Sunday 21 January 2018 / 03:32 PM

Airing It Out: Week 9

Game of the Week:

What do the ’89 Vikings, ’04 Bears, and 2013 Miami Dolphins have in common?

You’ll get a cookie if you guess this one.

These are the only three teams to win a game in overtime on a safety. The Vikings did it when Mike Merriweather blocked the LA Rams’ punter Dale Hatcher’s kick and the ball rolled out the back of the end zone. (You also get a cookie if you have any idea who Mike Merriweather or Dale Hatcher are). The Bears did it after RB Fred Miller of the Titans recovered a Billy Volek fumble behind the goal line.

The Dolphins?

Cameron Wake sacked Andy Dalton on a 3rd and 10 from the 8 yard line. The play was reviewed, but upheld by the replay officials and Miami snapped two four game streaks in the process. Their own four game slide, and Cincinnati’s four game winning streak.

The final score in our Week 9 Game of the Week was Miami 22, Cincinnati 20.

Andy Dalton, who’s been hot of late, put up quite the dud. He may have thrown for 338 yards, but he had 0 TDs, 3 INTs, and lost a fumble to boot. Miraculously, the Bengals went up 20-17 with 1:24 left on the clock after a 54-yard Mike Nugent field goal.

Tannehill and the Dolphins roared back and tied the game with a field goal of their own with 11 seconds remaining in regulation.

The Bengals should have been happy to make it to overtime in a game where they gave up 4 turnovers, but with one of the better defenses in the league, there really isn’t much of an excuse for letting the Dolphins march right down the field the way that they did.

The win keeps the Dolphins’ (4-4) playoff hopes alive, while the Bengals (6-3) still have a two game lead over the second place Cleveland Browns in the AFC North. In all likelihood, Cincinnati will run away with the division, but the Browns will get their chance to cut the lead next week if they are able to pull off a rare season sweep of the Bengals.

Performance of the Week:

Nick Foles went 22 of 28 last Sunday against the Raiders.

So what, you say?

This means that he scored a touchdown every fourth time that he threw a pass. Nearly 1/3 of all Nick Foles’ receptions put 7 points up on the board.

To go along with the NFL record tying 7 touchdown passes (he is the seventh QB all-time to reach this feat) he didn’t toss a single interception and amassed an impressive 406 yards on only 28 pass attempts. When you average 18.4 yards per catch it is easy to see how your team wins 49-20.

Biggest Upset of the Week:

Last week there were so few upset that we didn’t even pick one to highlight in this column, but in week 9 it was Upset City.

We’ve got the Browns downing the World Champion Ravens, Chicago winning at Lambeau Field, and the Jets beating the Saints.

Unless you’ve accidentally run across this article by way of some random, unrelated Google search string, you ought to know that the Jets over the Saints 26-20 is clearly the Upset of the Week.

Not only did we have all of the completely uninteresting Rex vs. Rob brotherly back story, but the Jets were coming off an embarrassing 49-9 beat down at the hands of the Bengals.

So how did they do it? By playing classic Jets football: great defense, a smash mouth run game, and oh, great defense.

Former Saint Chris Ivory ran for 138 yards with a touchdown, and Demario Davis and Antonio Cromartie each intercepted Drew Brees.

The New Orleans passing game was able to move the ball fairly easily against the Jets’ secondary, as Brees totaled 382 yards on 30 of 51 passing, with 2 TDs. But the two turnovers turned out to be the difference in this game as the Jets were able to take advantage of short fields to put 10 points up on the board. Nick Folk also had a solid outing, connecting on all four of his field goal attempts.

The Jets continued the trend of a bizarre 2013 statistic: they win all of their games in odd-numbered weeks, and lose all games in even-numbered weeks. So the Jets faithful must be totally stoked that New York is on BYE in week 10 and heads to Buffalo for an AFC East clash in week 11.

New Orleans has now fallen 1.5 games behind Seattle for the top record in the NFC and will hope to rebound next week against the Cowboys.

As an aside, it is worth mentioning that both the Seahawks and the Colts stormed back from double-digit deficits to avoid upsets against two struggling teams this week. Seattle nearly snapped their 11-game home win streak to the winless Bucs, and Indy pulled out a classic on Sunday night football against the disappointing Houston Texans.

Injuries from the Week:

We have a fairly short injury report this week, but it includes a big name shocker:

  • Aaron Rodgers has confirmed that he has a fractured collarbone. The injury has been labeled “significant” but no timetable has been set for a possible return. Seneca Wallace is preparing to start next week’s game against the Eagles.
  • Arian Foster, who entered this week’s game nursing a hamstring, left the game early with a back injury and did not return. There is still no word on his status going forward.
  • Similarly, Darrius Heyward-Bey of the Colts entered the game with a questionable hamstring but left due to an unrelated ailment when he was dealt a concussion in the second half.

What to Look Forward to Next Week:

A lot of great games to look forward to in Week 10:

  • Our game to watch for the week comes from the NFC North for the second week in a row. The Lions travel to Soldier Field to take on the Chicago Bears in a game that could mean first place in the division. The Lions, Bears, and Packers sit in a 3-way tie at (5-3).
  • The Broncos travel to San Diego in a game that could wind up being a really entertaining. The Chargers have played well at times this season, and in a divisional match-up at home, you never know what might go down.
  • The Cowboys won a thriller over the Vikings on a late Tony Romo TD pass; can they come up with a magical finish two weeks in a row against the Saints?

Week 9 prediction results: 0-2 Seriously, I should probably just remove this feature from the column. Philly spanked Oakland to thwart my pick of the week, and the Bills couldn’t hold on after taking an early 7 point lead on the Chiefs.

So here we go, my predictions for week 10:

Pick of the week: Lions 24 – 17 Bears

Hot off a big win at Green Bay, the Bears won’t stay in first place for long. With Rodgers’ health in question, this really and truly could be Detroit’s year.

Upset of the week: Buccaneers 20 – Dolphins 17

Tampa Bay finally gets their first win of the season as Miami just can’t find the consistency that they’ll need to make a proper playoff push. While heartbreaking, the near upset of Seattle at Century Link Field ought to be a huge confidence boost, and Mike Glennon looks like he could be the real deal.

Michael’s Scoop

First: a quick update on last week’s “Scoop”. Yes, the Falcons are still done.

This week it’s hard not to talk about what’s happening in Miami. We’re going to expand on the Dolphins and the effect that the Jonathan Martin drama is having on the team and their season in a feature article this week, but for now let’s look at the core issue that’s really at hand here.

Which is: Do professional athletes deserve the same rights and protections in the workplace as everyone else when it comes to bullying?

Undoubtedly there are far more players in the NFL who are on the verge of an emotional breakdown due to hazing and bullying in the locker room than we might think.

It’s easy to write off the emotional strains and challenges of playing in the NFL with a simple, “that’s what they get paid millions of dollars to do.” But the fact of the matter is that not all players make millions, and while a $450,000 per year paycheck might seem ridiculous for the league’s youngest, most inexperienced players, by the time you take out taxes and figure that the average NFL player plays (3.3 years), not every player who suits up is set for life.

We’ve also got to remember that at 22 or even 25 years of age, most guys, football players or not, don’t have the smartest spending habits. Plus, you know that everyone these guys have ever known, has got their hand out asking for dough.

Take off the helmets, pads, and the occasional diamond grill, and players are just regular people like you and me, just less flabby, but with feelings, worries, and emotions.

Quite a few notable current and former players, such as Ricky Williams and Antrel Rolle, have chimed in with their opinions. Williams believes that this is all just part of locker-room culture and that if you want to play in the NFL, get used to it. He even wrote off the alleged racial slurs saying that these slurs take on a different context in the family relationship that a team possesses. Rolle cites that Martin is a grown man, and if he can’t refuse to give his own money to another man then he is just as much to blame.

In our politically correct world, “just be a man”, often doesn’t quite cut it. And although my “football” brain definitely wants to side with the tough it out mentality, there must be something to the issue when there are teams, both past and present, which did not allow hazing.

We’ll have to wait and see how this all plays out, but Martin’s stand could definitely change the face of the NFL Locker room.

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Michael Airhart

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