Week 9 of the NFL was full of drama both on and off the field, so let’s get right to the biggest stories of this past weekend and beyond.
A boring Sunday for a boring season: Week 9 of the 2017-18 NFL season had perhaps the season’s least entertaining set of games in a year that’s already been overshadowed by politics, injuries to star players and the stark reality that America’s favorite form of entertainment has been anything but. Most of the games have been boring, abysmal to watch or a combination of both, there’s an absence of any great teams (sorry, Eagles fans), the coaching is bad, the quarterback landscape is barren and even the fights suck.
Look, I’m not trying to overblow the “Is the NFL dead?” narrative that is so trendy right now in sports journalism. But anyone who has watched a lick of NFL football this season has to admit that the product has been well below average. Just this week, we had two huge blowouts in Philly and New York, another god awful Thursday night game, a backup quarterback battle between Tom Savage and Jacoby Brissett, and the lowest rated Sunday Night game of the year.
There’s no spark in the league right now and it feels like everyone is just waiting for this season to end so we can move on to better things (Season 8 of The Office anyone?). Yet putting things in perspective, we should remember every league has a down period, like the NBA in the early to mid 2000s or the post-player’s strike 1990s MLB. All those leagues bounced back and the NFL will too. Carson Wentz is awesome, Tony Romo has been delightful in the booth, Blair Walsh is still bad at kicking balls and the Browns continue to kick themselves in their own.
Everybody just keep calm and remember that we still have Bills fans.
It’s going to be okay.
Sophomore slump?: The 2016 NFL draft class has really come into its own this season, with players across the board making big time contributions and even entering the MVP conversation. The No. 1 and 2 picks from a year ago, Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, have been phenomenal all season. Goff had a disappointing rookie season last year for the Rams but he’s improved dramatically in his 2017 campaign and his numbers prove it. He’s averaging 254 yards passing a game compared to 155 in 2016, his completion percentage has improved to 60 percent and his QBR is up 37.5 points this year (18.9 to 56.4). The former Bear Raid star has helped pilot Los Angeles to the top of the NFC West standings and with the way the team is humming right now, it’s looking like we may see the Rams first playoff appearance since 2004. Carson Wentz had a solid rookie season for Philadelphia but he’s taken his play up a cheesesteak and a half this year. The Eagles QB is currently leading the league in touchdown passes with 23, with only five interceptions and his team has the best record in the league this year. He’s easily secured himself a position in the MVP race and is currently looking like the frontrunner to land himself on the cover of next year’s Madden. Sign Mark Wahlberg and Super Bowl 52 is yours, Philly.
The steal of the 2016 draft, Cowboys fourth-round pick Dak Prescott, has lived up to the sky high expectations that were set for him following his Pro Bowl rookie season and looks well on his way to earning another selection. His running back and fellow buff dude, Ezekiel Elliott, has had a solid season as well despite the drama that’s surrounded his chaotic suspension/nonsuspension process. It’s doubtful that he’ll run for 1600 yards like last season but he should still finish with another 1000 yard and 10+ touchdown season if he doesn’t get suspended in the meantime.
On the defensive side of the ball, LA Charges defensive end Joey Bosa has been a monster this season, already registering 8.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 27 solo tackles. Shouts out to Tyreek Hill, Jalen Ramsey, Sterling Shepherd and Derrick Henry for holding down the rest of their productive 2016 class.
Saints sail to sixth straight win and the Bucs stink: The New Orleans Saints secured an easy 30-10 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this past Sunday in a lopsided NFC South matchup. Drew Brees threw for 263 yards and 2 touchdowns, while his rookie running back Alvin Kamara had 152 yards from scrimmage and added a touchdown of his own. The Saints are playing fantastic right now and look like the more sure fire candidate to lock down the division and hold off rival Carolina.
Meanwhile, the Buccaneers are bad at just about everything. They’re last in the NFC South with a 2-6 record. They were boring on Hard Knocks, free agent signing DeSean Jackson has been a disappointment, the defense is butt, Coach Dirk Koetter is about as passionate as mayo, Mike Evans is out here cheap shotting people and Jameis Winston is just the worst.
Winston embraced his negative tendencies in the Bucs matchup with the Saints, where he literally poked Marshon Lattimore like a 5-year-old and instigated a fight while he was on the sidelines. Nevermind the fact he did all this whilst his team was getting blown out and he was sitting out because of a shoulder injury. He’s a talented young quarterback, who’s already made one Pro Bowl but with every step he takes forward as a player, he takes two steps back with his clownish antics. Whether it was at Florida State where he was a crab leg bandit or before this same game where he gave perhaps the most bizarre pregame speech I’ve ever witnessed, Winston is practically asking for us not to take him seriously.
Speaking of that speech, did anyone else feel like they had to take a shower after watching that because it was so cringey? The poor guy probably cooked up this idea before the game and thought he’d be delivering the speech of his life, only to find his teammates giving him blank stares and silently questioning their QB’s mental health.
“Did he say he wants us to eat a W? Like the letter W?”
“Is he okay?”
“I don’t know, just don’t shake his hand. This dude sucked down on his own fingers.”
I think it’s pretty clear that eating a letter from the alphabet might not be beneficial for one’s physical health considering Tampa Bay announced Winston is going to be out for the next few weeks to “rest” his injured shoulder. As a non doctor, who never went to medical school, my prognosis is that Winston has probably been eating too many L’s as well.
Rory O’Toole writes for Bear Bytes, the Daily Californian’s sports blog. Contact him at [email protected].