NFC Week 9 Commentary: Saints WR Michael Thomas sets franchise record 211 yards

Akaash Kamdar

By Akaash Kamdar

49ers 34 (2-7, 4th in NFC West), Raiders 3 (1-7, 4th in AFC West)

49ers player Nick Mullens had the perfect résumé leading up to the Thursday night primetime matchup: third-string quarterback for possibly one of the worst teams in the NFL and an unverified Twitter account. This, however, was not enough to stop Mullens from absolutely lighting it up against the Raiders with 262 yards and three touchdowns. Although it was a highly uneventful and inconsequential game, it was interesting and refreshing to see the 49ers blow out a team, which seemed unlikely with their season going downhill so quickly and placing all their faith in an untested, irrelevant, and yet successful quarterback.

Falcons 38 (4-4, 3rd in NFC South), Redskins 14 (5-3, 1st in NFC East)

A monstrous road win for the Falcons allowed one of the strongest four-win NFL teams to stay in the postseason hunt against the Redskins, who are the leaders of the NFC East. Quarterback Matt Ryan consistently demonstrated his offensive cohesiveness and strength with 350 yards and four touchdowns on the day, while his running back Tevin Coleman secured two touchdowns in the bag. The Falcons seem to always come up short and with their level of skill with receivers Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley with veteran QB Ryan, they should be a top-tier team. However, their record in such a competitive division with the nearly undefeated Saints and two-loss Panthers place them in a tight position to fight to hopefully secure a bottom Wild Card spot.

Vikings 24 (5-3-1, 2nd in NFC North), Lions 9 (3-5, 4th in NFC North)

The Vikings pounced on the Lions to grab a blowout home win against the Lions in a slightly predictable divisional game. The key factor for the Vikings victory was their defense, as they were able to set a franchise record 10 sacks in one game, with DE Danielle Hunter leading the pack with 3.5 sacks. The Vikings defensive line constantly applied pressure against quarterback Matthew Stafford and allowed close to no time in the pocket. The Vikings are proving to be a solid team and are in a tight division race with the Bears (who are up half a win) and are looking to be either a division winner or a high chance for a spot in the Wild Card.

Panthers 42 (6-2, 2nd in NFC South), Buccaneers 28 (3-5, 4th in NFC South)

The Panthers stay in the hunt for the competitive NFC South, as they were able to get a divisional home win against the Bucs. Running back Christian McCaffrey was able to rack up 157 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns to establish a running and receiving game, while Cam Newton was dependable in the air raid against the Bucs. The Panthers have an arguably amazing record on the season so far and are capable of being the leader in any other NFC division, but the Saints are performing even better with only one loss on the season. If the season seems to hold out in this manner, the Panthers are looking to secure the top Wild Card seed and possibly even become a favorite against one of the divisional leaders in the postseason.

Chargers 25 (6-2, 2nd in AFC West), Seahawks 17 (4-4, 2nd in NFC West)

A monstrous first half for the Chargers set up a big away win against the Seahawks to remain a postseason competitor in the AFC. The partnership of quarterback Phillip Rivers and running back Melvin Gordon, who had 113 rushing yards and a score, continued to prosper, as they each created a dependable offense to diversify the play selection. The Chargers have slowly made their mark with a current five-game winning streak, but they have been doing so in a silent fashion, as their division has been overshadowed by the booming Chiefs. The Chargers remain a top competitor for the Wild Card spot and possibly even the division if the Chiefs lose a few here and there.

Saints 45 (7-1, 1st in NFC South), Rams 35 (8-1, 1st in NFC West)

In what was closest to being a possible NFC Championship matchup, the Saints broke the undefeated streak of the Rams to secure their seventh win in a row. Saints receiver Michael Thomas went off and broke a franchise record to rack up 211 yards and a score. This was a purely offensive game and the Saints’ top run defense in the league was able to make the difference and hold star Todd Gurley to only 68 yards. Although the Rams were unable to keep up with the strong Saints offense, both teams have demonstrated that they are capable of defeating any team in their way and are ready to prep for the postseason.