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Week 9 in the NFL Features a Lot of Byes

The Green Bay Packers & Chicago Bears each have a bye in week 9, but will face off on Sunday Night in week 10!

The Green Bay Packers & Chicago Bears each have a bye in week 9, but will face off on Sunday Night in week 10!

MARQUETTE, MI – 10/28/2014 – There are a lot of teams who could use the bye at this point in the season.  Week nine is a week that will be tied to have the most teams enjoying a week off in the NFL this season.  I watch most of the games every week.  If I can’t watch the full contest, I’ll flip on “Game Rewind” on the NFL Network.  It’s just a simple showing of every relevant play in the game condensed down into half an hour.  So I have watched most of the plays for most of the teams.  Here is what the situation is for these teams going into this weekend (what I think it is at least):

ATLANTA FALCONS (2-6)

The number one head-scratcher in the NFL.  Matt Ryan, Steven Jackson, Julio Jones, and Roddy White make this offense scary.  What doesn’t make them scary is their offensive line.  They’ve had to patch together a different line every week it seems, and those lines usually don’t keep Matt Ryan on his feet all that much.  This week is going to be meant for that for Atlanta.  The Falcons’ defense is going to be historically bad, there’s almost no way around it.  At 2-6, they need to get some cohesive offensive line play, as they’re only one game back of the division lead.

 

BUFFALO BILLS (5-3)

The Bills turned from sophomore E.J. Manuel earlier and the season and haven’t looked back.  Journeyman Kyle Orton has stepped in and gone 3-1 in his four starts.  In two wins against the Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings, the Bills led for a combined five seconds of play.  Orton is completing 67% of his passes, and has nine touchdowns to just three interceptions in his four starts.  Rookie receiver Sammy Watkins is showing that he can be everything he was made out to be, making some dynamic plays through his first eight games.  C.J. Spiller is done for the year, and Fred Jackson is out until into November, so the Bills may have gotten a bye week at the right time as they can keep building offensively.  With a good defense that ranks ninth in the league overall, the Bills could actually be a dark horse to make the playoffs in the AFC.

 

CHICAGO BEARS (3-5)

Another head-scratcher.  The Bears, once again, were a popular pick to win the NFC North.  While I disagreed, I could see why.  Jay Cutler looked like he was past his interception days, and had a plethora of weapons:  Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey, and Martellus Bennett made this offense look scary.  But Cutler has turned the ball over an astounding 13 times.  He’s tied for the league lead in lost fumbles at five, and has thrown eight interceptions through eight games.  The Bears’ rank 26th in turnover differential with -3.  If the Bears want to have a chance at catching the Packers & Lions (also on a bye), they’ll need to protect the football.

 

DETROIT LIONS (6-2)

The comeback kids ladies and gentlemen!  Two weeks in a row, the Lions looked dead in the water, and two weeks in a row they rose above their stigma of the NFL’s punchline.  At 6-2, the Lions are sporting the number one defense in the league.  You read that right.  While they may not be dominating the turnover differential (+2), they’re simply stopping teams.  They’re the only team in the NFL allowing an average of less than 300 yards per game (290.4), and they are sixth when it comes to sacking the quarterback (23).  This is a team that is going to use the bye week for one simple purpose:  To get healthy.  They’ve been without superstar receiver Calvin Johnson for much of the year, and running back Reggie Bush should be close to 100% when they return from the bye.  The Lions spent last week’s win vs. Atlanta without any of their top three tight ends.  The Lions are definitely contenders in the NFC North.

 

GREEN BAY PACKERS (5-3)

Well before that beat down in New Orleans, the Packers were riding an impressive four game win streak.  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered a hamstring injury that hampered him for much of the game after, and couldn’t muster much of an attack.  The Packers are in the same boat as the Lions though, in that they need to get healthy.  Top cornerback Sam Shields has missed the past two and a half games with a knee injury and should be back in week 10.  Safety Morgan Burnett also missed Sunday Night’s game in New Orleans, and the Packers were torched deep often.  If, both, the Packers and Lions stay healthy, there should be an interesting finish to the NFC North title.  The two teams do meet in Lambeau Field on December 28th in the regular season finale.  The Lions haven’t won in Lambeau Field since 1991.

 

TENNESSEE TITANS (2-6)

They’re a team that is still building for the future.  Former first round pick Jake Locker can’t stay healthy, but is good when playing.  They have, what I think, is a solid number one receiver in Kendall Wright.  A very talented tight end in Delanie Walker, and an up and coming running back by the name of Bishop Sankey.  Their defense ranks 19th overall, and is getting better.  The Titans have just had some bad luck in 2014, and sometimes that happens.  Look at the Falcons & Texans last year, they weren’t as bad as they seemed, but finished with 4-12 and 2-14 records respectively.  The Titans have to use this week to figure out what they’re plan is moving forward.

 

Well that’s a basic overview of the week 9 bye teams.  Six teams will use the halfway point of the season to heal up and figure out their next move.  Keep checking in weekly for your NFL updates right here on Fox Sports Marquette!

-Carl Leander Johnson