Week 8 was all about the backup QBs, as four of them won games last week. Well, week 9 kept up the trend of wacky things happening, as it will go down as the week of the underdogs. Underdogs won half of the 14 games this past weekend. It could’ve been more if not for another late comeback from the Ravens. Miami won, but weren’t underdogs thanks to the blessing of playing the Texans. If you held a playoff spot coming into this weekend, there was a good chance that you lost. It was just a bizarre weekend of football all around. That being said, Detroit picked the worst week to have a bye week. Underdogs ruled, yet Detroit couldn’t get in on the fun, leaving them still as the league’s only winless team. Make sure to hug that Lions fan in your life – I’m sure they need it.
Winner #1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I know it’s a bit weird to declare a team that didn’t play this weekend a winner, but it was almost the perfect weekend for them. The first good thing is thanks to their bye week, they didn’t have to suffer an unforeseen defeat. The second bonus would be the Saints losing to Atlanta, giving control of the division back to Tampa. This was a huge boost for Tampa, as they lost to the Saints last week and currently lose any tiebreaker with New Orleans. The third and final piece of good news was that all their NFC rivals, except Arizona, lost. Dallas, LA and Green Bay all lost this weekend, which helps Tampa in the race for that number 1 seed. Tampa has the easiest schedule in the NFL down the stretch and are nicely positioned to take advantage of anymore slip ups from their NFC rivals.
Loser #1 Buffalo Bills
Perhaps no team had a more damaging loss than the Bills this past weekend. Losing to the Jaguars is embarrassing enough, but to only score 6 points against them is “paper bag” worthy. Jacksonville did everything they could to lose this game, including missing 3 straight FGs in a wacky 2-minute sequence. Luckily for Jaguar fans the Bills insisted that their team win this game. The loss raises some questions about whether or not this team can take that next step from last year. The offensive line looked shaky, and it definitely had a negative effect on the offense. The inconsistency on offense has to be a concern going forward. Not to mention that quietly the New England Patriots have suddenly emerged right behind them for the division lead. Oh, and they found out on Sunday that they do not, in fact, have the best Josh Allen in the league.
Winner #2 Josh Allen (Jacksonville’s version)
Most football fans are aware of Josh Allen the Buffalo Bills QB, but not many people are aware of the Josh Allen the defensive player for the Jaguars. Well, this Sunday Josh Allen the defensive player put many people on notice. Playing directly against his namesake, the defensive Josh Allen terrorized the Bills. He came away with a sack, a recovered fumble and his first career interception, all against the other Josh Allen. In the battle of the Josh Allen’s, only one could reign supreme, and the clear winner was the Jacksonville version – putting to rest, at least for this season, the debate on who the best Josh Allen is in the league. It also helps that Jacksonville won the game, thanks to their defense.
Loser #2 Dallas Cowboys
Cowboy fans must be scratching their heads with what they saw this past weekend. Just one week after seeing their team pull out an unlikely victory against the Vikings with a backup QB, they lost to the Broncos at home. Just when you think that maybe things will be different with this Dallas team, they turn around and have a stinker. Now maybe it was just “rustiness,” as Dak Prescott hasn’t been active in about two weeks. If that’s the case, then this will just be an anomaly; if not, this does raise some concerns. All credit to Denver for going into Dallas and completely dominating the Cowboys. The good news for Dallas fans is that Prescott appears to be healthy again. That’s important: since the rest of their division won’t challenge them, the Cowboys are poised to make some noise in the playoffs.
Winner #3 Arizona Cardinals
Arizona were without several of their stars on Sunday. Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins were both out due to injury, and it didn’t matter. The Cardinals comfortably handled the 49ers to a straightforward win. The win keeps them atop of the NFC as the number 1 seed. On a day when the majority of playoff teams lost, the Cardinals found a way to win. Now, I fully expect Murray to play moving forward, but this is the type of win that has lasting positive effects. Even without their top players they managed to win a game in quite convincing style. And since most of their NFC rivals lost, as mentioned above, this was the making of a perfect weekend for Arizona.
Loser #3 Cincinnati Bengals
Two weeks ago, this team was the number 1 seed in the AFC. Now after a blowout loss to their state rivals Cleveland, the team finds themselves in the basement of the AFC North. If the playoffs started this weekend, the Bengals would be on the outside looking in. In fact, as of right now they have fallen all the way to the 10th seed in the AFC. In seems the clock has struck midnight on this team, as their schedule does them no favors the rest of the way. After such a bright start, Cincy is going through the growing pains that teams often do when dealing with younger QBs. The future is undoubtedly bright for this franchise, but that is unlikely to start down the stretch of this season. That being said, if they are to surprise everyone again, the next month of games is the time.