Looking back at NFL Week 9

After only two underdogs won last weekend, five did this past weekend although only one was a shocker – Green Bay losing in San Diego.

Denver beating Cleveland with a quarterback who had never take an NFL snap was an upset but a mild one because the Broncos were at home playing against Cleveland.

The Chiefs beating Minnesota was another mild one, as was Miami’s first win over the Jets. The Jets are such a mess they can’t even beat a team that is tanking.

The most talked about one was the Ravens handing New England its first loss. But we won’t know until later in the season if this was a real upset.

Baltimore may be the better team because the Patriots were feasting on an easy schedule. And John Harbaugh has a great record in primetime at home. He is 13-1.

Still, the Patriots are noted for having one clunker so we have to wait and see how they rebound. They have their bye this week and then then play at Philadelphia, home against Dallas, at Houston and home against Kansas City. Those four games will tell us what kind of team they have.

Meanwhile, the home teams got it together Sunday. All of them won if you don’t count Jacksonville as playing at home in London. The road teams won Thursday and Sunday nights. And San Francisco heads into the second half of the season as the league’s only unbeaten team.

But they still have Seattle and Green Bay at home and Baltimore and New Orleans on the road. They won’t go unbeaten against those four teams.

Positives

—Bill Belichick usually has the answer against young quarterbacks. He didn’t against Lamar Jackson as the Ravens piled up 372 yards. Baltimore is now a real contender although Jackson may still be taking too hits with his running.

—Seattle is showing what a difference the quarterback makes. They are probably not as good as they were when they made back to back Super Bowls a few years back. But Russell Wilson is a much better quarterback than he was then. He threw five touchdown passes against the Bucs.

—Brandon Allen had never taken an NFL snap, but he got the start in Denver because Joe Flacco is out for the year with a neck injury and helped the Broncos beat Cleveland. It was a big day for quarterbacks named Allen. Josh and Kyle also posted victories for the Bills and Panthers.

—The Pittsburgh Steelers overcame a 1-4 start but in 1976 by winning their last nine games. But that was the team of the decade with nine Hall of Famers. It’s probably more impressive that this year’s Steeler team also overcame a 1-4 start and evened their record at 4-4 with a victory over the Colts. The Steelers won’t win their last nine, but they are back in the playoff hunt.

—The officials can’t use the in the grasp rule and blow the whistle when Deshaun Watson appears to be in the grasp. Unless his knee is down, Watson has an uncanny knack of eluding defenders and did it on an international stage by leading the Texans to the victory over the Jaguars. Their pass rushers were frustrated as they appeared to be on the verge of sacking him several times only to have him slip away and make a play.

Negatives

—If the Miami Dolphins wanted to tank the season, they should have kept Adam Gase as their head coach. For reason that still aren’t clear, the Jets hired him and they’re worse on his watch than they were last year. The Jets even lost to the tanking Dolphins, who may now lose the top pick to Cincinnati, the last winless team.

—Adam Vinatieri, who had rebounded from a rocky start in the first two games, missed a 43-yard go ahead field goal with 1:14 remaining as the Colts lost to the Steelers. Colts coach Frank Reich is still supporting him, but the Colts may be in the market for a new kicker next year.

—Minshew Magic was great while it lasted but it finally ended in London Sunday when Gardner Minshew looked like a rookie quarterback in the loss to the Texans. In his last two games against winning teams (Saints and Texans), Minshew failed to put a touchdown on the board and he was benched Tuesday for Nick Foles, who is back from his broken collarbone.

—It’s looking more and more like the Bears made a costly mistake three years ago when they traded up for Mitch Tribusky while Watson and Patrick Mahomes were still on the board. He again struggled in the loss to the Eagles and had nine yards of offense on the board in the first half. The Bears will likely be in the quarterback market in the offseason.

—Firing Jay Gruden didn’t do anything to change the Redskins’ losing ways. But you can’t blame interim Bill Callahan for not turning things around. They need a total overhaul starting with the firing of front office executive Bruce Allen. In the 24-9 loss to the Bills, they stretched their string of quarters without a touchdown to 12. Callahan gave rookie Dwayne Haskins his first start and he was OK for a rookie making his first start as he completed 15 of 22 for 144 yards and no turnovers but the Bills still dominated the game. The Redskins are now one of four teams with one win. If they don’t beat the Jets after the bye, they are likely to finish 15-1. It will be interesting to see if owner Dan Snyder, who is the team’s major problem, keeps Allen after this debacle of a season.

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