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Winners, Losers & Wannabes – NFL Week 9

Nick Foles tied an NFL record Sunday and torched the Raiders in the process. More importantly, Foles kept the Eagles within reach of the NFC East leading Cowboys. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Winners

Your Fantasy Bench
It was a big day for a group of receivers that were probably chilling on your bench. Jerricho Cotchery, Riley Cooper, and T.Y. Hilton each had a three TD day. Without a TD in the first eight weeks, Andre Johnson may have even been on a bench or two. He also had three touchdowns. Meanwhile, Dez Bryant, Vincent Jackson, and A. J. Green went scoreless. Fantasy football is the worst.

Nick Foles
Foles looked Manning-esque in Oakland. His touch was perfect, timing impeccable, even his movement in the pocket was smooth. If Chip Kelly didn’t call off the dogs, Foles may have gone for nine touchdowns. It’s only one game, and given Matt Flynn’s downward spiral we know not to get too excited about one game, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t optimistic about Foles. Three weeks ago, my dad argued Foles was concussed throughout the entire Dallas game. He may be on to something.

Boston Red Sox
I remember when the 2008 Phillies delivered in the clutch over and over and over again. It’s a great feeling watching your team knowing they’ll come through in the biggest moments.

Chip Kelly
I’m pretty sure Chip fell asleep with both middle fingers in the air last night. Everyone said he was in over his head and his offense didn’t work. For one week at least, they were dead wrong. (Note: I think the NFL has already figured out Chip’s offense just as its figured out every other offense. As Chip says, it’s all about execution. Whoever executes best, wins.)

Carolina Panthers
Another blowout win for the Panthers combined with a surprising Saints loss has the Panthers a game out of first with the toughest part of their schedule approaching. Carolina has proved they can beat the NFL’s bad teams. Now it’s time to beat the big boys.

Michael Carter-Williams
Obviously.

New England Patriots
I’m telling you, there’s something going on in Boston right now. The Red Sox stormed out of last to win the World Series and the Patriots have somehow clawed their way to 7-2. You don’t want to play this team in the playoffs. Lock it down; they’ll play in the AFC title game for the third straight year.

Andy Reid
Undefeated. Still. Barely. But still.

Playoff Races
Take a look at the conference standings right now and you’ll see 12 teams are still legitimately alive for a playoff spot in the NFC. In the AFC, a whopping 13 remain within two games of the final Wildcard berth. It hasn’t been the prettiest NFL season, but we’re in for a heck of conclusion over the next two months.

Losers

New York Giants
Even on their bye week the Giants lose. For the first time all season, all active NFC East teams were victorious Sunday. Just when they thought they’d gain some ground on their hapless division foes, the Giants go backwards.

AFC West
After being called the NFL’s best division all week, the AFC West dropped two games to the NFL’s worst division (NFC East), the Chiefs sqqqqqquuuueeeeaaaked out another win in Buffalo against a third string QB, and the Broncos lost their coach for the next two months due to unexpected heart surgery.

Houston Texans
So long, Houston. See you in 2014. Gary Kubiak needed Case Keenum five weeks ago. Late is still better than never but it doesn’t fix what’s already been done.

Obama’s Approval Rating
Still seems a bit high.

New Orleans Saints
The Saints were supposed to take advantage of the Jets before hitting the toughest stretch of their schedule. Instead, they allowed the Jets to bully them around. I thought the Saints were the NFC’s best. Now I question whether they’re even the best in their division. Carolina’s defense is better than New York’s.

St. Louis Cardinals
There’s no shame in losing the World Series. On the other hand, when you lead the majors in batting with runners in scoring position and then strand 4 billion runners over the course of 6 games, you kinda, have to, maybe feel a little shame.

Baltimore Ravens
I’m no longer referring to the Ravens as the defending champs. You can’t start 3-5 in a bad division and still have “champs” in your name. Sorry.

Alfred Morris Owners
Two weeks ago, Roy Helu Jr. (Morris’ backup) scored three touchdowns. Two were within three yards of the end zone. This week, Darrel Young (Washington’s fullback), scored three times within four yards of the end zone. At some point, I expect Mike Shanahan to declare he hates fantasy football and wants to punish those who play. I’m not asking you to change your ways, Mike, all I want is honesty here.

Wannabes

NBA Contenders
It’s an 82 game season, so what happens over the first few weeks doesn’t matter AT ALL. Regardless, it’s still fun to harass the “contenders” that come out flat, especially in the East. The Nets, Bulls, and Heat all suffered two losses within their first three games. What’s worse, both the Bulls and Heat lost to the tanking 76ers while the Nets fell to the aimless Cavaliers and the tanking Magic.

Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals fatal flaw is self-inflicted wounds. They had Miami beat so many times Thursday night and continually let them off the hook with horrible turnovers, dropped passes, and overall foolishness. With the significant injuries mounting up, the Bengals are likely facing another first round exit in the postseason.

Seattle Seahawks?
They stole a win from the Texans, barely got out of St. Louis with a win, and needed overtime to take out the winless Buccaneers. Seattle may be in a little trouble. They appear to have lost interest in the regular season. And that includes the coaches. Why don’t they unleash the Beast around the goal line?

Dallas’ offense
I thought the Cowboy offense would be one of the NFL’s best this season. And up until the last four weeks, they were. Since losing to Denver, the Cowboy offense has been wildly inconsistent. To their credit, though, Tony Romo and Co. got the job done when it mattered Sunday. The Dallas offense had two good drives all day. Their first drive out of the half went 74 yards on 6 plays for a touchdown and their last drive – with their backs against the wall – went for 90 yards on 9 plays and sealed the game with a touchdown.

2012 Playoff Teams
Say farewell to the 2012 playoff teams that have already bowed out of the 2013 season: Minnesota Vikings, Houston Texans, Atlanta Falcons. On Deck: Baltimore Ravens, Washington Redskins.

Young QB Rankings

(Let’s face it, the biggest story/stories driving the league right now is the play of young quarterbacks. Since it’s such a big deal, I’ll be sure to rank the top seven after each week starting right now. There are no real criteria other than they must be within their first five years in the league.)

1. Andrew Luck – Luck orchestrated yet another 4th quarter comeback. It’s only his second year and we’re already not surprised when he does it. This is a bad sign for the rest of the league.
2. Russell Wilson – Wilson has looked exceptionally average the last two weeks, as have the Seahawks.
3. Colin Kaepernick – Bye week. Think McDonalds still wants Joe Flacco in those commercials?
4. Cam Newton – Newton had his worst outing in over a month and the Panthers still won by 24.

(Space is to emphasize the guys above are on a different level than the ones below.)

5. Robert Griffin III – Griffin didn’t throw any touchdowns, but his 72% completion rate was his best of the season and the first sign that Griffin is returning to his 2012 form.
6. Nick Foles – You can’t tie an NFL passing record in three quarters and be held off the list. Maybe one day he’ll play this way at home.
7. Case Keenum – A stud for the 1st half Sunday night. Besides, Locker, Dalton and Tannehill all had underwhelming weeks.

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