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Thoughts On The NFL: Week 8

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What stood out around the NFL after Week 8

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee vs. Jacksonville

Demarco Murray is the workhorse for the Titans. As long as he’s going the Titans are in games. In fact, the Titans have not lost a game by more than 9 points this season. It helps when Marcus Mariota is playing mistake free football. The young QB had one of his better games of the season against the struggling Jaguars. Perhaps one of Mariota’s most impressive plays came as a blocker. Mariota took out a defender who was getting in position to tackle Demarco Murray.

Blake Bortles statistically had his best game of the season but a lot of production came in garbage time. I really don’t understand the Jaguars. They barely ran the ball. Bortles was the leading rusher with 4 attempts. Why go and get Chris Ivory in free agency? Why draft TJ Yeldon? There is absolutely no balance to their offense and with how out of sync and unprepared Bortles has looked even with a 33/54, 337 yard, 3 TD performance the Jags are going to likely lose more games as their secondary has struggled all season. The Jags ended up firing their OC on Saturday but I’m not sure it will make much difference.

Washington vs. Cincinnati

The Redskins sure came out hot. They scored on what seems like a rare opening possession drive. Then it went downhill. The Redskins defense was largely competent in coverage but struggled to contain the run. Giovanni Bernard ripped off chunks against us. Josh Norman sure can cover but I wish he had better hands. That dude would have at least 4 extra interceptions by now. The Bengals hit back and vulnerabilities in the coverage defense were exposed. A Tyler Eifert TD here, an AJ Green catch there it all adds up. Plus the penalties and no calls this game were horrendous. There is just something about this team the offensive statistics are there but it sure as hell is not being translated on the scoreboard. The Redskins found themselves in another last drive 4th quarter finish and were able to get the FG to tie the game and go to overtime. There was so much back and forth and quite frankly so much wasted opportunity by both teams to win the game that it deserved to end in a shameful tie.

Seattle vs. New Orleans

Seattle’s defense continues to force turnovers and that happened early when they scored on a fumble six. Tanner McEvoy is one rookie who somewhat quietly has been making splash contributions on offense. I briefly considered writing a profile on McEvoy during this past draft season. He played QB, WR, and then S at Wisconsin. I decided against it because I thought he just didn't have enough talent at the safety position. The Seattle front office has a lot more creativity than I do. McEvoy is an athlete and this season Seattle has had him return kicks, catch the ball, and throw the ball. He’s not an every-down player but it’s clear they view him as a strategical weapon on offense.

I really enjoy watching Drew Brees play. No matter how terrible the Saints are overall he provides great entertainment with his level of skill throwing the ball. It’s no easy task picking apart the Seattle secondary but Brees did with relative ease and in a matchup essentially where the winner was the best one throwing the football. Russell Wilson is not himself this year much less near Drew Brees’ level quite yet.

Oakland vs. Tampa Bay

The next tier of elite NFL QBs has yet to be solidified but I’m willing to throw Derek Carr’s name in there with that group. Carr had an unbelievable day throwing for over 500 yards (yep 500) and 4 TDs. His performance was outright dominant. Believe it or not, it was one of the best games to watch this week. Jamies Winston was also excellent this game. These two teams traded blows and both were unbelievable offensively. It was settled in overtime on a great catch and throw from Carr to Seth Roberts. You guys have to check out the highlights of this one if you haven't already.

Cleveland vs. New York (Jets)

Every time I have to write about Cleveland I die a little. Nothing is working for these guys. Josh McCown is back under center and he played well actually. There is just an overall lack of chemistry on the Browns squad. They haven’t had their team play in harmony all season. The Jets just forced too many takeaways for the Browns to recover. The Browns also have no run defense (something we should know about) and the Jets ran on them all game. It will be interesting what will happen to both head coaches in the offseason. Hugh Jackson needs to completely overhaul the team which one could argue he’s tried to do already but regardless he needs more time. Todd Bowles needs to do something similar but on offense.

Green Bay vs. Atlanta

When Kyle Shanahan figured out how to use both Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman it really propelled Atlanta’s offense. When Eddie Lacy and James Starks weren't as effective and went out with injuries Green Bay’s offense sputtered (also due to a struggling Aaron Rodgers). Despite not having a real running game to support him Aaron Rodgers still put up and excellent showing against Atlanta. It wasn’t enough. Green Bay is going to have to find an answer for that lack of production on the ground and lack of balance unless they may not even be in wildcard contention when the season ends. Atlanta on the other hand has a solid lead in their division.

San Diego vs. Denver

In case anyone forgot T.J. Ward proved he is still one of the best all-around safeties in the league. Ward lead the Broncos in tackles on the day and had a sack and interception. The entire Bronco defense stepped up and largely contained Phillip Rivers . The Chargers are a team that should probably have about 3 more wins if they hadn’t blown their 4th quarter leads. Despite the team’s current struggles, they should be encouraged by what Melvin Gordon has shown. He put together another solid day on the ground with over 100 yards rushing.

Houston vs. Detroit

Here is where I get annoyed. Let’s put any given Sunday + Water Under the Bridge cliches aside. If Houston can beat Detroit it’s a damn shame we didn't capitalize on that opportunity. Brock Osweiler was pretty bad. That dude who started a petition to buy out Osweiler's contract isn’t completely crazy . The Texans got by on their run game capitalizing on a weak Detroit defense and a down week from Matt Stafford.

Indianapolis vs. Kansas City

Whoever let Alex Smith back onto the field after his first concussion should be fired. Whoever called that read option play that got Alex Smith concussed again should be fired. I don’t have anything invested in the Chiefs but when I saw Smith go down again I got so angry. The NFL is supposed to have these new rules and protocols to prevent this very issue. In Smith’s absence, Nick Foles came in and filled in pretty well. Jason Kelce is definitely a top 5 TE in the NFL, he simply can go up and get it. The Chiefs actually have a nice WR core in Jeremy Maclin, Tyreek Hill, and Chris Conley. Hill had another good day and has a gift for creating separation for being a smaller receiver.

The Chiefs defense smothered Frank Gore. More specifically Dee Ford crushed Andrew Luck. It’s a shame that management there has missed on so many draft picks and failed to build an adequate defense to support the offense. Ryan Grigson has all but blamed Luck’s contract extension for the lack of talent on the other side of the ball. It’s not a good look and the more Luck obviously tries to carry this team on his back and fails, the more obvious it becomes that the front office didn’t do its job.

New England vs. Buffalo

Buffalo looked competitive for the first half then it quickly unraveled in the Patriots favor. Tom Brady predictably picked apart the Buffalo secondary all game long but it really got bad as he started picking on them with his pal Rob Gronkowski. Despite the loss, the most impressive player of this game was Mike Gillislee. That kid filled in admirably for Shady McCoy who is nursing a hamstring injury. I gotta praise the Bills o-line too at least in the run blocking department. They moved defenders out of the way for Gillislee to rip off a couple nice runs.

Arizona vs. Carolina

Perhaps for the first time this year the Panthers looked like the team they were last year. Cam Newton made several nice throws (and runs) on the day. Perhaps his most impressive was an absolute strike to Kelvin Benjamin while he was surrounded by pressure. The Panthers have to be ecstatic that Johnathan Stewart found his old form as well.

Carson Palmer tried to lead a comeback tossing three TD’s (two to Jaron Brown one to John Brown) but Palmer made two many mistakes this game for those scores to overcome that. I’m pretty sure I called David Johnson a star already but I want to reiterate that right now. He is one of the best RB’s in football. That guy runs with so much power speed and agility. The way he made some Panthers defended miss way worth of this gif.

Johnson if definitely one of Arizona’s core building blocks they need to hold onto whenever Palmer decides to call it quits.

Dallas vs. Philadelphia

The battle for my hatred ended with a Cowboys OT win. Was I supposed to root for the Eagles? Cause I hate them. They blew it. Outside of the game-winning toss from Prescott to Witten (which I guess was impressive) the play of the game was the fake punt run by Dallas. The Eagles got GOT and Dallas chugs along. Did I say I hate them both?

Minnesota vs. Chicago

I am shocked. Sam Bradford was not good (surprised?) and the Vikings defense got ran over by a rookie (actually surprised). Last week, rookie Leonard Floyd had his coming out party. This week, rookie Jordan Howard had his. My goodness is was impressive to watch him run all over the Vikings. There were times Howard broke tackles and kept chugging that it looked like he was back at Indiana running over college opponents. Jay Cutler is back and the Chicago offense as a whole looks a lot more well rounded with him at the helm. I don’t suspect Cutler will be back next season but he is by far their best option currently.