With Week 9 in the books, the NFL season is officially past the midway point. Things are officially starting to heat up and get a little serious. Let’s check out all of the important headlines coming out of the weekend.
Undefeated No More
There are no more undefeated teams in the NFL. Sunday’s game of the week between the Rams and Saints more than lived up to the hype. The two teams combined to score 80 points in an absolute thriller. In the end, the Saints scored the final 10 points of the game to get the win. Both teams now have one loss, which for the moment gives New Orleans a leg up in the race for home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs.
Outside of the Rams and Saints, the Texans may be the hottest team in football right now. After starting 0-3, Houston has now won six games in a row to take a commanding lead in the AFC South. They got a little lucky against the Broncos on Sunday, but no one can take their six wins away from them. Also, Demaryius Thomas fit right into the offense just a few days after Houston traded for him to help replace the injured Will Fuller.
Still Some Fitzmagic Left in that Old Helmet
The Buccaneers aren’t going to let another loss keep Ryan Fitzpatrick from keeping his job. After the Bucs fell behind 35-7 to the Panthers, Fitzpatrick led Tampa Bay to three straight touchdowns to get back within seven points before ultimately losing 42-28. It was enough for Dirk Koetter to announce Fitzpatrick as the starter for next week’s game. Keeping Fitzpatrick as the starter casts further doubt on Jameis Winston’s future in Tampa Bay.
It was a rough Monday for kickers in the AFC West. Denver kicker Brandon McManus had to live through the shame of missing two kicks on Sunday, including the potential game-winner in the closing seconds as the Broncos dropped to 3-6 on the season. Meanwhile, the Chargers decided to part ways with Caleb Sturgis after he missed two PATs and a field goal in his team’s win over the Seahawks on Sunday. Michael Badgley was added from the practice squad to take his place.
Wait and See
The Bengals received what they hope will be good news on Monday when they learned that star receiver A.J. Green won’t require surgery on the toe that forced him out of action on Sunday. Cincinnati managed to finish out the win over Tampa Bay without him. However, Green is expected to miss at least two games before being re-evaluated. That means he’ll miss games against the Saints and Ravens, two critical games for the Bengals in a tight AFC North.
Injury Added to Insult
As if a 24-point home loss to the Falcons wasn’t bad enough, the Redskins announced Monday that three players have been lost to IR after picking up injuries on Sunday. The offensive line has lost both starting guards in Brandon Scherff and Shawn Lauvao to a torn pectoral and torn ACL, respectively. Paul Richardson is also out for the rest of the season with a shoulder injury. The Redskins are also uncertain about the status of starting tackles Trent Williams and Morgan Moses. Needless to say, the offensive line that has done such a great job opening holes for Adrian Peterson could be in big trouble moving forward.
Running Out of Time
The Le’Veon Bell holdout saga continues and there is still no indication the disgruntled running back will show up in Pittsburgh anytime soon. Bell recently sent out a tweet implying that he was leaving Miami, where he’s been spending time during his holdout. However, the Steelers are not expecting him back this week, especially since they play on Thursday. If he doesn’t report to the team by next Tuesday, he won’t play at all in 2018.
Somewhere along the line, Week 9 turned into retro celebration week in the NFL. It started when Michael Thomas celebrated a touchdown by replicating Joe Horn’s celebration in 2003 when he took out a cell phone from under the goal post. Thomas was flagged on the play and will be fined but drew great praise from fans watching.
Tribute week continued on Monday when Tennessee safety Kevin Byard celebrated an interception against the Cowboys by standing on the giant star at midfield much like Terrell Owens did in 2000. Byard admits he thought someone from the Cowboys would come and hit him, as was the case with T.O. Instead, his teammates joined him for a celebratory dance.