10 things to know from NFL Week 9
Didn’t catch every moment of NFL Week 9? PFF has you covered with the top 10 things you need to know based on our grades and data.
1. Antonio Brown earned PFF’s highest single-game WR grade—ever.
If anyone was ever happy to have Big Ben back—albeit not even for two full games—it’s Antonio Brown.
The Steelers wide receiver notched 17 receptions on 23 targets for a ridiculous 284 yards—115 coming after the catch—against the Raiders on Sunday. While he didn’t record a touchdown to cap off the performance, he did force two missed tackles.
With the stellar performance against Oakland, Brown solidified his spot atop our PFF Season Player Grades among wide receivers, landing at 97.8 for the season. He is lifted mainly by his league-high receiving grade of 96.6.
2. Steelers RB DeAngelo Williams was the top-graded RB in Week 9.
It’s not often that I reserve two spots on this list for teammates, but the performance of DeAngelo Williams in Week 9 warrants it. Filling in for the injured Le’Veon Bell, Williams reminded us why he was a top-10 running back the first few weeks of the season (during Bell’s suspension).
While Brown wreaked havoc in the Raiders’ secondary, Williams thrashed the defensive line with a league-high 176 yards and two touchdowns, earning the top grade of any RB on Sunday.
In weeks where he has seen significant playing time (Weeks 1, 2, 8, and 9), Williams owns the league’s second-best breakaway percentage (percentage of yardage on runs of 15 yards for more) and the fifth-best elusive rating (52.2).
3. Derek Carr earned the title of top QB in Week 9, despite a losing effort.
Remaining in the same game (there were many top performers from both teams at Heinz Field), Raiders quarterback Derek Carr showed why he is one of the NFL’s best young QBs this season.
Racking up four touchdowns on 307 yards, he would have had more had his receivers not dropped four catchable passes. His one interception was costly, but the rest of his play was enough to elevate him to the No. 1 QB spot on Khaled Elsayed’s Team of the Week.
Carr is now PFF’s fourth-ranked overall quarterback this season, behind Carson Palmer, Tom Brady, and Ben Roethlisberger, respectively.
4. The Vikings are tied for the NFC North lead.
Don’t look now, but the Minnesota Vikings sit atop the NFC North at 6-2, tied with the Green Bay Packers.
While the Packers have suffered a two-game skid against a pair of tough defenses (Broncos and Panthers), the Vikings extended their winning streak to four with a 21-18 victory over the Rams.
As Sam Monson explained in detail on Monday, the key to the Vikings’ midseason push has come on the back of the defense, particularly Linval Joseph. Mike Zimmer’s star defensive tackle is our second-ranked interior defender this season, behind only St. Louis’ Aaron Donald.
Against the Rams, Joseph was once again a monster in the run game, tallying seven stops. He also added a sack and QB hit for good measure.
5. TE Tyler Eifert has the most receiving TDs of any player this season.
If any tight end was to lead the league in receiving TDs this season, most people would have likely guessed Rob Gronkowski would earn the honor.
Through eight games, however, former Notre Dame standout Tyler Eifert has nine total receiving touchdowns, three coming in the Bengals’ rout of the Browns on Thursday night.
Earlier this season, PFF’s Sam Monson broke down the traits and abilities that make Eifert a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. He’s proven to be too quick and fast for most linebackers, too big and powerful for most corners, and even Kam Chancellor, one of the leagues’ top safeties, failed to cover him adequately when the Seahawks tried that strategy. And, if someone does have the physical ability to match him, they’re likely rushing the passer.
Eifert will continue to be Cincinnati’s most valuable weapon as the team hosts Houston on Monday Night Football in Week 10.
6. Andrew Luck looked refreshed in big win against Broncos.
With Pep Hamilton out and Rob Chudzinksi in as offensive coordinator, the Colts quarterback seemed to have found new life in a season that has been very rough through eight weeks.
Much of Luck’s new sense of comfort came from subtle changes in the offense that put him under less pressure than normal. While the actual number of snaps he felt pressure was similar to the rest of the seaon, there was a notable uptick in the tempo of the passing game, with the average time per pass attempt dropping.
Sam Monson broke down the schematic changes in greater detail on Monday, alterations that led to Luck’s season-high grade, coming against the league’s top defense.
7. Revis Island is still a scary place to be stranded.
At age 30, facing Darrelle Revis is still a concerning proposition for most NFL receivers. Through Week 9 of the season, the Jets CB is our No. 3 cornerback, behind only Josh Norman and Tyrann Mathieu.
Sam Monson broke down the play of Revis earlier this season in a detailed fashion. Revis has allowed only 46.5 percent of passes sent his way to be caught, with a passer rating of 44.0 when QBs target the receiver in his coverage.
Revis reminded us of his brilliance against Jacksonville on Sunday, posting a season-high grade. When covering the Jags’ top receiver, Allen Robinson, he allowed just two-of-seven passes to be caught for 50 yards.
On a short week, Revis returns to the field against the Bills on Thursday, likely lining up opposite of Sammy Watkins, who is coming off a season-best performance himself against the Dolphins.
8. For the first time in history, three teams are 8-0.
Believe it or not, the Panthers and Patriots cemented something historic with their wins on Sunday, adding to the victory by the Bengals on Thursday night. For the first time in NFL history, three franchises have made it to the midway mark without a blemish on their respective records.
Had the Broncos won in Peyton Manning’s return to Indianapolis, that mark would have been moved to four teams, but Andrew Luck and the revitalized Colts offense saw to it otherwise.
In Week 10, the Patriots face the Giants in MetLife stadium, as New York tries to play spoiler to New England fans’ hope of an end-to-end perfect year once again. The Panthers match up against the Titans in Nashville, a team coming off a thrilling overtime win against the Saints. Finally, on Monday Night Football, the Bengals play the Texans, who are coming out of an extra long bye week.
9. Dion Lewis will miss the rest of the season due to a torn ACL.
Unfortunately for the undefeated Pats, Tom Brady and company will have to face the Giants without a key component to their offense. Dion Lewis suffered a torn ACL against the Redskins, ending what has been a remarkable season thus far for one of the Patriots’ most dangerous backfield weapons.
Lewis is tied with San Francisco’s Carlos Hyde for the 14th overall grade among running backs this season. More impressively, Lewis owns the top elusive rating in the league this year, forcing 19 missed tackles on the ground, and 24 on receptions (most among RBs).
Lewis’ absence will likely mean an increased workload for LeGarrette Blount, as well as James White, who will likely fall into more of the receiving back role that Lewis excelled in.
10. The Cutler-Jeffery connection should be taken seriously.
The Bears came away with a big win against San Diego on Monday Night Football, but the story of the night was the Bears’ offensive duo.
Alshon Jeffery has been the absolute difference for the Bears’ offense this season, with Jay Cutler earning his highest game grades since the WRs return in Week 6.
Jeffery and Cutler connected for 10 receptions and 151 yards against the Chargers, albeit no touchdowns.
This season, Jeffery is our No. 3 ranked receiver, behind only Antonio Brown and Julio Jones. More impressively, he’s achieved his high status in only four game appearances.
John Breitenbach broke down Jeffery’s performance in more detail following MNF.