By Lawrence Edwards
WINNERS: Baltimore Ravens defense and Special Teams
The Ravens defense held the Steelers explosive offense in check and gave a banged up Big Ben a hard time all game. DT Timmy Jernigan ended up with an interception after Roethlisberger’s pass was tipped at the line. The special teams came up big on a blocked punt which turned into 7 points on the scoop and score.
LOSERS: Pittsburgh Steelers offense
Everyone thought the Steelers offense would get back on track Sunday with the return of Big Ben, limited or not, but instead they showed up to M&T Bank Stadium still sleeping. LeVeon Bell was held to just 32 yards rushing on 14 carries to go along with 6 receptions for 38 yards. Ben was rattled all night, limited in his ability to extend plays due to his knee which I’m sure is still extremely sore. The lone bright spots on offense were receivers Eli Rogers and Antonio Brown who finished with 6 catches for 103 yards and 7 catches for 85 yards and a touchdown respectively. The Steelers still had a chance late in the game to come back but Sammie Coates dropped a perfectly thrown ball in the endzone that would’ve made it a one possession game with over 3 minutes left, Ravens offense wasn’t necessarily lighting it up.
WINNERS: Ben McAdoo
Ben McAdoo came out of the bye sitting at 4-3 thanks mostly to timely plays by his defense because up until Sunday his play calling was some of the worst the league has ever seen and the Giants have too many weapons for that. Ben must’ve heard the criticism loud and clear because he called his best game of his short tenure as the Giants head coach. Some of his questionable plays tried to rear it’s ugly head and killed a couple drives but ultimately he bounced right back and called a pretty good game. Giants finally took more shots down the field and had plenty success. The Giants offense must keep this momentum going. They have a defense that can protect leads now.
LOSERS: Doug Pederson and The Philadelphia Eagles
Speaking of a coach in the East with some questionable play calling, Doug Pederson is another rookie head coach in the NFC East who’s decisions have under scrutiny. He solidified his fans concerns by going for it on 4th down 3 times and failing twice. The two fails could’ve led to 6 points from field goals and the pressure most likely would’ve been on the Giants offense to drive down the field and score at the last minute. It could’ve changed the complexity of the game. Now the Eagles are 0-3 in their division and 4-4 on the season with a big hole to try and climb out of. They only love you if it works Doug, I do applaud your bravado however…
WINNERS: Golden Tate
Talk about making a statement on an overtime victory. The Detroit Lions went into the home of Vikings and NFL’s top defense and took care of business in a NFC North showdown to put themselves in a nice position to make a run at taking the North. The real hero here in this game is Golden Tate however. On the 1st and only drive in overtime Matthew Stafford lead the Lions down the field and capped it off with a Golden Tate TD catch and run where he broke a tackle, stayed in bounds, broke another tackle then flipped his way to victory in the end zone with a walk off TD to beat the Vikings.
LOSERS: Minnesota Defense
This is considered the NFL’s cream of the crop this season but the last two games have not been that great. One week after giving up 252 passing yards, 1 passing TD, 153 rushing yards and 1 TD to Jay Cutler and Jordan Howard, they come in and give up two passing TD’s to Matthew Stafford and a pretty decent night for Theo Riddick, rushing 14 times for 70 yards and averaged 5 yards a carry on the day. The Vikings defense will have to get back to it’s dominant ways if they want to prevent a further slide because their offense is inept.
LOSERS: Denver Broncos
In the beginning of the season it looked like Denver’s vaunted pass rush, “No Fly Zone” secondary , and the game management of Trevor Seimian was going to get them to the playoffs and possibly back to the big one. Now here we are at the end of week 9 and they already have 2 division losses to the Chargers and Raiders. The Broncos are showing signs of a late Super Bowl hang over that they will need to fix quickly or they can find themselves out of the playoffs this season. San Diego is winning games and holding leads all of a sudden and they are now 1 1/2 games back from Denver for the 3rd spot in the West. The door is shutting quickly on Denver because Kansas City is now sitting at 6-2 and are playing good football even with key pieces missing on offense and the Broncos still have to face them.
BIGGEST WINNER: Oakland Raiders and the entire Raider Nation
THE RAIDERS ARE 7-2, I REPEAT, THE RAIDERS ARE 7-2. The definition of “Cry now, Laugh later” the Oakland Raiders are now laughing. For years Oakland fans were probably crying as they watched their team go though head coach after head coach, QB after QB, loss after loss, top pick after top pick, and now finally, after all those top picks, the Raiders have gotten it right. Derek Carr is the magician and was the final piece needed for Oakland to change their fortunes. The Raiders are winning games and looking good doing it, we haven’t seen a potent Raiders offense like this in forever. They impressively handled a division opponent in prime-time. They went out and outplayed, out coached, and out classed a tough defensive team and the defending SB champs to take sole possession of the top spot in the AFC West. Everyone is loving the Patriots in the AFC but I think Oakland will be the team to knock them off in the AFC Championship this season, that’s right I said it, the Raiders could actually be playing in the SB this year…