Welcome to this week’s edition of the “3M Report” – a weekly look back at the mayhem, magic and mishaps from around the NFL, focusing on situations and players that caught my eye or made me scratch my head in either awe or disbelief. So let’s take a look at week number nine of the NFL season.
We are to the halfway point of the season and still have three teams sitting at 8-0.
The Bengals dismantled the Browns on Thursday night football. Andy Dalton looks more comfortable in the pocket and appears to be seeing the field much better this season than in past campaigns. It helps that his weapons are staying healthy. Tyler Eifert continues to be a monster across the middle and in the red zone. The Bengals stay perfect, and the injury to Steeler’s quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (mid foot sprain) may allow Cincinnati to extend that lead in the AFC North over the next few weeks.
Johnny Manziel looked solid running the Cleveland offense in hurry up to close out the second half. He was five of six, and as he moved out of the pocket he seemed to be more on target. He connected with Gary Barnidge and Duke Johnson Jr. with some deep passes, but his accuracy seemed to be limited to that single drive.
It was good to see Jay Ajayi active for the Dolphins and break off a 23 yard run. The team continues to struggle but they seem to be focusing on using their running game to get them going. Lamar Miller led Miami in receiving and scored twice on the ground.
The Buffalo Bills got it going on the ground early, and both Karlos Williams and LeSean McCoy were able to get in the endzone on the ground. Tyrod Taylor returned to the field and finished the game 11 of 12 for 181 yards. More impressive is that Sammy Watkins was the primary beneficiary, catching eight passes for 168 yards and one touchdown. Watkins had his best single game performance leading the Bills over the Dolphins.
The Green Bay Packers’ Eddie Lacy may be the biggest fantasy bust: both literally and figuratively. The Packers handed the ball off to Lacy five times on Sunday, compared to James Starks’ ten touches. Green Bay lost to an undefeated Panthers team who won the game with the stellar play of Cam Newton and the Panthers’ defense. Devin Funchess had his best game as a rookie, finishing with three catches for 71 yards and a touchdown. Carolina continues to improve from each week to the next and they appear to be the team to beat in the NFC.
The Vikings and the Rams game was like watching paint dry. Both teams tried to grind it out for most of the contest with Adrian Peterson taking on 29 carries to Gurley’s 24 carries. Greg “Legatron” Zeurlein connected on four of five field goal tries including a 61 yarder. It was Blair Walsh that connected on the game winner to catapult the Vikings past the Rams in overtime.
The Patriots scored twice before the Redskins could get their second offensive play off in week nine. New England won in lopsided fashion. The biggest news out of Foxboro was that waiver wire gem Dion Lewis went down with a non-contact knee injury. Early reports say the ACL is loose and the Pats are holding out hope for an isolated MCL sprain. LeGarrette Blount shouldered the load after Lewis left the game. Brandon Bolden spelled Blount and did score a receiving touchdown. Keep an eye on Bolden and perhaps James White to fill the role Lewis played in the offense.
The Titans and the Saints missed field goals in regulation that may have given either team the victory. However, it was the Titans getting the win in overtime with Marcus Mariota returning from a knee injury to throw for 371 yards and four touchdowns. Dorial Green-Beckham had his most active game to date with ten targets (team high) that resulted in five catches for 77 yards. If Kendall Wright is still out in week ten, DGB could be a solid WR3 against the Panthers.
The Jets topped the Jaguars, who couldn’t seem to get out of their own way. The Jags made some mistakes down the stretch to hand the game to New York. Chris Ivory scored two touchdowns, despite averaging just over one yard per carry (23 carries for 26 yards). Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson continue to put up solid numbers in the Jaguars offense.
If I told you that the Steelers lost Ben Roethlisberger with a foot injury, Antonio Brown caught 17 passes for 284 yards, and the Steelers had nearly 600 yards of total offense, you would probably expect that they won the game. They did just that with a field goal in the final seconds to beat the Oakland Raiders 38-35. Derek Carr continues to impress as the Raiders open up the playbook and have him slinging it around the yard to Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper. The Raiders are becoming fun to watch, with a strong core of young talent.
The Atlanta Falcons were looking like one of the best teams in football just weeks ago, but they have played one of the softest schedules and they lost to a Niners team that started backup Blaine Gabbert at quarterback and third string running back Shaun Draughn. This Falcons team has leaned on Devonta Freeman for much of the season but only handed off to him twelve times. Atlanta heads into the bye looking to “right the ship” before hosting the Colts in week eleven.
The Giants got the victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to hang on to the NFC East lead. Eli Manning threw two touchdown passes, and the return of Jason Pierre-Paul bolstered a defense that kept Tampa out of the end zone in the first half. The big story of the day came from Mike Evans, who finished the game with eight catches for 152 yards. He also had six drops on the day. SIX! That could have been a stat line of 14 catches for 200 plus yards. Evans lacked focus and had many mental errors when catching the ball. Hopefully he will spend some time with the JUGS machine this week.
Growing up a Colts fan I loved watching Peyton Manning and how he made everyone around him better. His laser focus and ability to be able to handle teams mentally and physically was fun to watch. I was hoping that he would take both the NFL wins and passing yards records in Indy. It would have made for a fun homecoming to see a guy who gave a city so much be able to give it back with a standing ovation. I was happy to see my Colts take out the old signal caller, but a bit disappointed he missed the yards mark by three yards and would have likely have had a shot if it weren’t for a foolish defensive hold on a field goal. I guess I will tune in next week.
As for Indianapolis heading into the bye week, they knock off the undefeated Broncos and it appeared that Andrew Luck was playing within himself. He didn’t force too much, and the Colts seemed to move the ball. Overall it was a solid day for football.
I was hoping Jordan Matthews would continue to put up strong numbers but it appears the offense looks out of sync as of late for the Philadelphia Eagles. Sam Bradford does not seem comfortable and the Sunday Night game appeared to be two backup quarterbacks playing against each other.
(Editor’s note: Matthews caught four passes for 90 yards in the fourth quarter/overtime, including a 41 yard game-winner.)
On a personal note, I love the NFL salute to service. I want to personally thank those service men and women who have sacrificed so much so that we may be free. It is a selfless act, and no amount of appreciation or thanks will be sufficient enough to honor you for what you have done for the people in the USA. Happy Veterans Day.
Let’s hope for more magic, mishaps and mayhem in week ten. I hope your week was filled with maximum production and minimal losses. Good luck in the coming week.
- 3M Report: Week Ten - November 16, 2015
- 3M Report: Week Nine - November 9, 2015
- 3M Report: Week Eight - November 2, 2015
I want to thank Ken Kelly my editor for catching the Jordan Matthews 4th quarter and overtime bonanza. I also wanted to mention that Eddie Lacy’s day was cut short due to a groin injury.
Always good to see fellow athletic trainers trying to squeeze in fantasy sports between events and class.