32 things we learned from Week 9 of the 2019 NFL season


Nate Davis


USA TODAY

Published 10: 06 PM EST Nov 3, 2019

The 32 things we learned from Week 9 of the 2019 NFL season:

1. Why are we kicking off this week’s list with the Cincinnati Bengals? Because obviously they enjoyed a huge win Sunday … even though they were on their bye … and remain 0-8. But Miami’s first victory means the Bengals now “control” their own fate as it pertains to picking atop the 2020 draft. Could be a truly short audition for rookie QB Ryan Finley in place of Andy Dalton for the terrible tigers, who might soon have eyes for Tua Tagovailoa, Joe Burrow or Justin Herbert.

2. Nice week for the Redskins, who were basically accused of medical malpractice by their best player (LT Trent Williams), watched Washington’s baseball team win the World Series — further casting a harsh spotlight on the ineptitude of the football team in the nation’s capital — then saw yet again how ill equipped rookie QB Dwayne Checkdown Haskins is to compete on an NFL field as the team dropped to 1-8 after losing at Buffalo.

2a. The ‘Skins have now gone 13 consecutive quarters without a touchdown.

3. But it was a worse week for the New York Jets, whose best player (S Jamal Adams) was infuriated upon learning the team discussed trading him — and, apparently, everyone else on the roster not named Sam Darnold — but should have been even more upset that Gang Green then proceeded to get embarrassed Sunday by the previously winless (and rarely competitive) Dolphins.

3a. Word of advice, Jamal? Get out of your feelings. If Peyton Manning and Joe Montana and Jerry Rice were expendable, then so will you be. Joe Douglas would have committed GM malpractice by not listening when his phone rang with offers — the Steelers were even apparently mulling a Le’Veon Bell reunion — but he thought enough of you to apparently reject packages that included a first rounder. It’s going to be OK. (Well, for you anyway … eventually. For the Jets? Who knows?)

3b. And chins up, NYJ fans! Sunday was the first time this season the Jets actually outgained their opponent, picking up 5 more yards (321-316) than the Dolphins! (Sorry.)

4. And how about this — both the Jets and Dolphins recorded a safety. Been a quarter century since both teams got one in the same game. Woohoo.

5. All 10 home teams won Sunday afternoon. (I’m not counting the Jags’ “home” loss in London on Sunday morning.) It flew in the face of a season-long trend as home teams are now 67-65-1 in 2019.

6. AFC teams also enjoyed a 4-1 inter-conference advantage Sunday, flying in the face of a season-long trend as the NFC now holds a 24-17 edge in 2019. 

7. And if you want to know why those numbers are regressing to the norm, look no further than the NFC North, which I touted as the league’s preeminent division earlier this season. Yet Sunday, that quartet of clubs went 0-4, every defeat occurring on the road — three to AFC West teams.

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8. Christian McCaffrey meter: After a 166-yard, three-TD day, the Panthers star is now on pace for 2,488 yards from scrimmage … putting him 22 yards off the pace to break Chris Johnson’s single-season record.

9. Three quarterbacks bearing the Allen surname (Denver’s Brandon, Buffalo’s Josh and Carolina’s Kyle … all unrelated) started Sunday. Each managed to wrench a victory. 

10. Don’t look now, but the Steelers are 4-2 since QB Ben Roethlisberger went down and now sit just one game outside the AFC playoff field. 

10a. One major reason for Pittsburgh’s resurgence was its trade for S Minkah Fitzpatrick immediately following Big Ben’s elbow injury. Highly scrutinized at the time, Fitzpatrick has four INTs in six games with Pittsburgh, including Sunday’s 96-yard pick six — an instrumental sequence as his new team outlasted the Colts.

10b. It also helped that venerable Indianapolis K Adam Vinatieri had another misadventure — yes, maybe it was the poor hold — with the game hanging in the balance. Vinatieri, 46, has now missed five of 17 field-goal attempts in 2019, his 70.6% success rate easily projecting as the worst of his 24-year career.

11. Pittsburgh fill-in Jaylen Samuels caught 13 passes Sunday, most by a Steelers running back in the Super Bowl era.

12. Every Colts contest this season has been decided by seven or fewer points, their average margin in all games just 4.4 points.

13. If you thought what appeared to be a relenting schedule was going to salvage the Browns’ season … welp. Cleveland is 2-6. It was 2-5-1 after eight games last year.

14. Nice choice by the league making Vikings-Chiefs its #NFL100 game of the week. Kansas City K Harrison Butker’s 44-yard game-winning field goal at the gun of a 26-23 victory likely rendered it the bona fide game of the week, too … at least east of Seattle. And props to Chiefs backup QB Matt Moore, who notched the victory in his second start of the season and salvaging a likely split in the absence of reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes (kneecap) — whom K.C. didn’t rule out until Sunday morning.

14a. Dustin Colquitt > Britton Colquitt

14b. In a battle of punting royalty, Kansas City’s Dustin outkicked his younger brother by 6 yards per boot and successfully put down the hold on Butker’s coup de grâce.

14c. The Vikings surely would have played just a bit better if, like the Chiefs, they’d donned gray facemasks to give this Super Bowl IV rematch more of the throwback feel it deserved.

15. Speaking of uniforms, who the heck thought it was a good idea to allow Cleveland to wear its all-brown outfits on the road when the Broncos were wearing their customary orange in Denver? I know it’s just a few days post-Halloween, but … puke.

15a. Of course, the NFL tried to pass responsibility of its uniform abomination onto Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry. Sigh.

16. Furthermore on uniforms — I regard myself as an NFL uniform aficionado BTW — the Giants will be sporting their block “GIANTS” logo from the Lawrence Taylor era Monday against Dallas. Maybe since the Jets have reverted to green helmets, they should also cop their cool 1980s logo. Couldn’t hurt, right?

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17. Bless the Brits, who continuously turn out in droves for often subpar NFL football in London. The Jaguars were blown out 26-3 and are now 3-4 after appearing at Wembley Stadium for the seventh consecutive season, a streak that will continue in 2020.

18. The Jags are still stuck on one rushing TD this season, worst in the league.

19. Jaguars rookie QB Gardner Minshew has done a great job filling in for Nick Foles (clavicle), but should Jacksonville go back to the Super Bowl LII MVP on the other side of its upcoming bye? Minshew turned the ball over four times Sunday in his worst performance of 2019, almost surely opening the door more than a crack.

20. Yes, Houston had more takeaways (4) than points allowed (3) in its first game this season without injured star DE J.J. Watt.

21. Texans QB Deshaun Watson now has a 104.3 career passer rating and will overtake Aaron Rodgers (103.3) as the NFL’s all-time leader once he’s played enough games … assuming Watson can maintain this pace, of course.

22. This season’s lineup of games in London are now complete. The Green Bay Packers are the only team to never appear in an NFL International Series game.

23. On Sunday, the Raiders played their first game in Oakland since Sept. 15 (they were the “home” team in London on Oct. 6). Per NFL RedZone’s Scott Hanson, 10 members of the Raiders’ fast-evolving roster were making their debuts at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Nice that they could be victorious reveals in a hard-fought win against Detroit.

24. Oakland RB Josh Jacobs has now rushed for 740 yards this season, breaking Hall of Famer Marcus Allen’s single-season record for a Raiders rookie.

25. Let’s break down the 1976 Bowl between the Buccaneers and Seahawks, who entered the NFL together as expansion franchises 43 years ago. After Sunday’s win, Seattle now leads the all-time series 9-5 … has gone to the Super Bowl three times to Tampa Bay’s once (both teams own one Lombardi Trophy) … and has 351 wins all time, far better than the Bucs’ 262.

26. Even though their defense and special teams (especially scattershot K Jason Myers) were again less than impressive, the Seahawks’ victory provided another forum to fuel QB Russell Wilson’s accelerating MVP push. A 378-yard, five-TD effort with a game-winning throw in OT never hurts the cause.

27. The Bears were lucky to make the Jordan Howard Bowl competitive but ultimately lost their fourth in a row — thanks largely to a first-half offensive performance that included six punts and 9 total yards.

27a. Howard rushed for 82 yards and a score against his former team, but the Eagles’ streak of games without any back reaching the century mark reached 37 straight.

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27b. Chicago has allowed 20-plus points in three of its past four games after limiting its previous nine opponents to fewer than 20.

28. San Francisco’s offense will grind you down, the Niners running at least 31 times in every game this season and averaging a league-high 38 per week.

28a. But if the 49ers are going to consistently get this kind of performance going forward from Jimmy Garoppolo, who threw a career-high four TD passes at Arizona, they’re going to remain undefeated for a minute.

28b. Credit San Fran GM John Lynch for helping Garoppolo by acquiring perhaps the ideal wideout for this team in Emmanuel Sanders — a steady veteran who already understood the playbook and immediately helped open things for the run game and TE George Kittle. Sanders has scored a TD in both games with his new team.

29. But let’s give the “Air Raid” Cardinals, who have generally been a tough out since the calendar hit October, credit for giving San Francisco a battle — and with Arizona’s top two running backs injured. 

30. Apparently the Titans should have waited at least a week to bring K Ryan Succop off injured reserve. He missed all three of his field-goal attempts Sunday in his 2019 debut. Predecessor Cody Parkey, always an adventure in his own right, made all three of his FG tries for Tennessee, though was 5-for-6 on PATs.

31. New Chargers OC Shane Steichen clearly got the memo to run the ball more, and the Bolts responded with 159 yards on the ground after failing to crack 40 in the final four games under Steichen’s predecessor, Ken Whisenhunt.

31a. And props to Chargers RB Melvin Gordon, whom we’ve been (deservedly) hard on all season. But after scoring twice and averaging 28 rushing yards in the four games following his holdout, Gordon responded with 80 yards and two TDs on Sunday.

31b. Don’t bury the Bolts (4-5) in the middling AFC just yet.

32. Dearest mother — My choice to return to the farm was one I’d basked in joyously for months with nary a regret … until Sunday’s news that Major Brissett was injured in battle, while Master Sergeant Vinatieri’s marksmanship has proven increasingly untrue. Captain Hoyer has never been appointed to a major command, but I must believe he can lead the men in a tight spot … though his sidearm is historically prone to friendly fire. Oh, bitter anguish. I will doubtless fret deep into this chilling eve, my innermost thoughts surely allowing no respite. — Andrew

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Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis

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