2018 NFL Week 9
I’m sure I’ve said this before at some point, but it’s all about where you land in the NFL.
Tom Brady is pretty much the consensus pick for the greatest quarterback of all time at this point. Even the hardest of haters can’t argue with his eight Super Bowl appearances and five championship rings.
Sorry, people. That fight is over.
However, what if Tommy Boy hadn’t landed in New England? What if the Lions spent a late-round pick on him instead? You can guess pretty easily. There’s no way he would have been allowed to progress at his own pace, while being bolstered by a strong defense, solid running game and a genius head coach. Not to mention winning Super Bowls at the same time.
The Lions had Bobby Ross as head coach back in 2000 and while they went 9-7 during Brady’s rookie season, that would be the franchise’s last year with a winning record until 2011. Gross. Brady would have been thrown in there way too soon, asked to do way too much and there’s a chance he would have been out of the league by 2006.
Lost on the ash heap along with several other forgotten NFL busts.
Which brings me to Baker Mayfield. This poor guy. He may not have been at the top of my rookie QB class this year, but I bought into the hype on draft night. After all, after so many losing seasons, maybe what Cleveland needed was a shot in the arm with a quarterback that wasn’t afraid to mix it up a little bit – and who didn’t have Johnny Manziel’s substance issues.
Most people saw what went down this week coming from a mile away. Those same people saw the writing on the wall while watching “Hard Knocks.” They saw a coaching staff that appeared volatile, with head coach Hue Jackson unafraid to make grandiose statements to offensive coordinator Todd Haley in front of the cameras.
Alright, I thought, maybe Hue has a little Hollywood in him. Maybe he was just hamming it up while the HBO crew was around and struck a more conciliatory tone behind closed doors.
Wrong and wrong.
Jackson didn’t button things up and the internal discord in the locker room reached such a bad place that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam – no stranger to controversy – said this after firing Jackson and Haley on Monday (via Cleveland.com):
“We put the organization in a better place today than it was today.”
The team has replaced Jackson on an interim basis with defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, the Bountygate guy. The man, who when asked what changes there will be to the team’s routine and rules, said this:
“Things were being done here really well.”
He also added that he’s not really into forging positive relationships, saying “I’m not looking for a whole lot of friends in life anymore. If I want a friend, I’ll buy a Labrador.”
Williams plans to continue controlling the defense in addition to his head coach duties. Oh, in case anyone was wondering, running backs coach Freddie Kitchens is the team’s new offensive coordinator.
Someone save Baker Mayfield from this mess. Please, it’s not too late. Get him out of there before he becomes just another number in a doomed succession of Cleveland quarterbacks.
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
NFL’S TOP 10
1) Rams – Don’t overthink things. Yes, there are reasons for concern and I have a feeling this team’s hold on the top spot isn’t long for this world. But they’re unbeaten now and that’s all matters. 8-0, baby!
2) Saints – I’m simply moving them into position. That win over the Ravens was softened somewhat after Baltimore laid a stinkbomb at Carolina, but regardless, the Saints are absolutely rolling. And Sunday’s game will give them the cache to grab the top spot. More on that later.
3) Chiefs – Patrick Mahomes continues to do great things, and now they’ve got the dumpster fire Browns this weekend. This will get ugly fast.
4) Patriots – I had them at No. 2 last week. But they can’t be rewarded for that Monday night game vs. the Bills. I don’t care what the final score was, that was ugly.
5) Chargers – Philip Rivers’ passer rating is 117.8 and the Chargers’ offense was scoring about 28 points per game in the three weeks before their bye. And they’re taking care of the ball as they are right at the top of the league in giveaways. The AFC West race is going to come right down to the wire.
6) Steelers – Le’Veon Bell isn’t back, but it seems that nobody besides fantasy owners particularly care. James Conner was the AFC’s offensive player of the month with 526 total yards and 6 touchdowns in October. This is the time of year when Mike Tomlin teams make their run. Can’t you feel it in the air?
7) Panthers – I was as impressed as the next guy with Cam Newton on Sunday. It was the quintessential Cam Newton dominating performance. Which he usually follows with the quintessential stinker. Maybe this year will be different. I’m rooting for him.
8) Redskins – They’re not getting a lot of national respect at the moment. Maybe it’s because they have Alex Smith. Maybe it’s because some people still cringe at their team name. Maybe it’s because they have what should be an over-the-hill Adrian Peterson. However, wins are wins and somehow, they’re piling them up.
9) Eagles – Am I missing something here? Golden Tate is undoubtedly talented, but acquiring him midseason is going to get Philly’s offense over the hump? Can’t wait to see how they look after the bye week.
10) Vikings – I so want to put the Seahawks here, just don’t have the guts for it yet. The Vikings will have to do, since I like what I see out of Kirk Cousins. And their schedule is very interesting as their next three games are division matchups with a bye sprinkled in. It’s separation time!
CHECK ON THE PRESEASON PICKS
I made some predictions before Week 1 and since it’s the middle of the season, it’s time for a progress report.
MVP: Drew Brees. I’m still OK with it. If you were to ask me right now, it’s Todd Gurley, followed closely by Patrick Mahomes. There’s plenty of season left though, so Brees still has a shot if he catches some breaks.
Defensive POY: Jalen Ramsey. Here’s what I said then about the Jaguars cornerback: “He’s the next classic shutdown cornerback in this league and he’s just 23 years old.” OK, that might be true, but it hasn’t led to much. And I made that pick before Khalil Mack played his first game for the Bears. Big mistake.
Offensive POY: Ezekiel Elliott. Not an embarrassing prediction at all as Zeke is second in the league in rushing. However, the man in the top spot, Todd Gurley, has been a machine. He’s already over 1,000 total yards with 15 touchdowns and he still has the entire second half of the season to go.
Offensive ROY: Royce Freeman. Ugh. As a Freeman fantasy owner, I can tell you he hasn’t done much this season. Turns out I guessed wrong. Should have gone with his Broncos teammate and fellow rookie Phillip Lindsay instead, who is sixth in the NFL rushing. However, we all know Saquon Barkley is winning this award.
Defensive POY: Derwin James. I might actually be right here. The Chargers safety has drawn rave reviews and is currently No. 1 in NFL.com’s rookie rankings. I’ll take a bow for that.
Comeback POY: Andrew Luck. Hey! Another one for Uncle Sid, as Luck is second in the league in passing touchdowns.
Super Bowl prediction: Steelers vs. Saints. Looked a tad shaky in the first couple weeks of the season, but the ship has been righted. My prediction is still very much in play.
WHAT’S THE CHATTER?
Benchus Winston: Well, the Buccaneers have sent perennial problem QB Jameis Winston back to the pine and have injected themselves with another dose of FitzMagic. How is the young man taking all of this? He believes it’s a “minor setback for a major comeback.” Right on, dude, I’m rooting for you. I enjoy unwise confidence.
Gase’s guy: Dolphins head coach Adam Gase is still in Ryan Tannehill’s corner, as he defended his QB against an intrepid Miami Herald reporter who wanted to make a press conference all about himself. “I don’t really care what anybody else thinks,” Gase said, when asked to respond to people who have “seen enough” from a man who was drafted to be a franchise quarterback. That’s great you have his back, but can you blame people for having questions at this point? He’s been in this league for a while now.
New concept! The Redskins traded for safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix this week and defensive coordinator Greg Manusky says he might experiment with having three safeties on the field at once! What? Get right out of town! What kind of sorcery is this? Three safeties at once? Well, I never!
Ray of hope: I complained earlier about the Browns being in danger of ruining their No. 1 pick. One morsel of hope is the aforementioned new offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens knows developing their young quarterback is of the “utmost importance.” Should that make one feel better? Perhaps a tad, but enough to feel any confidence.
Trade mart: The NFL brought the excitement as a few teams actually made deals at the deadline. Who knew the league had it in it?
Whatever, dude: Sorry to harp on the Browns, but interim head coach Gregg Williams told reporters that he had been offered four head-coaching jobs without even interviewing for them. No, I don’t believe him either.
WHAT TO WATCH IN WEEK 9
Chiefs at Browns: Yes, I’ll watch. I want to make sure Gregg doesn’t get offered eight more jobs in the middle of the game.
Falcons at Redskins: One more win and Atlanta is back at .500 with eight games remaining. And let’s see how real Washington really is.
Steelers at Ravens: Expect Baltimore to come out hot. The Ravens are coming off two tough losses and it shouldn’t be a shock if they play their best game of the season. This is what November football is all about.
Chargers at Seahawks: This game makes me cringe because a loss for either team would really screw up their momentum at this point of the season. Don’t expect the CenturyLink crowd noise to affect the Bolts much as they basically play 16 road games anyway.
Rams at Saints: Game of the week, without question. I’m going with New Orleans to end the unbeaten fun for Los Angeles. I’m thinking the Saints might even win by 2 touchdowns. The stadium should be rocking.
Packers at Patriots: Two big names on the marquee, but New England should take care of business at home fairly easily.
Titans at Cowboys: Amari Cooper’s debut! Who else is super pumped? No? Sigh, don’t blame you.