9 Things I Learned Headed Into Week 9
Time hits you fast in the NFL. One minute you’re sharing, touching and holding up a Lombardi trophy while enjoying a winning record, the next minute you’re being shipped off to the 49ers and staring dead at 0-8. Oh hello Jimmy G! I’m looking at you. While that trade made somewhat sense for the 49ers, the Miami Dolphins really left us scratching our heads after shipping away pro bowler Jay Ajayi for a bag of cheddar cheese ruffles and a Vanilla Coke. Okay that’s not true, but I actually would’ve taken that deal compared to what they got in return. So being the big Jay Ajayi fan that I am, now I have to root against him while he wears that hideous Eagles jersey.
That’s not the craziest thing that happened yesterday though, after watching these first eight weeks of football we’ve all learned a lot! The Atlanta Falcons are not who we thought they were. Tom Brady won’t die, Cam Newton isn’t Superman, and the Browns… well they were too busy celebrating a trade acquiring Bengals backup quarterback A.J. McCarron, while popping champagne and puffing big cigars, before even picking up the actual phone call and finalizing this trade. In simplistic terms they’re still the Browns…
Each year millions of predictions are given prior to the season, and while we’re half way through the season here are nine things I’ve learned so far into the season.
1. Deshaun Watson is the real deal! Who saw this coming headed into the season? Just under 1,700 passing yards and 269 rushing yards, and 21 touchdowns, the rookie is continuing to have one of the best rookie campaigns we’ve seen in a while. Well there was Dak Prescott last season, but if there’s anything Prescott had over Watson it’s the wins, and it’s forgetting at times that the Texans are 3-4 with the way Watson is balling out.
2. Super Bowl hangovers are for real. Although at 4-3 and a game behind the Saints and Panthers in the NFC South the Falcons offense has been trending downward in both the run and passing game. They’ve lost games they should’ve won, they’re not going to their play makers when they need to, and Matt Ryan is still a good quarterback, but has fallen back to earth compared to last season.
3. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are far away from Super Bowl contenders, let alone the playoffs. Remember when several writers had the Bucs as a pre season super bowl contender? Yeah I was on that train as well, buts it’s crashed and burned, and there’s always next year. Argh!
4. Sean McVay was an angel sent from the football gods to the L.A. Rams. The golden days of making the Rams the butt end of a joke seem to be over. McVay’s attitude, winning style, and his coaching staff is showing what positives it can do to a team. Todd Gurley is not an after thought, Jared Goff is a sustainable quarterback with the right under McVay, and Wade Phillips is yet again producing one of the scariest defenses in the NFL.
5. Nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills. It may pain some of us to say this, but the Bills are a serious dark horse contenders at 5-2 and they’ve been shutting me up by simply winning. Looking back at their games they could’ve easily been 7-0. Zay Jones had a crucial drop against the Panthers that would’ve won them the game, and the Bengals snuck away in another close game back in Week 5. LeSean McCoy benefited the most out of the teams bye, and Tyrod Taylor might not be the ideal quarterback, but good god he’s getting it done. Sean McDermott will be up there with McVay for coach of the year.
6. Leonard Fournette and those Jaguars. Doug Marrone still doesn’t have the quarterback they need to take that huge leap (maybe we see an Eli Manning, Tom Coughlin reunion in the future) but Fournette is a true game changer, and their defense is talented from top to bottom. Jalen Ramsey is on radar for defensive player of the year, and being paired with A.J. Bouye creates all sorts of problems for opposing offenses. Also the Jags acquiring Calais Campbell just made their defense more elite with Campbell recording ten sacks already.
7. The Bears are a few pieces away from being a contender. I guess you could say that we should’ve expected Trubisky to make his debut soon, but was it too early? Mike Glennon wasn’t the answer at quarterback for the Bears, but C’mon man who the hell do they even have catching the ball? Regardless even with John Fox limiting Trubisky’s throws, the Bears are always in scenarios where they couldn’t come out of some close games as winners. Their defense is very good, and at home they’re on another level, and Chicago easily has the best running back combo in the league with Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen.
8. The Kansas City Chiefs are a legit Super Bowl Contender. If I’m dead wrong on this fine let me have it. Send me all the hate mail possible, and threats I don’t care. I mean are you really confident in saying the Patriots are going to win it all again with that shaky defense, a 40-year-old quarterback who probably can’t even name his back up now, and don’t get me started with the run game. How about the Pittsburgh Steelers? One week Big Ben was ready to throw in the towel, the next week he says “Well maybe the old Cowboy still has something left”. Regardless even after losing Eric Berry in Week 1 the Chiefs have playmakers on both sides of the ball. Kareem Hunt is a favorite for R.O.Y and that bad man Alex Smith. Yeah Patrick MaWho?
9. Fly Eagles fly. It’s hard to imagine another NFC East team making the playoffs, especially if Zeke’s suspension stands and he’s sidelined for the next six weeks. Carson Wentz went through some crazy transformation in one year, and the Eagles are looking like one of the better teams in the NFL in general. Nelson Agholor took some time to blossom, but its at the right time. Alshon Jeffrey is no longer a WR 1, but he plays a solid role in this offense. Only the run game is what’s keeping the Eagles offense from being miles ahead of other teams, and now that they traded a fourth round pick for Jay Ajayi, this Eagles team can be a wrecking ball for other teams to deal with going forward.