Week 9 in the NFL had a bit everything. I will be eating some crow in this post, but that comes with the territory. It should be noted that prior to this week, I had consecutive 10 win weeks picking against the spread. Here are five things that stood out to me.
The Steelers are legitimate contenders to reach the Super Bowl- I said this before the year started and have been saying it all year. Big Ben is playing the best football of his career and Le’veon Bell may be the best duel threat tailback in all of football. Antonio Brown continues to put up ridiculous numbers. However, this offense becomes really scary now that the other receivers like rookie Martavis Bryant and Marcus Wheaton are making impact plays in creating separation with their speed. There is not a secondary in the NFL that can keep up with all three Steeler receivers. Injuries are an issue on defense, but James Harrison is playing like he is 25 years old again. Also, with the offense putting up numbers like they have over the last two weeks, the defense doesn’t need to be spectacular, it just needs to be good enough, and I think it is. Pittsburgh is on a roll. Expect them to keep winning and separate themselves from the rest of the highly competitive AFC North in the coming weeks.
It’s time for me to start giving Miami some credit- The performance the Dolphins put on against San Diego Sunday was very impressive. Prior to this, as you may be aware of for my last post, I thought they were just flat out bad and benefiting from soft early schedule. However, I was wrong. Ryan Tannehill is putting it all together and playing solid mistake free football at quarterback. The defense has some of the best players you’ve never heard of. In short, they don’t beat themselves. That will get you a long way in the NFL. I still don’t see the Dolphins as a playoff team, but they are much better than I gave the, credit for.
Denver and New England are still the class of the AFC-The overreaction from Denver’s blowout loss in New England Sunday is simply amazing to me. All of a sudden people are handing the Patriots the Super Bowl trophy and burying Denver like they are the Raiders. Despite the lopsided score, Sunday’s game came down to one thing. Denver still has no answer for Rob Gronkowski, I was somewhat fearful of this. It also did not help matters that Denver allowed 6 third-down conversions and one forth down conversion. New England is really finding their stride and Denver help them out with a few turnovers. All of this created a perfect storm. However, these will still be the two teams that battle for home-field advantage and the Steelers are the only team that I could see stopping a second consecutive Broncos vs. Patriots AFC championship game.
I’m starting to buy into the Eagles- I have been highly critical of the way Chip Kelly has done things since taking over in Philadelphia. I’m not a huge fan of his drafts or the fact that he doesn’t seem to coach or care about defense. However, the Eagles are coming around. The offense didn’t miss a beat when starter Nick Foles broke his collarbone and gave way to Mark Sanchez. Yes, the same Mark Sanchez responsible for the butt fumble. Actually, the offense ran smoother with Sanchez against an above-average Houston defense. Based on Sunday, I don’t expect there to be much of a drop-off with Foles out for an extended period of time. With Dallas, on a two-game losing streak and having possible quarterback injury issues and the Giants hopelessly erratic. The NFC East is there to be had, and the Eagles are in the best position to take it.
In the NFC West, its panic time in San Francisco, and the Cardinals are just quietly plodding along- San Francisco gave away a home game to the offensively challenged Rams on Sunday. Credit the Rams for being pesky and hanging around long enough to steal one. However, the Niners are the story here. With this mistake filled loss, whispers that head coach Jim Harbaugh has lost the locker room will only get louder. They need to get back to playing smash mouth football with Frank Gore and company. Three full games plus a tiebreaker behind the Cardinals, the team that has made three consecutive NFC title games will have to scrap just to make the playoffs, they are capable of doing it but I wouldn’t bet on them. Speaking of the Cardinals, they improved their league best record to 7-1 with a win over the Brandon Wedden led Cowboys on Sunday. I just don’t buy in to the Cardinals as a legitimate contender to play more than one playoff game. They remind me a lot of last year’s Chiefs. A well-coached defensive minded football team. They started 9-0 and finished 2-7 losing in the opening round of the playoffs. From where I sit, the Cardinals are average both rushing and passing and lack the punch on offense to avoid the same fate.
Well, there you have it. My first edition of Tuesday evening quarterback. Keep reading and engaging in my content. You will hear more from me later in the week.