Just because the Vikings too the week off doesn't mean that Week 9 wasn't an important one. A lot of great match ups this week and awesome finishes. Despite Minnesota fans having no purple to cheer on there was still plenty of worthwhile football to view. A fine example was the Green Bay Packers match up versus the powerhouse Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But just to make it short and sweet, I complied a list.
IMPORTANT THINGS FROM WEEK 9:
#1 The Saints struggled for the second straight week against an inferior opponent. The Saints squared off against the Carolina Panthers and were losing most of the game until the 4th quarter. It took the Panthers handing the game over for the Saints to for the Saints to go 8-0 for the first time in franchise history. The Panthers took advantage of Saints turnovers by scoring off a Brees fumble early but then gave the Saints 3 fumbles right back. The Saints cashed in on huge passing plays like they usually do and made the Panthers pay for their turnovers. The Saints have shown resiliance when they are down in games, but it always seems to me like the opposing team is handing them the opportunities. Two of the Panthers fumbles were caused by poor protection of the football by the runner, and one of the fumbles was on the Carolina 2 yard line which the Saints ran in for an easy score.
One thing is for certain, the Saints record of 8-0 does not mean they are the best team in the NFL. They are a great football team, but not the best. The Saints allowed 188 rushing yards against the Panthers. The all time leading rusher in Panthers history DeAngelo Williams punished the Saints defense for 149 yards and 2 scores. One thing is clear, the Saints cannot stop the run with their quick but weak rush defense. The Saints play the Rams Week 10; look for Steven Jackson to exploit this formula for success. I obviously do not think the Rams will win, but Jackson should have a field day. Week 12 will bring one of the best match ups of this season as the pass heavy Patriots bring their attack to match Brees at the Superdome. Mark your calendars.
#2 The Colts are the best team in the NFL. This is only because they are undefeated and the Vikings have one loss (my pick is the Vikings for #1, but they are not undefeated). The Colts also struggled for the second straight week, but this time against the scrappy defense of the Texans. The Houston defense has been playing as good as any in recent weeks so you cannot take any credit away from them. The Texans showed that with a good defensive effort the Colts high powered offense can be slowed down. Without a missed field goal from the Texan kicker as time ran off the clock in regulation this game would have went into OT where anything can happen.
I expect the Colts to take their first loss of the season as they match up against the streaking Patriots team. Tom Brady and co. look sharp as their 2007 Super Bowl campaign, so this could be a shoot out. The Colts defense has given up the fewest points in the NFL, but their schedule has hardly featured a high powered offense. Second in the NFL in points allowed is the New England Patriots who have faced better competition. Advantage: Patriots.
#3 Who are the Arizona Cardinals? Arizona goes week to week getting blown out and then blowing teams out. This week they were the latter putting an aerial beating on the once heralded Bears defense. Kurt Warner went from throwing 5 interceptions last week to throwing 5 touchdowns this week. Each week begs the question of which Arizona team will show up. The Vikings square off against the Cardinals in AZ Week 13. Ken Wisenhunt usually has his team playing well down the stretch of the season so look for this to be a big match up for Minnesota.
#4 Cincinnati continues to impress. Not only do the Bengals have their offense working, but their defense held the mighty Baltimore offense to one touchdown. Cedric Benson is pounding the football into opposing defenses giving the Bengals offense a two headed attack with Carson Palmer and his receivers. I believe Cincinnati is the biggest challenge left on the Vikings schedule. This match up is Week 14, with Week 15 being a game in Carolina against the dangerous Panthers. This will be a tough 3 games for the Vikings as NFC teams fight for playoff spots late in the season.
#5 Where have the New York Giants gone? From 5-0 to losing 4 straight.Their weakened secondary is looking worse and worse each weak. The offense has not been able to run the football effectively or score points consistently. Coach Coughlin made it very clear before Week 9 that the team was going to establish the run but it was clear after the game that was not a success. Where has their pressure on the opposing Quarterback gone? With Justin Tuck and Usi Umenyiora that should not be an issue. The Week 10 Bye could not have come at a better time for NY.
#6 Dallas and Pittsburgh have emerged. The Steelers have won 5 straight since starting 1-2. They quietly look like a lock for the playoffs and a deep run at that. Their defense is fierce as ever and Big Ben is a top five Quarterback in this league. Bottom line, Big Ben is a winner. Second biggest match up of the week is Steelers versus the Bengals. These two are battling for position in the AFC North, and this game is guaranteed entertainment.
Dallas has played strong against weak and formidable opponents a like. In the past 4 games the Cowboys have handily beat the bad Kansas City Chiefs and Seattle Seahawks and also won against two tough NFC opponents in the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles. The game against the Eagles put them alone in first place in the NFC East. I am still not sold the Cowboys are a contender yet.
#7 Last but not least, my favorite game of the day. A game which I watched with joy. I am talking about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers grabbing their first victory of the season to improve to 1-7. This first victory in the 2009 campaign of course came against the hated rival Packers. How could the Packers lose to a 0-7 team? By allowing Aaron Rodgers to get sacked 6 times and being outscored in the 4th quarter 21-7. Any defense that allows the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to score 21 points in the 4th quarter deserves to lose.
Good luck to the Packers as they play the Cowboys Week 10. They Cowboys posses a dynamic pass rush with last year's sack leader DeMarcus Ware on the front line. Look for Rodgers to be on the ground a lot this upcoming week.
Well, until Week 10 football fans.