NFL teams have traded talent this season the way their players swap jerseys, and now we’re starting to see the dividends of those deals.
Adrian Peterson, dealt from New Orleans to Arizona, carried the ball a career-high 37 times for 159 yards in the Cardinals’ 20-10 win at San Francisco. Can he sufficiently rest those 32-year-old legs for Thursday night’s game against Seattle, a pivotal matchup in determining the pecking order (behind the Rams) in the NFC West?
“He’s not a normal 32-year-old running back,” Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton said. “I think we all knew what he was capable of. … He’s a Hall of Famer for a reason, and he’s got a lot left in the tank. He said that, and now he’s backed it up several times.”
Philadelphia traded for Jay Ajayi, and the former Miami running back made a splash in his debut Sunday, running for 77 yards in eight carries against Denver’s top-ranked defense. He had a 46-yard touchdown run in the Eagles’ 51-23 blowout and now gets some time to study the playbook as they have the week off.
“The explosiveness, you can see it; it’s there,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said Monday of Ajayi. “We’ll just continue to grow with him and get him more comfortable each week.”
The Rams traded for a big-name offensive player, too, acquiring receiver Sammy Watkins from Buffalo. He hasn’t had a huge impact in recent weeks, but made the most of his one catch Sunday — slipping behind the New York Giants secondary for a 67-yard touchdown.
Houston will play at the Rams on Sunday, a game that likely would have been much better had Texans rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson not suffered an ACL tear. Watkins played against the Texans in 2014 and ’15 when he was with the Bills, scoring a touchdown in both games.
The Rams and Eagles, the two most surprising teams this season, will meet Dec. 10 at the Coliseum.
Sometimes with trades, the rich get richer. That looks to be the case in Jacksonville, where the Jaguars further solidified their impressive defense with the addition of 319-pound defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, who previously anchored Buffalo’s front.
Dareus had three tackles in his Jacksonville debut Sunday, a 23-7 victory over Cincinnati. The Jaguars play host to the Chargers in Week 10.
The football world is waiting for a first glimpse at some other big trades. Buffalo acquired Kelvin Benjamin from Carolina, and that 6-foot-5 receiver figures to make an impact in Sunday’s game against the red-hot New Orleans Saints, who have won six in a row and have finally discovered a defense.
In the wake of a 34-21 loss to the New York Jets on Thursday, the Bills told Benjamin he could go home to complete his move north from the Panthers. Instead, he chose to stay in Buffalo and work on learning the playbook.
“It showed me his commitment,” coach Sean McDermott said Monday. “He moved up here in a very short amount of time, and I offered him the chance to go home and get some clothes and get organized, and he said, `No, coach. I want to stay and get this offense down as best I can in a short amount of time here.’ That showed me he’s committed to the cause at this point.”
Just when the 49ers will turn to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is unclear. They are 0-9, and want to be able to protect him seeing as they have a lot riding on the player who was Tom Brady’s backup in New England. Rookie C.J. Beathard took a beating Sunday behind a patchwork offensive line, and without top receiver Pierre Garcon.
The 49ers play host to the Giants on Sunday, with those teams a combined 1-16.
“You’ve got a bunch of guys out there and you’re trying to get through it,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said, when asked about the timetable for Garoppolo. “To just throw out a quarterback who has had three practices with extremely limited reps, who doesn’t know your offense, that’s kind of an unfair position to put him in.”
With two teams in Los Angeles, the NFL has had to get creative to provide the nation’s second-largest market with the best TV experience it can.
The next two Sundays, Weeks 10 and 11, will feature “double-doubleheaders” in the L.A. market, with morning and afternoon games on both CBS and Fox. That was also the case in Weeks 4 and 5.
The Rams and Chargers will play on the same network the next two weeks. Sunday, it’s CBS, with the Chargers at Jacksonville in the morning, and Houston at the Rams in the afternoon. Fox will have both games the following Sunday, with the Rams at Minnesota in the morning, and Buffalo at the Chargers in the afternoon.
This is where the NFL had to do some gymnastics, because it would be a problem if, say, the Chargers went into overtime on Sunday, and the L.A. audience couldn’t see the start of the Texans-Rams game.
So this Sunday, Texans-Rams will start on KCAL 9 — and stay there as a simulcast — but will also be shown on KCBS once the Chargers’ game is finished.
It’s the same for Bill-Chargers the following Sunday. It will start on KCOP 13, then move to the primary Fox station, KTTV, at the conclusion of Rams-Vikings.
How rare is a move like this? NFL schedule makers cannot recall it happening before.
By making these adjustments, the NFL is ensuring the L.A. audience won’t miss Dallas at Atlanta this weekend, or New England versus Oakland in Mexico City next weekend.
Follow Sam Farmer on Twitter @LATimesfarmer