We’re wrapping up Week 9 of the NFL season. No, Colin Kaepernick still can’t find work. Yes, he’s being blackballed. No, none of us should’ve been caught off guard by any of this. And yes, this has been an extremely weird season nonetheless.

Sure, the staples are in place—the Patriots are good, the Browns are bad. But then there’s the fact that Jerry Jones is threatening to SUE THE LEAGUE if Roger Goodell gets a contract extension, Marshawn Lynch is truck-sticking teenagers in his spare time and Bills fans are lighting themselves on fire.

Sidebar: Amazingly, he’s not the first idiot Bills fan to do this. You’re incredible fans, but take it down a notch, Bills Mafia. For the good of humanity. 

So what about the actual football? What can we take away from first half of the season? HHSR has got you covered.

1) Eagles Flying High, But For How Long? – On bye following the an 8-1 start, the Eagles from the Illadelph are soaring above the competition. But that word, “competition”…where does Philly’s stack up?

Well, they haven’t faced Dallas yet and the only first-place team they’ve faced this year beat them. They also had the luxury of having played each of their last three games at home, two of which against teams with virtually no competent QB play to speak of. What Carson Wentz is doing is tremendous and he’s deservedly in pole position for league MVP. Yours truly picked the Eagles to make the playoffs before the season, but with four remaining games against the Cowboys, Rams and Seahawks (three on the road), it’s unlikely they’ll cruise to a 14-2 record.

2) Zeke Elliott Takes Us All to Law School – Are you annoyed yet?

The Ezekiel Elliott legal proceedings is costing fantasy owners thousands of precious hair follicles. The appeals, the stays, the injunctions, the overrulings…how come when you or I get a ticket, we’re basically just stuck with that shit?

Doesn’t seem fair.

3) John Elway Really Screwed Up – For all the credit John Elway deserves for wooing Peyton Manning five years ago and going all-in on an older Broncos team that ultimately won a Super Bowl, he sure has botched the post-Manning plan.

Not paying Brock Osweiler was shrewd—it’s almost like somebody payed the Broncos 16 million bucks a year to NOT play a Waste Management bin of a quarterback, yet not two years later, that same dude is somehow starting for them on Sunday Night Football. Granted, they don’t have to pay him much, but still. Denver has failed to develop Trevor Siemian, and Paxton Lynch might have literally fallen off the face of the earth.

Elway jacked this up.

4) Injuries Suck, But This Ain’t New – Add Richard Sherman to the list of All-Pro casualties that would assemble the greatest fictitious team in football history. But as rough as this seasons has been, this pretty much happens every year.

Football is a physical violent game. When you sign up to play professional football there is virtually a 100% chance YOU WILL SUFFER A SERIOUS INJURY AT SOME POINT. Maybe it’s a concussion, maybe it’s a broken bone, maybe it’s a torn ligament, usually it’s all three. There’s just no way around it. Injuries are an occupational hazard, much like burns are for firefighters. We complain when the NFL legislates safety measures into the game (particularly for quarterbacks); we want physical play, but we bitch about the injuries knowing players are bigger, faster and stronger than ever.

Can’t have it both ways.

And as for the abomination that is Thursday Night Football—it is funny how the Lions, Cowboys and two other teams have played on Thursdays since the beginning of time and nobody complained about injury risk. Now every team is asked to play basically one Thursday game a year, and everybody starts trippin.

5) It’s Been Two Months. Can’t We Bring Back Sergio Dipp??

6) The Steelers Are Lucky The AFC North Stinks – Joe Flacco has mailed it in ever since the Ravens started mailing him game checks for approx. $7,930, 291, 239,508.45. The Bengals are too busy being the Bengals (e.g. punching guys in the head who are wearing their helmet) to compete. And the Browns…more on them later.

The Steelers have a quarterback with one foot out the door, a flanker throwing tantrums on the sideline despite being the leading receiver in the NFL and another receiver coming off a team suspension for hating on a third receiver. Dysfunction aside, you must credit Mike Tomlin & Co. for finally turning that defense around.

7) Every Year It’s The Same…People Think They Have All The Answers After Week 2 – You know what we shouldn’t do? Pretend that we know how the season will unfold after two weeks, or four. Hell, we barely know the real through eight weeks of a 16-game schedule. That doesn’t stop talking heads from sounding off with absolute certainty about which teams will be great and which are screwed. People buried the 7-2 Saints after they dropped their first two. We anointed the Chiefs a Super Bowl favorite; they’ve since dropped three of four. You get the idea.

8) So, Who’s About To Fall Off? – Watch the Eagles. They’re good, but not this good. The Bills were 5-2, but were drubbed by New Orleans on Sunday. They still have games at Kansas City and two against New England. The Saints could still slip, the Cowboys will likely take a step back without Zeke and the Packers are doomed without Aaron Rodgers.

9) Why Is Ndamukong Sue Still In The League? – With everything this dude has pulled, he puts his hand around a dude’s throat in the middle of a game last week and nobody cares? What happened to player safety? (At least he’s smart enough not to punch a guy in the helmet though).

10) Brady Still Sitting Pretty For MVP – The Dont’a Hightower loss hurts. A lot. And he could use a couple more four TD performances. But Tom Brady is still in a good spot to make our latest prediction come true. The GOAT’s stiffest comp appears to be from Carson Wentz, and though the Pats trail the Eagles by only one in the loss column, Brady has a higher passer rating, more yards and fewer picks. He’s also had to overcome more adversity this season, handicapped by a horrendous defense and an injury to his most reliable target, Julian Edelman, before the season.

11) Deion Ain’t Have to Go at Romo Like That – Tony Romo was just making a fun (and truthful) joke. Prime clapped back so hard though, he didn’t even leave enough ammo for anyone else. Romo can’t even go B-Rabbit & shit on himself out of self-defense. Sadly, it’s too late.

Need help, Tony? The Tim McCarver incident, catching punts off his face in Washington, “Must Be The Money”, being a self-described “whore-monger”, getting Botox, losing the World Series…that should give you a good place to start.

12) Pirate Booty – On The Preseason Podcast of the Year, we discussed teams that everyone assumed would be playoff teams in 2017, but likely needed some more seasoning. Basically, if you bought stock in a team with a pirate on the helmet, you’re in the poorhouse right now because the Raiders and Buccaneers have tight-roped that fine line between “wildly underachieving” and “straight trash”.

13) Todd Gurley…We Told You – Also on the podcast, we doubled-down on our belief that Gurley was one of the best rushers in football (way before it was cool), while Anthony Hueston had Rams making the playoffs. You’re welcome.

14) Loud Leader, Quiet Team – True, Cam Newton can’t seem to stay out of the news, but his team is quietly in the playoff hunt once again. It ain’t always pretty, but when Cam is litty at home, it’s one of the funnest things to watch in football. We also had Carolina as an NFC sleeper before the sea…never mind. You get it.

Sidebar: We don’t get everything right over here (see: the Giants making the playoffs), but we do alright.

15) Is Anybody Really That Good? – Not really, no. The whole league feels like a big ball of average. Well, the whole league except…

16) The Browns. They Ain’t Never Changing – Still winless, still without a franchise QB, still the joke of the league—the Browns are less an NFL team than they are an episode of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. Their only redeeming quality at this point is providing HHSR with endless content that has been recognized by some of the most respected members of the sports media world…

The botched A.J. McCarron trade can best be described as compound lunacy; crazy that they waited until literally the last minute to execute it, that they failed to execute it, they were prepared to give up more for McCarron than the 49ers exchanged for Jimmy Garoppolo, and even more crazy that (as pointed out by ESPN Cleveland’s Tony Grossi) the Browns would’ve gone though all this the past 18 months to settle on McCarron as the QB of the future. Passing on Wentz and Deshaun Watson, not trading up for Jared Goff or dealing for Jimmy G—nope, AJ McCarron was their guy!

McCarron may actually be good. But the Bengals have seen him at practice every day for three years and never felt he should supplant Andy Dalton, who is raging average. And if AJ is truly their guy, why not trade for him in the offseason, allowing him a full summer to prep as “the man” on a new team, rather than throwing him in at the trade deadline? And what has that done to the already shaky confidence of rookie QB Deshone Kizer?

The Garoppolo deal is great for San Fransisco. Our theory: Jimmy’s camp and Bill Belichick went out of their way to make sure he didn’t go to Cleveland. Him flourishing helps enhance Belichick’s legacy—he and Brady seem like the type of competitive psychopaths that think about stuff like that. If Belichick can prove another QB developed in “his system” besides Brady, he will garner (fairly or not) more of the credit for the Patriots’ success.

Garoppolo failure aside, the McCarron deal falling apart was for the best. If only the Browns screwed up the paperwork on all the times they traded down in the draft.

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