Week 9 Reflections

Photo via Associated Press

Home field advantage was the theme for Week 9 of the NFL season. For the six morning games, four afternoon games and the Sunday Night Football game, all the home teams won. The only road teams that won were the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday night, the Houston Texans at London, and the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football. After an exciting week in the NFL, here are my thoughts on the state of the NFL after Week 9.

  • Los Angeles Chargers, that’s more like it. After having a very disappointing record to start the season, the Chargers put on their best performance of the season with a dominant 26-11 victory over the Green Bay Packers. The great pass-rushing duo of Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa showed up to deliver a dominant defensive performance, and for the first time this season, the offense got into a rhythm. They looked like the great 12-4 team they were last year, and once again they are turning it on in November. In 2017, they started 0-4 and then finished the season 9-7, nearly making the playoffs. In 2009, the Chargers started 2-3 and finished 13-3. The Chargers are a second-half team and if they can beat the Chiefs and Raiders, they will be 6-5 coming off their bye week and will most likely have Derwin James returning.
  • The Pittsburgh Steelers are a resilient and gritty team that all of a sudden, finds themselves in the playoff race after defeating the Indianapolis Colts 26-24. Minkah Fitzpatrick has been sensational for the Steelers with four interceptions, two forced fumbles and a huge pick-six that turned the game around for Pittsburgh. He is this year’s Amari Cooper: a team gives up their first-round pick for an impact player that turns their season around. They have an easy schedule to end the season with games against the Browns twice, the winless Bengals, Cardinals, and Jets. That’s five games that they can win and they can find themselves on the cusp of a wild card berth and it’s in part due to the impact of Fitzpatrick.
  • The Oakland Raiders are a nice team. They have the fourth-fewest giveaways in the NFL with only eight on the season, they have one of the league’s top rushers in potential rookie of the year winner Josh Jacobs, and they have one of the best tight end corps in the NFL. They have a good all-around offense, and they do not give the ball away often. This is a good recipe for success and it’s amazing the Raiders are 4-4 considering they didn’t have a home game at the Black Hole from weeks 3-8. They have a huge game on Thursday against the Chargers at home and if they win that, they have the Bengals and Jets. So, the Chargers game becomes a must-win for this team.
  • I don’t understand the Washington Redskins’ decision to have Dwayne Haskins’ first start be against the Buffalo Bills. They have a top-five defense and it was in a hostile environment. That is throwing Haskins into the lions’ den and it was not an ideal situation for Haskins. They could have waited to start him at home against the Jets after their bye week and raised his confidence. Instead, they throw him in against a stout Bills defense which did not do much for his confidence. The Redskins continue to be the worst run organization in the NFL.

Goodbye Ken Whisenhunt, Hello Shane Steichen

Photo via Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times

After offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Chargers, Ken Whisenhunt was fired about a week before the big matchup against the Green Bay Packers, the Chargers offense was reignited under Shane Steichen as they won 26-11 to defeat the Packers.

The 7-1 Packers traveled to Dignity Health Sports Park to face off against the Chargers last Sunday. The Chargers broke the four-game win streak the Packers previously held.

Steichen has a new approach to the offense, and it may end up working in the long run. 

After having a pretty slow start to the season, playoff dreams were slowly fading out of the picture for quarterback Phillip Rivers and the Chargers. However, on Sunday, Rivers looked revamped and undoubtedly performed the best we’ve seen from him and the Chargers this season.

Rivers finished the game completing 21 of 28 passes for 294 yards. Running back, Austin Eekler has been proving himself this season and did so in the game as he had 12 carries for 70 yards. Wide receiver, Mike Williams was a standout as he caught for 111 yards on just three catches.

The Chargers offense kept making plays and driving down the field but struggled in the first half to get into the end zone, which is a scary place to be against one of the best quarterbacks the league has ever seen. 

Melvin Gordon wasn’t having the best season, especially when you look back at week seven against the Tennessee Titans when Gordon fumbled the ball on the one-yard line on fourth down ultimately losing the game for the Chargers.

Gordon then turns it around and makes a highlight play hurdling over defensive Chandon Sullivan getting the first down and bringing the Chargers into Green Bay territory. Gordon went on to score two touchdowns in the win.

Not only was the Chargers offense giving the Packers defense a hard time, but the Chargers defense was not giving Rodgers any room to make big plays as he was sacked and hurried multiple times by Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa.

Ingram continues to be a vital part of the Chargers defense. He missed three games this season after suffering a hamstring injury. The game against the Packers was the second game he played in since the injury and the Chargers are currently on a two-game win streak.

The Chargers defense held Rodgers to only completing 11 out of 19 passes for 61 yards through the first three quarters. Rodgers’ final stats were 23 for 35 for 161 yards with one touchdown.

In the post-game interview with Rodgers, he had no excuses for the performance as he explained the game as, “… a nice slice of humble pie.” The Packers will play the Carolina Panthers at home next Sunday.

The Chargers have a short week as they travel to The Oakland Coliseum for Thursday Night Football. The Raiders are currently second in the AFC West and are currently 3-1 in four home games on the season.