Week 9 of the 2021 NFL season continues with a large slate of Sunday afternoon games.
Perhaps the best matchup of the day has the Cleveland Browns visiting the Cincinnati Bengals. The Browns came into this season as a trendy pick for a Super Bowl Berth. A slew of injuries and the lack of development of quarterback Baker Mayfield have derailed those expectations. Mayfield has thrown just six touchdown passes in seven games. The Browns have lost faith in the former #1 overall pick, as Mayfield has thrown progressively fewer passes per game in each year he’s been in the league. Mayfield is now little more than a decent game manager - a far cry from the star quarterback the Browns thought they were drafting in 2018. The result has been a Browns offense that leans heavily on the run game and struggles to score. The Browns have scored 17 or fewer points in four of their last five games. It’s tough to win in the NFL that way.
In contrast to the Browns, the Cincinnati Bengals came into the season with few expectations and have wildly exceeded them. Prior to a shocking loss against the New York Jets last week, the Bengals were making some noise in the AFC, and there were beginning to be be rumblings about a Super Bowl berth in February. Second year quarterback Joe Burrow has come into his own this year, with 20 touchdown passes in the first eight games. He has a slew of weapons to throw to, including spectacular rookie receiver Ja’Marr Chase. Slowing down the dynamic Bengals attack will be a challenging chore for a very good Browns defense. If Burrow and the Bengals have even minimal success, it’ll be up to the Browns to pull out of their offensive funk if they want to compete in this game.
Elsewhere in the early afternoon games the New England Patriots visit the Carolina Panthers in a potential Sam Darnold bloodbath against his nemesis, Bill Belichick; the Denver Broncos face the Dallas Cowboys in Dallas; the Atlanta Falcons square off against the New Orleans Saints in a NFC South division rivalry game; the Buffalo Bills partake in ritual slaughter against the Jacksonville Jaguars; the Houston Texans tangle with the Miami Dolphins in the Irrelevant Bowl; the Las Vegas Raiders try to hold onto their surprising perch atop the AFC West standings against the woeful New York Giants; and the Minnesota Vikings head into Baltimore to take on the Baltimore Ravens.
In the late afternoon games, the Los Angeles Chargers barge into the City of Brotherly Love to take on the Philadelphia Eagles; the Green Bay Packers spread the Love against a Kansas City Chiefs team teetering on the brink of irrelevance; and the Arizona Cardinals, possibly without quarterback Kyler Murray, take on George Kittle and the San Francisco 49ers in San Francisco.
Enjoy the games everybody. Use this thread to comment on whichever games catch your fancy.