Over Halfway Home: NFL Week 9 Recap

NFL Recap Header

wild and crazy Week 9 has come to a close, so Will and Derek are back with their unsolicited opinions on the week’s action, including the future of the Browns, Andrew Luck’s injury, Blaine Gabbert winning a game of American football, the Gentlemen of the Week, and the Most Hungover Fan Bases.


AP Photo/Jim Mone

AP Photo/Jim Mone

Will: We’re a shade over halfway through the season. The bye weeks are nearly in the rear view, injuries are laying waste around the league, and the playoff picture is rounding into shape. How’d you spend your bye week? Did you enjoy having a week away from the Seahawks? Are you rested and ready for the stretch run? Was it a treat to see the Rams lose?

Derek: It was nice. I got to sit back and watch all of the games without rearranging my schedule around the Seahawks. Last week’s bye was in Week 4, so I wasn’t really ready for a break, but I was this year. Russell Okung used the bye week to get healthy, or at least as healthy as he’s capable of getting. Paul Richardson should return after tearing his ACL against the Panthers in the playoffs last year. Jeremy Lane may also be back after he somehow both tore his ACL and broke his arm after intercepting Tom Brady in the Super Bowl. Marshawn got to rest his hamstring and play Call of Duty. Good times.

And now it’s time to face the Cardinals at home on Sunday night. The Seahawks have been money at home on Sunday night and, like I said last week, the Seahawks are streaky. This will be the first of three home games, though it will also be the first of three games in which Seattle’s opponent will have two weeks to prepare. Not sure how that happens, but whatever. I’m pumped. The only way I’d be more excited is if the Seahawks had managed to pry Alex Mack from the Browns.

Will: How dare you.

Derek: As for the Rams, the loss was bittersweet. On one hand, I can’t complain when a division rival loses. On the other hand, it was yet another game I picked incorrectly. I just suck at picking games this year. I can’t pick against the spread, I can’t pick straight-up … I just suck. It bothers me. Stupid Rams.

The Browns kept it close for a bit, but eventually fell to the Bengals on Thursday night. How should the Browns approach the rest of the season? Should Johnny be the full-time starter to see if he’s a legit option? Is everyone’s job safe? Are you surprised Robert Turbin and his biceps already got the boot?

Will: SHIP. BE. SINKING. No one’s job is safe. It looked like Turbin would be a legitimate factor in the run game, a big bruising sort to complement Duke Johnson’s shiftiness, but nope, he’s gone. Cutting Turbin in itself isn’t a huge deal, but as with many things Browns, it’s indicative of what may well be greater problems. There are fresh rumblings that the coaching staff and front office — namely head coach Mike Pettine and GM Ray Farmer — don’t see eye to eye. Josh McCown will start against the Steelers Sunday if healthy, because any time you’re 2-6 and have a chance to get a 36-year-old held together by putty back in there, you have to do it. 

Word is that Pettine never wanted Manziel, and that he’s the sort to stick to his guns once he’s decided he doesn’t like a player; Justin Gilbert is another example. One would think that the team would want to see if Manziel is worth a damn before looking for a new quarterback, but that doesn’t seem to be happening. The Browns got pasted by Cincinnati last Thursday, but Johnny played decently. Not well by any means, but he looked semi-competent against an undefeated team. McCown has played admirably all season and seems to be a decent human, but he’s 36 and this team sucks. Why not give the kid a chance?

Gotta say, I’m as down on the Browns as I have been in a long time. Let’s discuss another team’s losses to make me feel better. Packers losing two in a row: Cause for concern, or R-E-L-A-X?

Derek: This is a cop-out answer, but it’s a bit of both. If I had to pick, I’d say R-E-L-A-X, but their defensive performances the last two weeks were alarming. They were one of the few teams to make Peyton Manning look good this year and Cam Newton absolutely torched them throwing to Jerricho Cotchery and Devin Funchess.

The good news is the upcoming schedule. Three of their next four games are against the Bears and Lions. They’ve got the Cowboys at home, which could be good or bad depending on whether the Cowboys are still in the NFC East hunt or they’ve completely shut it down. They can’t be happy about the Vikings continuing to show fight, but they’re in the driver’s seat for the NFC North. Now, if they lose to the Lions or Bears, it might be time to P-A-N-I-C.

Speaking of panic, Andrew Luck is going to miss between two and six weeks with kidney and abdominal injuries. How do you see the rest of the season going for the Colts?

AP Photo/AJ Mast

AP Photo/AJ Mast

Will: Terribly. They’re 4-5 now, and they might only win three more games (related note: they have three games left against their AFC South foes). That said, I look forward to them hoisting another division championship banner. What would you say the AFC South is good for? Like, why does it exist? It’s the only division in which every team has a negative point differential.

Derek: Umm. We get to watch J.J. Watt, DeAndre Hopkins, Andrew Luck, Justin Blackmon, Dante Fowler, and Marcus Mariota! They’re pretty good! Without the AFC South, they’d just be floating in NFL purgatory. Granted, Justin Blackmon is pretty much already there, but you get the idea.

It seems like such a long time ago that we were watching the Texans be a bunch of wacky characters on Hard Knocks. I wish we could have watched them the entire season. Can you imagine how much fun it would have been seeing Bill O’Brien after Ryan Mallett missed the team flight? That would have been incredible.

You know who else is incredible? Blaine Gabbert, Real American. Which is the more likely scenario: Gabbert making a stunning career turnaround or the Falcons missing the playoffs?

AP Photo/Ben Margot

AP Photo/Ben Margot

Will: Hahahahahhaahahahahahahahahhahaha. Falcons missing the playoffs for sure. Oh man I needed that, thank you. But hey, good for Blaine getting that win. I’m sure he’ll do great against the Seahawks and Cardinals the next couple weeks.

Now that the Broncos have fallen from the ranks of the unbeaten, which undefeated team will be the next to bite the dust?

Derek: Hmm. My guess is Carolina, only because they’ve played to the level of their competition at times this year and I think they’re the most likely of the three to get upset. While they have big wins vs Indy and Green Bay at home and in Seattle, they also had close games against Luke McCown’s Saints and Ryan Mallett’s Texans. I’m inclined to wonder if the Titans could surprise them this week. There’s much less reason for the Panthers to get up for this game than their last six games. The Titans also have the short-term interim coach boost going for them. I don’t have the guts to pick Tennessee straight up, but I think it’s conceivable. Though we can never count out the Giants against the Patriots. They’re pros at upsetting heavily favored New England teams.

Let’s hand out this week’s hardware.

Gentlemen of the Week

Derek: I think we’re overdue for the return of the anti-Gentleman of the Week. This one’s for you, Julius Peppers.

I’m certainly no Cam Newton fan, but that was completely ungentlemanly. In his former home state, too. Shame on you, Peppers. Now even your fellow Tar Heels think you’re a prick.

Will: FOR SHAME, JULIUS. As long as we’re going anti-Gentleman, I’ll pick internal organs. Andrew Luck and Keenan Allen have both suffered lacerated kidneys this season, with Allen’s injury prematurely ending what was a career year in the making. Miles Austin had a kidney injury of his own last season with the Browns. That’s scary stuff, and I don’t like it. Get well, kidneys and people.

Must Hungover Fan Bases

Derek: I don’t like giving out this award to the same fan base two weeks in a row, but I’m making an exception. Last week, I almost showed sympathy for the Steelers when they lost Le’Veon Bell. I’m still not showing them any sympathy, but now Roethlisberger is hurt again. Steeler fans got to see a glimpse of what life could be like when their offense is clicking, as Antonio Brown and DeAngelo Williams combined for 531 yards from scrimmage. Then it was flatly taken away, and The Landry Jones Show continues for a game or two. You guys might need something a little stronger than Yuengling for that.

Will: It could be Jones vs. Manziel Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field, and most of the country will have a chance to watch it. Sorry, America. I’m not sure where I’m going with this, but I think the answer for most hungover fan base is the entire AFC North. The Browns suck, the Ravens suck, the Steelers are being sabotaged by injuries, and the freaking Bengals are 8-0. What a stupid season. Let’s all get drunk.*

*The views and opinions in the last sentence of this column do not necessarily reflect those of Sports Monocle, LLC at large. Be safe out there, kids.

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