Week 9 overreactions and reality checks: Eagles best team in NFL? Rams missing playoffs? Geno Smith extension?


Of all the exciting weeks in the NFL in this 2022 season, Week 9 may have topped them all. Ten of 12 games completed in Week 9 were within one score (eight points or less) in the fourth quarter with four teams (Jacksonville Jaguars, Las Vegas Raiders, Minnesota Vikings, New York Jets) erasing deficits of 10-plus points. 

The Vikings, Jets, Los Angeles Chargers, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers each had a game-winning score in the final two minutes of regulation. All these games transformed wild division races across the league as fewer teams are starting to separate themselves from the pack. 

All of this will shape up for a wild second half of the year, but first the overreactions for Week 9 need to be addressed. 

The Rams are going to miss the playoffs

Overreaction or reality: Reality 

Los Angeles had a victory over Tampa Bay in the bag before allowing Tom Brady to drive down the field, going six plays for 54 yards in 35 seconds. Brady threw the winning touchdown pass with nine seconds to play.

That win would have kept the Rams on pace with the Seattle Seahawks at 4-4. Instead Los Angeles is 3-5 and sitting in 10th place in the NFC standings, 2.5 games behind the Seahawks in the NFC West. 

Los Angeles isn’t dead in the water, but has two games with the Seahawks, and face the Kansas City Chiefs and Chargers on the schedule. Going 2-2 against those teams might not be enough. The Rams are going to need some teams ahead of them to collapse at this rate. 

Geno Smith deserves a long-term extension in Seattle

Overreaction or reality: Reality 

Think it’s time to have a serious talk about Geno Smith’s future with the Seahawks. After throwing a pick-six to Zaven Collins to give the Arizona Cardinals a 14-10 lead in the third quarter, the 32-year-old Smith led Seattle to touchdowns on its next three possessions — going 10 of 12 for 123 yards and a touchdown. 

The Seahawks are 6-3 and Smith has been excellent, completing an NFL-leading 73.1% of his passes and throwing for 2,199 yards with 15 touchdowns to just four interceptions — and a passer rating of 107.2 (fourth in NFL). Seattle has its quarterback for the foreseeable future — it’s Smith. 

Time to sign him. 

Justin Fields will rush for 1,000 yards this season 

Overreaction or reality: Reality 

What Justin Fields has done for the Bears offense in Year Two (first year in Luke Getsy’s system) has been remarkable. Not only has Fields developed as a passer, but he is becoming the most dynamic running quarterback in the NFL.

Fields has 91 carries for 602 yards and four touchdowns through nine games, averaging 6.6 yards per carry. After Sunday’s NFL regular-season record for rushing yards by a quarterback in a game (178), Fields needs to average 56.9 yards per game to hit the 1,000-yard mark. 

He’s averaging 66.9 yards per game, so Fields is on pace to become the third quarterback to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. 

Tyreek Hill will have 150 catches and 2,000 receiving yards 

Overreaction or reality: Overreaction

Doesn’t feel like Tyreek Hill is slowing down any time soon. Hill finished with seven catches for 143 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s win over the Bears to cross the 1,000-yard plateau in just his ninth game. The Miami Dolphins wide receiver has 76 catches for 1,104 yards halfway through the year — an average of 8.4 catches and 122.7 yards per game. 

If Hill keeps up this insane pace, he will finish with 144 catches and 2,085 yards this year. Hill is well on his way to 2,000 receiving yards, but needs to average 9.3 receptions per game the rest of the year to get to 150. 

The task is tall, but if anyone can do it — it’s Hill. 

The Eagles are the best team in the NFL

Overreaction or reality: Reality 

Philadelphia is the only team that’s unbeaten in the NFL, sitting at the top of the NFC East (a division with two teams at 6-2) with an 8-0 record. The Eagles are a top-five team in point and yards per game and points and yards allowed per game. They haven’t trailed in the second half and led by double digits in every game. 

The teams that can challenge the Eagles for the best team title are the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs, but Buffalo was upset by the Jets on Sunday as Josh Allen had 42 passing yards. The Bills are also 2-7 in one-score games over the last two seasons. 

The Minnesota Vikings are 7-1, but the Eagles blew them out in Week 2. The Dallas Cowboys have two losses, including one to the Eagles. They are a combined 13-3 — with two losses to Philadelphia. 

At the halfway point, the Eagles are the best team. 

The Dolphins will win the AFC East

Overreaction or reality: Overreaction

Hard to discredit what Miami is doing, as the Dolphins are now 6-0 in games Tua Tagovailoa starts and finishes this year. Tagovailoa is playing excellent as well, leading the NFL with a 115.9 passer rating. Tagovailoa has completed 69.9% of his passes for 1,980 yards with 15 touchdowns to just three interceptions in his seven games.

Can the Dolphins win the division? Miami is third in the AFC East with a 6-3 record, having a head-to-head tiebreaker over Buffalo and a head-to-head loss to New York. Both teams are a half game behind Buffalo for first place. 

The Dolphins don’t appear to be slowing down any time soon, but Miami will have to beat Buffalo in Orchard Park in December to win the division. They also have to beat the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Chargers prior to that. 

Miami is a playoff team, but the Dolphins have a way to go to win the division. 

The Vikings are the Eagles’ biggest competitor in the NFC

Overreaction or reality: Overreaction

Minnesota continues to win the close games, improving to 6-0 in one-score games this year. The Vikings have won six straight games by one possession and have a plus-33 point differential in the fourth quarter — so they’re good late in games.

Is Minnesota the biggest challenger to Philadelphia? The 7-1 record says yes, but the Vikings have also played three games in an NFC North that has a combined record of 8-18 (not including them). Two of those games were one-score contests. 

Only one team the Vikings have defeated currently has a winning record, and that was the Miami Dolphins without Tua Tagovailoa. Minnesota has four consecutive games against teams with winning records coming up. Let’s see how good the Vikings are. 

The Patriots are a playoff team 

Overreaction or reality: Overreaction

New England is 5-4 and sits in last place in the AFC East, showcasing how challenging the division is. The Patriots sit a half game behind the Chargers for the final playoff spot heading into their bye week.

Why can’t the Patriots make the playoffs? They have three straight games against teams with winning records and six of their last eight games are against teams with winning records. They play the Bills twice and the Dolphins — a team they struggle beating — one more time. 

New England needs to be better on offense to keep pace with these teams, even if the defense and special teams are playoff-caliber. The passing game has to come alive down the stretch. 

Tom Brady can still play at a high level 

Overreaction or reality: Reality 

Brady had his 55th career game-winning drive Sunday, breaking a tie with Peyton Manning for the most in NFL history. The Buccaneers quarterback finished 36 of 58 for 280 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions (79.7 rating).

Was the performance impressive? No, but Brady went 5 of 6 for 54 yards and a touchdown on a final drive that took 35 seconds to win the game in the final 44 seconds (and the incompetion was a spike). 

Brady has completed 65.3% of his passes for 2,547 yards with 10 touchdowns to just one interception (90.5 rating) this season. His touchdown-to-interception ratio is 10.0 (best in NFL) and he has an NFL-leading 373 pass attempts without an interception (second-best in NFL history). 

Is Brady the same quarterback he was the past two seasons? No, but he’s still playing well for a 45-year-old quarterback. He can still win games for his team. 





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