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!

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Houston's magic number stays at 2

Astros drop series finale to Mariners after rough start by Greinke

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With their magic number at 2 to secure their spot in the 2020 MLB postseason, the Astros returned to T-Mobile Park in Seattle for this three-game series' finale and rubber game. Here are the highlights from the game:

Final Score: Mariners 3, Astros 2.

Record: 28-28, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Nick Margevicius (2-3, 4.57 ERA)

Losing pitcher: Zack Greinke (3-3, 4.03 ERA).

Greinke unable to complete five innings

While the Astros were being held scoreless, the Mariners were putting up runs on Zack Greinke. They took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first with back-to-back singles followed by an RBI-double with one out. Greinke would stop the damage there, then looked to settle in over the next few frames.

He allowed just one baserunner in the second through fourth innings, a one-out single in the bottom of the fourth. Then, in the fifth, the Mariners would knock him out of the game by getting a one-out single that would come around to score on a two-out RBI-double, followed by an RBI-single to extend the lead to 3-0. Greinke faced one more batter, allowing a single before Dusty Baker would take the ball and move to the bullpen. His final line: 4.2 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 0 HR, 92 P.

Astros try a late rally, come up short

On the other end, the Astros were unable to break through against Nick Margevicius, getting just one hit and two walks through the first four innings. They had a chance to get on the board in the top of the fifth, starting the inning with back-to-back singles before a walk loaded the bases with one out to turn the lineup over. They'd come up empty, though, with George Springer striking out before a long flyball to center by Jose Altuve to end the inning.

After finishing the fifth for Greinke, Andre Scrubb returned for a scoreless sixth, working around a one-out walk. Still 3-0, Blake Taylor took over on the mound in the bottom of the seventh, erasing a leadoff single and two-out walk to keep Seattle from extending their lead. Houston had another chance to score in the top of the eighth, getting two runners in scoring position, but again would strand them.

Cy Sneed was the next reliever out for the Astros, working around a two-out walk to send the game on to the ninth. The Astros would avoid the shutout, getting a two-RBI single by pinch-hitting Josh Reddick in the top of the ninth to make it a one-run game at 3-2. That's as close as they'd come, though, as the Mariners would eventually get the final out to take the series and keep the Astros' magic number stagnant at 2.

Up Next: There is one series left in the regular season for Houston, and it awaits them in Arlington with a four-game series against the Rangers, who are well eliminated from playoff contention. The first of the four games will start at 7:05 PM Central on Thursday with a pitching matchup of Lance Lynn (6-2, 2.53 ERA) for Texas and Cristian Javier (4-2, 3.33 ERA) for the Astros.

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