Tuesday, November 8, 2011

NFL Week 9: Tuesday Takeaways

All 32 NFL teams have now played at least half of their regular season games and befuddlement is the best way to describe week nine of the NFL season. Ten road teams won this weekend, including notable wins by the previously winless Dolphins and Giants (see below).

Week nine made us rethink Eli Manning's elite status, got us wondering about Chad Ochocinco's career and we're closing the book on the 2011 MVP race. It's all covered in The Source's Tuesday Takeaways.

1) The NFL quarterback passer rating doesn't always tell the whole story. However, in the case of Aaron Rodgers, it tells the entire story and then some. The Green Bay QB is the top passer in the NFL, with a quarterback passer rating (QBPR) of 129.1. Rodgers' QBPR Sunday against the San Diego Chargers was 145.8, giving him eight straight games of a 110+ QBPR. What is perhaps even more impressive than that stat is the gap between Rodgers and the rest of the quarterbacks in the league. The number two QB on the QBPR list this season is Drew Brees with a 100.6 QBPR. That 28.5 gap that separates Rodgers and Brees is the same margin that separates Brees and Redskins QB John Beck, who is the 30th best passer in the NFL with a 72.1 QBPR. If you're still not convinced Rodgers is your NFL MVP this year, Rodgers is the first player in NFL history with 2,600-plus yards and 24 TDs through his first 8 games (2,619 yards and 24 TDs).

2) Maybe Eli Manning is an elite quarterback after all. The Giants QB tossed a last-minute touchdown Sunday to beat the New England Patriots 24-21. Manning has been brilliant this season, leading New York to a 6-2 record at the half-way point of the season. His stats jump off the page this year and for once it's not his lofty interception total that grabs your attention. His TD/INT ratio is 15 TDs to 6 INTS and his ability to finish games has been masterful. Manning's fourth-quarter passer rating of 119.3 is the best in the NFL. By the way, the last NFC team to beat the Pats at home were the Brett Favre-led Packers. Pack won 28-10 on November 13, 2002.

3) Speaking of the Patriots, the Chad Ochocinco experiment in New England has been a colossal failure, and Sunday's game against New York provided us with more evidence. So far this season, Ochocinco has 9 catches for 136 yards and zero touchdowns. On Sunday, Wes Welker finished the game with 9 catches for 136 yards and zero touchdowns (his fifth 100-yard game of the year). The fact that Welker matched Ochocinco's season totals in one week tells me #85 is likely done after this season - not just with the Patriots, but with the NFL.

4) Dallas RB DeMarco Murray continues to break Cowboy records held by Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith. With his 136 yards rushing on Sunday against Seattle, Murray has now rushed for 466 yards in his last three games. The 466 yards is the most by any Cowboys player in a three-game span, surpassing 446 yards by Emmitt Smith, who accomplished that feat in 1993 (his MVP season).

5) Another Hall of Famer saw one of his records fall in Washington over the weekend. Redskins rookie RB Roy Helu broke Art Monk's franchise record for most catches in a game with 14 grabs against San Francisco on Sunday. Monk, who is one of the all-time great WRs, recorded 13 catches in a game against Cincinnati back in 1985.

6) Drew Brees joined Brett Favre and Johnny Unitas as the only players in NFL history to throw touchdowns in 36 consecutive games. Brees' first quarter scoring toss to Lance Moore moved him into a second place tie with Favre for most consecutive games with a TD pass. Brees is still 11 games behind former Colts great Unitas, who holds the NFL record with 47 games in a row. In Sunday's win over the Tampa Bay Bucs, Brees also became the first player in NFL history to throw for more than 3,000 yards through the first nine games on the season. Brees currently has 3,004 yards passing, tops in the NFL.

7) The Houston Texans are running away with the AFC South title, quite literally. The Texans have two running backs who are on pace to surpass 1,000 yard rushing this season. Arian Foster (656 yards) and Ben Tate (623 yards) have combined for 1,279 yards on the ground and look poised to join DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart as the only rushing duo in NFL history to rush for 1,100 yards apiece in a season. Williams (1,117 yards) and Stewart (1,133 yards) rushed for 2,250 yards combined in 2009.

8) The Miami Dolphins lost ground in the 'Suck for Luck' sweepstakes Sunday when they beat the Chiefs in Kansas City. Behind Matt Moore's 3 TD game, the Fins destroyed the red hot Chiefs 31-3. Not that they needed them, but Miami scored two second half touchdowns in week nine. In the previous five games, they had scored one second half touchdown.

9) Finally something to smile about (see picture above). It took Atlanta WR Julio Jones (pictured) nine weeks to score his first NFL touchdown (50-yard TD catch Sunday against the Colts). It took him six minutes to score his second NFL touchdown (80-yard TD).

10) Pittsburgh Steelers WR Mike Wallace has proven this year that he is an elite wide receiver. Wallace has 6 TDs this season, with an average yards per touchdown of 45.1 yards.

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