Tons of unexpected thrills categorized week nine of the NFL season. What were some things to take away from the best moments and games?
Nick Foles may have locked up Philadelphia Eagles job long-term
Barely a handful of quarterbacks have thrown seven touchdown passes in all of NFL history. Now two have done it in just the 2013 season. Peyton Manning did it opening night against Baltimore. Nick Foles soon followed with a complete undressing of the Oakland Raiders. The scary part about the performance was he reached the mark while still in the third quarter. It means he could’ve conceivably had time to take the record into the double digits. Instead the Philadelphia Eagles settled on riding out the win and moving on to next week. Not only did that game probably secure the starting job for Foles the rest of the season, it may have gotten him on the side of head coach Chip Kelly and earned a place on the roster beyond next season as well.
The Seattle Seahawks are winning but not playing like champions
Another impressive comeback will be the story surrounding the resilient Seattle Seahawks. There is no questioning that. However, it is worth questioning whether the NFC top seed is all they appear to be. Quite frankly most of their games have not looked pretty this season. It has looked less like domination and more like survive and advance. Such a style is fine during the regular season, but will it fly in the playoffs? Falling behind 21-0 to a winless Tampa Bay team at home, making a last ditch goal line stand against a Rams team without their starting quarterback and overcoming a multitude of mistakes against Tennessee are signs of a team that is leaning too heavily on their talent and not enough on their commitment to playing like champions. That could haunt them when it matters most.
Rob Chudzinski has built an excellent coaching staff with Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns have waited a long time for stability within the organization and it seems they finally have it with head coach Rob Chudzinski. The first-year head coach has proven himself not just an able schemer, but also an assembler of an excellent staff. The acquisitions of Norv Turner and Ray Horton in the off-season could go down as the most important moves of the Browns franchise under Chudzinski. Their impact on the team is a huge reason why they are 4-5 and beat a Baltimore Ravens team that hadn’t lost to them since 2007. There’s no guarantee Cleveland can catch the Bengals in the division race, but their arrow for the future is pointing very high under the watch of Chudzinski and his crew.
Big game against Rams does not prove Chris Johnson is back
Tennessee Titans fans have waited for it for months and they finally got it in week nine. Chris Johnson was having one of his worst seasons as a pro NFL running back, averaging a paltry 3.2 yards per carry. Then he went to work against the St. Louis Rams, cutting them apart for 150 yards and two touchdowns including the one that sealed the win for Tennessee. It was another gut wrenching loss for the Rams who once again failed to close a game. Some might think it was also a sign Johnson is ready for a breakout over the second half of the season. Those people would be wrong. In the euphoria of victory it’s easy to forget St. Louis has the 30th ranked run defense in the league, allowing 125.2 yards per game. The fact Johnson had a big day was less about his talent and more about their inability to tackle or maintain gap discipline. He is not back. At least not yet.