Week 9 winners, losers: NFC West looking like two-team race


While the 2022 NFL season moved past its halfway point, the 49ers rested on their bye.

This week, we witnessed the Philadelphia Eagles remain undefeated, Tom Brady breathe life into the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kirk Cousins display an ounce or two of surprising swagger after taking down his former team.

It’s time to declare winners and losers from Week 9:

Winner: Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins is … cool?

Following the Minnesota Vikings’ come-from-behind 20-17 victory over the Washington Commanders, Cousins was filmed dancing shirtless wearing more ice than Interstate 94 in a Minneapolis blizzard.

Russell Wilson, take notes.

The Vikings scored on their first offensive drive of the game but didn’t find the scoreboard again until five minutes into the fourth quarter. But there was Cousins, bling and all, leading Minnesota on three straight scoring drives in the final quarter.

The Vikings now are a stunning 7-1 and hold a commanding four-game lead in the dreadful NFC North.

You like that?

Loser: Aaron Rodgers

The Green Bay Packers look lost.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the reigning back-to-back NFL MVP, has been the Packers' solution through multiple concerning starts to a season, but it appears he has lost the answer key.

For the fifth time in his career -- and only second time since 2009 -- Rodgers threw three interceptions in the Packers’ 15-9 loss to the Detroit Lions.

All three turnovers occurred in the red zone. The Lions hauled in two interceptions in the end zone.

Rodgers has posted a passer rating under 100 seven times in nine games this season. During his back-to-back MVP run in 2020-21, Rodgers logged a double-digit passer rating just seven times combined.

Perhaps no one represented the feelings of Cheesehead Nation better than rapper Lil Wayne, a loyal green-and-gold supporter.

Is it finally Jordan Love time in Green Bay? And is that Jeopardy job still up for grabs?

Winner: Justin Fields

The Chicago Bears lost in Week 9, but quarterback Justin Fields won.

During Chicago’s 35-32 loss to the Miami Dolphins, Fields rushed for an incredible 178 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. He also threw for a trio of touchdowns and 123 yards on 17-of-28 passing.

Fields set the NFL record for rushing yards in a single regular-season game by a quarterback, topping Michael Vick’s 173 yards in 2022, but he came four yards short of Colin Kaepernick’s 181-yard performance during the 2013 NFL postseason.

Fields also did this -- a stunning 61-yard scamper.

All Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel could do was politely request Fields to “stop it.”

Loser: Fantasy football managers going against Joe Mixon

The Monday morning blues hit a bit harder this week if you went up against Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon in fantasy football.

At halftime alone, Mixon had tallied 113 rushing yards, 58 receiving yards and four total touchdowns. He crossed the goal line once more in the third quarter. In all, Mixon finished with 211 total yards and five scores, becoming the sixth player in the Super Bowl era to notch at least 200 scrimmage yards and five touchdowns in a single game.

That’s 55.1 PPR points in fantasy football. Good luck coming back from that.

Loser: Carolina Panthers

Carolina hosted a quarterback battle between Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield in training camp, only to find out last week that former XFL star P.J. Walker might have the most talent on the roster.

Well, that theory was debunked in Week 9 as Walker -- who threw for 317 yards and tossed a late Hail Mary in the closing seconds last week -- was pulled at halftime after completing just three passes for nine yards and two interceptions.

Mayfield took the gridiron in the second half and looked fantastic, throwing for 155 yards and two scores on 14-of-20 passing.

On Monday morning, the Panthers activated Sam Darnold off injured reserve.

The Panthers are back to square one. The carousel continues.

Winner: Robert Saleh

The New York Jets are 6-3.

Yes, the New York Jets are 6-3.

Robert Saleh, the former 49ers defensive coordinator who took over the Jets last season, guided New York to its latest triumph, a 20-17 upset of Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills.

Allen had his worst game of the season against Saleh's defense, registering a 46.8 passer rating with 205 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions to his name.

The Jets could lose their next nine games, and Saleh would still be in consideration for Coach of the Year for his magical 6-3 start.

Loser: Dan Snyder

Commanders owner Dan Snyder is a loser for many reasons, but he continued to take strays after Washington’s loss to Minnesota when fans exited FedEx Field chanting, “Sell the team!”

Winner: 49ers

The NFC West looks like it’s for the 49ers to take.

While San Francisco rested on its Week 9 bye, the defending champion Los Angeles Rams watched as Tom Brady led a “f---king awesome” game-winning drive to steer the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to their needed fourth win.

The Rams are 3-5. The Seattle Seahawks sit in first place at 6-3 after burying Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals (3-6) deeper into the NFC West cellar.

Geno Smith is for real. Kenneth Walker III is frightening. But the 49ers currently own the divisional tiebreaker after taking down the Seahawks 27-7 in Week 2.

Seattle might have the upper hand in Monday morning’s standings, but Christian McCaffrey and the new-look 49ers are coming.

Buckle up.

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