The Bears dropped another game as the offense struggled to get going, the Dolphins got in the win column and Buffalo moved to 6-2. Meanwhile, the Chiefs got a big victory without quarterback Patrick Mahomes, and the Steelers inched by the Colts to get back to .500 on the season. In the afternoon, Green Bay was stunned by the Chargers, and Cleveland continued its disappointing season with another loss.

All that and more in Week 9’s biggest takeaways from NFL Nation.

Jump to a matchup:
NE-BAL | MIN-KC | CHI-PHI | IND-PIT
TEN-CAR | WSH-BUF | NYJ-MIA
TB-SEA | DET-OAK | GB-LAC
CLE-DEN | JAX-HOU | SF-ARI


What’s up with the Patriots’ run defense? For all the talk about the dominance of the Patriots’ defense through the first half of the season, it has been gashed on the ground for two straight weeks. Last Sunday against the Browns, the Pats got a bit of a pass because of the rainy conditions, which created an additional challenge with fundamentals and tackling. But their first-half play against the run versus Baltimore — albeit with a dynamic quarterback in Lamar Jackson — was well below their acceptable standard. They allowed 155 rushing yards in the first half. They will need to be better going forward as the level of competition remains high after their Week 10 bye. — Mike Reiss

Next game: at Philadelphia (4:25 p.m. ET, Nov. 17)

Jackson delivered the most monumental victory of his career, and the Ravens can stake their claim to being the AFC’s best team. The Ravens QB ran for two touchdowns and threw for another, which caused the sellout crowd at M&T Bank Stadium to serenade him with chants of “MVP” in the final minutes of the game. Sidestepping and slashing past a defense that stacked the box, he finished with 224 yards of total offense, throwing for 163 yards and rushing for 61. Baltimore not only showed it belongs in the same class as New England, but the Ravens are threatening the Patriots’ hold on the AFC’s top seed at the midway point of the season. The Ravens (6-2) are 1.5 games back of the Patriots for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. — Jamison Hensley

Next game: at Cincinnati (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


The Chiefs might eventually look back at Sunday’s win as the one that allowed them to reach their goals. From this vantage point, this victory looks like it saved their season. The Chiefs raised their record to 6-3 just as it appears they will get reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes back in their lineup for next week’s game against the Titans. — Adam Teicher

Next game: at Tennessee (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

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Chris Berman and Tom Jackson analyze the Chiefs’ victory against the Vikings and what Matt Moore needs to do for the team.

Kirk Cousins completed 50% of his passes and had a career-high 12 overthrows, but the Vikings’ loss doesn’t rest entirely on the QB’s shoulders. “I don’t think we helped him a lot today,” coach Mike Zimmer said. Three flags in the third quarter — all on the Vikings’ offensive line — killed drives and resulted in a 16-point swing for Kansas City upon getting the ball back. Cousins was 0-for-9 when passing under duress, according to ESPN Stats & Information, the worst mark of his career. And he’s now 0-10-1 when trailing in the fourth quarter. Up next for the Vikings are the Cowboys, key for two teams in the playoff hunt. — Courtney Cronin

Next game: at Dallas (8:20 p.m. ET, Sunday)


Fueled by their success on the ground, the Eagles responded to consecutive blowout losses with back-to-back wins. Eagles running back Jordan Howard made a statement against his former team on Sunday, rushing for 82 yards and a touchdown. Now the Eagles (5-4) have home games against the Patriots and Seahawks coming out of the bye, but their finishing schedule is favorable after that. It’s a two-horse race between the Eagles and the Cowboys (4-3) for the NFC East crown, and Philly plays four of its next six games at home, including a Week 16 game against Dallas. — Tim McManus

Next game: vs. New England (4:25 p.m. ET, Nov. 17)

Bears coach Matt Nagy will need to spend the offseason re-imagining the offense. Everything is broken. The Bears gained nine total net yards in the opening 30 minutes against the Eagles and finished 2-of-10 on third down. Chicago didn’t even get a first down until under a minute left in the first half. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky made a couple nice plays after halftime, but he’s still struggling overall. The entire offense is in desperate need of an overhaul. — Jeff Dickerson

Next game: vs. Detroit (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


After starting 0-3, the Steelers have won four of their last five games to pull to .500 at the midway point. The record-evening win came against a quality opponent in the Colts, who came into Heinz Field with a 5-2 record. “Everyone believes in each other,” running back Jaylen Samuels said. “When something goes bad, we pick each other up, and we just keep going, and it’s good to be 4-4, .500.” Fueled by a pass rush that collected five sacks and three takeaways, the Steelers are in the playoff hunt in a season that had seemed to derail early. — Brooke Pryor

Next game: vs. L.A. Rams (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Coach Frank Reich described starting quarterback Jacoby Brissett‘s left knee injury as being “MCL-ish.” He said, “It looks at this point like a sprain. I think we’ll have to see how it responds.” Brissett suffered the injury in the second quarter when guard Quenton Nelson was pushed back into him. Veteran Brian Hoyer, whom the Colts signed after the retirement of Andrew Luck, replaced Brissett and finished 17-of-26 for 168 yards, three touchdowns and one interception that was returned for a touchdown. Hoyer will start against Miami in Week 10 if Brissett has to miss time. — Mike Wells

Next game: vs. Miami (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday)


Carolina rebounded in a big way. It took the Panthers eight games to get a win after their embarrassing loss to Pittsburgh last season. It took them one week this time around after their embarrassing loss to San Francisco last week. Sunday’s victory highlighted the resiliency of the Panthers, who have won five of six games since losing starting quarterback Cam Newton, whose future is more uncertain than ever. It also highlighted the importance of running back Christian McCaffrey, who continued his MVP march with three touchdowns and 166 yards from scrimmage. “Everyone wants to mope around and be sad after a loss,” safety Tre Boston said. “We knew what we had to do.” — David Newton

Next game: at Green Bay (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)

The Titans reverted back to the ineptness on offense that troubled them before their two-game win streak. Their decision to give Derrick Henry only two carries in the first half was mind-boggling, considering how the Panthers were giving up 135.1 rushing yards a game entering Week 9. This is the second week in a row the Titans failed to take advantage of a weakness in the opposing team’s defense. They still managed to score 20 points and gain 431 total yards on offense, but they’ll need much more than that next week against the Chiefs, especially if Patrick Mahomes returns from injury. — Turron Davenport

Next game: vs. Kansas City (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


The Bills returned to complementary football. While their defense figured out how to stop an underrated Washington rushing attack led by Adrian Peterson, the Bills’ offense gave it plenty of room to work with in the first half, scoring on all three of its drives. That did not go unnoticed by Buffalo safety Micah Hyde, who said the offense’s ability to sustain drives and add to the lead gave the defense time to make adjustments. It’s a trend he hopes continues next week when the Bills face the Browns in Cleveland. “When you’re sitting on the sidelines for seven, eight minutes at a time — that’s pretty awesome,” Hyde said. “I don’t have to pay anything to have a front-row seat every week.” — Marcel Louis-Jacques

Next game: at Cleveland (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

The Redskins have a decision to make at quarterback, but there’s only one choice that makes sense: sticking with Dwayne Haskins. That’s not because he was great in his start against Buffalo but there was growth in some areas. Also, the Redskins (1-8) have nothing to lose, as Case Keenum wasn’t exactly on fire in his starts and they seemingly refuse to go back to Colt McCoy. One player said after the game that the team would understand if they stuck with Haskins — even if the feeling is that he still has a ways to go. Interim coach Bill Callahan was non-committal about who would start the game after the bye. — John Keim

Next game: vs. N.Y. Jets (1 p.m. ET, Nov. 17)


It felt like a postgame scene from a playoff victory for the Dolphins after the win over the Jets. Miami lacks talent, but it doesn’t lack heart or fight. The Dolphins have shown that over the past month, and they were finally rewarded with a victory. To see the love the players gave coach Brian Flores after his first victory shows this could be an important step in their long-term rebuild. — Cameron Wolfe

Next game: at Indianapolis (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday)

It was one of the most embarrassing losses in franchise history. The Jets are faced with three questions for the second half of the season: Can quarterback Sam Darnold be fixed? Will the team fracture? And will coach Adam Gase keep his job? The latter question will hinge largely on the first two. The Jets (1-7) are a dumpster fire, headed toward a one-, two- or three-win season. — Rich Cimini

Next game: vs. N.Y. Giants (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


At 7-2, Seahawks are still alive in the NFC West race. It would have started to look like wild card or bust had they lost Sunday to Tampa Bay, with a Monday night game against the 8-0 49ers in Santa Clara up next. Instead, they’ll head to Levi’s Stadium with a chance to pull within a half-game of San Francisco, knowing they still have the rematch at home in Week 17. The defense Seattle has played the past six quarters won’t cut it against the 49ers and Kyle Shanahan, one of the league’s best playcallers. But as Pete Carroll said Sunday, the Seahawks have a chance in every game as long as they have Russell Wilson, who continues to play like a league MVP. — Brady Henderson

Next game: at San Francisco (8:15 p.m. ET, Nov. 11)

The Buccaneers’ young secondary — the one head coach Bruce Arians declared was “fixed” this summer — continues to hold them back. The unit struggled in man coverage on Sunday, surrendering a 21-13 halftime lead to the Seattle. The Bucs’ defense allowed 105 rushing yards to Chris Carson. Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf also became the seventh and eighth players in the NFL this season to have more than 100 receiving yards each against the Bucs, who are now tied with the Cardinals for most such stat lines against in the NFL. In a game in which Jameis Winston was almost flawless, the Bucs dropped to 2-6 and have an uphill road to even get into playoff contention. — Jenna Laine

Next game: vs. Arizona (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


The Raiders are in a youth movement, no doubt, or did you miss that all four touchdowns they scored in Sunday’s white-knuckle victory were authored by rookies? Running back Josh Jacobs scored from 2 and 3 yards out. Tight end Foster Moreau scored, and receiver Hunter Renfrow was on the other end of Derek Carr‘s game-winning 9-yarder. As Carr said, the rookies are key pieces of the team — which improved to 4-4 with the Chargers coming in on a short week for a Thursday night game — and not just a small part of some package. And as coach Jon Gruden said, “It’s pretty obvious, we’re building our team. I’m just going to continue to hit that chord. We want to win every week, we’d like to go to the Super Bowl and win it for our fans, and our players, and everybody included. But we’re building a team, and I like some of the blocks we’ve got in place.” — Paul Gutierrez

Next game: vs. L.A. Chargers (8:20 p.m. ET, Thursday)

The Lions’ defense once again couldn’t stop the run. It couldn’t stop the pass. And that, cornerback Darius Slay said, leads to a “long a– day.” Detroit’s defense had that type of day in a loss to Oakland, allowing 450 yards of offense. At this point, with the offense playing well enough to win most games, it’s Detroit’s defense that is going to keep the Lions from playoff contention. — Michael Rothstein

Next game: at Chicago (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


A Chargers team desperate for a win that would catapult it back into playoff contention thoroughly dominated one of the best teams in the NFL. The Chargers held an offense playing lights out led by Aaron Rodgers to just 84 total yards through three quarters. Now 4-5, the Chargers face the team’s AFC West rival, the Raiders, on the road Thursday on a short week, looking to get back to the .500 mark for the first time since Week 4. — Eric D. Williams

Next game: at Oakland (8:20 p.m. ET, Thursday)

The Packers got back their No. 1 receiver Davante Adams after a four-game absence because of turf toe, but the offense started slow and never really got going. So how do they respond after their worst offensive showing of the season? Said Rodgers: “This is a good slice of humble pie for us. We’re kind of rolling, 7-1, and starting to listen to the chatter maybe a little too much. I think this will be a good thing for us. We’ll regroup, go back home and play another good team before the bye.” — Rob Demovsky

Next game: vs. Carolina (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)


Quarterback Brandon Allen made the most of his first career start. The Broncos have seen tight games get away from them this season — they’ve lost three in the last 22 seconds by a combined six points — but coach Vic Fangio said Sunday that “it was nice for them to get the reward.” Allen was the sixth QB to start a game for the Broncos since the start of the 2017 season, but with Joe Flacco injured and rookie Drew Lock still on injured reserve, he now gets an audition to show what he can do. It’s been 42 months since Allen was a sixth-round draft pick by the Jaguars and Sunday was the first time he had taken a snap in an NFL regular-season game. But when all was said and done, his teammates raved about when he did in his debut and said they want to see more. — Jeff Legwold

Next game: at Minnesota (1 p.m. ET, Nov. 17)

A season in Cleveland that started with so much promise and hype might already be done. The Browns plummeted to 2-6 with a disheartening defeat at Denver, effectively dousing their playoff hopes. According to ESPN Stats & Information, only one team — the 1970 Bengals — has made the playoffs during the Super Bowl era after starting 2-6 or worse through eight games. Neither the standings nor the easy remaining schedule really matter anymore for the Browns. As it turned out, this year isn’t any different for Cleveland. And the Browns remain what they’ve largely been since their return to the NFL at the turn of the millennium: a losing football team. — Jake Trotter

Next game: vs. Buffalo (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


The Texans’ defense stepped up without J.J. Watt, who is out for the season because of a torn pectoral muscle. Houston kept the Jaguars out of the end zone and held running back Leonard Fournette to 40 yards on 11 carries. After the game, Texans safety Justin Reid said an important part of the game plan was to keep the ball out of Fournette’s hands and force the Jags into passing situations. The Texans’ banged-up defense — especially the secondary — will get a chance to rest going into the bye week at 6-3. — Sarah Barshop

Next game: at Baltimore (1 p.m. ET, Nov. 17)

Gardner Minshew II‘s three turnovers will make coach Doug Marrone’s decision on which quarterback to start in their next game easier. Despite facing a Texans defense that was missing three key starters — Watt, cornerback Bradley Roby and safety Tashaun Gipson Sr. — Minshew and the offense managed one field goal in 11 possessions. He threw two interceptions and lost two fumbles in his worst game since he replaced Nick Foles (broken collarbone) in the season opener. It all fell apart against the Texans, and Marrone should be going back to Foles. — Mike DiRocco

Next game: at Indianapolis (1 p.m. ET, Nov. 17)


Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo can pick up the offense when the run game and the defense have an off night. The 49ers’ latest path to victory might have been their most important. Through seven games, San Francisco didn’t need Garoppolo to carry it to victory — but it did Thursday. And Garoppolo delivered what coach Kyle Shanahan called his “best game yet, probably.” The 8-0 Niners continue to find new ways to win, the mark of a team that has a chance to make a run deep into the postseason. — Nick Wagoner

Next game: vs. Seattle (8:15 p.m. ET, Nov. 11)

The Cardinals can take some solace in knowing they came back on one of the best teams in the NFL, but a loss is a loss. What Thursday’s game did was potentially create a running back controversy. Kenyan Drake had his best game since late in 2017 and proved he’s an ideal fit in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense. But Kingsbury is also “hopeful” running back David Johnson can play in Week 10. They can coexist, but to what degree? — Josh Weinfuss

Next game: at Tampa Bay (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

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