One undefeated and one winless team remain, in a week Carolina’s star running back exploded on the field, Baltimore’s “running back” bested the Patriots, and Cleveland unraveled further. Here are five takeaways from Week 9 of the 2019 NFL season.
It’s time for a running back to win NFL MVP
It’s been seven years since a running back earned the NFL MVP, when Adrian Peterson ended the 2012 season with 2,097 rushing yards (nine shy of Eric Dickerson’s single-season record). Before Peterson the last running back to win the prestigious award was LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006.
Based on the pattern it’s about time for someone other than a quarterback to claim the MVP once again, and Christian McCaffrey is making it difficult to ignore him. On Sunday the third-year Panthers back piled on 166 yards from scrimmage and three scores in Carolina’s 30-20 win over Tennessee.
The 2019 season is half over.
Christian McCaffrey is pacing for:
🔹1,762 rushing yards
🔹726 receiving yards
🔹2,488 scrimmage yards
🔹26 total touchdowns
— John Ellis (@OnePantherPlace) November 4, 2019
McCaffrey is on pace for 2,488 yards from scrimmage, just 22 short of Chris Johnson’s 2,509 in 2009—the most in one season. The year Peterson collected the MVP, he accumulated 2,314 all-purpose yards.
The Ravens are the most dangerous team in the AFC
The New England Patriots appeared to be a step above the rest of the competition. That is until the Patriots finally faced a whole different level of competition. Through Week 8 the Patriots enjoyed the benefit of dominating a handful of bumbling teams, from the Dolphins to the Jets (twice), Redskins, Giants and Browns.
In Week 9 the Baltimore Ravens served up a reality check for New England, and the league took notice. Dual-threat quarterback Lamar Jackson upped his MVP odds to +300 following his three-touchdown performance against the Patriots’ boogeymen.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) November 4, 2019
Jackson and Mark Ingram ran through the Pats defense with ease, and the Ravens defense forced Tom Brady and Julian Edelman into turnovers.
The Ravens own two losses—to the Chiefs and Browns in Week 3 and 4, respectively—but have come on strong with a four-game win streak. Baltimore beat the Seahawks on the road, 30-16, the week before they downed the Patriots.
The AFC may not belong to New England anymore, and Kansas City doesn’t look all that threatening compared to the Ravens. The Ravens’ Super Bowl odds are now tied with the Chiefs’ at +1000, and the Patriots dipped to +220 but remain the outright favorite.
The Dolphins aren’t so bad—compared to the Jets and Bengals
The same week the Patriots’ dreams of 16-0 came crashing down, the team many expected to go 0-16 put a halt to a historically abysmal record.
The 0-8 Dolphins hosted the 1-7 Jets and beat on Sam Darnold and company. Darnold struggled once again, since his return from mononucleosis, and the Jets defense let Ryan Fitzpatrick toss three touchdown passes and rack up 288 yards in the Dolphins’ 26-18 home victory.
The only winless team remaining is the Cincinnati Bengals, who last Tuesday announced longtime quarterback Andy Dalton would assume backup duty to rookie Ryan Finley going forward.
The Dolphins have continued to put up more of a fight each week, while the Bengals seem to be “tanking for Tua” in the most awful fashion.
The 2020 NFL Draft order as of Week 10:
1. Bengals: 0-8
2. Redskins: 1-8
3. Jets: 1-7
4. Dolphins: 1-7
5. Falcons: 1-7
6. Giants: 2-7
7. Browns: 2-6
8. Buccaneers: 2-6
9. Broncos: 3-6
10. Raiders (via Bears): 3-5
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) November 5, 2019
The Colts keep running out of luck
The future looked dimmer following Andrew Luck’s sudden, unexpected retirement, but Jacoby Brissett stepped in and kept the Indianapolis Colts afloat. In Sunday’s game against the Steelers, Brissett could have made the difference in the matchup but exited in the second quarter with a sprained MCL.
The Colts have had enough bad luck at quarterback, but it doesn’t stop there. Kicker Adam Vinatieri continues to experience issues and completely botched a 43-yard game-winning field goal as time expired. You can blame the laces, but Vinatieri—considered one of the greatest NFL kickers of all time—has looked shaky throughout the 2019 season.
Adam Vinatieri missed for the win pic.twitter.com/SqyjNzqcXt
— Eric Rosenthal (@ericsports) November 3, 2019
He has missed five of his 17 field-goal attempts and five of 19 extra-point attempts. He could’ve solidified victories against the Chargers and Steelers had he been more accurate, but instead, Indy is sitting at 5-3.
The Browns keep running out of excuses
Odell Beckham Jr.’s move to Cleveland continues to prove fruitless. The 2-6 Browns faced some stiffer competition to begin the 2019 campaign, but Sunday’s slate in Denver was supposed to kick off a winnable stretch of games.
The Browns still managed to fumble the opportunity to gain another win and ended up with a 24-19 defeat to the Broncos. The play on the field was bad enough, but Cleveland provided plenty head-scratching behavior off of it, as well.
During halftime OBJ and Jarvis Landry were told to change cleats or sit, since both receivers opted to wear shoes that violated the league’s uniform policy. This is just one of many OBJ uniform infractions this season. Baker Mayfield also made an odd choice in clothing for his postgame press conference and became an overnight meme.
Baker Mayfield looks like he’s about to rob Kevin’s house after his parents left him home alone pic.twitter.com/OGO2Lcnhuk
— NFL MEMES (@memesofnfl) November 5, 2019
Earlier in the week the Browns quarterback snapped at a reporter, but the most glaring reaction to the issues surrounding Cleveland came from safety Jermaine Whitehead. Following Denver’s win Whitehead got on Twitter to respond to criticism of his play and sent out threatening tweets that forced the team to release him.
The Browns are falling apart at the seams, and aren’t too far from standing on the same ground as the Jets and Dolphins, even though they entered the season in the Super Bowl conversation.