By HCR Staff | Nov. 5, 2018
Here are five key observations from Week 9 in the NFL:
• It’s not often that the decision to receive the opening kickoff or defer to the second half is key to the outcome of a game, but it’s worth noting the choice that was made at the start of the Sunday night game in New England. The Green Bay Packers won the coin toss and head coach Mike McCarthy opted to defer to the second half and kickoff to the Patriots.
Here’s why we thought this was a questionable call: The Packers traditionally play much better with a lead. So why not give Aaron Rodgers the ball first with a chance to grab that early lead? Sure enough, New England took the opening kickoff and drove 59 yards for a touchdown. The Packers did score a touchdown on the opening drive of the second half, but they were down by seven at the time; the Patriots never trailed.
• While Drew Brees passed for 346 yards and four touchdowns in the Saints’ 45-35 win over the Los Angeles Rams, head coach Sean Payton continues to make excellent use of backup QB Taysom Hill. Hill only had two touches in the game, but one of those touches was a 9-yard run to convert a fourth down on the Saints’ opening drive, which resulted in a touchdown. Hill was targeted one time Sunday. While he’s only been targeted three times all season (with one reception), his appearance as a receiver forces the opposition to at least spend time preparing for him.
• Give the Chicago Bears and rookie head coach Matt Nagy credit. Sure, they were expected to win Sunday in Buffalo. But with crucial NFC North battles against Detroit and Minnesota the next two weeks, it’s impressive that Chicago didn’t get caught looking past the Bills. They led 28-0 before halftime and never let up in a 41-9 final.
• The Houston Texans have won six straight games and appear to have a strong hold on first place in the AFC South. With their defense playing very well and with a remaining schedule that features just one team that currently has a winning record, the Texans could possibly challenge for a first-round playoff bye should the Patriots or Chiefs stumble.
• Five NFL teams currently have win streaks of at least four games; four of them are in the AFC: Patriots (6), Texans (6), Steelers (4), Chargers (5). But it’s the Saints in the NFC who have the NFL’s longest win streak (7).