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Wolverines in the NFL: Ryan and Funchess Shine

This week, Jake Ryan and Devin Funchess remind us that younger Wolverines - not just Tom and Charles - can ball in the NFL.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports


Tom Brady (New England Patriots)

Week 9 stats: 26/39 for 299 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception

This was Brady's "worst" game of the season, but his "worst" is the best for a lot of other quarterbacks. The pick was his first "at fault" interception - and only second total - of the year, but he made up for it by preventing the pick six (see below for video). However, none of that mattered as Brady and the Pats still cruised to victory to stay perfect at 8-0. And if you haven't been paying attention, "Brady is on Fire" this season and on pace to have a historic season.

Running Back

Denard Robinson (Jacksonville Jaguars)

Week 9 stats: 1 carry for 2 yards

Not much going for Denard in Jacksonville these days. He's struggled with injuries this year and hasn't been used much in a rotational role. This is likely due to a multitude of reasons, including the aforementioned injuries, a pass-first offense, and the Jaguars being generally bad at football.

Wide Receiver

Jason Avant (Kansas City Chiefs)

Week 9 stats: Bye week

Devin Funchess (Carolina Panthers)

Week 9 stats: 3 receptions for 71 yards and 1 touchdown on 4 targets

After averaging one reception and a little under 13 yards per game, Funchess displayed the talent we all knew he possessed on Sunday. The standout performance brought praise from head coach Ron Rivera following the game: "To see Devin Funchess come out and have a game like this, especially against [the Packers], that was huge for Devin." His three catches included a spectacular 52-yarder that setup a Panthers touchdown as well as dragging a defender into the endzone for his first career touchdown (see below for videos). Also, the lone target that fell incomplete was due to interference, so it's safe to say Funchess played the best game of his (short) career this week.

Defensive Line

Alan Branch (New England Patriots)

Week 9 stats: 1 solo tackle, 1 assist, 1 forced fumble

Branch made the most of a light workload this week - 18 defensive snaps - as he earned the second star of the game from Pats Pulpit: "[He] was a stud on defense, being disruptive against both the run and the pass. He bulldozed his way into the backfield on multiple occasions and really helped the Patriots to build up an early lead over Washington." His forced fumble came on the first drive of the second half and led to a New England field goal. The Pats also used Branch as a blocker on field goals, a "new role" for him and something to keep an eye moving forward as he could potentially be used on offense.

Mike Martin (Tennessee Titans)

Week 9 stats: None

Martin did not play this week. This is the second week in a row Martin failed to see any game action.


Brandon Graham (Philadelphia Eagles)

Week 9 stats: 7 solo tackles, 2 sacks. 2 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles

Graham notched his best performance of the season in a critical intradivisional game against the Cowboys on Sunday. He earned a +2 PFF grade - third best on Philly's defense - and dominated in the pass rush with two strip sacks. This performance is made more impressive by the fact that he was going up against the Cowboys best offensive lineman, Tyron Smith. Graham seems to be picking up steam recently with four sacks and three forced fumbles in the last five games.

David Harris (New York Jets)

Week 9 stats: 3 solo tackles, 1 assist

The Jets topped the Jaguars, and Harris didn't stand out much, for better or for worse. However, he continues to be a leader for the Jets defense as he has the most "big tackles" - tackles on third or fourth down - of any Jets defender.

Jake Ryan (Green Bay Packers)

Week 9 stats: 6 solo tackles, 4 assists

Even as a Lions fan that despises all things green and yellow, Ryan's performance makes me happy, and I hope he duplicates it - or does better - on Sunday against a pathetic Detroit team. In a loss to the Panthers, Ryan finally saw significant game action - 38 of 67 defensive snaps - and made an immediate impact. His ten total tackles led the defense, making a case that he deserves to start moving forward, even if its rare for the Packers defense to start rookie linebackers under Dom Capers.

LaMarr Woodley (Arizona Cardinals)

Week 9 stats: Bye week


Leon Hall (Cincinnati Bengals)

Week 9 stats: 2 solo tackles, 1 pass defended

Hall had a quiet game this week while playing on 66% of Cincy's defensive snaps. However, he wasn't needed to do much as the Bengals cruised to a victory over Cleveland to stay undefeated at 8-0.

Jordan Kovacs (Miami Dolphins)

Week 9 stats: None

Kovacs did not play on Sunday after missing practice all week with a knee injury.

Charles Woodson (Oakland Raiders)

Week 9 stats: 7 solo tackles, 1 assist, 1 pass defended

Win or lose, Woodson continues to give everything he has to the Raiders. This week against the Steelers, on the second play of the game, he reaggravated the shoulder he separated on opening day. But that didn't stop him. He put a brace on it and returned immediately: "I don't know how to be hurt," Woodson said after the game. "If I'm able to get up and move around, I'm not coming off the field." Hopefully the Raiders can string together some wins to close out the year, because I'd love to see Woodson back in the playoffs.


Devin Funchess

Played the best game of his career and snagged his first NFL touchdown to help the Panthers stay undefeated


Brandon Graham and Jake Ryan

Both had standout performances, and Ryan's will hopefully lead to a starting role sooner rather than later


Funchess's First Touchdown

Funchess's 52-yard Catch

Tom Brady Tackle Machine


Charles Woodson vs. Antonio Brown

Woodson has been battling a hurt shoulder since the beginning of this season and appeared to reinjure it early on in the game while wrestling Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown out of bounds. Woodson went on to miss only one play. Brown recorded a monster game, however, setting a Steelers record with 17 receptions for 284 yards.

WINNER: Antonio Brown

Brandon Graham vs. the Cowboys Offensive Line

Graham recorded his most impressive game of the 2015 season against the Cowboys on Sunday Night football. He recorded two sacks on Cowboys quarterback Matt Cassel, which doubled his season total, against arguably the best left tackle in the NFL in Tyron Smith.

WINNER: Brandon Graham

Alan Branch vs. the Redskins Offensive Line

Branch only recorded two total tackles against the Redskins on Sunday afternoon. However, he was a terror in the middle of the defense for the entirety of the game and did force a fumble during the third quarter against Redskins running back Matt Jones. This was Branch's first forced fumble of the season and the third of his career. He has been very solid for the Patriots during their last few games.

WINNER: Alan Branch


David Harris vs. the Bills Offensive Line

Harris has been very solid for the Jets defense so far this season, recording 55 total tackles, 2 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. He posted a quiet game against the Jaguars on Sunday, only recording 4 tackles which could be attributed to the Jaguars running backs only carrying the ball 15 times. This week, Harris and the Jets take on a shaky Bill offensive line that is ranked 28th in the league for both run blocking and pass protection. Harris has not recorded a sack since Week 4, and he is certainly overdue for one.

ADVANTAGE: David Harris

Tom Brady vs. the Giants Secondary

Brady and the Patriots take on their NFL Kryptonite this Sunday afternoon in Eli Manning and the New York Giants. Good news for the Brady Bunch? New York's secondary is ranked dead last in the league, and with Brady bringing his revenge tour to the Meadowlands this weekend, expect him to put up very big numbers.


Devin Funchess vs. the Titans Secondary

Funchess played his best game of the season against the Packers in Week 9, catching his first NFL touchdown along with a career-long 52 yard pass. The Panthers take on the Titans in Week 10, who have a secondary that is ranked fourth in the league in terms of passing defense. Was Funchess' impressive game a fluke, or simply a preview of what's to come in his career? Likely a preview, but he probably struggles a bit this week.

ADVANTAGE: Titans Secondary