Monday, November 9, 2015

NFL 2015-16 Week 9 Review

Week 9 is now in the books.

I remember thinking how incredible it felt, back during the 1990 season, that two teams, the New York Giants and the San Francisco 49ers, were still undefeated as the mid-season point approached. But now, this weekend represented the mid-season point, it is approaching mid-November, and fully four teams headed into this NFL weekend with undefeated records! After this weekend, one of those teams fell, but there are still a record three teams who sport perfect, unbeaten records after completing half of their schedule!

Can anyone say the word impressive?

Yes, and there were also some intriguing games between playoff contenders, such as the Rams and Vikings, as well as the Raiders and Steelers. A couple of playoff contenders were handed some stunning losses that could very well prove costly down the road, as well, with the Saints and Falcons both losing to teams that they probably should have beaten. 

More importantly, there was also news regarding the NFL that has more to do with what happened off the field of play, as photos went public in the case of Greg Hardy, and his attacking of a woman, which serves, evidently, as more damning proof of his bad behavior than anything else apparently could. Once the public has visual proof of such episodes, as in the case of Ray Rice, it seems that public condemnation becomes a much stronger factor, and such is the case with Greg Hardy now. There is enormous public outrage that this man is responsible for this act, this kind of brutality, and yet, is also still playing in the NFL, and making millions, when he really should be behind bars and viewed as the public menace, the violent offender, that he really is.

Nothing changed, of course. He is the same person that he was before, and the event took place a long time ago. Yet, here is still another case of an NFL player engaging in horrendous behavior, and the NFL only seems to respond in weak terms. So long as he can do some amazing things on the football field of play, as Hardy can, he will be able to continue playing and making his millions, and thus, essentially get away with and ignore any serious ramifications for his actions. If the past is any indication, we can rely on the NFL to make highly visible moves to mask the reality, and make it seem like they are truly addressing this unacceptable situation. I mean, look, nobody even seems offended by "Big Ben" Roethlisberger's actions as a rapist anymore, and they only talk about him in relation to how he helps the Steelers. Or maybe, despite more than one incident when he got in trouble for forcing himself onto a woman, he is more easily forgiven because of some other reason, since he is a quarterback or, hmmm....could it be his skin color? 

One way or the other, the league seems more plagued than ever before with true lowlifes who are playing the game. Criminals playing in Dallas and Pittsburgh are only the most visible, although the problem is far more widespread than that.

Anyway, back to the week in review that was. There were some intriguing games yesterday. So, let's take a look:

NY Giants 32, Tampa Bay 18 - Yes, the Giants remained ahead of the rest of the NFC East with a methodical win at Tampa Bay. The Bucs came back from a large deficit, although the Giants ultimately managed to outlast them and raise their record to 5-4. Next for the Giants, though, is a home game against the unbeaten new England patriots, the defending Super Bowl champions, in the first meeting between these two teams since Super Bowl XLVI. In fact, the last four meetings between these two franchises have been huge, and include two Super Bowl showdowns! Should be fun!

New England 27, Washington 10 - The least surprising team to stand at 8-0, the Patriots jumped out very early to a 14-0 lead in the first minutes of the game, and then kind of just coasted the rest of the way, securing another victory, as they remain within the ranks of the undefeated teams. For Washington, this was a costly loss, although it could have been worse. Looked like it was going to be, when they fell behind by 27-3, although they tightened up to make it look a bit more respectful in the end.

Carolina 37, Green Bay 29 - A wild game between the two top teams in the NFC, at least in terms of records. The Panthers controlled things early, although the Packers came back strong with a furious rally that fell just short in the end. Still, the Packers showed a lot of frustration in this game, as this was a painful game to lose. It was also the first time that the Packers lost consecutive games with Rodgers starting at QB since the 2010 championship season. Tough loss for them, huge win for Carolina!

Cincinnati 31, Cleveland 10 (Thursday) - The Bengals just keep on rolling, scoring a convincing win over the Browns, and staying perfect at 8-0, the franchise's best ever start. These Bengals look like they are for real! It appears that they have the division pretty much locked up, to boot!

NY Jets - 28, Jacksonville 23 - The Jets beat an opponent that they should beat, although they made it interesting at the end, and never seemed capable of taking over this game. The Jaguars kept themselves in this, and it felt a bit like New York escaped with a win on this day. Still, a win is a win, and it should help them stay in playoff contention. 

Indianapolis 27, Denver 24 - The Broncos were the only one of the four teams entering this week with an undefeated record to lose. They did so by playing a horrible first half, with their incredible defense looking suddenly very human. Bronco defender Talibb was involved in an incident where he poked another man in the eye, which is being widely condemned throughout the sports world today. Just a bad game all around for the previously incredible Broncos defense, and Peyton Manning apparently has lost his final game at Lucas Oil Field, which is sometimes viewed as the house that Peyton built. Denver is no longer unbeaten as a result.

Buffalo 33, Miami 17 - The Dolphins had looked very solid after switching coaches, although they now have two bad losses in a row. For the Bills, a convincing victory that keeps them in playoff contention, as they now head for a showdown against coach Rex Ryan's old team, the Jets, on Thursday night. Should be a good one!

Minnesota 21, St. Louis 18 (OT) - This was a real slugfest between two teams that are mirror images of one another. The Rams and Vikings did not enjoy a lot of scoring, and there was that one play where the quarterback got knocked out, which has proven controversial, with some suggestions that it was a dirty play done intentionally. Not entirely sure on my end, although the Vikings did manage to earn a tough win, and are now locked in a tight race for NFC North supremacy with the Packers, who suffered their second straight defeat. Who could have seen that coming?

Pittsburgh 38, Oakland 35 - The Raiders are for real! Even in a loss, Oakland showed just how much they are improving, and it is significant! it was a wild shootout, and Pittsburgh seemed to have the game in hand a few times. Yet, the Raiders kept battling back, right to the final minute, until the Steelers offense came up with the goods at the very end, giving themselves the victory with a field goal in the final seconds, ending a losing streak and keeping the Steelers in serious playoff contention.

Tennessee 34, New Orleans 28 (OT) - Who knew that a week after winning a historic shootout against the Giants, the Saints would fall at home to the 1-6 Titans? But that is exactly what happened, and the Saints, who appeared to be righting the ship after a horrendous 0-3 start, now have to deal with dropping a very costly game.

San Francisco 17, Atlanta 16 - Atlanta had a chance to win this game very late, with a 4th and 2, and under four minutes left to play. They kicked a field goal to pull within a point of the 49ers, but then never did get the ball back again. It was a defensive game, with little scoring. Not sure what is wrong with the Falcons offense right now, since it is loaded with talent, but just not scoring many points. This could prove to be a very costly loss for the Falcons, who are slipping out of the playoff positioning that they seemed to have well at hand only a few weeks ago, while the Panthers are beginning to run away with the division.

Philadelphia 33, Dallas 27 - Maybe this is karma for the Dallas Cowboys. They decided to take a chance on Greg Hardy, a very talented individual on the football field, but also a man with a past filled with violence. This was a back and forth game, an evenly fought contest. It went into overtime, although the Eagles finally overcame the Cowboys in overtime to earn a split in the series, and to keep up with the division leaders (for now, at least), the New York Giants.

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