The bye-week bug struck in the NFL this weekend, but that didn't stop Week 9 from producing some of the most exciting games of the season.
Throughout all the madness, we began to see which teams are peaking at the right time. Just as well, some clubs are starting to reveal that they are heading nowhere fast.
Let's break down whose stock went up, as well as whose stock went down heading into an all-important Week 10.
|1||Kansas City Chiefs|
|5||San Francisco 49ers|
|6||New England Patriots|
|7||New Orleans Saints|
|11||Green Bay Packers|
|13||New York Jets|
|17||San Diego Chargers|
|22||St. Louis Rams|
|28||New York Giants|
|31||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
Steven Cook's projections
Teams Who Helped Themselves
New York Jets
The millions who called for Rex Ryan's job at the beginning of the season are awfully quiet lately—that's because the Jets have started with a 5-4 record.
None of those wins have been bigger than in Week 9, when New York held off the now 6-2 Saints despite a big day in the passing game from Drew Brees.
Will the Jets (5-4) make the playoffs?
Once an afterthought, the Jets' running game has never looked better. Chris Ivory is finally turning into the feature back he was supposed to be, posting 18 carries for 139 yards and a touchdown.
Ivory also notched his first two carries of 20 yards or more this season in the win (one went for 52 yards).
The lack of turnovers was perhaps the biggest reason why the Jets came out victorious. If the Jets' rushing attack stays potent, Geno Smith's turnover problem will quickly dissolve.
One surprise of the NFL this season that has been far too forgotten is the emergence of the Cleveland Browns.
Despite starting three different quarterbacks this season, the Browns are now 4-5 and are coming off one of their biggest wins in recent memory, toppling the rival Baltimore Ravens for the first time in 12 tries.
Starting for the second straight week, Jason Campbell continued to improve, completing 65.7 percent of his passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns—and no interceptions. His receiving duo of Greg Little and Josh Gordon has never looked better.
Plenty is wrong with the defending Super Bowl champions, who are out to a 3-5 record, but don't take anything away from the Browns. They've rolled with the punches in losing star running back Trent Richardson and in-form starting QB Brian Hoyer, and are playing their best football.
Teams Who Hurt Themselves
San Diego Chargers
Philip Rivers and Co. were one yard away from toppling the surging Redskins on the road. Shortly after, the Chargers were flying cross-country back to the West Coast nursing a defeat.
Danny Woodhead seemed to score the go-ahead touchdown with seconds left as San Diego trailed by three, but after review the Chargers were left with a 2nd-and-goal. Two unsuccessful plays later, they opted for a game-tying field goal and went to overtime—in which their offense never saw the field.
Even at 4-4, the Chargers have been one of many surprises in football this year. But in the dominant AFC West, they need to stockpile wins in order to stay in the playoff race.
The Chargers have four games left against 7-1 Denver and undefeated Kansas City, which makes Sunday's loss even more glaring. They'll have to win at least one of those four and run the table in their other contests to have an outside playoff shot at 9-7.
Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers is on a short list of players who the NFL just isn't the same without. That paints the picture of just how much trouble Green Bay is in.
If Rodgers misses three games, how many will the Pack win?
Rodgers left Monday Night Football on his Packers' opening drive and the latest from ESPN's Adam Schefter indicates he could miss about three weeks.
Of course, losing at home to the Chicago Bears may not have been as big a blow as losing their star quarterback. But the loss ties Green Bay with Chicago and Detroit at 5-3 in the NFC North and puts their playoff hopes in jeopardy.
Should Rodgers miss three weeks, the Pack will likely go with Seneca Wallace against the Eagles, Giants and Vikings. That's not exactly a top-tier stretch, but none of those games are sure wins even with Rodgers, much less without him.
Losing Rodgers greatly dampens the allure of the NFL, and it'll do the same to the Packers' chances of winning.