NFL Week 9: Recap & Power Rankings

It was another one of those weeks where upsets ruled the weekend as seven money-line underdogs picked up wins and five of those came on the road. Suffice it to say, that threw a big wrench in the picks and was a big reason why both Christen and I went 7-7 on the week. I got whooped against the spread but had a nice day against the over/under to get to one game below even. Here’s a look at the numbers for anyone who is curious.

Nick WNick LNick TSpread WSpread LSpread PushO/U –
O/U –
O/U – PushChristen WChristen
While I’m 30 games over .500, I still feel like I’m not doing nearly as well as I did last season

Looking at the Monday night game, I have to I feel really bad for the Bears and their fans. Chicago got hosed over and over again by Tony Corrente’s officiating crew so blatantly that you couldn’t help but question which refs had money riding on the game. In total, the Bears were flagged 12 times for 115-yards while Pittsburgh had only 5 penalties for 30-yards. Before Steelers fans get all persnickety, yes, Chicago had a number of unforced errors that led to plenty of procedural flags. However, there was a horribly enforced “low block in the tight end box” penalty that took a TD off the board for the Bears early in the 3rd quarter and then the massive taunting flag against CHI linebacker Cassius Marsh on the penultimate drive for the Steelers late in the 4th quarter.

This very weird moment from head official Tony Corrente exemplifies the problem with NFL officiating

Truth be told, I believe Marsh’s intent was to taunt the Steelers who had cut him before he joined the Bears. He had just made a huge play and wanted to let his former team know, so he stared down their sideline after making a key play. The problem is more that we’re reaching a point where gamesmanship is now in the realm of taunting and we have seen and will continue to see more outcomes of games artificially affected by these kinds of calls. A little heat is good for competition and it makes for more compelling television, so you’d think the league wouldn’t like these calls. If I were an NFL executive, I’d be increasingly concerned with how bogus the product looks, especially in a national TV slot. Anyway, after the play, the game’s head official reached for his flag but waited for Marsh to run by so he could throw a little shot at him as he ran by. Even though the call was probably correctly enforced based on the rule book, this little arrogant maneuver (above) of self-aggrandizement by Corrente is shameful and has no place in the league.

Pat Freirmuth has done wonders for the PIT offense and he cashed in two TDs on Monday

The penalty bailed Pittsburgh out on the drive and led to a field goal that gave the Steelers enough cushion to the point where the Bears’ subsequent TD wasn’t the nail in the coffin. Ultimately, Chicago couldn’t get out of their own way as they gave the Steelers free yards, on what would be the game-winning drive, with repeated offsides violations. Chris Boswell hit the 40-yard field goal and that would be enough. Chicago did try a 65-yard FG but it was well short and the game ended.

Chris Boswell missed an extra point but still went 3/3 on FGs, hit a 54-yarder, and recovered a fumble.

Despite the end result and the kind of officiating that shaped the game, I would be optimistic as a Bears fan. Justin Fields likely played his best game as a pro, the defense played pretty well for most of the game while missing some key players, and the Bears showed a lot of fight. There was ample opportunity for them to just concede but they clawed their way back into the game and damn near won it in dramatic fashion. It was the kind of performance that should inspire confidence in their locker room and potentially ignite a fire under them. Anyway, let’s move on to the rest of the game from Week 9.

The Titans defense continues to improve and they proved it against the Rams

One of those road upsets I mentioned earlier came on Sunday Night Football as the Titans came into Los Angeles and made the Rams seem mediocre. It was mostly the Tennessee defense that played spoiler, sacking Matthew Stafford five times and intercepting him twice, one of which went to the house. The Titans’ offense didn’t look great without Derrick Henry but both QB Ryan Tannehill and newly acquired RB Adrian Peterson found the end zone with short-yardage TDs. Tennessee keeps getting the job done and has established itself as one of the scariest teams in the league as they head into a matchup with the Saints.

Speaking of New Orleans, they were also on the receiving end of one of those road upsets as the Falcons went to the Super Dome short-handed and left on a game-winning field goal. Before that, Atlanta had blown a huge lead in the 4th quarter as is customary for the Falcons. They were actually up 23-6 in the 4th before the Saints took a 25-24 lead and the choke job would have been complete but New Orleans somehow let Cordarrelle Patterson get behind them on defense for a 64-yard catch-and-run inside the game’s final minute. Even after that, Mike Davis nearly fumbled the game away on the next play. Matt Ryan just took the knee afterward and set up Younghoe Koo for the kick.

Elsewhere in the NFC South, the Bucs had the week off but the Panthers got back to their losing ways as the Patriots beat them 24-6 in Carolina. Sam Darnold has never beaten the Pats, so it wasn’t an upset but it was still a disappointing performance for Carolina. Patriots’ rookie QB Mac Jones is going to have a massive target on his back after injury one of the Panthers’ defenders with a weird ankle pick. New England plays Cleveland next and, rest assured, Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney are going to have something special for Jones.

Denzel Ward’s pick-six set the tone on the game’s first drive and momentum followed

The Browns reminded everybody how good they can look as they upset the Bengals in Cincinnati. It wasn’t just an upset either, it was an ass-kicking. The Bengals were moving the ball well early but Joe Burrow got pick-sixed on a lazy throw to the boundary. Cincy should have been up 14-7 but the pick was a huge momentum swing and allowed Nick Chubb to go crazy with a positive game script. Just like last season for the Browns, as soon as OBJ was out of the picture, they got back to basics and started playing much better.

The Bills could have gained some very important footing in the AFC playoff picture with a win but lost some ground to the Pats in the AFC East instead as they got embarrassed by the Jaguars 9-6. The Jets had already lost to the Colts on Thursday and they’ll face Buffalo next. Meanwhile, Miami finally got a win after 7-straight losses as they beat the Texans 17-9.

Mr. Reliable, Justin Tucker added to his list of game-winners

Baltimore showed, once again, how resilient they are with a comeback win over the Vikings. The Ravens rallied from 14-points down in the second half to take a late 4th quarter lead. Minny likes to make things as dramatic as possible so they tied the game and forced overtime but they went 3 & out after intercepting Lamar Jackson in OT. Needless to say, you can’t let those kinds of plays get away and Justin Tucker did what he does and hit the game-winner.

Both conference’s playoff pictures got a little shake as the Chiefs narrowly defeated an Aaron Rodgers-less Packers, 13-7. The win got KC to 5-4 on the season, but they still don’t look good. The loss moved the Pack to 7-2 and opened the door up at the top of the NFC.

Colt McCoy and James Conner held serve against the 49ers

With that door open, Arizona pulled the upset card, went into San Francisco (technically Santa Clara), and took the top spot back with a dominating 31-17 victory. The most surprising part was that they did it without Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins, and A.J. Green. The Niners’ defense got run over and run through by James Conner who had 173-yards from scrimmage and 3-TDs. It was a gutting loss in a winnable division game for the 49ers and they’re back in the basement of the AFC West.

The most surprising upset of the week came as the Broncos beat the crap out of the Cowboys, 30-16, in Dallas. The game was 30-0 Denver before they took their boot off the Cowboys’ throats and gave up some garbage time scores. Any given Sunday…you just never know.

In the one upset I actually had a good feeling about, the Giants beat the Raiders 23-16 in the Meadowlands. Despite all their injuries, New York plays hard and got Kenny Golladay back finally and their defense has been solid. Plus, with all the off-the-field stuff going on with the Raiders, something had to give.

Last but not least, the Giants’ NFC East rival Philadelphia Eagles lost at home to the Chargers 27-24. It’s tough to tell what exactly to make of either team, but it was a close game between them. Obviously, the Bolts aren’t as good as they appeared in the first month of the season and the Eagles aren’t quite as bad. However, records matter and Philly doesn’t have a good one.

Week 10 in the NFL gets underway with the Ravens visiting the Dolphins on Thursday Night Football. You would think it’s a mismatch and on paper it is but, with the way the last few weeks have been, you just never know.

The Cardinals moved back into the top spot with an impressive short-handed win and the Titans crack the Top-5 at #3.

1. Cardinals 8-1 (⬆4)
2. Packers 7-2 (⬇1)
3. Titans 6-2 (⬆6)
4. Rams 7-2 (⬇2)
5. Buccaneers 6-2 (=)
6. Ravens 6-2 (⬇11)
7. Cowboys 6-2 (⬇3)
8. Bills 5-3 (⬇7)
9. Raiders 5-3 (⬇8)
10. Saints 5-3 (⬇9)
11. Chargers 5-3 (⬆13)
12. Steelers 5-3 (=)
13. Browns 5-4 (⬆15)
14. Bengals 5-4 (⬇10)
15. Chiefs 5-4 (⬇14)
16. Patriots 5-4 (=)
17. Broncos 5-4 (=)
18. Panthers 5-4 (18)
19. Colts 4-5 (⬆21)
20. Vikings 3-5 (⬇19)
21. Seahawks 3-5 (⬇20)
22. Falcons 4-4 (⬆25)
23. Bears 3-6 (⬆24)
24. 49ers 3-5 (⬇22)
25. Eagles 3-6 (⬇23)
26. Giants 3-6 (⬆)
27. Jets 2-6 (⬇26)
28. Jaguars 2-6 (⬆30)
29. Washington 2-6 (⬇27)
30. Dolphins 2-7 (⬇29)
31. Texans 1-8 (=)
32. Lions 0-8 (=)

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