarter to bury themselves 28-23. It seems they may have left all their luck in London, bad news for a team who always seem to be on the brink of something great, but never cross the threshold.
  5. The Cowboys remain winless still without Tony Romo, as they lost division rivals Philadelphia in overtime 33-27. It will come as no consolation that this was comfortably the best performance by the Cowboys sans their starting quarterback, with Matt Cassel throwing for three touchdowns, including a wild touchdown throw for Dez Bryant’s first touchdown of the season in the fourth quarter. However, a pick-six preceding that series put the Cowboys on the back foot already, and the Eagles secured the walk-off touchdown in overtime after a 41-yard touchdown strike from Sam Bradford to Jordan Matthews. This is the longest losing streak in the Cowboys storied history, and they prop up the NFC East while Romo remains on the side-line for at least another week. The Eagles move within one game of the table-topping New York Giants.
  6. After just coming off a knee injury, Ben Roethlisberger was yet again forced off the field of play, this time in the Pittsburgh Steelers last-gasp 38-35 victory over the Oakland Raiders. Reportedly, he suffered a mid-foot sprain and will miss another couple of weeks. How many more injuries can this Steelers team take before the wheels fall off? Aside from injuries, a bigger headline may have been the ridiculous receiving yard totals that Antonio Brown had. His 17 catches for 284 yards were both franchise records, the only surprise being that he didn’t have a touchdown grab. DeAngelo Williams also continued his impressive form in 2015, filling in for the done-for-the-season Le’Veon Bell to a tune of 170 rushing yards. The Raiders were able to stick around thanks to the cool play of Derek Carr, who threw for four touchdown passes and 301 yards. Expect both teams to be sniffing around the AFC playoff places based on this form.
  7. Carolina remain the only undefeated in the NFC as they held on to defeat a late rally from the Green Bay Packers 37-29. At one point, the Packers looked dead and buried, facing a 23-point deficit, but capitalised on a Cam Newton interception to set up the frantic finish. However, a lack of run game and poor offensive line play doomed the Packers early on, while Newton picked apart the Packers defense with 3 touchdown strikes. The Panthers are two games clear at the top of the NFC, while the Packers have lost two straight and are rapidly slipping into the grasp of the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC North. Their problems were summed up by teammates Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and B.J Raji getting at it on the Packers side line after a Panthers touchdown.
  8. Speaking of Minnesota, they were pushed all the way by a physical St. Louis Rams team, but ultimately came out as 21-18 winners after overtime. A game that was settled by two kickers; the Rams’ Greg ‘The Leg’ Zuerlein scored a 61-yard field goal attempt in windy conditions, while the Vikings’ Blair Walsh scored the winning field goal in overtime. However, the game was notable for a hit that was taken by Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. On a scramble and slide, Bridgewater was hit in the head by the Rams’ LaMarcus Joyner’s elbow, knocking him out cold and ending his game. It was a nasty hit, and gas was poured onto the proverbial fire after the match by Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer. In his post match press conference, a far-from-pleased Zimmer all but accused Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams of orchestrating another ‘bounty scheme’, an accusation that will carry some water due to Williams’ involvement and suspension as the orchestrator of the New Orleans ‘BountyGate’ scandal. Keep an eye on this story throughout the week.
  9. Before his pre-Wembley injury, Sammy Watkins demanded the ball more in the Buffalo Bills offense. Well, ask you shall receive, and Watkins recorded a career best 168 yards to lead the Bills over AFC East rivals Miami 33-17. Watkins was joined in return to action by quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who uncorked two beautiful deep passes to Watkins in his 11 for 12, 182-yard effort. To cap things off for Buffalo, both running backs (LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams) rushed for over 100 yards each, giving the Bills an offense they had sorely lacked in the weeks prior to their bye. Miami lost their second straight game under Dan Campbell, which can finally silence those that thought all the Dolphins’ problems were solely on the shoulders of former head coach Joe Philbin.
  10. A Blaine Gabbert-led San Francisco 49ers team beat the Atlanta Falcons 17-16 in an upset. Gabbert, who made the starter in relief of Colin Kaepernick, after Kaepernick was benched due to sub-par play and rumours of locker room dissension, threw two touchdown passes to tight end Garrett Celek. Celek himself was replacing Vernon Davis, who was traded to the Denver Broncos. Gabbert, who had lost his previous 10 starts as an NFL quarterback (as a member of the Jaguars), actually outrushed Falcons star running back Devonta Freeman 35 yards to 12, while throwing two interceptions to his two touchdown passes. Atlanta appear to be in free fall, after losing three of their last four games, with their solitary victory coming in a 10-7 snore fest against the Titans. They slip to 6-3 and now sit three games behind the Panthers in the NFC South.

NFL Week 9: Ten Things You Need To Know

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