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10 Things to Note from Week 9

1. Rams Continue to Impress

The Los Angeles Rams were expected to beat the New York Giants. However, it was a surprise to see the final score of 51-17 in an absolute showing of what the Rams are capable of. This marked the third time this season the Rams scored more than 40 points and showed just how fast things can change in the NFL. One year ago it was the Giants who were a promising playoff team and the Rams who were on the losing side of beatdown after beatdown. Sure, the Rams have shown they can beat poor teams badly, but it has to count for something. No one can deny that the Rams are miles ahead from the struggles they had in the past. With all eyes set on playoffs this year, there may be prolonged success in store for a young, hungry team.

2. Eagles Dominate Broncos

philadelphia eagles dancing GIF by NFL

The Broncos just are not very good. The answer wasn’t starting Brock Osweiler, and there seems to be no quick fix in sight for a team that can no longer rely on the power house defense it once had. Allowing 51 points to the newly arrived Jay Ajayi, who rushed for 77 yards and a touchdown, and MVP front-runner Carson Wentz, who threw for 199 yards and four touchdowns. The Broncos are an incomplete team who has too many holes to compete this season. That was shown in full contrast with a Philadelphia team that has proven itself to be good in every aspect of the game this year, and is gearing up for a deep playoff run if all remains the same.

3. The NFC South Picture Becomes Clearer

That picture is not what many were expecting in August. After the Panthers beat the Falcons, it showed the story of the whole year: the Falcons are no where near the team they were a year ago. The Saints continued their success at home with another big win this week to establish themselves as the top dog in the South. Now, it seems the Saints and Panthers are two of the teams to watch in the NFC, and the Falcons are a team who would need some help to stumble into the playoffs. Atlanta isn’t bad, but it seems the departure of Kyle Shanahan had a much greater impact than even the strongest pessimist would have guessed.

4. Titans Outlast Ravens

The Tennessee Titans still have something to play for this season. They jumped out to a early lead against Baltimore, but had to hold off the Ravens and Joe Flacco. Flacco had his best game of the year, with 261 yards and two touchdowns. However, it was Marcus Mariota who was able to lead his team to victory and keep Tennessee tied for a top spot in the AFC South. The Titans haven’t showed the same consistent production as Jacksonville, but their young stars in Mariota and Derrick Henry have kept the Titans with enough momentum to still keep the playoffs in sight.

5. Cowboys Make Playoff Push

In a week where the Cowboys seemed to have lost Zeke Elliott for real this time, they still managed to find the legitimacy they were lacking. Dallas improved to 5-3 with a decisive win against a very good Kansas City team. Even the weirdest Hail Mary play you have ever seen wasn’t enough to throw off the Cowboys. Dallas can’t hope to catch the Eagles at this point, but counting out Dallas would be a mistake. They have to be considered a wild card favorite, along with Carolina at this point in the year, and even lacking Elliott at running back won’t be enough to doubt a return to playoffs for the Cowboys.

6. Fists Fly in Jacksonville

A fight between A.J. Green and Jalen Ramsey was the headline drawer for a one-sided showdown between the victorious Jaguars and the struggling Bengals. The Jaguars defense once again dominated in a game where Leonard Fournette was suspended by his team for violating policies the previous week. His services were clearly not needed, as the Jaguars still produced over 100 yards of total rushing and continued their slow climb in the AFC standings. The Jaguars are currently on top of the South and seem to be the favorite to find some consistency and squeak into the playoff picture.

7. Raiders Hang On

The Dolphins were much more of a challenge than some were expecting for Oakland. The Raiders only managed to beat Miami 27-24, and a large credit is due to the returning Marshawn Lynch. Lynch racked up two touchdowns and finally provided a balance that Derek Carr was lacking for his dynamic passing game so far this year. The Raiders defense still looks shaky at best, even being rattled by smoking Jay Cutler this week. The Raiders are consistently inconsistent this season, and this week may just be another bump in the road for a talented team trying to put the pieces together to truly make a run.

8. Reality Sets in For Green Bay

When Aaron Rodgers went down with a broken collarbone, Packer fans did not lose hope in a miraculous run by Brett Hundley. They should now realize that Hundley is facing an impossible task. Even if Aaron Rodgers were on the field, he would have had to lead a broken team against the Lions this week, and he might have even lost. The Lions desperately needed this 30-17 win to keep a shot at the NFC North alive. For Green Bay, all looks lost at this point. Offensive lineman Brian Bulaga suffered a torn ACL this past week, only to further show that the Packers are made of glass. And much like glass, their hopes going forward seemed shattered this season.

9. The Savage World Without Watson

Tom Savage is not good enough for Houston to keep its eyes on the playoffs. If Deshaun Watson was still able to play, a loss to the Colts would have seemed impossible this week. In reality, the results were not all that surprising. Watson had carried the Texans this year since the loss of J.J. Watt on defense earlier in the season, and now Houston has lost its two real threats to opposing teams. The Tom Savage-led Texans could still make a playoff run, but that seems very unlikely. They just don’t have the talent now to match the Titans or the Jaguars.

10. Trade Deadline Reveals Winner and Losers So Far

The biggest winners so far have to be Jacksonville, with a run-stopper in Marcel Dareus who will play an automatic role in the already dangerous defense for the Jaguars, and Jay Ajayi, who had his best game of the year in his debut for the Eagles. The losers early on seem to be the 49ers, who are in such dire-straits that even if Jimmy Garoppolo was Tom Brady, they would still be terrible. With plenty of season left to play, every team involved in a trade is still hopeful they made the right moves to save their season.

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