Wednesday 13 December 2017 / 07:44 AM

Airing it Out: Week 9

Pop quiz: Which quarterback has now led his team to victories over three of the four teams from last year’s championship round?

I’ll give you a clue. He’s in hot water at the moment for ripping down some poor little cheesehead’s banner at Bank of America Stadium and he tossed 3 touchdown passes on Sunday and ran for one more to hand Aaron Rodgers and the Packers their second loss of the season.

Still guessing?

His nickname is Superman and he’s led the Panthers halfway through an undefeated season.

The NFC better take notice. Cam Newton is for real, yo. And it’s about time opposing defenses break out their secret stores of kryptonite if they hope to find a way to stop him.

Just ask Julius Peppers…who played this temper-tantrum out when Cam asked for the game ball following a score:

Like it or not, Carolina is (8-0) and has proven themselves to be the best team in the conference. Could it be that the road to Super Bowl 50 goes through Charlotte in the NFC? Sure looks like it.

Jump on the Carolina bandwagon before it’s too late.

Tasty Tidbits from Week 9

On Sunday the Colts looked more like the team many predicted to be a proper championship contender. Andrew Luck threw 2 TDs with no INTs and Frank Gore put up a solid 83 yards with a touchdown against perhaps the best overall defensive unit in the NFL.

And Indy’s defense put just enough pressure on Peyton Manning to force 2 interceptions in what was supposed to be a record-setting day in his old home town. One of the turnovers, in classic Manning style, came at a crucial point in the game where Denver was threatening to score.

But while beating the previously undefeated Broncos is surely a sign of progress, the (4-5) Colts still need to rattle off a few more wins before we start to take them seriously again as a potential threat to dethrone Brady and Co.

Speaking of AFC contenders, our other two undefeated teams steamrolled this week with Cincy making mincemeat out of Johnny Football and the Browns 31-10 while New England easily cruised past the Redskins 27-10 despite losing RB Dion Lewis for the season with a torn ACL.

A couple more notable games included Buffalo getting back into the win column 33-17 over the Dolphins to stay right in the thick of the Wild Card race and Pittsburgh downing the Raiders 38-35 with DeAngelo Williams doing his best Le’Veon Bell impression.

The news wasn’t all good out of Steel City, however, as Big Ben is out once again with a foot injury. Roethlisberger could miss several weeks of action.

Offensive Player of the Week

Marcus Mariota is the first player in the Super Bowl era to have two 4+ touchdown games during his first season – and we’ve only played through half of the games.

Not only was Mariota 28/39 for 371 yards and 4 TDs, he didn’t throw a single pick, putting his TD:INT ratio up to an impressive 13:5 on the year, unheard of for a rookie.

The Titans have a long ways to go before they’re relevant but finally nailing down a franchise quarterback is generally the toughest piece of the puzzle to complete.

Defensive Player of the Week

2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 1 QB hit, 7 tackles and the win.

It’s no wonder Brandon Graham was smiling after the Eagles toppled Dallas 33-27 in overtime to stay half a game back of the NFC East-leading Giants.

Team on the Rise

The Minnesota Vikings have won 4 straight games, the longest such streak amongst the NFL’s non-undefeated squads.

In a matchup that pitted the greatest RB of his time (Adrian Peterson) versus potentially the greatest running back of the next decade (Todd Gurley) it was a grind ’em out brawl more akin to the gridiron of the 1970s than the football we’re used to today.

The “old” man won this battle, as AP tallied 125 rushing yards with a touchdown to Gurley’s 89 plus a score.

The Vikes took a scare as Teddy Bridgewater left the game with a concussion following a nasty hit, but all signs point to the QB suiting up next Sunday on the road against the Raiders.

Team on the Decline

Following a pair of losses (this week to Blaine Gabbert and an awful 49ers club) the Falcons have dropped to (6-3) after starting the 2015 campaign off five and oh.

Things are looking down for a club that’s only beaten one team with a winning record all year long, the (5-4) New York Giants.

Week 10 brings a much needed BYE before two home games at the Georgia Dome against an improving Colts team and the red hot Vikings.

While the Falcons still have games remaining against the Bucs and Jaguars, they’ll also meet the division-leading Panthers twice over the back half of the schedule.

The NFL’s fifth-best offense could very well wind up missing the playoffs if they don’t catch this fall. According to Adam Rank of NFL.com they’re already out of the running:

Just in Case You Missed It

  • The St. Louis Rams have signed Wes Welker to a one-year deal with incentives. The veteran receiver has been waiting for a call all year after being let go following a string of concussions at the end of last season.
  • Plenty of big names left games with injuries this week: DeMarcus Ware, Eddie Lacy, LeSean McCoy, Nick Mangold, Latavius Murray and Sean Lee just to name a few.
  • Aqib Talib has been suspended one game for poking Colts TE Dwayne Allen in the eye.

Following the game Talib was quoted as saying “You think I play football to poke people in the eye?”

Well…here’s the tape:

Why yes. I guess you do.

Games to Look Forward to in Week 10

Bills at Jets – Rex Ryan returns to New York. That’s reason enough to watch this Thursday Night game, but if you need another we’re starting to get to the point in the season where games have legitimate playoff implications. Buffalo is half a game behind the Jets in the Wild Card chase.

 

Vikings at Raiders – If Oakland hopes to make good on their postseason dreams they’ll need to avoid dropping two in a row. The Vikings are now tied (6-2) with the Packers atop the NFC North. They’re no longer just thinking playoffs – why not make a run at the division crown?

 

Cardinals at Seahawks – Win this one and Arizona’s road to taking over the NFC West will be smooth sailing from here on out. Lose and the club will fall in danger of once again letting the Hawks crawl back and snatch the division by the end of the season. 

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Michael Airhart

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