NFL

NFL Players To Watch In Week 9

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by Chris Boyle

There’s no shortage of quality games in Week 9, highlighted by a handful of premium division rivalries – Eagles-Giants, Steelers-Ravens, Jets-Dolphins and Broncos-Raiders.

With that in mind, who will shine with so much on the line?

Here are five players to watch in Sunday’s games.

Connor Barwin, DE, Eagles

The Eagles have won each of the last four meetings against the New York Giants. And when they’ve had success, they’ve made Eli Manning uncomfortable in the pocket.

Enter Barwin, who has four sacks in six career games against Big Blue. Granted, three of those sacks came in one October 2014 game. The Giants must respect the left side of the Philadelphia front (Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham), meaning Barwin should get a handful of one-on-one battles with mercurial second-year left tackle Ereck Flowers.

Philly blitzes fewer than only two teams in the league, putting the pressure on the front-four to produce.

Corey Coleman, WR, Browns

In Cleveland’s home opener, Coleman flashed the speed and game-breaking ability which prompted the Browns to select him 15th overall. Then, the following week, the Baylor product broke his hand in practice.

Hue Jackson said Wednesday that Coleman was a “full-go” in practice and set to suit up after sitting out six games.

He torched the Ravens in Week 2 for five catches, 104 yards and two touchdowns – albeit with Josh McCown under center. This is a favorable matchup as the Cowboys will be without the services of Morris Claiborne and Barry Church, but can Coleman produce similar numbers with Cody Kessler throwing it his way?

Mark Ingram, RB, Saints

So, how will the former Heisman winner respond to being benched last week? On paper, at least, you couldn’t ask for a better matchup in which to bounce back.

The San Francisco 49ers rank dead last in the NFL against the run, allowing 5.1 yards per carry. It’s tempting to believe Drew Brees will try to air it out against a defense lacking top pass-rusher Aaron Lynch and starting cornerback Rashard Robinson, and they surely will take some shots.

But for Ingram, if not now, when?

Tim Hightower unimpressively went for more than 100 yards last week and failed to score in five cracks at the goal line. Expect a motivated Ingram to reclaim the job and flatten the 49ers.

Bradley Roby, CB, Broncos

Sunday Night Football is a great matchup between the high-flying Oakland Raiders passing attack against Denver’s dominant defense. Roby, the reigning AFC Defensive Player of the Week, takes on a much bigger role this time around.

With Aqib Talib sidelined due a back injury, Roby and Chris Harris tussle with Oakland’s receiving tandem of Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. No team in the league has completed more passes of 20 yards or more than Oakland’s 39 – including 10 a week ago down in Tampa Bay.

Philip Rivers targeted Roby nine times after Talib left the field, and he allowed just two catches for 34 yards, per Pro Football Focus.

Charcandrick West, RB, Chiefs

With Jamaal Charles on injured reserve and Spencer Ware ruled out with a concussion, West projects to take the bulk of the backfield work for the Chiefs.

Largely forgotten behind Ware this year, West had three games in which he carried the ball at least 20 times in 2015. In those games, he rushed for 276 yards and three touchdowns, and Kansas City went 3-0.

Not to mention, he proved to be a weapon in the passing game – including a three-catch, 92-yard performance against the vaunted Denver defense.

The Jags … well, they’re not Denver. Jacksonville ranks 20th against the run, surrendering nine rushing scores.


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.