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Week 9 Observations

It could be a great week or merely a decent one, pending some tight matchups in the Monday night game. Unfortunately, I both have and am going against Saquon Barkley, and it won't be an easy needle to thread.

The Ravens should have put the Patriots away early, but muffed a punt up 17-0 to let them back in the game, then followed up with another fumble in the second quarter. But the Patriots could have gotten the lead before Julian Edelman fumbled (which was taken to the house), and even after that, the Ravens converted a key fourth down to extend their penultimate drive and keep their exhausted defense off the field.

It was an interesting contrast in styles – a pulverizing running game and elusive QB vs. a relentless, up-tempo dink-and-dunk offense that doesn't give the defense a chance to breathe. Neither defense had an answer, and we could see a rematch, only in New England during the AFC title game.

Lamar Jackson is a good enough thrower to be a great QB, given his otherworldly running skills. Think peak Cam Newton, only if Newton had two extra gears.

The Patriots traded a second rounder for Mohamed Sanu, but I now understand why. He's perfect for their quick strike, dink-and-dunk offense – basically a second Julian Edelman, reliable, smart, tough, good hands. It's crazy to think how good the quicker, more explosive Antonio Brown might have been in the role, though.

Add Brandon Allen to the list of backup QBs (Gardner Minshew, Kyle Allen, Teddy Bridgewater, Matt Schaub, Matt Moore) who were up to the task. It's never been easier to play quarterback in the NFL.

I was surprised when the Browns failed to convert on 4th-and-4, down five on their final drive, but Baker Mayfield forced a short throw to a covered Jarvis Landry rather than taking a shot downfield to Odell Beckham who had a step. Mayfield played like a guy with nothing to lose last year.

Courtland Sutton made a great catch on his TD. Noah Fant is fast, but on his 75-yard TD, I kept waiting for a Brown to show up in the frame, and no one ever did.

The Chargers always take about half a season to round into form. The returns of Hunter Henry and Russell Okung were huge, and even Melvin Gordon looked better. Unfortunately, Derwin James is still at least a few weeks away.

I don't see the purpose of present-day Jimmy Graham. He doesn't block and when he catches the ball, he's got no speed and no wiggle.

Davante Adams' return was a dud. I'm not sure if he's still hampered by the toe injury or whether a good corner like Casey Hayward is just too much for him. Even with Adams, the Packers are still below-average at receiver.

Derek Carr played an efficient, mistake-free game, spreading the ball around to eight different receivers. It looks like I was wrong about him last year.

Matthew Stafford seemed to make big throws at will, but it's hard to win when the other team doesn't make a mistake, out-rushes you 171-90 and your team turns it over twice. Stafford, Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay should continue putting up big fantasy numbers, though.

What a sickening push if you had the Buccaneers plus six. If the Seahawks make the 40-yard FG in regulation, it's over. If the Bucs win the coin toss, it's probably over too, though Jameis Winston is a pick- or fumble-six waiting to happen.

In fact, Winston nearly had a fumble six on a play where he was untouched, but the ball just slipped out of his hands and was returned inside the 20. Otherwise, he played a clean game.

Chris Godwin was the No. 1 fantasy receiver a couple weeks ago, but Mike Evans has had 28 targets, 23 catches, 378 yards and three TDs the last two weeks.

Top-five all-time player Russell Wilson had another monster game. I had zero hope the Bucs would stop him in overtime.

It'll be interesting to see if Josh Gordon can make an impact, but D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett might already be enough. Lockett already has more targets through nine games than he did all of last year. Too bad they lost Will Dissly for the year though.

The announcers in the Bills-Redskins game mentioned two of the greatest backs of all time were playing, Adrian Peterson and Frank Gore. While Peterson's shortcomings as a pass catcher might preclude him from inner-circle consideration at the position, he's is almost certainly one of the greatest runners of all time. Gore? One of the greatest compilers. Peterson had his second straight big game, incidentally, while Gore had 11 carries for 15 yards.

Devin Singletary saw 20 effective carries and four targets and might have wrested the feature back role away for himself, though Gore is like an unkillable zombie, so I wouldn't count my chickens yet.

Thank God Dave Gettleman in his infinite wisdom took Daniel Jones instead of Dwayne Haskins. Haskins looks like a poor man's Jason Campbell, holding the ball too long and taking unnecessary sacks.

Kirk Cousins was great for a few weeks against bad defenses, but didn't do much against an improving Chiefs unit. It didn't help that his best receiver, Adam Thielen, aggravated his hamstring early, or that LaQuon re-Treadwell was his leading receiver.

Tyreek Hill is a monster even with Matt Moore under center. And Patrick Mahomes is due back next week.

At this point making fun of the Jets is just cruel. It's like kicking a corpse that's been run over by a bus.

It was huge the Eagles opted for the 38-yard field goal up five on 4th-and-2 with 25 seconds left, making it a cover instead of a push. I thought Doug Pederson might go for it and seal the win that way, and if not, leave the Bears with 20-odd seconds to drive the length of the field.

Carson Wentz passes the eye test for me, but Alshon Jeffery had another big drop. The offense (which at least got some version of DeSean Jackson back) hasn't hit its stride yet.

Tough beat in Steelers-Colts. Not only did Adam Vinatieri miss the game-winning 43-yard kick (and badly), but he also missed a extra point, the Colts lost their starting QB in the first half, and Brian Hoyer threw a pick six from the Steelers red zone and lost a fumble.

Jacoby Brissett is Exhibit A in my thesis that systems and offensive lines matter more than all but the elite QBs in the modern NFL. We'll see whether Brian Hoyer cements the case or is a bridge too far if Brissett misses more time.

Zach Pascal is a player, and Paris Campbell also looked good. Both should get chances with T.Y. Hilton out indefinitely.

Jaylen Samuel had eight rushes for 10 yards and 13 catches for 73 yards, setting the standard for inefficiency.

Christian McCaffrey is peak Priest Holmes/LaDainian Tomlinson, the guy it's unfair someone else got to draft.

Ryan Tannehill threw a couple picks, but at least the Titans passing game has some life again.

I didn't see much of the London game, and I'm not sorry I missed it. I am sorry I swamped in Gardner Minshew for Derek Carr at the last minute. I tuned in at the end to see if Minshew could get me some garbage-time production, and he turned it over three times in five minutes.