NFL Africa Zone: The 'It's spelled Amukamara, FYI' edition

ByFrancis Okupa, Special to KweséESPN ESPN logo
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The NFL's focus in week 10 was on results that went the way few expected, with the New England Patriots being trounced by the Tennessee Titans and the Cleveland Browns bashing the Atlanta Falcons.

But some things did stay the same, as the Chicago Bears, New Orleans Saints, and Los Angeles Rams all kept on winning, with the help of their African contingents.

Player of the week

Prince Amukamara (Chicago Bears - Cornerback #20)

The Prince of Nebraska [he's an actual prince in Nigeria], by way of Arizona, had an excellent game in the Bears' 34-22 win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

Amukamara, who had his name misspelled on the back of his jersey when he took the field, ended up with eight tackles, two pass breakups, two forced fumbles, and one interception as the Bears defense gave Lions QB Matthew Stafford a rough time.

Amukamara has played well the past two seasons for the Bears and is looking every bit the dependable cornerback that the New York Giants hoped they would get when they drafted him in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft.

Notable Performances

Alvin Kamara (New Orleans Saints - Running Back #41)

In the Saints' 51-14 demolition over the Cincinnati Bengals, Liberian-American star Kamara (no 'Amu') continued to show his versatility. For his two touchdowns, he displayed his ability to run through contact, as well as the speed and elusiveness he has in spades.

With 12 carries for 56 yards and two touchdowns to go with four receptions for 46 yards, Kamara now has 14 touchdowns through nine games and is also the first Saints player with multiple touchdowns in three consecutive games.

Ndamukong Suh (Los Angeles Rams - Nose/Defensive Tackle #93)

One half of the Rams' All-Pro defensive tackle duo, Suh played a big role in helping the Rams complete the season sweep over division rivals Seattle Seahawks. Suh tallied nine tackles and had half a sack and three QB hits in the 36-31 win.

Despite the win, it was another close contest between the teams and once again the Seahawks ran over and around the Rams defense. The Rams allowed 273 rushing yards on Sunday, and as they prepare to take their 9-1 record to play against the 9-1 Kansas City Chiefs, the LA defense will need to show up against the fourth leading rusher in the league, Kareem Hunt.

The Cleveland Browns' Nigerian defensive line

Larry Ogunjobi has come into his own this season and Emmanuel Ogbah is just getting started after a slow first half of the season. Ogunjobi had four tackles, half a sack and two QB hits, while Ogbah had two tackles and half a sack in the Browns' 28-16 win over the Atlanta Falcons.

Ogunjobi now has 4.5 sacks on the season to go with his 35 tackles, while Ogbah, despite being on 2.0 sacks for the season, has enough time over the next few weeks to reach and better his career best 5.5 sacks (achieved during his rookie year in 2016).

New Orleans Saints' African defense

The West African contingent on the Saints defense all had notable performances in Sunday's win over the Bengals. Still acclimating after arriving in a trade from the New York Giants a couple of weeks ago, cornerback Eli Apple secured his first interception of the season to go along with his three tackles and two pass breakups.

Defensive End Alex Okafor and tackle David Onyemata each had three tackles and half a sack as they helped hold the Bengals to 110 total rushing yards.

Players to watch in week 11

Efe Obada (Carolina Panthers Defensive End)

Carolina go to Detroit to play a Lions team that has given up 16 sacks in the past two games. Obada and the Panthers defensive line will be eager to participate in the sack feast.

David DeCastro (Pittsburgh Steelers Offensive lineman)

Going up against a reeling Jacksonville Jaguars team, odds are that the Steelers won't have any mercy and will be primed to avenge their two losses to Jacksonville from the 2017 regular season and playoffs. Key to doing that will be the Steelers' offensive line, and DeCastro continuing his excellent play from the past few weeks.

George Iloka (Minnesota Vikings Safety)

Iloka and the Vikings take on the surging Chicago Bears on Sunday night. The Vikings will need to reassert their championship credentials in the divisional matchup as they seek to win the division and position themselves for a playoff run. Iloka and the Vikings DBs will have to unnerve and befuddle second year Bears QB Mitch Trubisky, who is being praised from all corners, in order to leave Chicago with a win.