By Jeremy Rubin
Week 9 saw another typical game for the Carolina Panthers’ Christian McCaffrey in his team’s 30-20 victory against the Tennessee Titans. The former Heisman candidate and dark horse MVP pick rushed for 146 yards and two touchdowns on 24 attempts for an efficient 6.1 yards per carry.
He also chipped in the passing game with three catches for another 20 yards and a touchdown, bringing his total scores on the day to three. These three touchdowns maintained his place atop the season leaderboards among running backs with 13 total.
After being pegged as a player without the size to be a capable feature back prior to the 2017 NFL Draft, McCaffrey currently has 881 rushing yards on the season. The next closest Panthers player has 95.
McCaffrey’s former Stanford teammate and NFC South division foe, tight end Austin Hooper, has been one of the bright spots for the Atlanta Falcons, who were on a bye this week. Hooper has contributed 52 catches for 591 yards and five touchdowns thus far on the season.
Of the Stanford tight ends in the NFL who played this week, though, Zach Ertz of the Philadelphia Eagles dominated. The 28-year-old exploded for 103 yards and corralled in 9-of-11 targets, also adding a touchdown in the second quarter. This was Ertz’s first 100-yard game of the season.
On the defensive side, former Stanford outside linebacker Brennan Scarlett came out of nowhere to help the Houston Texans smother the Jacksonville Jaguars in a 26-3 rout. Scarlett contributed two sacks and a forced fumble in this dominant defensive performance, potentially carving out a larger role for himself moving forward with the loss of star J.J. Watt to injury.
Two of the more established contributors for their respective teams, Blake Martinez of the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers’ Richard Sherman, each maintained their strong play. Martinez’s 12 tackles kept a comfortable six-tackle difference between him and the next closest player atop the tackle leaderboard. Sherman had a quiet game on the stat sheet, but his presence was felt in his team’s 28-25 victory. The 49ers are the last undefeated team in the NFL.
Stanford’s former players are making noise both from the usual contributors and surprising up-and-comers. The tight ends will swap next week as the Eagles go on a bye and the Falcons return from one, but the former cohort of the Cardinal on the field will look to continue the trend of strong play in Week 10.
Contact Jeremy Rubin at jjmrubin ‘at’ stanford.edu.