A record-breaking rookie, a few blundering back-ups and some Minnesota magic highlight Week 9 of the 2023/24 NFL season.
Titans 16 - 20 Steelers
Will Levis threw 4 touchdowns in his NFL debut last week, but the Steelers completely shut him down - holding him to a 56% completion rate for 0 touchdowns and a pick. The turnover came on an all-or-nothing play, so it’s no hit on the rookie’s performance, but I would have loved to see him find the endzone here and give a glimpse of hope to Tennessee.
I expect a bounce back vs the Bucs next week, but with Derrick Henry far from his prime, and Levis likely to have a rollercoaster year as he settles into the league, it’s not looking great for Mike Vrabel (and it’ll look even worse if Ryan Tannehill reclaims the starting spot).
As for Mike Tomlin, I still don’t know how he finds winning seasons. Put the guy in charge of a well-rounded offense and he probably gets a ring.
That being said, Pickett wasn’t terrible this week, but seeing a QB wear two gloves will always make my skin crawl. Until he takes them off, I hope George Pickens keeps doing this…
“George Pickens has elite body control”pic.twitter.com/BfXVfaAaex— Analytics of Dynasty (@McNamaraDynasty) November 3, 2023
Dolphins 14 - 21 Chiefs
This was a game of two halves if I’ve ever seen one.
The Chiefs dominated in the first two quarters, putting up all of their 21 points before the break. Mahomes was dicing up the Dolphins secondary, while his own defense was also making plays…
Then Miami came out of the locker room looking for revenge - forcing 3 punts and a fumble from KC, while Tua & Co. made it a one-score game. But their last two drives were foiled by errant throws and a sour final play before Mahomes knelt it out.
Despite early struggles, Mike McDaniel got things in check and lost by one touchdown to the reigning Super Bowl champs, while keeping them from adding to the scoreboard for an entire half. I’m not ruling out Miami just yet.
Vikings 31 - 28 Falcons
The Vikings opted to start rookie Jaren Hall despite signing Joshua Dobbs from Arizona earlier in the week, and then the inevitable happened… Hall got injured and Dobbs was left to run an entirely new offense, with just a few days in Minnesota under his belt.
After a safety and two fumbles within his first four drives, it wasn't looking good. Then out of nowhere, Dobbs turned it on - leading the ground-game for 66-yards and a score, and throwing a game-winning TD with 20 seconds left. But this is the play that says it all…
However much Josh Dobbs is making this season, it's not enough.pic.twitter.com/8S2jJHLpBr— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) November 5, 2023
Too many people were calling for the end of Minnesota’s season after Jefferson and Cousins got injured. But Dobbs has talent and the offense still has a solid group of receivers. It’s not over yet.
Meanwhile, Taylor Heinicke is certainly an upgrade from Desmond Ridder, but I don’t understand why they’ve abandoned the run-game with one of the best backfield duos in the league… Get the ball back in the hands of Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier.
Bears 17 - 24 Saints
Chicago desperately needs Justin Fields to return.
Tyson Bagent may have shown flashes of good football over the weeks, but he logged three interceptions and a fumble to truly seal the loss this in New Orleans. As poorly as Bagent played, Paulson Adebo deserves a shout out. Easily the defensive player of the week.
A career day for Paulson Adebo 🔥— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) November 5, 2023
2 INTs, 1 FF, 1 FR, 7 TKLS, 3 passes defended
📺 CBS pic.twitter.com/ED5OAO9XYo
It may be a victory for the Saints, but winning by just one score when your defense forces 5 turnovers doesn’t bode well for the future…
Rams 3 - 20 Packers
As a Rams fan, I don’t want to talk about it, so I’ll just say this - we’re nothing without Matthew Stafford…
Fumble! Packers De’Vondre Campbell picks up the Rams loose ball pic.twitter.com/dlUS6YoCUd— Lukas Galecki-Shofroth (@TGNCoverage) November 5, 2023
On the other hand, Jordan Love had his first clean game of the season with a 77% completion rate, a touchdown pass and zero turnovers to finally break a four-game losing streak. Now that Aaron Jones is back in the line up, with some very winnable games in the schedule, the Packers could have a very slim shot at the postseason.
Commanders 20 - 17 Patriots
The Patriots are now 2-7 for the first time in 23 years, and it’s not Bill Belichick’s fault. I’m sorry to say - Mac Jones just isn’t a playmaker.
It was a fairly even matchup for the most part, with each side having one passing touchdown, one rushing touchdown and one interception. But Jones was given an opportunity to lead a game winning drive, and instead, did this… A dangerous throw on second down and a disappointing result.
Jartavius Martin with the CLUTCH interception to seal the win for the Commanders 😤pic.twitter.com/gyGMfemIn7— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPoints) November 5, 2023
Sam Howell didn’t have his best game, but the Pats defense is great at making things tough for QBs, so all props to him for bouncing back from his INT to throw a touchdown on the very next possession. Washington might not be done just yet.
Seahawks 3 - 37 Ravens
Don’t let the zero passing touchdowns fool you - Lamar Jackson is in MVP form right now, and he’s being backed up by perhaps the best defense in the league.
Sure, Geno Smith doesn’t look like the same QB from last year’s Comeback Player of the Year campaign, but holding the Hawks to a single field goal is very impressive nonetheless.
Geno Stone has his league leading 6th INT of the season! pic.twitter.com/uqVqRaldQJ— JM Football (@JomboyMediaFB) November 5, 2023
And a big part of the scoreline was Baltimore doubling the possession time of Seattle. They only needed one turnover on the day to win by a whopping 5 scores… I guess it helps when even your back-up QB can slice and dice a defense.
ODELL BECKHAM JR TOUCHDOWN ON HIS BIRTHDAY 🔥 pic.twitter.com/XgPoRkYsN0— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) November 5, 2023
Buccaneers 37 - 39 Texans
C.J. Stroud is the real deal.
The rookie now has a 14-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio on the year. That's tied for the highest in a single-season in NFL history with Tom Brady (2016).
CJ STROUD.— NFL (@NFL) November 5, 2023
470 PASSING YARDS (NFL rookie record)
GAME-WINNING DRIVE WITH 46 SECONDS LEFT. pic.twitter.com/aFJY6eEr1B
Of course, Stroud’s performance is the talk of the town this week, but if there’s anyone else that deserves a shoutout, it’s running back Dare Ogunbowale. The 4th string rusher took over as Houston’s kicker and put up a field goal midway through the 4th quarter. In a 2-point win, this guy should get some serious credit.
Texans RB Dare Ogunbowale just became the first non-kicker to make a field goal in a regular season game since Wes Welker did it back in 2004.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) November 5, 2023
As for the Bucs - Baker Mayfield had perhaps his best performance of the season, while Rachaad White also led a solid ground game. But nothing was stopping Stroud from winning this one.
Cardinals 0 - 27 Browns
Now, I don’t want to be too harsh on Clayton Tune. It was his first NFL game against a top rated defense, so we weren’t expecting much, but let's be honest, the Cardinals desperately need Kyler Murray to suit up.
Meanwhile, Deshaun Watson is back and didn’t look rusty at all - 2 touchdown passes, 0 turnovers and a few nice scrambles for positive yardage. With 3 teams at 5-3 in the AFC North, Cleveland could see the postseason after all.
Colts 27 - 13 Panthers
I want to say that the Minshew hype-train is rolling on, but this win was completely down to Indy’s defense. 4 sacks, 4 TFLs, 7 QB hits, 8 pass deflections and 3 interceptions, including two pick sixes…
If Frank Riech wasn’t already kicking himself for taking Bryce Young over C.J. Stroud, he certainly is now.
CJ Stroud Today: 470 Yards, 5 TDs— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) November 5, 2023
Bryce Young today: Two Pick Sixes pic.twitter.com/GykSzBHiOT
Giants 6 - 30 Raiders
The Giants’ season is going from bad to worse.
Dan Jones finally returned, looking to breathe some life into New York’s offense, but he lasted just three drives before getting injured again.
With Tommy DeVito back at the helm, he did everything he could to keep up with the Raiders. But after 2 interceptions and zero points in the first half, it didn’t matter that Barkley logged 113 yards and DeVito had a 75% completion rate, the game was already lost.
If I’m Brian Daboll, I’m tanking for Caleb Williams at this point.
Cowboys 23 - 28 Eagles
We knew this would be a close game, but perhaps not this close…
First, Luke Schoonmaker came inches short of the endzone on 4th down at the start of the final quarter. On the next drive, Dak stepped out of bounds by a matter of millimetres as he dived for a 2-point conversion that would have made it a 3-point game. And on the last play, trailing by 5, Ceedee Lamb was stopped 4-yards short of a game-winning touchdown.
Either way, we saw two of the best teams go head-to-head and show exactly why they’re leading the Super Bowl conversation. Explosive offenses, playmaking defenses and special teams too. I’m already hoping for a playoff rematch.
Chargers 27 - 6 Jets
This may have been one of the worst Primetime games in the history of the NFL...
Just 2 offensive touchdowns on the night (both goal-line runs by Ekeler and both very boring). Just 2 measly field goals from the Jets. Plus a total of 14 punts and 7 fumbles.
There was enough shoddy football to put Tom Brady to sleep, even a punt-return touchdown couldn't save this game.
But we did learn a few things.
1. The Jets defense is elite. 2. The Jets offense is awful. 3. Joey Bosa is a monster. And 4. For the love of football, we need Aaron Rodgers back, and it may happen sooner than we all expected...
Chargers’ safety Derwin James asked Aaron Rodgers, postgame last night, “When you coming back?”— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 7, 2023
Rodgers responded, “A few weeks.” pic.twitter.com/R4jMNSLQ6E
(Header Image Credit: Troy Taormina - USA TODAY Sports)