Best and worst of NFL Week 9: Chiefs outlast Dolphins in Germany

The Pittsburgh Steelers kicked off Week 9 of the NFL season on Thursday night with a comeback win over the Tennessee Titans.

The Kansas City Chiefs and Miami Dolphins played the first-ever regular-season game in Frankfurt, Germany, with the Chiefs jumping out to a 21-point lead and hanging on to win by seven.

Our NFL Nation reporters reacted to all the action, answering lingering questions coming out of each game and picking out who — or what — is rising and falling for every team. Let’s get to it.

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What does the Chiefs’ victory over the Dolphins mean in the big picture? The Chiefs are 7-2, which guarantees they will be no worse than tied at the end of the day for the best record in the AFC. They also have wins over two of the other top contenders in the Jaguars and Dolphins. Tough games remain, including matchups against the Eagles, Bills and Bengals, so they still don’t have much wiggle room.

Stock up after the win: CB Trent McDuffie. His strip vs. Tyreek Hill late in the first half resulted in what was eventually the winning TD when Bryan Cook ran the fumble back for a touchdown.

Stock down after the win: DT Chris Jones. His roughing penalty after the Chiefs appeared to have stopped Miami on a key third down led to a Dolphins TD. He also didn’t have a pressure, though he was double-teamed frequently. — Adam Teicher

Next game: vs. Eagles (Monday, Nov. 20, 8:15 p.m. ET)



How much stock should go into the Dolphins’ performance against teams with winning records? In their third game against a team with a winning record this season, the Dolphins suffered their third loss. Their offense looked jet-lagged (despite being in Germany since Tuesday) and took far too long to get going. It might’ve been Miami’s best defensive performance of the season, which was critical as it attempted to mount a 21-point comeback. The end result proved the Dolphins can compete against good teams; losing to the Bills, Eagles and Chiefs is far from embarrassing. Miami still has games ahead against the Bills, Ravens and Cowboys to turn the narrative around.

Stock up after the loss: The Dolphins’ front seven pressured Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes 11 times and had a strip-sack, forcing a turnover for the third straight game.

Stock down after the loss: The offensive line. This is mostly from a health standpoint; already playing without starting right guard Rob Hunt, fill-in Robert Jones went down with a knee injury late in the fourth quarter and was carted to the locker room. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

Next game: vs. Raiders (Sunday, Nov. 19, 1 p.m. ET)

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Is winning this way sustainable? The Steelers have gotten comfortable playing in uncomfortable moments. For the fourth time this season, the Steelers eked out a win despite trailing after three quarters, this time thanks to a game-saving interception by inside linebacker Kwon Alexander. The offense was also outgained 340-326, making them the only team in the NFL that still hasn’t outgained an opponent this season. And according to the Elias Sports Bureau and ESPN Stats & Info, the Steelers are the 34th team in NFL history to be outgained in their first eight games, and they’re the only one out of that group to have a winning record in that stretch. Of those 33 other teams, only one ended the season with a winning record: the 2022 Steelers. This time around, the Steelers are 5-3 and second in the AFC North with wins against the Browns and the Ravens. They’re not winning pretty — or easily — but they are winning.

Stock up after the win: Wide receiver Diontae Johnson. After 22 regular-season games, Johnson finally found the end zone again, and he picked a great time to make his return with the fourth-quarter go-ahead touchdown. Days after several drops and slips in the Steelers’ loss to Jacksonville, Johnson finished with seven catches, 90 yards and the score.

Stock down after the win: Wide receiver George Pickens. Not only did the Steelers receiver not get his second foot down on what would’ve been the go-ahead touchdown, but he also finished with just two catches for minus-1 yards on five targets. — Brooke Pryor

Next game: vs. Packers (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)



How can the Titans’ offensive line continue to hold up despite injuries? Center Aaron Brewer was the only Titans offensive lineman to play all 68 snaps. The lineup was shuffled due to injuries to Nicholas Petit-Frere, Daniel Brunskill, Andre Dillard and Peter Skoronski; right tackle Chris Hubbard was already out this week due to a concussion. Rookie tackle Jaelyn Duncan got his first NFL snaps and center Corey Levin had to play left guard. The extended time off after a Thursday game will be much needed.

Stock up after the loss: Defensive back Kristian Fulton. His play has quietly been solid over the past three games, with five tackles (one for a loss), one pass defended and sticky coverage throughout.

Stock down after the loss: Andre Dillard. He got a second chance to start at left tackle and allowed two sacks along with multiple quarterback hits. — Turron Davenport

Next game: at Buccaneers (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

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