Gridiron Confidential: NFL Week 9
Updated: Nov 13, 2020
We are now over half way through the NFL 2020 regular season and the season continues to surprise as we head towards crunch time.
Week 9 saw a battle of the young guns in Arizona as the Dolphins squared off with the Cardinals as well as the battle of the old stagers in the NFC South, Tom Brady and the Bucs hosting Drew Brees and the Saints in Tampa Bay.
The NFL regular season throws up a curve ball every week but what were the main takeaways from the ninth week of action?
The Giants are better than Washington:
The NY Giants are 2-7 for the season and yet somehow still have an outside at not only making the playoffs but actually winning their division.
The one thing we can confirm is that Giants are certainly better than one team in their division, the Washington Football team. New York's only two victories in 2020 have come over their division rivals and while both have been closely fought battles, the Giants have managed to edge both games even without the star turn of their offence, Saquon Barkley. Final Score at FedEx Field, Giants 23-20 Washington.
The loss of Kyle Allen was no doubt the turning point in this game as Washington came close to overturning the 20-3 lead the Giants built up in the first half. However, backup QB, Alex Smith's, three interceptions proved crucial in the end as Washington came up three points short of forcing overtime.
Doing the double over Washington has given the Giants hope of a last gasp push for the playoffs though but this victory must be the beginning of a win streak. New York has seven games remaining, including two crucial divisional battles with the Eagles next week and the Cowboys in week 17, if they can win at least four of seven to close out the season, we might just see a Giants return to playoff action. Once again highlighting the lack of quality in the NFC East.
Brady and the Buccaneers show the world they are not all that:
Week 9 of the NFL regular season was supposed to be huge for Tampa, the league and fans alike all expecting to confirm the Bucs as certainties for the Super Bowl but instead they were humiliated by their rivals for the NFC South, the New Orleans Saints.
Tom Brady came out and played one of the worst games of his career on Sunday night, a big claim to make but he was pure garbage on Sunday night. He is the leader of this team and the only reason they are contenders again, so when he has an off night, the team has no hope. Tampa Bay were 31-0 down at half time and it could of been even worse had the Saints been 100% clinical on all their plays (they were at about 95%).
The Bucs have now lost three games this season, two of those defeat have been blowouts against the Saints and it both of these defeats Tom Brady has thrown 2+ interceptions and just two touchdown passes. You would be crazy to ever bet against Tom Brady but these defeats to the Saints may just cost them the top spot in the division.
As for Drew Brees, he continues to add to his winning record in matchups with Brady, which now stands at 5-2 while Sundays matchup also saw the Saints legend surpass Brady for all time touchdowns, the four TD passes Brees threw in the prime time showdown took him 264 overall. Three more than Brady(261).
Tua Tagovailoa shows the future is bright in Miami:
Tua Tagovailoa was making just his second NFL start on Sunday but showed the Dolphins and the league that he has all the attributes of an elite modern day quarterback.
The no.5 pick in the 2020 draft went toe-toe with the Cardinals rising star Kyler Murray and came out on top in one of the most exciting battles of the season so far. The major curve ball Tua throws at his opponents is the fact that he throws left handed despite being right handed naturally, this was something that his father taught him to do from a young edge to give him an edge.
The former Alabama QB threw for 248 yards, two touchdowns and 0 interceptions as the Dolphins snatched victory with a fourth quarter field goal. Tagovailoa also showed his running ability, rushing for a total of 35 yards over seven carries, crucially doing so to earn his side a first down in the drive that led to the game winning score. Final Score in Arizona, Cardinals 31-34 Dolphins.
Tua is 2-0 to start his NFL career and with his continued development and improvements made to other areas of the team, the Dolphins have an exciting decade ahead of them.
The Cowboys still have some fight in them:
The Dallas Cowboys started Sundays game against the unbeaten Steelers with their third choice quarterback but for the first time since losing Dak Prescott in week 5, they showed they still have some pride in their performance.
Dallas wasn't given a hope in a hell of winning on Sunday against the then (7-0) Steelers but seemed determined to force an upset with some hard defence and creative offense plays, keeping the Steelers scoreless in both the first and third quarters & leading the game right up until midway through the fourth. However, the Steelers showed their class in the final phase of the game as they scored to touchdowns without answer. But only secured the win by stopping an n-zone throw from the Cowboys as the game clock expired. Final Score in Dallas, Cowboys 19-24 Steelers.
Last week I said that no team will "have to be at their best to beat this Cowboys team" for the rest of the 2020 season and this proved true as Pittsburgh were not at the level that had seen them win every game of the season so far. Although it's not all doom and gloom for Dallas as despite being down to their third choice QB and still not getting much of anything from Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys showed heart and when your backs are against the wall, heart is what brings hope for the future.
Patrick Mahomes continues to mount his challenge for 2020 MVP:
Patrick Mahomes is the golden boy of the NFL right now but he's still all business on the field as he looks to win the league MVP for a second time in 2020, last winning the award in 2018 went he threw for over 5,000 yards, led the league with 50 touchdown passes and finished the season with a passer rate of 113.8.
After winning his first Super Bowl in 2019, Mahomes seems determined to lead his team to glory on the field coupled with the personal glory of another MVP award. The Chiefs are 8-1 through week 9 having edged the Panthers at Arrowhead on Sunday afternoon. Mahomes was the star of the show once again for the Chiefs, throwing for 372 yards and four touchdowns. Final Score in Kansas City, Chiefs 33-31 Panthers.
So far this season, Mahomes has a pass completion % of 67 to go along with 2,687 yards (2nd in the NFL), 25 touchdown passes (2nd in the NFL) and has thrown just one interception through the first nine games of the season. Mahomes main competition for MVP is likely to be Seattle's Russell Wilson who currently leads the league with 28 touchdown passes with his team currently 6-2 through nine weeks of action. However, team success always plays its part and with 'Magic' & the Chiefs showing no signs of slowing, it is likely to be a second MVP for Mahomes.