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.

Antonio Brown will prove all wide receivers are expendable

Antonio Brown, unsurprisingly, has ignited a ruckus in the Oakland Raiders camp after whimpering to team officials that he will refuse to step foot on the gridiron without his precious helmet. Brown has another thing coming if he believes that he holds leverage in this snafu. He is a 31-year old wide receiver; compared to the league’s elite receivers such as Michael Thomas(25), DeAndre Hopkins(27), and Tyreek Hill(24), Brown is a grandfather. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, “Antonio Brown believes the new helmet that the rules mandate he wears protrudes out and interferes with his vision as he tries to catch the football. The Raiders have been sending Brown other approved helmets to try out but, at this time, he is not interested in wearing any of them”. Luckily for the Raiders, it takes 52 men to win a Super Bowl, not one child. Tyrell Williams will suffice as a number one option for Derek Carr and rookie, Hunter Renfrow, will significantly contribute parallel to Williams. Rookie running back, Josh Jacobs has 1,000+ rushing-yard potential, which should help out the receiving core even more. Brown’s potential absence will further prove that wide receivers are expendable in football.

In the last ten seasons, only three wide receivers that finished in the top ten for yards were members of that year’s Super Bowl champion squad: Greg Jennings(2010), Victor Cruz(2011), Demaryius Thomas(2015). Performances from wide receivers vary from game to game. Does any NFL fan, minus Seattle Seahawks fans, remember the name Chris Matthews? No? I do not blame you because he is now in the CFL. Antonio Brown is another addition to the outlandish reality shows that receivers and defensive backs have put on in recent years. Players like Jalen Ramsey, Odell Beckham Jr., and Josh Norman run their mouths and are entertaining for media scrums have yet to outweigh their off-field antics with their on-field contributions. As defense affects win-loss outcomes more than offense, the wide receiver is the most expendable of the 22 on-field positions. Teams carry eight to nine receivers on a single 52-man roster at a time, while other positions only carry two to three for the majority of the league. For receivers, it is always next man up. The player that is two positions below you on the depth chart still has the potential to have as good, if not better game than you, with one catch. With the pretentious threat of Antonio Brown’s absence from the Oakland Raiders, the Raiders will prove Brown’s extinction to be beneficial in the long-run.