Three NFL teams that should panic after Week 9 losses


Every Monday morning, we try to avoid overreacting to what we witnessed the day before. But some losses truly do matter more than others. Some losses should inspire panic.

The Cowboys, Falcons and Dolphins are three teams that experienced devastating losses in Week 9 that will be difficult to overcome. The Cowboys' loss is the most painful. They have been competitive in nearly every game without Tony Romo, yet they come up with a creative new way to lose each week. They are now two losses behind the Giants and the Eagles in the NFC East, and are 1-4 at home. Their road-heavy schedule moving forward includes games in Green Bay and Buffalo, and a home game against the Panthers.

Romo can't solve everything. He is expected to return for a Week 11 game in Miami, but the Cowboys have dug a hole too large to escape. The defense had the chance to carry this team. Instead it has been mediocre. It's almost as if Karma has bitten this team.

The Falcons' situation isn't nearly as dire, but they should panic after losing their third game out of four in San Francisco on Sunday. The team plays energetic team defense, yet they don't have a real pass rush. That's how you lose to Blaine Gabbert. That's how you miss the playoffs. The Falcons' passing game isn't better than it was a year ago, and the 49ers managed to stop Devonta Freeman cold. There is no shame in the Falcons being 6-3. They were always a mid-level team that rode a number of tight wins to a 5-0 start. Now they are losing those close games, especially when Dan Quinn starts coaching the end of games like Mike Smith. The NFC South is out of reach. There is reason to believe the Falcons will eventually be passed by an NFC West team in the wild-card race.

Miami is theoretically only one loss back in the AFC wild-card race. So the Dolphins can convince themselves they are relevant, just like they did for the early honeymoon phase of the Dan Campbell era. In reality, they are 0-4 in the AFC East. The average score of those games: 34-13. Miami's run defense looked incredibly soft in Buffalo and the offense struggled to finish drives. For the Cowboys, Falcons and Dolphins, this isn't about panicking after one bad week. It was a continuation of a trend.

Those are three teams that should panic. But not every team that suffered a setback Sunday should be depressed.

Every game, all season

Not time to panic

1. The Raiders lost the battle in Pittsburgh, but the war for the AFC wild-card race is just starting. Derek Carr leads one of the most explosive offenses in football; scoring 35 points against a frisky Steelers defense was impressive. The Raiders almost won on a day where they lost Latavius Murray to a concussion and Amari Cooper had some rare missteps. The team's secondary is its huge weakness, but they don't play an explosive passing game again until Week 15 when Green Bay comes to the Black Hole.

2. Dion Lewis will not be easy to replace in New England. James White and Brandon Bolden are huge steps down on passing downs for the Patriots. With all that said, the Patriots' offense remains built around Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman. The Patriots can't afford to suffer many more injuries, especially on the offensive line. But they have shown a rare ability to overcome injuries in the past, and this should be no different.

Before we say goodbye, let's remember that Lewis was having an epic season. PFF's Sam Monson points out that Lewis forced 43 missed tackles from just 85 touches. He was averaging 3.3 yards after contact per play, which is a crazy number.

3. The Packers were not competitive for six quarters against Denver and Carolina before their second-half rally Sunday. Two of the team's strengths -- scoring defense and offensive line -- have struggled. We've seen these dips from the Packers before. Whether it's early in the season or not, Mike McCarthy's Packers usually have some sort of in-season lull. They are still 6-2 and we'll be a lot more concerned if they lose in Minnesota in two weeks. The schedule sets up favorably with four straight division games, including two against the Lions. This team and quarterback are too smart not to figure things out.

4. The Broncos' defense has been so consistently excellent that we're willing to give them a pass for a weak performance against a wounded Colts team. The Broncos should win almost every game in which they score 24 points. They just can't lose many more games in the AFC or they risk missing out on a bye.

5. Sunday's loss in Minnesota will leave a mark for the Rams because it was an opportunity lost. But this NFC wild card is just getting started. The leaders, Atlanta and Minnesota, both have issues. The Vikingsschedule is very difficult moving forward after a soft start to the season. They still aren't consistent offensively. There could be room for the Rams and Seahawks to rally and put three NFC West teams in the playoffs.