Just when NFL fans thought the AFC east division might be there for the taking, the New England Patriots sign former league MVP Cam Newton to replace long-time division tormentor Tom Brady.
Halloween serves as a convenient halfway point of the NFL season. After the weekend’s games every team has played at least eight of their 16 fixtures.
A ghostly crowd of 73,086 were on hand at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to see New Orleans Saints host the previously undefeated Los Angeles Rams, in what proved to be an offensive classic
Both teams started well, scoring off their opening drives, before the Saints put on five first-half touchdowns, including three to Alvin Kamara, for a 35-17 lead.
But the Rams weren’t done, a touchdown to Cooper Kulp levelling the scores with less than ten minutes to go.
The Saints replied with ten more points, including a spectacular 72-yard touchdown reception by Michael Thomas, to run out 45-35 winners.
The home side now move to 7-1, while the Rams’ first defeat of the season sees them at 8-1.
Kicking off Week 9 on Thursday were undead Bay Area rivals San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders.
The Raiders took an early 3-0 lead but it soon became a horror show, San Fransisco in their blood-red uniforms winning 34-3, as debutante quarterback Nick Mullens passed for 262 yards, with three touchdowns.
The standout for the Niners’ offense was tight end George Kittle, who picked up 108 yards on four receptions. One for the highlight saw him plucking a long pass from the waiting ams of three Raiders players, who collided Keystone Cops-style, while Kittle powereed to a 71-yard completion.
San Fransisco are now 2-7 while Oakland are at 1-8.
New England Patriots cremated Green Bay Packers 31-17. It was a match featuring two of the greatest quarterbacks of the modern era – Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers.
It was a feel-good atmosphere in Foxborough with the World Series Champions, the Boston Red Sox, being presented to the crowd before the game. The vibes must have rubbed off, New England scoring on their first drive.
The Packers don’t give in easily and twice levelled the scores, the second time at 17-17 in the third quarter.
But New England scored two touchdowns in the final quarter including a 55-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Josh Gordon.
Brady passed for 294 yards, just shading Rodgers, who picked up 259. It was a special moment seeing the two famous number 12s shaking hands at the end of the game for possibly the last time.
Pittsburgh Steelers took on Baltimore Colts in a crucial divisional game in Baltimore.
The Steelers ground out a 23-16 win, the crucial play being a one-yard touchdown hustle by monster 109kg quarterback ‘Big’ Ben Roethlisberger. The Ravens tried a ghoulish last play involving a bunch of lateral passes but got nowhere. You need to watch more rugby, lads.
Pittsburgh now lead AFC North by half a game from the Cincinnati Bengals in a division that could go down to the wire.
Washington Redskins were entitled to favouritism in their home clash against Atlanta Falcons but were carved up like pumpkins, 38-14. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan threw for 350 yards and four touchdowns.
The Redskins at 5-3 lead the NFC East while Atlanta at 4-4 are third in the NCF South.
The Los Angeles Chargers faced a tough road assignment when they tackled the Seattle Seahawks. Despite trailing early, the Chargers fought back to a seemingly commanding 25-10 lead in the final quarter. A touchdown by the Seahawks made it a one possession game. With one final play, a pass into the end zone was dropped by Seattle, giving the Chargers the win.
At 6-2 LA are still two wins behind Kansas City in AFC West, while Seattle at 4-4 are second in NFC West.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers were desperate for a win against divisional rivals Carolina Panthers, but a Cam Newton-inspired Panthers, sporting snazzy black uniforms with bright blue socks, won 42-28 to stay within a victory of New Orleans at the top of NFC South.
The NFC East matchup between New York Jets and Miami Dolphins was a grind. Miami’s 13-6 win puts the Dolphins at 5-2, still two wins behind New England in the division.
The Minnesota Vikings defeated Detroit Lions 24-9 at US Bank Stadium. The Lions, needing a win to stay in playoff contention, could not register a touchdown against the Vikings’ defense, who made a franchise record ten sacks.
Kansas City Chiefs continued their winning form beating Cleveland Browns 37-21. Trailing by just three at the half, Cleveland couldn’t contain the tricks and treats of Patrick Mahomes, who passed for 375 yards and three touchdowns. Chiefs advance to 8-1 and stay top of the AFC.
The divisional leaders after Week 9 look like this:
AFC: Kansas City, New England, Pittsburgh, Houston
NFC: LA Rams, New Orleans, Chicago, Washington
Pittsburgh host Carolina on Thursday night in the pick of the Week 10 matchups.
The week of Halloween has some teams howling at the moon that is the playoffs, while others are walking zombie-like through the apocalyptic graveyards of their seasons.