With many teams around the league playing their eighth game in Week 8 this weekend, we are now beginning to get a sense of which teams are for real, which ones will probably be in contention for a playoff spot and which teams should start ramping up the scouting efforts by watching more games on Saturdays. I feel pretty confident in suggesting the Patriots may have figured out their defense, the Eagles are not going to go away in the NFC, the NFC South is anyone’s division and the NFC North should be embarrassed to allow the Vikings to run away with this thing.
And I’m not sure where the Houston Texans are going this season, but I know their long-term future is incredibly bright after yet another fantastic display of potential from Deshaun Watson. It was just a shame for him that Russell Wilson was ready to ball too.
Wilson vs. Watson Was Wild and Wonderful
The Seattle Seahawks and Houston Texans duked it out right from the start in the most entertaining football game of the day, hands down. It may not have been one for the fans of bare-knuckle, drag-out defense, but it was yet another demonstration of just how much fun it is going to be to watch Texans rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson for years to come and one more reminder of just how good Seattle’s Russell Wilson continues to be.
— NFL (@NFL) October 29, 2017
The story before the game naturally focused on the Texans. Rumors swirled about how the team would react following controversial statements by owner Bob McNair in response to the ongoing national anthem demonstrations. And react they did. Exact numbers varied according to multiple reports, but the majority of the players on the Texans sideline were seen taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem. The demonstration seemed to pretty much stop there, which has typically been the case throughout the league.
— Lindsey Wisniewski (@lindsniewski) October 29, 2017
Once the game kicked off, though, it was off to the races.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) October 29, 2017
Watson finished his day with 402 passing yards and four touchdowns, and 67 rushing yards. However, he was also picked off three times, including one being returned for a score by Earl Thomas early in the game. He’s a rookie and still making a few mistakes but, my goodness, the positives outweigh the negatives. It just so happened Watson was going up against a quarterback who had the upper hand and the experience edge going on the other side of the field.
Wilson had a career afternoon with 452 passing yards and four touchdowns, and ed the Seahawks on the ground with 30 rushing yards. Wilson was picked off just once and was sacked twice, compared to five sacks for a loss of 35 yards for Watson. And every time the hot rookie made something happen to help give the Texans a lead in the second half, the Super Bowl champion and veteran responded. Tied at 21-21 at halftime, the lead switched sidelines six times in the second half, including the final time with a Wilson 18-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham with just 21 seconds remaining in the game.
That was fun.
The Seahawks will continue to be a contender in the NFC. The Texans have work to do, but the receiving duo of Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins and the rise of Watson are giving this franchise more than enough reasons to feel optimistic about the future.
Dallas gradually buried Washington for pivotal NFC East win
Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 150 yards and two scores while the Cowboys forced three turnovers that led to 13 points, including a pick-six by Byron Jones in the final minute of the game to slam the door shut on Washington. The 33-19 win got off to a sluggish start and was fueled by kicker Mike Nugent’s four field goals and put the Cowboys in second place in the NFC East with a 4-3 record. Dallas is also playing well on the road with a 3-1 record away from Jerry World. The key to Sunday’s win was a blocked field goal.
Dak agrees with your assessment that the blocked field goal changed the game. pic.twitter.com/zvOIoYR6cI
— David Helman (@HelmanDC) October 30, 2017
The Cowboys still trail the Eagles by two games in the loss column, but the two division rivals have yet to face each other this season. Dallas is now 2-0 in the NFC East, though, joining the Eagles with a perfect division record midway through the season. Perhaps more important here is Washington falling to 3-4 with an 0-3 record against the division, bogged down by a season sweep by the Eagles. For the Redskins, the talks will continue to be about where this franchise is heading. Specifically, where the team goes with regard to quarterback Kirk Cousins.
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) October 30, 2017
Cousins was 26-of-39 for 263 yards and a touchdown with a late interception. It is the second time this season Cousins had the ball in the final minute of a game and turned it over. (He fumbled away a ball returned for a touchdown by Philadelphia in the season opener and had the pick-six on Sunday.)
— NFL (@NFL) October 29, 2017
Considering the drama revolving around the contract situation for Cousins going into the 2017 season, it does not appear this is a relationship that will go on for much longer. And that may actually pay off for Washington, who can start scouting quarterback options coming out in the NFL Draft while Cousins looks for a change of scenery.
Dallas is perfectly fine with Dak Prescott, although he had a subpar outing against Washington’s defense on Sunday. He is still a key reason why the Cowboys have won as many games as they have since he took over, though, along with Elliott.
The Chase For No. 1 (Draft Pick)
The NFL season hit the midway point for two teams still in search of their first win of the season. The Cleveland Browns even traveled across the Atlantic Ocean in search of a win, but came away empty-handed yet again. The Browns helped get our NFL Sunday underway with yet another game played in London, matched up against the Minnesota Vikings. The Browns even had a lead at halftime, with a 13-12 advantage, but the Vikings got things going in the second half and put the Browns away, 33-16. It was another rough outing for DeShone Kizer at quarterback with 18-of-34 for 179 yards without a score, although he did run for a touchdown.
While the Browns fell to 0-8, the Vikings remain atop the NFC North with a record of 6-2 and are somehow still looking like the team to beat in the division.
Back home in the states, the San Francisco 49ers also had a long road trip that ended with a loss to fall to 0-8. The 49ers had the misfortune of playing an early afternoon game in the rain against the team with the best record in the NFL, the Philadelphia Eagles. Although the Eagles took some time to get going, a strong finish to the first half led the way to the Eagles doing what really good teams do to struggling teams and sent the 49ers home with a 33-10 loss. Carson Wentz (who the Browns didn’t feel was a top 20 quarterback) didn’t have a particularly sharp game, but the weather conditions may have affected things a bit. And the Eagles have the talent right now to overcome those weather issues. The 49ers do not.
So another week in the NFL goes by and the Browns and 49ers are still without a win.
Bills 34, Raiders 14: Don’t look now, but the Buffalo Bills are doing the opposite of tanking. How is this possible? How do they keep winning games? Having LeSean McCoy go for 151 yards and a touchdown certainly helps, but so does having a defense holding six of their seven opponents to 20 points or fewer this season. Next up is a road game against the Jets this Thursday. A win will move the Bills into a tie for first place in the division with New England.
— Buffalo Bills PR (@BuffaloBillsPR) October 29, 2017
— Dion Dawkins (@DDawkins66) October 30, 2017
Bengals 24, Colts 23: If the Colts keep dropping games and the reports continuing to suggest the possibility of Andrew Luck not playing this year carry any water, then we’ll be throwing Indianapolis in the Chase for the No. 1 Draft pick section. Andy Dalton had a pair of touchdowns on his birthday, but the Bengals ended up winning this one on a pick-six by Carlos Dunlap midway through the fourth quarter.
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) October 29, 2017
The Bengals may have won, but the frustration level continues to rise for Ohio’s other NFL franchise always ripe for disappointment.
— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonCMG) October 29, 2017
Steelers 20, Lions 15: JuJu Smith-Schuster’s 193 receiving yards was boosted by a 97-yard touchdown to help lift the Steelers to a hard-fought 20-15 victory on Sunday night in Detroit. And then, at the end of the game, some actual fighting happened.
Nothing like big linemen throwing punches at the other dude’s helmet. https://t.co/IamJYrHUGt
— Kevin McGuire (@KevinOnCFB) October 30, 2017
Matthew Stafford passed for 423 yards but no touchdowns. Lions kicker Matt Prater was responsible for all 15 points with five field goals. The Lions were 2-for-12 on third down and a big old 0-for-5 inside the red zone. This is one which could very easily come back to haunt the Lions.
Patriots 21, Chargers 13: Melvin Gordon gave the Chargers an early lead with a long touchdown run, but Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski soon restored order and the Patriots special teams benefited from Travis Benjamin having one of the worst punt returns you may ever see.
Travis Benjamin just had one of the worst punt returns in NFL history. pic.twitter.com/T3HY87U6R1
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) October 29, 2017
This was another solid showing by the New England defense, which had been abysmal at the start of the season. Have the Patriots sorted through their issues on defense? If so, the Patriots could be gearing up for another Super Bowl run.
Falcons 25, Jets 20: It wasn’t so long ago that the Jets had a winning record, but on Sunday they lost their third-straight game by a single possession. Kicker Chandler Catanzaro missed two kicks in the rain, costing the Jets a win. The Jets even won the turnover battle, but could not come up with the plays needed to find a way back to the win column. The Falcons lost running back Devonta Freeman to a shoulder injury that will be monitored, but the Falcons were just happy to snap their own three-game skid. At 4-3, the Falcons are still in a wide-open division with the Saints and Panthers.
Saints 20, Bears 12: Drew Brees joined the 6,000-completion club in a win against the Chicago Bears, joining Brett Favre and Peyton Manning in the exclusive club of NFL passers. He also guided the Saints to their fifth straight win to bounce back from a 0-2 start. It was a nice luxury to have a proven vet and future Hall of Famer like Brees, because the Bears had a rough outing from their top draft pick, Mitch Trubisky (remember, the Bears also picked Trubisky over Deshaun Watson). Trubisky was 14-of-32 for 164 yards with some good moments, but his lone interception came late in the game to help New Orleans seal the win.
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) October 29, 2017
Panthers 17, Buccaneers 3: The Panthers defense once again played a great game. Jameis Winston was picked off twice and the Panthers sacked him three times in the game while also holding the Bucs to 2-of-12 on third down. Neither quarterback, Winston or Cam Newton, had a great day throwing the football, but Newton was able to provide enough of an offensive spark with his feet too.
All your rowdy friends are coming over tonight
The Week 8 schedule wraps up tonight with an AFC West showdown between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos. The Chiefs have struggled of late, but still look like the more complete team right now compared to the Broncos and their quarterback issues. I have 11 confidence points on the Chiefs tonight, and you probably should too.