NFL Week Nine Observations

NFL Week Nine: Good, bad & ugly

Christian McCaffrey official Twitter account

This week, 8 of 14 games were decided by one score or less. To clarify, I'm talking about a touchdown and two-point conversion or less. We even saw a couple top dogs take it on the chin, as well as toothless dog show some bite. Here are my observations:

The Good

-Panthers' running back Christian McCaffrey is a bad man! McCaffrey on pace to break the yards from scrimmage record and has 13 touchdowns. Sure Kyle Allen is playing as good as one could expect in the year of the backup quarterback, but McCaffrey is the straw that stirs the drink in Carolina. I have him as a 1a or 1b in the MVP race after his 27 touch 166 yard three touchdown performance in a 30-20 win over the Titans.

-Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson broke the Patriots' 21 game win streak over rookie or second year quarterbacks in a 37-20 win. Jackson went 17/23 for 163 yards and a touchdown. He also ran 16 times for 61 yards and two more touchdowns. Better yet, he didn't turn the ball over and was only sacked once. So much for "he can't play quarterback" or "he should convert to wide receiver" talk.

-Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is the other half of McCaffrey's 1a or 1b in the MVP race. Wilson threw for 378 yards and five touchdowns in a 40-34 overtime win over the Bucs. On the season, he has 22 touchdowns and only one interception. He's doing this without the help of a star running back or receiver. Not poopoo-ing his teammates, but none of those guys have been named to an All Pro team previously except Tyler Lockett.

The Bad

-The Dolphins were able to beat the Jets 26-18. This is a bad thing several reasons. One: the Dolphins were supposed to be "Tanking for Tua" so a win hurts their chances of landing the first overall pick. Second: the Jets have enough talent to be a more competitive team, but are coached by the same guy the Dolphins fired last season. Third: Sam Darnold threw a ridiculous red zone interception. No wonder the Patriots make the playoffs every year.

-Bucs' quarterback Jameis Winston replicated his 2015 Rose Bowl fumble return for a touchdown in thier loss to the Seahawks. If you don't know what I'm talking about, Google it. But Jameis, again, evaded pressure and fumbled the ball backwards only for the opposition to return it for a touchdown. This, amongst other reasons, are why he most likely won't or shouldn't be back with the Bucs next season.

-The Browns are the biggest dumpster fire in the NFL right now. After losing 24-19 to the Broncos, they're now 2-6 on the season and have no hope of making the playoffs after some picked them to win the AFC North. They were a sexy Super Bowl pick. Now, they're more talked about for what Baker Mayfield says in press conferences, or what Odell Beckham Jr and Jarvis Landry's pregame gear is about.

The Ugly

-Former Browns safety Jermaine Whitehead became former Browns safety when he decided to go Twitter thug on some reporters following their loss to the Broncos. He tweeted some profane language, racist remarks and even threw in a death threat as well as a standing invitation to fight. Players are given a cool off period after games before media obligations. Someone should take their phones as well because he reportedly did this while still in uniform!

-Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett sprained his MCL in his left knee. While they're optimistic he will be able to play against the Dolphins Sunday, they're not sure. If Brissett misses the game or isn't fully healthy against the Texans in a couple weeks, it could cost them the AFC South division title. All of this comes on the heels of him taking over for Andrew Luck after his abrupt retirement.

-The Bears are 3-5 and look like they're going nowhere fast. Despite having one of the better defenses in the league, their quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is dumpster juice. The 49ers hoodwinked them into trading up for what is the worst of the three quarterbacks taken in the first round of the 2017 draft. They took him over Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. Yikes!

I remember watching Rocky IV over and over as a kid. We had it on VHS and I'm pretty sure I wore it out. The scene when Rocky finally cuts Drago and Duke tells him he's not a machine, he's a man is iconic. Well the Ravens did that to the Patriots, and to a lesser extent, the Chargers did that to the Packers. Meanwhile, there are teams barely treading water (Lions, Jags, and Eagles), and others sinking fast (Browns, Bears, and Titans). We're over the hump of the midpoint and the light at the end of the regular season tunnel is now visible. It's still a ways off, but we can see what's ahead. Some of these teams are hoping not to get tripped up along the way. Others are hoping to just make it to the end in one piece.

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After the Mariners came alive late in Monday's series opener to hand the Houston the loss and keep their playoff picture hanging in the balance, the Astros returned to T-Mobile Park on Tuesday to try and decrease their magic number. Here's how the middle game went:

Final Score: Astros 6, Mariners 1.

Record: 28-27, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Framber Valdez (5-3, 3.57 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Casey Sadler (1-2, 5.40 ERA).

Both teams trade first-inning runs

The Astros struck first in Tuesday's game, not waiting around until the ninth inning to get on the board. Instead, they jumped out to an immediate 1-0 lead after a two-out RBI-single by Kyle Tucker in the top of the first. The Mariners responded quickly, though, getting a leadoff single in the bottom of the inning before a two-out RBI-double of their own to tie it 1-1.

Astros score five in the sixth

The 1-1 score held all the way until the top of the sixth when the Astros would flip the script from the night prior, taking advantage of some mistakes by Seattle to put up a big inning. First, Michael Brantley started the inning with a solo go-ahead homer to make it 2-1. Then, Kyle Tucker would get his third hit of the night with one out before eventually scoring after a walk and two wild pitches, making it 3-2. With two walks to keep the inning alive and put some insurance runs on base, Martin Maldonado took advantage with a big three-run home run to extend the lead to 6-1.

Valdez finishes seven strong, Astros even series

After allowing the one run in the bottom of the first, Framber Valdez recovered and put together a solid outing on the mound. He allowed just five hits total, two of which came in the first, then back-to-back singles in the fourth and a single in the fifth, while otherwise keeping the Mariners at bay. He would end up completing seven innings of one-run baseball while striking out eight. His final line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 0 HR, 108 P.

After Valdez, Enoli Paredes would take over in the bottom of the eighth, working around a leadoff single to get a scoreless inning to keep it 6-1. In the non-save situation, Josh James would come in for the bottom of the ninth and finish off the win for Houston.

Up Next: The finale and rubber game of this three-game set will start a bit earlier on Wednesday, with first pitch scheduled for 5:40 PM Central. The pitching matchup will be Nick Margevicius (1-3, 5.35 ERA) for the Mariners going against Zack Greinke (3-2, 3.90 ERA) for the Astros.

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