NFL Week Nine: The Doug Martin Show

I’d like to begin by extending my condolences to anyone who had the unfortunate fate of playing against Doug Martin in fantasy football the last two weeks. The Tampa Bay rookie has had one of the most remarkable turnarounds in recent memory. After not reaching 100 yards rushing in any of his first six games, Martin has totaled 386 rushing yards combined in the last two weeks, including four touchdowns Sunday. Martin has accumulated over 80 points for fantasy owners in standard leagues over the last two weeks and, according to Mat- thew Berry, his 51 points against Oakland tied Corey Dillon for the third-highest individual total since 1995. And, yes, the Buccaneers still almost found a way to lose to the hapless Raiders. Regardless, Tampa Bay is quietly sitting at 4-4, only a half game behind Seattle and Minnesota for the final wild card playoff spot in the NFC. If Doug Martin stays hot, they could be dangerous. Even though it may not seem like it, there were plenty of other interesting storylines this past week, one being the reincarnation of the 1985 Bears in Chicago. The Bears have one of the best defenses in the NFL, and they showed it on Sunday. Traveling to Nashville to take on Tennessee, the Bears defense forced five turnovers, blocked a punt and scored two touchdowns – one more than Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. This comes on the heels of forcing three turnovers and scoring one defensive touchdown against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers last week. The Bears were pegged for success be- fore the season began, but the defense flew under the radar. Many felt that the addition of Brandon Marshall to an offense that boasted a (hopefully) healthy Jay Cutler and Matt Forte would be stellar, but the defense has stolen the show. The Bears are 7-1, and their next matchup has the makings of a classic: a Sunday Night showdown against the 7-1 Houston Tex- ans. As Terrell Owens would say, get your popcorn ready. There is still an undefeated team left in the NFL, although almost no one talks about them. The Atlanta Falcons defeated the Dallas Cowboys this week and are now 8-0. We all know the offense is filled with playmakers like Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez, but the defense has been superb lately in holding potent offenses like Dallas, Philadelphia, Denver, San Di- ego, Washington and Oakland all to 21 points or less. The upcoming schedule is not daunting, but has its challenges. Two matchups against New Orleans and a date with the New York Giants lie ahead, but for now, the Atlanta Falcons are sitting pretty atop the NFL standings. Let’s quickly take a look ahead to Week 10 in the NFL. The most intriguing matchup has to be what is in effect an “elimination game” between Philadelphia and the Cowboys. Both teams have had disappointing seasons, and another division loss could push one of these teams to the brink. The New York Jets also play Seattle next week. It wouldn’t surprise me if neither team makes it to double digits. Rex Ryan will probably give the media some ridiculous decoy about Tim Tebow prior to the game. I would bet that by Thursday we will hear reports of Tebow playing safety this week.If you can’t wait until Sunday for foot- ball, Thursday night presents an opportunity to see the number one pick in this year’s draft, Andrew Luck. If his Indianapolis Colts can take care of business in Jacksonville, they will ascend to a shocking record of 6-3. Remember when we thought that cutting Peyton Manning and drafting Andrew Luck would mean sacrificing the present for the future? Not necessarily. The Colts are finding ways to win, and they could very well be playing their way into the playoffs in a wide-open AFC race. Another week in the books in the NFL, with more unexpected demise and success. We’ve learned that really anything can happen week to week. Well, unless you’re playing the Cleveland Browns. It’s looking like the ageless wonder Brandon Weeden isn’t exactly the answer there.

Contact David Josselsohn at [email protected].