It’s week 8 of the NFL and standings are becoming more pronounced at the halfway mark of the regular season. This week had far less upsets than the wild week 7, but nevertheless made for an entertaining week of football.
On Thursday, the Ravens faced the Dolphins in Baltimore. The Dolphins were lead by Matt Moore, who stood in for their regular starter Jay Cutler, who is projected to be out until week 9 with a rib injury. The Ravens won with a staggering 40-0 disparity, but at a high price. Minutes into the second quarter, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was hit by linebacker Kiko Alonso. The brutal hit caused Flacco’s helmet to come off, and he was immediately put in concussion protocol and was out for the rest of the game. Alonso received a penalty for unnecessary roughness and was allowed to stay in the game, but many thought the hit warranted an automatic ejection. Ryan Mallet stood in for Flacco for the rest of the game, and coach Harbaugh is spoke on Flacco’s status yesterday.
For the Dolphins head coach Adam Gase, the loss reflected what he saw as a glaring offensive problem, calling his offense the worst in the league on Friday. It’s questionable if Cutler’s return will change the dynamic for the Dolphins’ offense, but Gase’s open criticism will certainly impact the mentality on the team. The team will be without running back Jay Ajayi who was traded this morning to the red hot Philadelphia Eagles.
Sunday morning started off early in London, where the Vikings battled the Browns in the League’s final overseas game in their International Series. The Vikings, who are leading the NFC North, overtook the 0-8 Browns, winning 33-16. Still, the Browns put up a good fight, starting the game with a tip and interception, no doubt rattling Vikings quarterback Case Keenum. Browns quarterback and rookie Deshone Kizer had no turnovers, but the Vikings defense prevented any deep throws, keeping his yards at 179, going 18-for-34. Still, it was one of the few games of the season that head coach Hue Jackson didn’t bench Kizer.
The Chargers, coming off of a huge upset against the Broncos last week, faced the Patriots in New England. The Chargers started off the game with a massive 87-yard run from Melvin Gordon, but were overtook by a strong showing from Dion Lewis, Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead, capitalizing on a weak Chargers rushing defense. The Patriots did show some serious vulnerability offensively, scoring one touchdown out of four red zone appearances. The Patriots are out on a bye week, leading the AFC East at 6-2, and Tom Brady is now 8-0 against Phillip Rivers.
The Chicago Bears bore a tough loss to the Saints in New Orleans, falling 12-20. Bears TE Zach Miller had what seemed to be a season-ending leg injury during the third quarter during a touchdown reception. The referees overturned the touchdown, ruling that Miller lost control of the ball when he rolled over in pain upon sustaining his injury. The replay shows a pretty secure catch, and the call definitely caused some heads to roll in Chicago. The 5-2 Saints will face their NFC South opponent, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next week.
The Raiders faced the Bills in Buffalo, losing 34-14. Oakland suffered some serious turnover issues, and the Bills offense consistently outran the Oakland defense. LeSean McCoy, RB for the Bills, ran a total of 151 yards, including a single 48 yard run. The Raiders are now 3-5, narrowing their chances to make it to the playoffs, and Marshawn Lynch’s suspension this week no doubt weakened their offensive ability. The Bills are now 5-2, second in the AFC East, behind the Patriots.
Carson Wentz had a slow start to what ended in a win over the 49ers (who are now 0-8), throwing two touchdowns and 211 yards. Wentz still leads the league in touchdown passes this season. Josh Elliot, a rookie kicker for the Eagles launched a 51-yard kick, breaking the franchise-record of 50-plus yard kicks. Eagles rookie Derek Barnett blocked the veteran 49ers kicker Robbie Gould’s 20 yard field goal attempt in the fourth quarter, recovering the ball and sealing the fate of the game. The Eagles are now 7-1, drastically ahead of their NFC east rivals.
The Texans, came off of a controversial week in which their owner referred to them as “inmates” in a prison, and all but six players kneeled for the anthem prior to the game in Seattle. It was truly an incredible matchup for quarterbacks, with rookie Deshaun Watson throwing 402 yards and Russell Wilson throwing 452 yards, each for four touchdowns. Watson threw a 72-yard touchdown to DeAndre Hopkins in the fourth quarter, who ran for 224 yards total. The Seahawks’ running offense struggled slightly, with Lockett leading the Hawks’ offense at 121 yards. It was an insanely close game all the way up to the last minute, even more so after Watson threw an interception caught by Richard Sherman in the final thirty seconds of the fourth quarter. Russell Wilson quickly responded with a TD pass to tight end Jimmy Graham to secure the lead. The Seahawks are now 5-2, tied with the Rams in the NFC West. They will take on the Redskins next Sunday.
The Cowboys faced the Redskins in a downpour at FedEx Field, and the weather proved to be an opponent to both teams in terms of pass receiving. Kirk Cousins had one fumble and Chris Thompson, the Redskins’ kick returner yielded another. Cousins threw 263 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The Redskins were operating without two offensive tackles, a right guard and a center, and the deficiency showed. Dallas leaned heavily on Ezekiel Elliot, who just had his suspension upheld once again and will sit out for six games (maybe). Elliot had over thirty carries and scored two touchdowns, running for 150 yards. With the 33-19 win, Cowboys are now 3-4 and second to the Eagles in the NFC East.
The Broncos (3-3) played their AFC West rivals, the Chiefs (5-2) on Monday night to end week 8 and took another tough loss. It was another brutal game for quarterback Trevor Siemian and it looks like the time might consider bringing in Paxton Lynch to start after he threw three interceptions. The team finished with five turnovers overall and lost their third straight game. The Broncos are clearly a frustrated team that is ready to implode at any second while the Chiefs continue to be one of the best teams in the league.