With the St. Louis Rams sitting out this week on their bye, it was nice to sit back and watch some of the other games around the league. If you are a fan of monster performances, this was definitely the weekend to watch, as record after record got shattered throughout the day on Sunday. Here are Ramblin’ Fans quick thoughts from Week 9:
1. The Atlanta Falcons may be a perfect 9-0 on the season, but the Chicago Bears are the most dominate teams in the NFC, and probably the NFL. Their defense and special teams alone scored more points than the Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, Buffalo Bills, and Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday. That doesn’t even include the three touchdown catches by Brandon Marshall… If Cutler is on his feet and on his game throwing the rock, the Bears are unstoppable.
2. Apparently, ACL tears are no longer a career ending, or even career altering, injury to young running backs in the NFL. In just over half of the season, Adrian Peterson leads the league in rushing with 168 carries for 957 yards and 6 touchdowns. Not only does he lead the league in rushing yards by nearly an 80 yards margin, but he tops the league in yards per carry for backs with 100+ rushing attempts.
3. Peyton Manning is the front runner for the MVP this season, and no one else is even close. Not only has Mannnig thrown at least 3 touchdowns in each of his last 5 games, he has led his team to a 5-3 record working in a completely new offensive system with completely (sort of) new offensive players. It’s one thing for Brady and Rodgers to repeat what they have been doing on their teams for half of a decade, it is another to do it starting off with a fresh slate. Oh yea, and he had multiple neck surgeries and did not play for a full year… Manning also broke Dan Marino’s record for fourth-quarter comebacks with this Sunday’s victory, taking the lead with 48 come-from-behind wins.
4. RGIII is having a premature sophomore slump… Since the Atlanta Falcons game, which saw RGIII leave with a concussion, he has been 86 of 138 for 923 yards (184.6 yards per game),with only 4 touchdown passes and 2 interceptions, all while leading the team to a 1-4 record. Worse, he has completed only 53.4% of his passes in the last two games, after averaging a 69.55% completion percentage in the first four games of the season
5. This is the strongest running back draft class to hit the NFL in a long, long time with 1) Doug Martin just tallying the 10th best performance on the ground in the history of the NFL, with 25 carries for 251 yards and 4 touchdowns, 2) Trent Richardson topping 100 yards rushing for the second consecutive week, and for the third time this season and 3) Alfred Morris averaging 4.5 yards per carry in 7 out of his 9 games this season, including 5 touchdowns on the season. You could also throw St. Louis Rams running back Daryl Richardson into the mix, who has 62 carries for 335 yards, good for 5.2 yards per carry (4th among running backs).
6. Arizona is completely falling apart on the defensive side of the football. Their defense was “top ranked” in both rushing defense and sacks coming into Sunday’s game against the Packers. Yet, they allowed a mediocre group of running backs to tally 176 total yards on the ground, and only sacked Aaron Rodgers one time. The Seahawks wrangled him down 8 times in one half…
7. Tannehill and Luck are both progressing nicely as rookies, especially the Stanford kid. Luck set an NFL rookie record for passing yards in a single game, going 30 of 48 for 433 yards, with 2 touchdowns and no interceptions. He converted 13 out of 19 third downs, and passed for 22 first downs in the game. More importantly, the Colts are 5-3, which is second in the AFC South, and likely on track to snag a Wild Card spot in an extremely weak AFC Conference.
8. The Pittsburgh Steelers defense is still good…
9. Christian Ponder needs to get out of whatever funk he has been in for the last three weeks if the Minnesota Vikings want to steal a Wild Card spot in the NFC. In his last three performances, Ponder has averaged 125.4 passing yards, less than a touchdown per game, at least one interception per game, and has only completed 50.4% of his passing attempts. That type of play might beat the Arizona Cardinals, but that will not work against the Chicago Bears or Green Bay Packers, who the Vikings have to play twice each in the second half of the season.
10. Regardless of his numbers in the last 4 games, Chris Johnson is not longer an “elite” running back, whatever that means. Every season, Johnson puts up spectacular numbers in one or two games that keeps him on track to breaking the 1,000 yard barrier, and is currently on track to do the same this season. Marshawn Lynch, Adrian Peterson, and Arian Foster are backs that carry their teams to wins… Johnson is a back who can play big against an irrelevant opponent (Buffalo) or when the stakes don’t matter and the second-string defense is in the game (Chicago and Houston).