The good, bad and ugly

NFL Week 9 observations: Eagles emerge in NFC

Don't sleep on the Saints. Michael C Hebert, New Orleans Saints

The picture is becoming clearer as the season progresses. There’s now a clear cut favorite in the NFC (Philadelphia Eagles). However, we still don’t know who the class of the AFC is yet. There are also teams that appear destined for a top 5 draft pick.

The Good

-Travis Kelce scored a touchdown for the Kansas City Chiefs against the Dallas Cowboys. He proceeded to celebrate with teammates Tyreek Hill and Demarcus Robinson by having a potato sack race. As a fan of touchdown celebrations, I’m happy to see them back.

-The aforementioned Eagles are now 8-1 and seem like a freight train barreling downhill sans brakes. Carson Wentz is now the best quarterback in the NFC East, and making his case for being considered a top tier quarterback in the league period. Add to that the fact that they just got Jay Ajayi for peanuts, this team is going to be a tough out come playoff time.

-Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is proving he’s worth being the highest paid player in the league. After Calvin Johnson retired, a lot of people thought Stafford would struggle to put points on the board. Stafford has not only survived losing his best weapon, but he has thrived. A 30-10 on Monday Night Football at Lambeau vs. the Packers is a good way to show people. So is going 26/33 for 361 yards, 2 touchdowns, 0 interceptions.

-The New Orleans Saints won. Again. This is their sixth in a row after starting 0-2. Drew Brees has been himself, but it’s the commitment to the run and much improved defense that have led to this win streak. Starting to think they are for real.

The Bad

-Lions running back Ameer Abdullah stated that he wants to be the Lions’ every down back. With two fumbles inside the red zone, the score could’ve been worse. Abdullah was promptly replaced by Theo Riddick. He will be lucky to see more than 8-10 touches over the next few weeks.

-The Atlanta Falcons lost 20-17 to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. They fall to 4-4 on the season and are two games behind the Saints for the division lead. The Super Bowl swoon is in full effect. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the loss of Kyle Shanahan as the play caller is hurting them more than they care to tell.

-The New York Giants were put out to pasture 51-17 by the up and coming Los Angeles Rams. The young Rams were led by former number one overall pick, quarterback Jared Goff. While the Rams are helmed by a young quarterback, the 1-7 Giants are considering hitting the reset button by sitting long time quarterback Eli Manning.

The Ugly

-Speaking of the Giants…perhaps it the 3rd and 33 play was a window into their 2017 season. They had the Rams dead to rights on the play. Goff threw an innocent wide receiver screen to Robert Woods, who promptly made a house call. Giving up a ton of yards on a 3rd and 33 is one thing. Letting the other team get a first down is another. But letting them score?!? Totally unacceptable!

-Tampa Bay Buccaneers went down at the hands of the Saints 30-10 Sunday. Adding salt to their 2-6 wound, quarterback Jameis Winston will be shut down “for a few weeks” to help him recover from worsening a shoulder injury, wide receiver Mike Evans will be suspended vs the New York Jets next week for delivering a behind the back cheapshot to Saints’ cornerback Marshon Lattimore, and defensive end Willaim Gholston appeared to have sustained some sort of neck injury. Huge disappointment considering some picked them as Super Bowl contenders.

-During the Cincinnati Bengals/Jacksonville Jaguars game, Bengals wide receiver AJ Green managed to let Jags Cornerback Jalen Ramsey get under his skin. Green was pushed by Ramsey after a play. Green took it upon himself to apply a terrible rear naked choke to Ramsey, then throw several punches. Both ended up ejected from the games. Although Ramsey was caught instigating the scuffle, it was Green who escalated things very quickly.

Behind the Eagles is a cluster of teams who could be contenders, or pretenders depending on which of their multiple personalities decides to show up on any given Sunday. There’s also a crop of young quarterbacks (Wentz, Goff, Mariota, and Deshaun Watson) who appear ready to take the mantle from the older, more established guard (Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Brees). However, a special shout out to Arizona Cardinals running back Adrian Peterson. He sat unsigned more a large portion of the offseason, ultimately, deciding to sign with the Saints. After being traded to the Cardinals, Peterson became their featured running back. Sunday, he toted the rock 37 times! That’s one for every year he’s been alive, plus 5 more for good luck! If the NFL is a drug, I don’t want to go to rehab for my addiction!

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Houston's winning streak is up to nine

Astros secure series over Orioles as winning streak continues

Zack Greinke provided another long outing for his team on Tuesday. Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images.

After continuing their recent dominance with a lopsided win over this Orioles team on Monday in the rain-plagued opener, the Astros eyed number nine in a row if they could do it again on Tuesday. Though not as one-sided, the Astros would get the victory to secure the series win.

Final Score: Astros 3, Orioles 1

Astros' Record: 45-28, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Zack Greinke (8-2)

Losing Pitcher: Jorge Lopez (2-9)

A tame start for Houston's offense

After a scoreless first inning on both sides, Myles Straw started the scoring with two outs in the top of the second, sneaking a ball off and over the left-field wall just out of the grasp of Austin Hays for a solo homer to put Houston ahead 1-0. After Baltimore tied the game in the third, the game remained gridlocked 1-1 until the top of the seventh, when Chase McCormick would reach on a one-out infield single then raced around to score on a Myles Straw RBI single, putting Houston back in front 2-1.

Greinke pitches into the eighth

Over that span, Zack Greinke was getting efficient innings against Baltimore's lineup. He allowed that trying run in the third, which came after a one-out walk moved to third on a single, then scored on a sac fly. That was one of his few moments with runners in scoring position, as he erased a single in the first, a single in the fourth, and a double in the seventh to maintain the new 2-1 lead.

The Astros loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the eighth but came away with only one run of insurance on a McCormick sac fly, making it 3-1 as Greinke returned to the mound to continue working. He allowed a leadoff single then retired the next batter before Dusty Baker would come out to get him as the left-handed portion of the lineup was due up and a better match for Brooks Raley, who had been warming. Greinke's final line: 7.1 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 91 P.

Astros make it nine in a row

Raley completed the eighth for Greinke with two strikeouts to strand the inherited runner. With it still a two-run game in the bottom of the ninth, Ryan Pressly entered for the save. He erased a two-out single to finish things off, giving Houston their ninth win in a row and securing the series with a chance at the sweep in the finale.

Up Next: The finale of this three-game set will be another 6:05 PM Central start time on Wednesday. Thomas Eshelman (0-0, 1.93 ERA) will be on the mound for Baltimore to face the Astros, while Jose Urquidy (5-3, 3.65 ERA) will start for Houston.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome