Week 9 around the NFL started on Halloween with the San Francisco 49ers earning their eighth consecutive victory to open the season. It continued with the Houston Texans cementing their status as a legit AFC contender in London early Sunday morning.
From there, Sunday was filled with other top-end teams failing. That included the Minnesota Vikings seeing their four-game winning streak come to an end and the Green Bay Packers putting up a pathetic performance against the Chargers in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, the Baltimore Ravens made a major statement at home against the defending champs.
As the NFL opens up the second half of its schedule, we take a look at the top takeaways from Sunday’s Week 9 NFL action here.
Ravens make major statement in AFC
Lamar Jackson and the upstart Ravens entered Sunday night against the New England Patriots coming off a defining win over the Seahawks in Seattle. Could the team make another statement on national television and announce its presence on the larger NFL stage? We found out almost immediately that John Harbaugh and Co. were going to be up for the task.
Jackson vastly outplayed Tom Brady. Baltimore’s rushing attack torched a stout Patriots defense to the tune of 211 yards on 40 attempts. In the end, Baltimore came out on top by the score of 37-20 in a dominant win over the Patriots. It sure the heck looked like a coming-out party for Baltimore.
The Cleveland Browns are absolute toast
Situational football. That’s what has been missing in Cleveland through what is now a 2-6 start to the season. This once more reared its ugly head against a bad Broncos team and a quarterback in Brandon Allen making his first NFL start.
The Browns’ defense was burned by both Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant on long touchdowns. On the other side of the ball, Baker Mayfield and Co. scored touchdowns on just 1-of-5 red-zone opportunities. All of this led to an ugly 24-19 defeat and what will ultimately be another lost season in Cleveland.
Texans cement status as AFC contender
Taking on a pesky Jacksonville Jaguars team in London on Sunday, the Houston Texans took care of business in more ways than one. The final score of 26-3 doesn’t do this performance justice. Deshaun Watson was like a magician out there, completing all but six of his 28 attempts. Carlos Hyde went for an absurd 160 yards on just 19 rush attempts.
Defensively, the Texans forced four turnovers of impressive Jaguars rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew. Now at 6-3 heading into their bye, it’s safe to say that these Texans are legitimate contenders in the AFC.
Jets find new ways to embarrass themselves
The Adam Gase experiment in Jersey isn’t going according to plan. Taking on his former Dolphins team in South Beach on Sunday, most expected the Jets to come out on top for their second win. After all, the Dolphins had been outscored 238-77 over their first seven games. None of this happened.
Instead, New York embarrassed itself at every turn. Whether it was yet another red-zone interception for Sam Darnold or letting a league-worst offense click, these Jets did not have it in a 26-18 loss. We now really have to wonder whether Gase will last more than one season with the Jets. It’s bad. Really, really bad.
Panthers rebound from blowout loss
Sunday started with reports that former NFL MVP Cam Newton could ultimately miss the remainder of the season with a Lisfranc injury. It also came one week after Carolina was blown out by the score of 51-13. Getting the start once again, second-year quarterback Kyle Allen rode another elite Christian McCaffrey performance to a home win.
Allen was workmanlike in his effort, completing 17-of-32 passes for 232 yards with two touchdowns and just one pick. For his part, McCaffrey continued with his record-setting performance by tallying 166 total yards and three touchdowns on 27 touches. That included this beautiful 58-yard scamper. Now at 5-3 on the season, these Panthers have to be seen as legit playoff contenders.
Mitchell Trubisky just isn’t it
The first half of Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles was an unmitigated disaster for Trubisky and his Bears. Chicago put up a 40-year NFL-low nine total yards and just two first downs before halftime. The team found itself down 19-0 before making it somewhat interesting in the second half.
We’re at a loss here. It’s clear that Bears head coach Matt Nagy doesn’t trust Trubisky to run an NFL-caliber offensive scheme. In turn, the third-year quarterback has regressed big time for a Bears squad that’s now 3-5 and in the midst of a lost season.
Mike Tomlin has his team playing hard
We’re not too sure what the future will hold for Tomlin in Pittsburgh after this season. What we do know is that the longtime Steelers head coach has his team playing inspired football. Pittsburgh started the season 0-3 and lost Ben Roethlisberger to a serious injury. This came on the heels of the team moving on from All-Pro performers, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, during the spring.
Ever since that 0-3 start, the Steelers have looked great. That included a narrow 26-24 win over Indianapolis on Sunday. It’s a game in which seemingly every call on the field went against Pittsburgh. Even then, the team was able to will itself to victory and a 4-4 record on the season. Just great stuff from Mr. Tomlin here.
Russell Wilson, NFL MVP!
His Seattle Seahawks are not the same juggernaut we’ve seen over the past several years. That’s especially true on the defensive side of the ball. In fact, Seattle allowed 418 total yards and 29 first downs to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. A loss here, and the Seahawks would have found themselves 2.5 games out of first place in the NFC West.
That’s when Russ delivered time and again. Tied at 34 late in the fourth quarter, he led Seattle on a 53-yard drive in just 46 seconds before Jason Myers missed the game winner. Seattle then won the toss heading into overtime. All Wilson did was complete 5-of-8 passes for 70 yards, including the game-winner to Jacob Hollister. All said, Wilson completed 29-of-43 passes for 378 yards and five touchdowns to send Seattle into Week 10 against the undefeated 49ers at 7-2.
Bills get back on winning track
It wasn’t always pretty. Buffalo still hasn’t put together a great four-quarter stretch since September. Even then, Sean McDermott’s squad did enough at home on Sunday to dispose of a bad Redskins team and move to 6-2 on the season.
Josh Allen responded after a couple brutal performances by completing 14-of-20 passes for 160 yards without an interception. Rookie running back Devin Singletary went for 140 yards on 23 touches. Meanwhile, a stout Bills defense held Redskins quarterback Dwayne Haskins to 116 net passing yards in a 24-9 win. Now at the halfway point of their schedule, these Bills are on pace for a 12-4 record. Who would have figured?
Kirk Cousins, defensive lapses doom Vikings
Minnesota entered Week 9 in the midst of a four-game winning streak. Embattled quarterback Kirk Cousins had played like a truly elite signal caller during this span. Taking on the Chiefs in Kansas City without Patrick Mahomes, most figured the Vikings would continue their current hot streak.
Primarily because of defensive lapses against Tyreek Hill and Cousins’ inaccuracy under center, that did not come to fruition. Cousins completed just half of his 38 attempts for 220 yards. Minnesota’s defense allowed Hill to burn it to the tune of 140 yards on six catches. It led to a narrow 26-23 loss and a one-game deficit in the NFC North.
Raiders remain alive with big win
At 3-4 on the season, Oakland needed a win Sunday at home against Detroit to even be considered relevant heading into the second half of the season. In their first game in Northern California since Sept. 15, that’s exactly what Jon Gruden’s squad did.
Derek Carr came to play big time, outperforming Mathew Stafford in a shootout. The much-maligned quarterback completed 20-of-31 passes for 289 yards without an interception. Stud rookie running back Josh Jacobs continued his tremendous season. Meanwhile, opportunistic plays on defense sealed the 31-24 win. Now at 4-4 on the season, Oakland is shockingly only a half game behind Kansas City in the loss column.
Packers blow golden opportunity
Aaron Rodgers and Co. saw the Minnesota Vikings drop their game in Kansas City earlier in the day. It was right in front of them. With a win against a lesser Chargers team in Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon, the Packers would have taken a two-game lead in the division. For some reason, the struggles we saw plague Green Bay’s offense earlier in the season came back to haunt the team big time.
The Packers did not put up their first points until there was less than a minute remaining in the third quarter. Rodgers had less than 40 net passing yards through the first 40-plus minutes of the game. Meanwhile, the team’s defense let a struggling quarterback in Philip Rivers put up a near-flawless performance. The end result was an ugly 26-11 loss.
Not only does this impact Green Bay in the NFC North, it now falls 1.5 games behind San Francisco for the best record in the conference. Just an ugly loss.
Patriots exposed against good team
At 8-0 on the season, the defending champs faced their stiffest competition of the season. It included going up against record-setting quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Ravens in Baltimore Sunday night. Pretty much out of the gate, New England was kicked in the tooth by this young and physical Ravens team and couldn’t respond.
It started with an easy touchdown run from Lamar Jackson and continued with some uncharacteristic mistakes from the Patriots’ vaunted offense. In the end, New England dropped its first game of the season by the score of 37-20. Sure this team still has to be seen as the odds-on favorites in the AFC. But for at least one night, another rival exposed the Patriots. That’s no small thing.