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The NFL's Good, Bad, and Ugly: Week Nine

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The NFL's Good, Bad, and Ugly: Week Nine
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As sports fans, we are prone to bursts of emotional rampage.

We are allowed to let a big loss ruin our entire weekend and have our significant others understand. We are allowed to bet on a football game and then cheer against our bet because our fantasy stud is on the other team—the one win-win situation in life. 

Most importantly, we are allowed to find something negative even in the brightest of moments, because it's our job as fans. 

That is why I just couldn't muster any excitement over the Vikings' 27-10 stomping of the Lions; something just didn't sit right. I spent the rest of the day writing down what bothered me about the game. I had it DVR'd so I could re-watch it to find any mistakes I missed. I felt like Ron Jaworski for a solid two hours.

When all was said and done, when all the mistakes were calculated, there was only one conclusive answer:

Brad Childress is going to cost us the Super Bowl.

After he brought us Brett Favre, the Vikings Collective forgot that we had the worst head coach in the league this side of whomever the Raiders hire. We forgot that we had the Mike Dunleavy of the NFL. The guy who didn't know how to use his stars. The guy with no sense of desperation or timing.

The guy who didn't think of letting Adrian Peterson return kickoffs until the 2008 playoff game against the Eagles was nearly over.

The guy who had Chester Taylor in the game in the fourth quarter loss to the Steelers even though Peterson was on fire.

The guy who is STILL starting Bernard Berrian even though Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice would give us one of the top five best receiving corps in the league. 

We forgot because we had Favre.

We forgot because this defensive line is better than the Purple People Eaters.

We forgot because this offense is better than the '98 offense that held the record for most points in a season. 

We forgot because we were winning. 

But Childress has a way of reminding you just how poor he is. Let me give you some examples from Sunday's win:

1. After a 60-yard drive featuring a steady dose of big runs from Peterson, Childress decides that a Shotgun Wide Receiver Reverse to Harvin would be the best course of action against the 1-7 Lions who couldn't stop the run. The result? A fumble and giving away a great gadget play for the future. 

2. After two terrible drops from Berrian, he wasn't pulled for Harvin. The faster, stronger, more physical, more reliable Harvin. The same Harvin who has returned two kicks for touchdowns but doesn't return punts.

3. The final one is the most important and the one that will end up losing us the Super Bowl. On fourth and inches, down in the red zone, he doesn't hand the ball to the league's best running back and let him run to the left side of the line fitted with All-Pro Steve Hutchinson. Instead, Childress calls a fullback dive to the right side stuffed by the 900-pound Grady Jackson.

Childress doesn't know how to use his stars. 

Childress managed to turn something positive into something negative, which happens to be the theme for this week's Good/Bad/Ugly.

 

The Good: Bill Belichick Going for It on 4th-and-2

This has been the topic of debate today, and I feel that it needs to be touched on. The Patriots will win the AFC this year because of calls like this.

Because Bill Belichick knows you don't play to lose.

We have spent the past eight weeks watching Peyton Manning beat players all by himself. The Dolphins controlled the clock and pressured Manning; you know, the things people say you need to do to beat the Colts. Well, guess what: He outscored them in 15 minutes.

In the fourth quarter alone, Manning managed to go 79 yards twice in under two minutes. If Belichick punted it away and Manning had done what he has all season and scored quickly, we would now be discussing the greatness of Peyton Manning.

Lost behind that sentiment would be a Patriots loss. Belichick doesn't play to lose.

If Belichick makes that 4th-and-2 and runs out the clock, we continue to label him a genius, and none of this discussion exists. As sports fans we are supposed to be subjective and give our opinions. But sometimes, pretentious hindsight needs to dissipate and make room for objectivity.

 

Runner-Up: Chris Johnson and his MVP Campaign

While Bud Adams' middle fingers pointed upward after Sunday's win over the Buffalo Bills (their third in a row after an 0-6 start, symbolically vindicating his decision to reinstate Vince Young into the starting quarterback position), the real reason for Tennessee's titanic resurgence was giving an interview to ESPN.

Check Chris Johnson's stat line since the Week Seven bye:

Week 8 @ Jacksonville: 24 carries, 228 yards, two receptions, 11 yards, two touchdowns.

Week 9 @ San Francisco: 25 carries, 135 yards, three receptions, 25 yards, two touchdowns

Week 10 @ Buffalo: 26 carries, 132 yards, nine receptions, 100 yards, two touchdowns.

It's not just fantasy owners who are taking notice anymore; Shannon Sharpe called him the league's best running back. Others are hailing him as the next Barry Sanders. 

Who can blame them?

With five plays from the line of scrimmage going over 50 yards, Chris Johnson is the league's most explosive player. He also might be its most consistent.

 

The Bad: Maurice Jones-Drew's Goal-Line Kneeldown

Not even a sincere apology from MJD could fix this mistake.

How dare you, Jack Del Rio? How dare you ruin so many fantasy teams on purpose?

Brian Westbrook's 2008 kneeldown was spontaneous.

Del Rio's was planned, orthodox, and malicious—like the Madden guy who breaks a long run in the fourth quarter and dives on the ground right at the one. 

For the rest of this season I will not mention the Jaguars. They are on my fantasy blacklist.

 

The Ugly: The New England Patriots Defense

Listen, I know it's Peyton Manning. I know he has spent the 2009 NFL season cementing himself as the best player of the decade. I know he's got a laser, rocket cannon arm. 

But allowing two 79-yard drives in under two minutes IN THE FOURTH QUARTER ALONE is utterly ridiculous and the reason your coach doesn't trust you. 

It's the reason 4th-and-2 looks better than a punt—even when you're on your own 30.

 

Check back in tomorrow for my Mid-Season Review and Power Rankings. 

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