NFL Week 9 takeaways: Bills get signature win, while Chiefs avoid upset

Week 9 in the NFL featured a huge win by the Bills, as Josh Allen and his Buffalo offense outdueled MVP front-runner Russell Wilson and the Seahawks. The Chiefs narrowly escaped a big upset try by the Panthers, the Falcons managed to avoid another blown lead, and Dalvin Cook ran wild yet again for the Vikings. Jacksonville’s Jake Luton almost pulled off a win in his debut, and Alex Smith stepped in under center in a losing effort for Washington.

All that and more in Week 9’s biggest takeaways from NFL Nation.

Baltimore Ravens 24, Indianapolis Colts 10

Standout performer: Ravens CB Marcus Peters, 5 tackles, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble

Quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Ravens showed they can overcome adversity. Jackson completed all 10 of his passes in the second half, as Baltimore rallied from a halftime deficit for the first time since 2016. This was a difficult week for the Ravens, who lost All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley to a season-ending ankle injury, learned All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humphrey tested positive for COVID-19 and practiced without six defensive players because they were identified as close contacts to Humphrey. But Baltimore rebounded to shut out the Colts in the second half to improve to 6-2. Ravens coach John Harbaugh said the word that described his team was “fortitude.” “I think they understand the gravity of that win,” Harbaugh said. — Jamison Hensley

Next game: at Patriots (8:20 p.m. ET, Sunday)

The loss was hard to swallow, and now the Colts have health concerns at a couple of key offensive positions while having to prepare for AFC South counterpart Tennessee on a short week of preparation. Tight end Jack Doyle will have to clear concussion protocol in order to play against the Titans on Thursday, and receiver T.Y. Hilton’s availability will likely be up in the air, too, after he missed Sunday’s game with a groin injury suffered in the first half of the Week 8 game at Detroit. — Mike Wells

Next game: at Titans (8:20 p.m. ET, Thursday)

Buffalo Bills 44, Seattle Seahawks 34

Standout performer: Bills QB Josh Allen, 415 passing yards, 3 TDs (and 1 rushing TD)

Quarterback Josh Allen has struggled in his career against teams with records at least three games above .500, but this was his signature moment. He was harassed throughout the day (sacked a career-high seven times) but still tied a career high with 415 yards and three touchdowns. He outdueled the league’s MVP front-runner in Russell Wilson and returned to the level of play he displayed during the first four weeks of the season. Sunday’s win was a monumental start to a difficult four-game stretch, with the Cardinals, Chargers and 49ers awaiting. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

Next game: at Cardinals (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday)

So much for the signs of improvement the Seahawks’ embattled defense showed last week. And so much for the idea it would continue Sunday with safety Jamal Adams back in the lineup and defensive end Carlos Dunlap making his Seattle debut. Adams and Dunlap did their part, combining for 2.5 of the Seahawks’ seven sacks as the team went with another blitz-heavy game plan. But Allen otherwise had his way with Seattle’s defense, which illustrated the downside of bringing extra defenders after a mobile quarterback with weapons. With as badly as the Seahawks got gashed again on defense Sunday — Seattle had never allowed 44 or more points in a game under coach Pete Carroll — there was no way they could overcome four Wilson turnovers. Not even Wilson can be expected to make up for Seattle’s defensive shortcomings every week. — Brady Henderson

Next game: at Rams (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Kansas City Chiefs 33, Carolina Panthers 31

Standout performer: Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill, 113 receiving yards, 2 TDs

How much longer can the Chiefs live with Harrison Butker’s struggles in kicking extra points? He missed his sixth PAT of the season on Sunday against the Panthers, and this time it almost cost them a game. Butker remains reliable on longer kicks, but his struggles with PATs will be a problem as the Chiefs head into a difficult stretch of the schedule and then the playoffs. — Adam Teicher

Next game: at Raiders (8:20 p.m. ET, Sunday, Nov. 22)

Christian McCaffrey reminded everyone of what we already knew before he missed six games with a high ankle sprain: He’s the best all-purpose back in the league. He rushed 18 times for 69 yards and a touchdown and caught nine passes for 105 yards and a touchdown in the loss to Kansas City. The Panthers reminded everyone, with their fourth consecutive loss, that they still aren’t good enough defensively to beat an elite team, particularly one with great receivers like those of the Chiefs. The secondary has to be a major point of emphasis for Carolina (3-6) in the offseason. — David Newton

Next game: vs. Buccaneers (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Tennessee Titans 24, Chicago Bears 17

Standout performer: Titans LB Jayon Brown, 10 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 sack, 1 tackle for a loss

The Titans were without Jadeveon Clowney (knee), but they finally managed to get a consistent pass rush, albeit against a Bears offensive line that was without a few of its starters. Tennessee posted three sacks, which were the most in a single game this season for the team. The Titans’ third-down defense showed vast improvement as well, allowing the Bears to convert first downs on only two of their 15 third-down opportunities. — Turron Davenport

Next game: vs. Colts (8:20 p.m. ET, Thursday)

It’s hard to find the right words to describe how pathetic the Bears are on offense. Sunday’s loss to the Titans was such an utter embarrassment for the offense that it is difficult to see how the Bears can recover. The NFL’s most penalized team, the Bears repeatedly sabotaged whatever slim chances they had to score by routinely self-destructing in critical moments, including not one but two consecutive offensive penalties on fourth-down plays. The Titans entered Week 9 as the league’s worst third-down defense, and the Bears went 2-of-15 on third down. All year, Tennessee struggled to stop the run, allowing 128 rushing yards per game — until the Bears arrived in Nashville. The Bears collectively ran for 56 yards. Cover your eyes: The Bears just went from 5-1 to 5-4 in the blink of an eye. — Jeff Dickerson

Next game: vs. Vikings (8:15 p.m. ET, Monday, Nov. 16)

Minnesota Vikings 34, Detroit Lions 20

Standout performer: Vikings RB Dalvin Cook, 206 rushing yards, 2 TDs (and 46 receiving yards)

Dalvin Cook should be in the MVP conversation. The Vikings running back overtook the rushing lead (858 yards) from Derrick Henry in spite of missing 1.5 games because of injury and is one of two running backs averaging more than 100 yards rushing per game. His impact on the Vikings is immense, and it’s not just due to his efforts rushing and catching the ball, with back-to-back games with over 200 yards from scrimmage. Cook made a key block on tight end Irv Smith Jr.’s second touchdown and routinely helped Minnesota stay out of third-down territory. “He’s going to do everything,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “That’s why he’s a captain. That’s why he comes to work every single day. He’s a terrific leader, he’s energetic and guys in the locker room really love him.” — Courtney Cronin

Next game: at Bears (8:15 p.m. ET, Monday, Nov. 16)

It’s been five double-digit losses against Minnesota for Lions coach Matt Patricia, nine straight divisional defeats and, now two-and-a-half seasons into his tenure as head coach, very little progress from when he took over the Lions until now. Inconsistency continues to be Detroit’s only consistency, and mistakes are piling up. The run defense is still poor, allowing 275 yards rushing, including more than 200 to Cook. For the second week in a row, the Lions fielded only 10 men on the field on a critical play. And Patricia, when asked where he has seen improvement from Week 1, could point only to smaller things. “You know, obviously the punt rush, I thought that was good for another week in a row. So that was consistent. But, overall, all of it just has to be more consistent so that it works together and not one phase here and one phase there.” — Michael Rothstein

Next game: vs. Washington (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Atlanta Falcons 34, Denver Broncos 27

Standout performer: Falcons QB Matt Ryan, 284 passing yards, 3 TDs

The Falcons continue to surge under interim coach Raheem Morris, making them a team to watch over the second half of the season despite their horrendous start. The Falcons (3-6) improved to 3-1 since parting ways with Dan Quinn and elevating Morris. They still have a big hole to climb out of after an 0-5 start, but following their Week 10 bye, they play two of their next three games against the rival Saints, providing them a chance to make further inroads in their climb out of the basement in the NFC South. — Tim McManus

Next game: at Saints (1 p.m. ET, Sunday, Nov. 22)

For the fifth time in the past seven games, the Broncos trailed by at least 10 points at halftime Sunday, as the Falcons led 20-3 and Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan had 216 yards passing. The Broncos held the Falcons to 105 total yards in the second half, while their own offense scored 24 points in the third and fourth quarters combined. And, again, it wasn’t enough. While clearly improving, the Broncos won’t be playoff team until they are far better at minimizing mistakes from the veteran players who remain in the lineup. — Jeff Legwold

Next game: at Raiders (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday)

New York Giants 23, Washington Football Team 20

Standout performer: Giants CB Logan Ryan, 6 tackles, the game-deciding interception

Coach Joe Judge was stressing to his team before and throughout Sunday’s game to finish. The Giants finally did so against Washington. Despite almost allowing a 17-point halftime lead to evaporate, the Giants hung on, so maybe they finally have figured this out. Quarterback Daniel Jones didn’t commit a turnover for the first time this year, and now the Giants (2-7) really are on the cusp of being in the NFC East race. They have an extremely meaningful game next Sunday against the Eagles (3-4-1). — Jordan Raanan

Next game: vs. Eagles (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Washington coach Ron Rivera will stick with veteran Alex Smith at quarterback, who looked sharp at times but also threw three picks in the loss to New York after Kyle Allen suffered a dislocated ankle. Rivera’s other option was returning to second-year Dwayne Haskins Jr. In truth, neither is a great option and neither likely will be around next season. Smith’s age and cap hit make him expendable after this season, while Haskins disappointed the coaches and others in the organization with what they considered poor preparation habits. At 2-6, Washington is in the division race in name only unless it goes on an unexpected run. — John Keim

Next game: at Lions (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Houston Texans 27, Jacksonville Jaguars 25

Standout performer: Texans WR Will Fuller V, 100 receiving yards, 1 TD

The Texans chose to let receiver Will Fuller V play on his fifth-year option rather than sign the oft-injured receiver to a contract extension. With five catches for 100 yards and a touchdown on Sunday, Fuller again made a strong case for Houston to re-sign him — or for another team to sign him to a large contract when he becomes a free agent after the season. On Sunday, Fuller set the Texans’ franchise record when he caught a receiving touchdown in his sixth straight game. — Sarah Barshop

Next game: at Browns (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Rookie sixth-round QB Jake Luton nearly led the Jaguars into overtime against the Texans in his first game action since his final game at Oregon State last November … but his two-point conversion pass was off-target. However, he was good enough on Sunday (304 yards, TD pass, TD run and an INT) to at least make the Jaguars’ QB situation interesting whenever Gardner Minshew II returns from his thumb injury. This was the closest the Jaguars have come to a victory since the season opener, thanks in large part to Luton leading the team on a two-minute drive to potentially tie the game. — Mike DiRocco

Next game: at Packers (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Green Bay Packers 34, San Francisco 49ers 17

Standout performer: Packers WR Davante Adams, 173 receiving yards, 1 TD

No, the Packers didn’t add a receiver — or anyone else — before last week’s trade deadline. But as long as they have receiver Davante Adams, it might not matter. In another game in which just about everyone knew the ball was going to Adams, the 49ers still couldn’t stop him. As telepathic as Aaron Rodgers and former Packers great Jordy Nelson were, the Packers’ quarterback seems to have transferred that superpower to Adams. Yes, the 49ers were a shell of the team that blew out the Packers twice last season, but this game will be remembered as another standout performance by Rodgers’ go-to guy. — Rob Demovsky

Next game: vs. Jaguars (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

For the 49ers, the road to the end of the season has the look of a painstaking march toward an offseason full of uncertainty. Through eight games, the Niners managed to keep their heads above water, but with $80.8 million worth of cap space on injured reserve, they were simply outmanned and overwhelmed by the Packers on Thursday night. That could become a trend, as San Francisco must still deal with a schedule considered one of the three most difficult in the league the rest of the way. All of which means the final seven games will likely lead to a larger focus on what’s to come in the offseason than on a potential postseason run, a disappointing likelihood for the defending NFC champions. — Nick Wagoner

Next game: at Saints (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)

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