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Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
The ‘A Gap’- wk9 NFL editorial by Josh Slocum

The ‘A Gap’

Week 9 NFL editorial by Josh Slocum

Week 9 wasn’t the most memorable in NFL history but did pack some interesting moments and results.

Who would have thought:

Indy would stun the Packers at Lambeau? The Colts remain the biggest mystery to me in the NFL. If their offense can put up 30 points like the Colts of 2013 and 2014, then they are a chance to overcome their average D and win the division.  Too often though the offence has been as spotty as their D.  Maybe they have turned a corner?

That the Raiders would put up 30 points on the Broncos D? The Broncos were without 2 starters and lost another couple during the game. I’m sure the fact the offense was so inept in the 1st half didn’t help either.

It was great to see:

After a rough start to a comeback from injury, Jimmy Graham pulled in a couple of one handed TD passes. Shame I left him out of my dynasty team!

The Rams finally put up some points. They were scoreless for 102 minutes and 12 seconds before finally connecting on a FG with just over 8 minutes to play.

Mike Evans’ Bucs didn’t get the points due to their insipid D but his performance was one of the best by a WR this year. 11 receptions, 150 yards and 2 TDs, one of which was a beauty, meant they were in with a chance.

Melvin Gordon has been much maligned whilst behind an average Chargers rushing o-line, but they have been improving with every game this year. He’s being showcasing his talents in the red zone and had 196 yards on 32 carries, and added a TD vs the Titans.

Wasn’t good that:

There was another botched job by the refs in Seattle- two times over. Firstly Richard Sherman wasn’t flagged for a personal foul when with 3 seconds to go before the half; he was way off sides on a field goal and ran into the Bills kicker Dan Carpenter. As Carpenter had to be attended to by the trainers rules state he had to be pulled out of the game! Rex almost blew a gasket before cleverly getting his team to spike the ball, so Carpenter entered the game with 1 second left.
This time the refs only exited the line of scrimmage with 5 seconds left on the play clock, so Carpenter’s conversion was called back for a delay of game! Terrible to watch for the NFL as a product and bad for the Bills. They should have been kicking to send it to OT at the end.

Cam Newton continues to be hit in the head without flags being called. Twice on Sunday he was hit helmet to helmet when in the pocket (Mark Barron & Aaron Donald the offenders). If that’s a small QB like Drew Brees then those calls are made every time.

How was:

The ending of the Dolphins Jets game! An offsides on a kick off meant there was a replay kick and it the tired Jets coverage team were duly exploited by rookie Kenyan Drake, who took it to the house for the go ahead score. He was only in the game after Jakeem Grant was subbed out after a big effort in the prior return.

The kick by Matt Prater to get it to OT? After a 27 yard laser by Stafford to Roberts set up the kick, Prater nailed a whopping 58 yarder.  The Lions then went on to hand the Vikings their 1st loss in their new stadium.

Chris Boswell’s attempted on side kick!  Yeah you did it once before in college but when it doesn’t come off it looks terrible.

The two Jags defenders crashing into each other for an INT.  Sums up their season too.

No surprise that:

The 49ers gave up another 100 yard game to an opposing rusher, this time Mark Ingram. They were already ailing and lost another 2 starters early. That’s the 7th consecutive time this has happened, an NFL record. It’s clear now the HC Kelly has no idea about defense and is best suited to an offensive co-ordinator role.

Trending up:

Dallas have complete control not only of the NFC East, but of the NFC. They have a 2 game lead over the Falcons and 1 ½ game lead on the Seahawks.

The Lions are now in the mix for the NFC North lead, after the Packers loss to the Colts. If winning the Super Bowl is all about QB play then Matt Stafford has his Lions as a chance, as he is playing as well as anyone.

Questions over:

The Vikings. Three losses in a row, the offensive co-ordinator quit, their kicker hasn’t got over the miss from last year (he missed his league leading 3rd extra point on Sunday) and there are massive issues on the offensive line.  After such a promising start despite the injuries this could be a season lost.

The Eagles have now lost their 3rd game in 4; all to divisional opponents. They are a better team than the Giants but 2 Wentz INTs and 2 bad decisions by HC Pederson to go for it on 4th down cost them the win.

Trevor Siemian has, like Wentz, come back to earth the past 2 weeks. He was unable to take advantage of an average Raiders defense that had 2 members of the secondary missing and may be benched soon for rookie Lynch.

Big Ben returned and looked very rusty, constantly out of sync with his receivers. The Steelers were 0/10 on 3rd down conversions at one point and have lost the lead in the division.

With a struggling Case Keenum, the Rams HC Fisher faces mounting pressure to put number 1 overall pick QB Goff into the line up. It’s unlikely they make the post season anyway so it’s time for the rookie to get some game time, whether starting or coming on in relief.  Missing the playoffs will most likely see Fisher be sent packing and despite the insistence on Hard Knocks that they are a 10 win team, their offensive woes continue.

The Browns and 49ers are battling for the number 1 pick. When looking at the schedules for both teams, it’s hard to see where a win will come from for either side. The 49ers are on track to give up the 2nd most points since going to 16 games; incredible after a shut out in the 1st game.

Looking forward to watching:

How Dallas travels on the road again, this time in Pittsburgh.

How Seattle fares in Foxboro to the rested Patriots. Home teams are 8-1 coming off the bye, with the only loss thus far the hopeless 49ers this week.

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Born into the red and white of the South Melbourne Swans, I remember being amazed at age 7 to see a team with our colours that actually won something when the 1984 49ers won the Superbowl. I've been following the red, white and gold ever since. Of recent times my frustrations at not winning a Superbowl since 1994 can be heard occasionally on the aussieguysnfl podcast.

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