Week 9 kicked off on Thursday night with the lowly San Francisco 49ers taking on the even-lower, Oakland Raiders. Despite the quality of the two teams, it was actually a very enjoyable fixture. The game set up a huge week in the NFL but more importantly, enormous clashes in the North. Firstly, the Lions travelled to Minnesota, whilst the Bears faced the Bills. Then, the biggest matchup of the week saw Aaron Rodgers take on Tom Brady in a battle for the ages.
Bills Bullied by the Bears
It comes as no surprise to anyone that the Chicago Bears were simply dominant against the Buffalo Bills in Upstate, New York. A crushing 9-41 defeat puts an end to the Bills’ hopes of ever qualifying for the playoffs, despite how small those chances once were.
In a game within which the opposition defence outscored your offence, things couldn’t get much worse, but for the Bills it seems like misery may be eternal for the franchise.
Nathan Peterman threw 3 interceptions in an abysmal performance, which totalled just 189 passing yards and 1 rushing touchdown. Furthermore, Eddie Jackson was able to recover a fumble for the Bears and subsequently ran the ball for a 27-yard TD recovery. He spoke after the game about the defence’s continuous effort to produce turnovers.
“We just kept fighting. You know, we played well last week and we just want to keep going.” Adding: “we want to go ahead and get three more turnovers a game. Unfortunately, last week we didn’t get it done, so we emphasised that, and we needed turnovers this week, and we came out here and we got em’.”
Similarly, Mitchell Trubisky didn’t play all that well. He produced 135 passing yards and 2 touchdowns (1 rushing, 1 passing) yet he too was picked off, this time by Tre’Davious White of the Bills.
On the other hand, Jordan Howard played arguably his best game of the season, during which he scored 2 rushing touchdowns. Ultimately however, the defence were the stars of the show. With 4 turnovers and unlimited pressure on Peterman, the Bills were simply bullied out of contention in this matchup.
The victory means that the Chicago Bears remain atop of the NFC North, elevating their win/loss record to, 5-3.
Divisional Dominance for the Vikings
Another imposing defensive performance by the Minnesota Vikings provided a tough task for Mathew Stafford and the Detroit Lions, who were defeated, 24-9.
It was a record-breaking defensive presentation by the Vikings who compiled an unbelievable 10 sacks on Stafford. Danielle Hunter had a particularly great showing, contributing 3.5 sacks, 1 fumble recovery for a touchdown and 9 tackles. Similarly, fellow DE Tom Johnson was able to notch a further 2.5 sacks and 5 tackles of his own.
On offence, Kirk Cousins continued his fine form. He completed 18 of 22 passes for 164 yards and 1 touchdown, however, he was picked off on an admittedly poor interception by Darius Slay. In addition, Dalvin Cook returned to the lineup after an extensive injury kept him sidelined for much of the season and impressed with just 10 carries for 89 rushing yards.
As for the Lions, Mathew Stafford was given very little opportunity to succeed, what with the capitulation of his O-line. Moreover, when the opposing team scores more sacks than you do points, victory is never really an option.
On the other hand, the Lions were able to maintain one record in their history books, stopping Adam Thielen in the process.
The Minnesota Vikings remain second in the North at 5-3-1, whilst the Detroit Lions look down and out with just 3 wins on the season and 5 losses.
The Battle of the 12’s
In what was probably the last ever meeting between Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers unless they meet at the Super Bowl, the Patriots were able to get the better of the Packers. As they cruised to victory, 31-17.
Despite being bereft of two key offensive lineman, Rob Gronkowski and starting running back, Sonny Michel, Tom Brady did what he does best, win. Speaking of Brady, he completed 22 of 35 passes for 295 passing yards and 1 touchdown in a typically excellent performance.
Additionally, the Patriots’ mentality of ‘next man-up’ reigned victorious, as wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson rushed for 61 yards and 1 touchdown, acting as lead rusher for the team. Likewise, James White posed an intriguing dual-threat compiling a total of 103 yards and 2 TD’s.
Conversely, the Packers were simply ineffective on pivotal third downs.
However, Aaron Rodgers did his best for the team, amassing 259 passing yards and 2 touchdowns, whilst connecting well with Marquez Valdes-Scantling who totalled 103 receiving yards in the game. Furthermore, in Aaron Jones’ first game as a solidified starter, he rushed for 76 yards on 14 carries, however, fumbled the ball at a crucial stage in the match.
Although, in my opinion the game was lost on defence. There was simply not enough defensive stops and a complete lack of pressure on Brady. Thus, he was able to pick-apart the Packers’ defence with unlimited time in the pocket.
The crushing defeat for the Green Bay Packers sees them maintain their place in the North. The New England Patriots look intent on capturing another AFC East title with a record of, 7-2.
Week 9 Conclusions
With week 9 coming to a close, the standings in the North remain the same. Looking towards week 10, the Minnesota Vikings have a bye week, whilst the Chicago Bears face the Detroit Lions in another divisional battle. The Packers return to Lambeau Field, hosting the Miami Dolphins.
Image Rights – NFL