Projected awards, playoff finishes; can we trust the Chiefs?
The wacky 2017 NFL season again provided us with plenty of fireworks, surprises and head scratchers in Week 9.
The Philadelphia Eagles extended their winning streak to seven games, while the New Orleans Saints improved theirs to six.
The roughed-up Washington Redskins delivered the Sunday stunner in a road upset of Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks.
Young guns Carson Wentz and Jared Goff each lit up opponents for 51 points in blowout victories.
Fists flew between players in Jacksonville and in New Orleans.
At the halfway point of a tough-to-call season, here’s one thing I’m sold on, one team I’m still wondering about and my biggest disappointment thus far.
Wentz for MVP
Anyone unconvinced about the legitimacy of the Wentz for MVP talk need look no further than the Philadelphia quarterback’s performance in Week 9 against the Denver Broncos.
Not only did the secondyear pro increase his leagueleading touchdown total to 23 by tossing four more with no interceptions, but he did so without the services of his top target, tight end Zach Ertz. The Eagles put up those 51 points while making a previously top-ranked defense, led by future Hall of Famer Von Miller, look very pedestrian.
Wentz was masterful, repeatedly using his legs to extend plays before throwing with pinpoint accuracy. Yet his most impressive feature has been the ability to elevate his teammates. Season-ending injuries to running back Darren Sproles and left tackle Jason Peters haven’t derailed the Eagles, largely thanks to Wentz’s steadying presence. All of the quarterback’s behind-thescenes work has translated into huge growth both individually and for Philadelphia as a team.
“He does everything the right way, puts in the hours, leads the guys, says and does all the right things,” said third-string quarterback Nate Sudfeld, who notes that Wentz reports to the facility at 6 a.m. each day during the week to watch film. “He’s kind of a freak of nature. He’s extremely athletic and strong for his size and has a really strong arm and velocity. But his preparation is second to none. ... The coaches trust him a lot. He gets a lot of leeway and gets to implement a lot of the stuff that he wants to do. There’s a good chemistry there with him (and Doug Pederson).”
Sure, Tom Brady has an impressive body of work and could win the MVP award almost every year. Drew Brees, Cam New- ton and Alex Smith have led their teams to strong starts as well. But none has displayed the dramatic progress and consistency that Wentz has this season, and none can match the Eagles’ league-best 8-1 record.
Questions for Chiefs
Getting a clear read on Smith’s Kansas City Chiefs has proved challenging during the first half of the season. Andy Reid’s team opened with a 5-0 record and during that time looked like one of the best teams in football. The Chiefs are the one team that Wentz’s Eagles couldn’t beat. But since that 5-0 start, the Chiefs have lost three of their last four games.
It appears as if the secret is out on Kansas City. The Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys figured out how to neutralize rookie running back Kareem Hunt, who ranked among the earlyseason favorites for rookie of the year. After topping the 100yard mark in four of the first five games, Hunt has had a target on his back and averaged 47.8
Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz has thrown a league-leading 23 touchdown passes and has become an MVP contender.