NFL Observations

The good, bad and ugly from the NFL this weekend

Aaron Rodgers finally matched up with Tom Brady. It did not go well. Getty Images

Week 9 of the NFL was highlighted by several key matchups. Some decided conference supremacy, while others were clashes of quarterback titans. Here’s how I saw it all go down:

The Good

-In what was billed as the two G.O.A.T.s, Tom Brady’s Patriots bested Aaron Rodgers’ Packers 31-17 Sunday night. It’s not often that we get to see two of the very best duel in prime time. It reminded me of the September 20, 1993 Monday Night Football game between the Chiefs and Broncos that pit Joe Montana against John Elway. I watched that game on a TV my parents plugged into the cigarette lighter in the car as we drove back to Atlanta.   

-So much is made of older quarterbacks like Brady, Rodgers, and Drew Brees that we tend to sleep on what Philip Rivers is doing with the Chargers. He now has 19 touchdowns, only three interceptions with a 69.1 completion percentage on the season. He only completed 50% of his passes in the win against the Seahawks Sunday, but his two touchdowns made up for it.

- Much has been made of Chief’s quarterback Pat Mahomes and his historic start. I truly think it is Kareem Hunt that provides so much versatility to that offense. The 141 total yards from scrimmage on 18 touches and three touchdowns in their 37-21 win over the Browns proves my point.

The Bad

-The Ravens were 4-2, leading the AFC North and had a feared defense. Since then, they’ve lost three straight by an average of less than eight points per game. No longer are they leading the division, they’re now looking up at the Steelers and Bengals with little to no hope of making the playoffs.

-Jon Gruden continues to play Madden with the Raiders. His latest move was to release veteran pass rusher Bruce Irvin. Irvin was their highest paid remaining defensive player. He’s been seldom used as if he turned into an out of date version of the popular football video game Gruden seems to be replicating in real life. Part of me hopes he can turn the moribund franchise around, but part of me loves the trainwreck.

-Monday Night Football featured two 3-4 teams in the Titans and Cowboys. I know those teams may be popular around Texas given one is located here and the other used to be. But they’re both trash and don’t deserve my attention outside the +6.5 I put on the Titans in the pick ‘em challenge.

The Ugly

-The Redskins lost at home to the Falcons 38-14. They were down at one point, two or three starting offensive lineman. Had they lost one more, defensive tackle Matt Iaonnidis would’ve been thrust into duty. The fact that they had almost twice as many penalty yards (147) as they had rushing (79) is something I don’t recall seeing happen very often...

-…until I saw what the Bills did against the Bears. They managed to actually double their rushing yards (64) with penalty yards (129). I’m imagining this happens more often than what I care to notice. Bad football gives me cooties.

-The Dolphins beat the Jets 13-6 in a game that set football back 30 years. The teams combined for 450 total yards and a collective 5/29 on third down conversions. The only touchdown scored was off a pick six with 11 minutes left in the game. 

Week nine went down as the week the Rams finally lost (’72 dolphins are popping champagne), Brady emerged victorious over Rodgers, the Chiefs machine kept rolling. Dolphins/Jets set a new low for performance, and Monday Night Football rendered itself ineffective. Teams continue to establish their positions as others fall further into irrelevance. Question is: whose built to last and who’s scouting for the draft? 

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Houston gets the lopsided win

Valdez, Astros dominate the Angels in 10-0 rout in Anaheim

Framber Valdez was dominant against the Angels on Monday night. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

With a series win at home over the weekend, the Astros started their final regular-season road trip on Monday, squaring off against the Angels in Anaheim. They held the momentum firmly in their favor all night, dominating both sides of the game to start the series with a victory.

Final Score: Astros 10, Angels 0

Astros' Record: 89-61, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Framber Valdez (11-5)

Losing Pitcher: Jaime Barria (2-4)

Siri leads off with a bang

With Jose Altuve being given the night off, Houston gave Jose Siri a shot at the leadoff spot, and he delivered to start the opener in Anaheim. He launched a missile to left field, 426 feet, to put the Astros in front 1-0 before the Angels could record an out. Later that same inning, they strung together three singles, the third being an RBI by Carlos Correa to double the lead.

Valdez goes seven shutout innings

That gave Framber Valdez a lead to work with as he stepped on the rubber in the bottom of the inning, and he didn't give it up as he would post a dominant start. He started with a 1-2-3 first, worked around a couple of singles in the second, then used a double play to face the minimum in the third.

He retired Los Angeles in order again in the fourth, stranded a two-out single in the fifth and a single and a walk in the sixth. He had his worst inning of the night in the seventh, giving up a leadoff single then loading the bases on back-to-back two-out walks. He'd escape the jam, though, keeping the shutout alive and finalizing his impressive line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 98 P.

Astros take the opener in lopsided fashion

Houston tacked on an insurance run in the top of the eighth, getting a one-out double by Correa to set up an RBI single by Marwin Gonzalez, pushing the lead to 3-0. Things escalated from there, as another single put two on base for Martin Maldonado, who blew the game open with a three-run homer to make it a six-run lead.

Brooks Raley took over for Valdez in the bottom of the inning, and with a 1-2-3 inning, made it his eighth appearance in a row without allowing a run. The Astros didn't let up in the top of the ninth, getting two hits and a walk to load the bases before a grand slam by Gonzalez made it 10-0 and gave him 5 RBI in a two-inning span. Seth Martinez, called up by the Astros earlier in the day, made his big-league debut in the bottom of the ninth and closed out the lopsided win to put Houston's magic number at 6.

Up Next: The second of this four-game set will be another 8:38 PM Central start on Tuesday. Jose Urquidy (7-3, 3.38 ERA) will take the mound for the Astros, going opposite Packy Naughton (0-2, 4.32 ERA) for the Angels.

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