Gabe's Gridiron Week 9 edition
The last Sunday of October football has come and gone and separation in many divisions has happened. The playoff picture is becoming clearer by the week heading into November. Let’s look back in Week 8 and see what we have learned.
Five things we learned in Week 8
1. Kansas City keeps winning for now. The Chiefs beat the Browns despite being outgained by the Browns and only making it into the red zone once. The Chiefs continue to take care of the ball as they did not turn the ball over. They lead the league with a +12 in turnover differential. With the Cowboys’ loss on Sunday, the Chiefs have now beaten zero teams with a winning record. This coming week they face the lowly Buffalo Bills. If they can win, they will head into their bye undefeated with 2 weeks to prepare for their first matchup against the Denver Broncos in Week 11.
2. The Bengals and the Patriots separated themselves in their respective divisions. For a while, it seemed like both teams may face some surprising competition from other teams in their division. The Jets were embarrassed by the Bengals after their defeat of New England. The Dolphins had a chance to make things interesting on Sunday going into halftime with a 14 point lead at New England. But the Patriots scored 24 unanswered points to beat the Dolphins. Neither the Bengals or Patriots have looked consistent this season, but they both keep on winning.
3. The NFC North is still up for grabs. While some divisions are beginning to become clearer, the NFC North becomes more unpredictable. 3 teams all have a shot at the NFC North crown (Lions, Bears, and Packers). The Bears may have the toughest road ahead without Jay Cutler. The Lions have the greatest downfield threat in the NFL (more on that later). And the Packers may have the best quarterback in the conference (Though Stafford may throw his hat in that argument this season). The matchups in the second half of the season between these 3 teams will be key to who will win the division title.
4. Calvin Johnson is from another planet. You could make an argument that Johnson is the best receiver in the NFL. When it’s all said and done, you may be able to make an argument he is one of the greatest receivers of all time. Johnson has already broken Jerry Rice’s single season record for receiving yards (1,964 yards last season). On Sunday he broke the record for receiving yards in a regulation game with his mind-blowing 14 reception 329 yard and 1 touchdown performance on Sunday. Fantasy football owners were happy. NFC North opponents will have to center their game plan on stopping Megatron. But Sunday proved, you can stick 3 guys on Johnson and he can still make the catch.
5. Tampa stinks. A few weeks ago we looked at just how bad the Jacksonville Jaguars are. We don’t have to leave the state of Florida to find the NFC equivalent of the Jaguars. In the week we looked at the Jaguars, they were 26.5 point underdogs to the Denver Broncos. And you could get a ticket to their next home game on StubHub for only $12. This week Tampa travels to Seattle where they are 16.5 to 18 point underdogs (depending on where you look). A Monday night matchup against inter-state rival Miami (Tampa’s next home game) is the only reason why tickets are not as low as the Jaguars (as low as $41 on StubHub). Head coach Greg Schiano may be looking for another job after this season.
Week 9 Meaningless Power Rankings
1. Kansas City Chiefs
2. Indianapolis Colts
3. Denver Broncos
4. Seattle Seahawks
5. New Orleans Saints
6. San Francisco 49ers
7. Cincinnati Bengals
8. New England Patriots
9. Green Bay Packers
10. Detroit Lions
5 games to watch in Week 9
Last Week’s Record (5-0) Season Record (22-17)
Thursday, October 31st: Cincinnati Bengals (6-2) at Miami Dolphins (3-4)
The Bengals continue to impress. Both their offense and defense are ranked in the top 10. A.J. Green has developed into an elite receiver and may be the most lethal wide out in the AFC. Vontaze Burfict, an undrafted linebacker in his second year, has become one of the Bengals’ best defensive players. Leading the league in tackles, he has recorded double-digit tackles in 5 of his last 6 games. The Dolphins are hanging on by the skin of their teeth in the AFC East after losing to the Patriots on Sunday. A short week may give the Dolphins a chance to win and stay in the division race. Ultimately, the Dolphins have too many holes on their team.
My pick: Cincinnati Bengals
Sunday, November 3rd: New Orleans (6-1) at New York Jets (4-4)
The Saints have been a last second loss at New England away from being undefeated. The Jets have been inconsistent all season. The Saints have the 6th best offense in the NFL (396 yards/game) while the Jets have the 6th best defense (allowing 315 yards/game). The Jets play substantially better at home where they are 3-1. The Jets are very much in the wild card hunt and a win against New Orleans would help sneak them in to the postseason. One of the biggest differences in these two teams is turnovers. New Orleans has forced 15 turnovers and has a +8 in turnover differential while the Jets have only forced 5 turnovers with a -3 turnover differential. The Saints look like a team with a chip on their shoulder after last season and I think they will roll on Sunday.
My pick: New Orleans Saints
Sunday, November 3rd: Atlanta Falcons (2-5) at Carolina Panthers (4-3)
With these next two games, I admit I am reaching. Like last week, there aren’t a whole lot of intriguing matchups in Week 9. So why did I pick this game? At 4-3, the Carolina Panthers are in the mix in the NFC wild card race. They have won 3 in a row since beginning 1-3. The Panthers have had a fairly good running game, ranking 8th in the NFL (130 yards/game). Defensively, in the NFC only the Seahawks have given up fewer yards per game. The Falcons have been one of the biggest disappointments in the NFC having to deal with many devastating injuries including Julio Jones. The Falcons will try to dash any hopes that the Panthers have but the Carolina defense will be too much.
My pick: Carolina Panthers
Sunday, November 3rd: Pittsburgh Steelers (2-5) at New England Patriots (6-2)
This is another mismatch on paper with playoff implications. The Steelers are all but out of the playoff race but look to be a speed bump to the Patriots. Tom Brady has owned the Steelers dating back to their first Super Bowl run. What usually is a dangerous New England offense has been struggling this year only gaining 330 yards a game (18th in the NFL). Defensively, the Patriots are even worse as they have given up 346.3 yards a game (19th in the NFL). But it seems like ever since the Brady era has begun, the Patriots have had the blueprint for beating the Steelers. Spreading out the Dick Lebeau’s defense and finding the weakness has given Brady a 6-2 lifetime record against Pittsburgh. Plus the Patriots are at home where they rarely lose.
My pick: New England Patriots
Monday, November 4th: Chicago Bears (4-3) at Green Bay Packers (5-2)
This is the only matchup of the week between two teams with a winning record. Jay Cutler will not play due to injury. The Bears have not had their trademark defense this season giving up 391 yards per game (27th in the NFL). The Packers have had their trademark offense even with the loss of Greg Jennings. The Packers offense is 2nd in the NFL gaining 438.9 yards per game. But this historic rivalry is full of close games with a lot on the table and this is no different. Aaron Rodgers at home on Monday Night at Lambeau Field will be too much for the Bears without Jay Cutler.
My Pick: Green Bay Packers
November football is upon us and it won’t be long until we are watching football in the snow! Have a good weekend!
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