NFL Week 9 Winners & Losers
By Lee Wakefield & Peter Mann
Winners and losers from week 9 has gone international, just as the league did. Frankfurt saw the Chiefs meet the Dolphins in a clash that we discussed on this week’s podcast as one of our games of the week.
The league will continue to spread across the globe but we’ll always be here to pick out the good and bad across the games.
Winners - Peter Mann
A shoot-out in Frankfurt. Can Germany match, or even eclipse the UK, as the new home from home for the NFL after a successful outing, between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Miami Dolphins, at the Deutsche Bank Park this past weekend?
The UK has been hosting regular season fixtures for several seasons now, and the game is very popular on British shores, rightly so if you speak to hardened fans of the sport; but then there’s now Germany added into the mix.
The European Football League (EFL) is strong in its own right, and the current champions happen to be the German franchise, Rhein Fire, from Dusseldorf, who defeated Stuttgart Surge 53-34 in the Championship Game this past September.
The Dolphins-Chiefs game this past weekend in Frankfurt averaged 9.18 million viewers on NFL Network.— Joe Pompliano (@JoePompliano) November 7, 2023
That makes it the most-watched game in NFL Network history & it also had more viewers than the 2023 World Series (9.11 million).
Germany is becoming a big market for the NFL 📈 pic.twitter.com/1bleo4FpWt
Well-known for hosting other sports, from the Summer and Winter Olympics to the World Cup and European Championships, Champions League, and other footballing finals, the double-header in Frankfurt (the host Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots this coming weekend) can and will go a long way to securing Deutschland on the NFL calendar.
A crowd of more than 50,000 in Frankfurt is just a small example of what playing America’s Game, on mainland Europe, can do for the future of the sport, on both sides of the coin – for both the NFL and the EFL.
Only Toronto, and Mexico City, away from England (and of course the USA), had held regular season match-ups prior to Frankfurt; what’s the betting on the Allianz Arena (Munich) in the not-to-distant future, or the Signal Iduna Park (Dortmund).
What about that comeback, and the effort from Houston Texans QB, C.J. Stroud? The rookie proceeded to break the NFL record (single-game passing yards for a rookie) in the thrilling, 39-37 win over Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Bucs led at the end of each quarter except where it mattered the most, in the dying moments; from leading 10-7, 17-10, and 23-22 going into the final quarter, the hosting Texans, at the NRG Stadium, could easily have thought the writing was on the wall.
Stroud though, was not going to let that happen, no sir; having supplied a TD close-range in the opening quarter for Nico Collins, the rookie then made the second half his own to drag the Texans to the win.
A 75-yard pass for Noah Brown, and a 39-yard pass to Tank Dell, in the third quarter kept the now 4-4 Texans in with a shout. Then, in the fourth, he first released Dalton Schultz from close, and, with six seconds left on the counter, hit Dell from 15-yards for the win.
One of the early candidates for Offensive Rookie of the Year, Stroud hit a rookie record 470 passing yards for five TDs in a dominant display, taking his season record to 14 TDs, and one pick, on a franchise that is rebuilding, and to pull off that, with six seconds remaining – well the Buccaneers crumbled.
Meanwhile, back in Germany, there was the small point of Travis Kelce, the Chiefs tight end, who was also on record-breaking form as he helped his side to a 21-14 success over the Dolphins on Sunday.
It was another, resounding success, the AFC West leading Chiefs, who move to 7-2, and for Kelce, he set a new, franchise record, of 10,941 receiving yards, surpassing that of Tony Gonzalez, finishing the game against the Dolphins with 14 yards, 3 catches, and is pretty much on course to breaking the 11,00 barrier.
Only three players in NFL history have broken the 11,000 barrier – Gonzales (15,127), Jason Witten (13,046), and Antonio Gates (11,841), meaning that, if Kelce continues playing the way he has been in the Chiefs Red, more records will fall, and Gates’ benchmark, the former San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers TE (2003-18), is firmly in his sights.
That and no doubt many others in what is, at present, an illustrious, decade-long spell at the Arrowhead Stadium.
Losers - Lee Wakefield
The Bills' defense
I mentioned the Bills’ defensive struggles on the podcast this week, likening Rasul Douglas’s arrival to the scene in Community where Troy arrives with pizza to see the chaos reining and the room ablaze.
We all had fun with the Bills’ injury report when it dropped prior to Sunday Night Football but the fact of the matter is, Buffalo’s defense is drowning and needs more help.
The Bills entered the season as one of the most complete teams in the league but injuries have ebbed away at the quality of the unit.
The absences of Matt Milano and Tre White are felt particularly hard.
When at their best, the Bills’ defense has played like they have a collective mind. At this point though, after a humbling defeat to the Bengals, things are all on Josh Allen’s shoulders to deliver.
Miami Dolphins, When They Face Good Teams
Miami is 6-3 coming off their visit to Frankfurt and a game with Kansas City.
On the face of it, a good record, one of the best in the AFC. However, if we scratch a little deeper there’s more of an issue than would be immediately apparent.
The Dolphins’ six wins come against teams with records below .500, and their losses have come at the hands of the Bills, Eagles, and now Chiefs.
The Dolphins have aspirations to win it all, they’re not shooting for the playoffs. They’re not happy to get an invite to the dance, they want to take home the trophy.
Teams standing in their way are those of the ilk of Buffalo, Philadelphia, and Kansas City.
Do you see the issue here?
Miami needs to prove it against a big hitter or two before January football starts, otherwise, this spectre is going to loom large over them.
Miami needs to prove they’re not simply flat-track bullies. It’s been over 400 days…
Firstly, I want to say that this is not Bryce’s fault. However, the circumstances surrounding the first half season of Bryce Young’s season have left him squarely in the losers column.
Throughout his college career and his pre-draft process, I was a big Bryce guy. I felt he was deserving of the number one overall selection and I still believe he can be a success.
For every drafted player, landing spot and situation are so, so important.
However, what he’s facing with Carolina at the moment, with the dearth of talent around him is suboptimal to say the least.
The receivers have no juice and his offensive line is a bunch of turnstiles. The post below from Sunday is particularly alarming… Four Colts defenders had a part of the sack here.
All this whilst C.J. Stroud is looking like a top-10 quarterback already and prior to his injury Anthony Richardson had been flashing.
I don’t think Carolina made the wrong choice, they just haven’t done enough to support their guy.
Feature Image Credit: SB Nation
NFL, CFB & NFL Draft
Lee Wakefield IS A defensive line enthusiast, Chargers Sufferer, and LONG-TIME writer and podcaster with a number of publications. Find his Chargers content over at Bolt Beat. @Wakefield90 on twitter