Here are five takeaways from Week 9 of the NFL season.
1. Bad break for the New England Patriots
The Patriots are going to have to pull off what they’ve been able to do in the past — get through a key injury. Journeyman running back Dion Lewis, who is out for the season with a knee injury, had established himself as New England’s third most important offensive player after Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. In seven games, Lewis compiled 688 total yards, 234 on the ground and 388 in the air, with four touchdowns. He’s elusive, hard to cover out the backfield and he brings a dynamic no one on the roster has. Getting around stuff like this is what Bill Belichick does, but it is another challenge he has to overcome.
2. Carolina Panthers Do It Again
The Panthers just got through what would have been considered their toughest stretch of the schedule before the season started. Carolina beat the Seattle Seahawks, Philadelphia Eagles, Indianapolis Colts and Green Bay Packers. Cam Newton was a monster throwing for 297 yards, running for 57 and scoring four total touchdowns in the Panthers 37-29 win over the Packers. Potentially important for Carolina was rookie wide receiver Devin Funchess finally flashing his talent — he hauled in three catches for 71 yards and a TD. Funchess is the most talented wideout they have and if he can grow into a bigger role it’d be huge.
3. Bad Signs For New York Jets
Sunday was supposed to be a get right game for the Jets coming off consecutive losses to the Pats and Oakland Raiders. New York beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 28-23, but it took Blake Bortles farting the game away. Bortles had four turnovers, two fumbles and two interceptions, that were the main reason the Jets won. New York’s offensive line has fallen apart, the run defense is taking a step back and the secondary isn’t playing to the level they were earlier in the season. The Jets are 5-3, in the driver’s seat for an AFC Wild Card spot, but there’s enough worries here that they might not be able to take advantage of it even with an easy schedule.
4. Puke Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons lost to Blaine Gabbert. The Falcons lost to Blaine Gabbert. The Falcons lost to Blaine Gabbert. I typed that three times and I still don’t believe it. How? The San Francisco 49ers aren’t a talented team and played one of the worst first round quarterback picks in recent history. Atlanta has dropped three of four after a 5-0 start. Once thought to be a lock for the playoffs, the Falcons are in a little bit of trouble if one of the three 4-4 teams in the NFC come to life.
5. The Dallas Cowboys Are Dead
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jordan Matthews touchdown in overtime essentially ended the Cowboys season. The talented, but injury ravaged squad just couldn’t do enough to get over the hump. Dallas lost by six to the Eagles, one to the Seahawks, seven to the Giants, six to the Saints and 11 to the Falcons (were winning in the fourth quarter). The Cowboys are 2-6 and have games left vs. the Panthers, at the Packers vs. the Jets and at the Bills. It’s going to be hard for them to get 8-8. Dallas is a very obvious candidate for a bounce back season in 2016.