Let’s look at the biggest takeaways from week 9 of the NFL
1. The Raiders are a mess
Obviously Jon Gruden is playing the long game in Oakland. He’s purging the team of any and all talent in order to stock up on draft picks. We’ve already seen Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper moved for a total of 3 first round picks. We’ve also seen Bruce Irvin released. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw Derek Carr moved in the offseason as well, especially if there’s someone that Gruden likes in the draft. But despite Gruden’s plans to be good down the road, the team is still an embarrassment now. They were annihilated against an equally bad 49ers team. The difference is, this team has clearly given up. The Raiders don’t seem to be hustling on half of the plays and it shows. Gruden was supposed to be the savior of the franchise (for some reason). No one expected a Super Bowl this year. But they expected to be competitive, especially since this team was a 12 win team just two years ago. If Gruden doesn’t turn things around fast, we may see him fired sooner rather than later.
2. The Saints are the NFC team to beat
The Saints battled the Rams this week for the number one seed in the NFC. In a very exciting, back and forth game, the Saints came out on top 45-35. They did something that no one else has done this year: beat the Rams. Since falling victim to Fitzmagic in week 1, this team has been undefeated. Had Jameis Winston not been suspended, we could be looking at an undefeated Saints team. Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, and Michael Thomas look unstoppable on offense and the defense is starting to play better. If they can get the one seed, they could be unstoppable to beat at home in the playoffs.
3. The Cowboys need to move on from Dak
I didn’t believe in the Dak hype during his rookie season. He was a glorified game manager with a good team around him. With less talent around him, his true skills are showing. He’s average at best it’s showing. If I were the Cowboys, I’d be looking at the draft to find his replacement (or maybe trade for Carr in the offseason?). Dak looks lost and seems to panic a lot. He holds the bar too long and seems to predetermine his throws too often. Fortunately for Dak, the organization still believes in him because of his rookie year. Unfortunately for Cowboys’ fans, Dallas may be stuck in mediocrity for years to come.
4. Freddie Kitchens found a new (old) weapon
With a new offensive coordinator and a franchise quarterback, people expected the Browns to be a respectable offensive team. And most people expected Duke Johnson Jr. to be a huge piece of that success after a solid 2017. Well under Todd Haley, he was pretty non-existent. Then Haley was fired and Freddie Kitchens took over. In his first game as OC, Duke Johnson has 9 catches on 9 targets for 78 yards and 2 TDs. He’s the perfect security blanket for a young, developing QB. So why wasn’t he used more? I guess the answer to the question is why Haley was fired. Hopefully the inclusion of Johnson will make the Browns more competitive and aid in Baker’s development.
5. Here come the Falcons
The Falcons were a team that most people discounted, especially considering their 3-4 record. But this past weekend, they looked as explosive as ever, blowing out the first place Redskins and getting to .500. Matt Ryan is playing like an MVP this year, with 19 TDs, 3 ints, a 70% completion percentage, and almost 2700 yards. If this offense can stay hot, they could be dangerous down the stretch. They still have games against the Browns, Buccs, Cardinals, Cowboys, and Ravens, all of whom are below .500. If they can win those five and beat one of the Saints, Panthers, or Packers, we could be looking a dangerous 10-6 wild card team.
-Stephen Brown III (@sbtrey23)
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