NFL Instant Reactions: Week 9 Edition


Now that we are officially in the second half of the NFL season, it’s time to look at where each of the teams are headed. Much like last week’s article, I have separated the teams into four different categories: True Contenders, Playoff Bound Material, Mediocre at Best, and Dead in the Water.

True Contenders: Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans Saints, Minnesota Vikings.

Philadelphia (8-1) still looks the team to beat in the entire NFL, and are the closest thing the league has to a pure, dominant squad. The Patriots (6-2) and Steelers (6-2) both benefited greatly from their bye weeks, and now are the top two seeds in the AFC playoff picture. The Saints (6-2) have now rallied off six straight wins, after starting their season 0-2. After steam-rolling through a bad Tampa Bay team, they look to be clicking on all cylinders moving into the home stretch of the season.  The Los Angeles Rams (6-2) continue to roll as well, after another dominant performance this week over the Giants.

Playoff Bound Material: Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Carolina Panthers, Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins.

Kansas City (6-3)  dropped another game this week, and now will have to claw their way back into an AFC top seed. Seattle (5-3) experienced a heart-breaking loss to the Washington Redskins (4-4) after giving up the deciding touchdown in the final minute of regulation. Dallas (5-3) was able to gain another impressive victory at home versus the Chiefs, and look like Dak Prescott has this team believing in themselves again. The Buffalo Bills (5-3) dropped an inexcusable game to the NY Jets on Thursday night, but should be able to recover this week. Jacksonville (5-3) is keeping pace with Tennessee (5-3) atop of the AFC South, while Houston has dropped far in these rankings due to the tragic ACL injury to star rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson. Additionally, Carolina (6-3) is the toughest team to figure out after another key divisional win against the Falcons (4-4).

Mediocre at Best:  NY Jets, Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens, Los Angeles Chargers, Detroit Lions, Atlanta Falcons, Oakland Raiders, Arizona Cardinals.
The NY Jets (4-5) started out in these rankings as one of the assumed worst teams in the league, yet they have showed a lot of fight and are a tough squad to face week in and week out. Kudos to coach Todd Bowles for keeping his sqaud focused. The Dolphins (4-4) lost a close game last evening to the Raiders (4-5), with neither team looking good enough to move far in these rankings. The Ravens (4-5) have now dropped to under .500 for the season, and will need to do some “soul searching” during their bye week. Finally, the Falcons (4-4) looks just about done for the season, after “dropping” (ahem, Julio Jones) another divisional game to the Panthers. I guess that whole “Super Bowl hangover” really is a thing.

Dead in the Water: Cleveland Browns, NY Giants, Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Chicago Bears, Houston Texans, Denver Broncos, Cincinnati Bengals.

The new additions to this category have a lot in common with the other basement dwellers: serious issues at the quarterback position. Deshaun Watson tore his ACL in practice, and the Texans couldn’t rally around Tom Savage to beat the Colts.  That pretty much sealed their fate in my book. The Denver Broncos continue to free fall as well, losing their fourth straight game.  Elsewhere, look for my early season prediction to come true as Bengals coach Marvin Lewis could very well be fired sooner rather than later.

Be sure to check back next week to see the movement in these categories, which teams should start to be taken seriously, and the others we wish would just get off our TV screens for good.

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