NFL Week 8: Recap & Power Rankings

Week 8 was an ugly one for my picks as I posted my first losing week since I started doing this, going 7-8 on straight picks. While I’m doing worse on those, I went 9-6 against the spread and 8-7 vs the over/under. Christen joined me in the 7-8 club this week and here’s a look at the updated standings.

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Harrison Butker came through with the game-winner

Wrapping things up on Monday Night Football, the Kansas City Chiefs kept their season afloat by narrowly beating the New York Giants. The Chiefs were bailed out by a number of critical penalties against the G-Men late in the 4th quarter and it gave them enough wiggle room to find the go-ahead field goal. Their much-maligned defense stepped up on the Giants’ final possession and came up with two timely sacks. Following the win, Kansas City made a deal with the Steelers to acquire LB Melvin Ingram III in exchange for a 6th round draft pick. It seems like a very strange move for Pittsburgh to make after vaulting back into contention with 3-straight wins, especially when KC is one of their primary rivals in the AFC, but Ingram just hasn’t been producing in their system.

Cooper Rush looked cool, calm, and collected in his first start.

Every now and then, a week pops up with a number of big surprises and we saw that culminate on Sunday Night Football. The Cowboys went into Minnesota without Dak Prescott under center and beat the Vikings, 20-16. Cooper Rush got his first career start for the Boys and massively outplayed expectations and Kirk Cousins, throwing for 325-yards and 2-TDs. It was a golden opportunity for Minny to get to .500, at home, with Dak out, but they continue to struggle to win as favorites. They are incredibly frustrating and I can’t imagine being a Vikings fan right now.

The Saints are 3-0 against Tom Brady’s Bucs during the regular season

In America’s Game of the Week on Sunday afternoon, another backup QB stepped. Trevor Siemian came in for an injured Jameis Winston (who left the game with a torn ACL) and led the Saints to a 36-27 over their division rival Buccaneers. Realistically, the Saints’ defense came up big down the stretch and a slew of suspicious flags were thrown against Tampa Bay. Tom Brady threw for 375-yards and 4-TDs but it was the 2-interceptions that wound up being pretty costly. One came at the end of the first half and the Saints turned that into a TD and the other was a pick-six that iced the game as the Bucs were trying to win the game inside the final two minutes. The win didn’t get New Orleans the division lead but it gave them leverage and confidence.

This one didn’t count, but Mike White was finding the end zone all day in his first start

Not to be outdone, earlier, during the morning slate of games, Mike White got his first career start for the New York Jets and won somebody $125K by leading the league in passing yards in Week 8. He threw for 405-yards, 3-TDs, and 2-INTs in his debut and engineered a strong second half to get the 34-31 victory. I’m not sure what was going on with the Bengals but they could never get the run going and they have been a bit over-confident heading into this one. However, this game also featured a very suspect flag for unnecessary roughness that bailed the Jets out of a 3rd & 11 at the two-minute warning. If anything, it was the Jets’ Ty Johnson who lowered his helmet to initiate contact but we all know the deal with NFL refs these days. Still, it was a huge win for the Jets and a loss that doesn’t speak highly of the Bengals.

The Jets’ win did the Bills a favor as Buffalo rebounded from a frustrating first half to beat the Dolphins 26-11. That win gets the Bills to 5-2 while the Fins fall to 1-7. Rounding out the week in the AFC East, the New England Patriots improved to 4-4 by knocking off the Los Angeles Chargers and dropping them to 4-3. It’s a huge road win for a young Pats team looking to find their identity with a rookie QB. Just two weeks ago, the Bolts were considered by many (including myself) to be one of the best teams in football but back-to-back losses have them looking more like pretenders than legit contenders. Mike Williams has disappeared from the offense and Justin Herbert’s production has plummeted as a result.

Bill Belichick still knows how to handle young QBs

The Chargers stumble opened the door for the Steelers to re-enter the conversation with a 15-10 win over the Browns. Pittsburgh climbed out of last in the AFC North with the W and opened the cellar Cleveland. Honestly, the Browns should have just let Case Keenum start again. Baker Mayfield may have been “healthy” enough to play but it wasn’t very convincing out there. I picked PIT as underdogs, so it’s fine with me but it’s not a good sign for CLE that I found it to be a fairly easy-money pick.

Nothing good could have come from this. Seriously…what is he doing?

Trying desperately to get a key division game back, the Colts blew a 14-0 lead and fell to the Titans 34-31 in overtime. Derrick Henry was injured and lost for basically the remainder of the season, which is a big loss for NFL football. Nonetheless, Indy got the ball down near their own goal line with a chance to win when Carson Wentz made one of the worst plays I’ve ever seen. That’s saying a lot considering the plays I’ve seen from him the last two seasons but, in fairness, he’s actually played pretty well despite those catastrophic plays. Hero-ball has been his enemy. Anyway, under pressure, rather than just killing the play, he decided to put the ball into his left hand heave it aimlessly. Elijah Molden intercepted the duck and took it in for the easy TD to put the Titans 31-24. Wentz did engineer a fantastic drive right after that to tie it up and force overtime but threw the costly pick again in OT.

Jimmy G likely saved his job with the road win

The most meaningful game beyond that was probably the Niners picking up a huge road win over the Bears to get to 3-4. Chicago was up 16-9 in the second half before San Francisco found another gear and scored on all their remaining drives. The Bears had a chance to tie the game after a TD early in the 4th quarter, but the missed extra point seemed to just suck all the air out of the stadium. They wouldn’t score again and the 49ers would win it 33-22.

The Rams jumped out to a 38-0 lead over the Texans and never looked back. Houston did score 22 4th-quarter points once LA went to their bench to close the game out. In another AFC South vs NFC West matchup, the Seahawks kept their season afloat with a 31-7 over the Jaguars. Seattle heads into the bye week at 3-5 with Russell Wilson potentially coming back in Week 10 after finger surgery.

Elsewhere in the basement, the Panthers ended a 4-game skid with a road win over the Falcons. Calvin Ridley stepped away from football for mental health reasons just prior to the game, but I wasn’t able to adjust my picks in time. The Broncos also halted their month-long losing streak with a home win over Washington. Both Denver and Carolina are 4-4 and seemed destined to follow each other’s trajectory for the season.

Last but not least, the Eagles continue to be one of the most puzzling teams in the league as they blew out the Lions 44-6. It was all defense and ground game as they ran for 236-yards and 4-TDs but, it was just my luck that Kenneth Gainwell didn’t get any of that after taking over for Miles Sanders as the “lead” back. Jared Goff was sacked 5-times and the absence of wide receivers is really making Detroit look like a floating garbage barge.

The Packers took over the top spot with their Thursday night win over the Cards and the Top-5 still belongs to the NFC. Here’s a look at the Power Rankings after Week 8.

1. Packers 7-1 (⬆5)
2. Rams 7-1 (=)
3. Cowboys 6-1 (⬆4)
4. Cardinals 7-1 (⬇1)
5. Buccaneers 6-2 (⬇3)
6. Titans 5-2 (=)
7. Bills 5-2 (⬆9)
8. Raiders 5-2 (⬆)
9. Saints 5-2 (⬆12)
10. Bengals 5-3 (⬇7)
11. Ravens 5-2 (⬇8)
12. Steelers 4-3 (⬆16)
13. Chargers 4-3 (⬇10)
14. Chiefs 4-4 (⬆15)
15. Browns 4-4 (⬇13)
16. Patriots 4-4 (⬆18)
17. Broncos 4-4 (⬆22)
18. Panthers 4-4 (⬆21)
19. Vikings 3-4 (⬇14)
20. Seahawks 3-5 (⬆23)
21. Colts 3-5 (⬇17)
22. 49ers 3-4 (⬆24)
23. Eagles 3-5 (⬆26)
24. Bears 3-5 (⬇19)
25. Falcons 3-4 (⬇20)
26. Jets 2-5 (⬆28)
27. Washington 2-6 (⬇25)
28. Giants 2-6 (⬇27)
29. Dolphins 1-7 (⬆30)
30. Jaguars 1-6 (⬇29)
31. Texans 1-7 (=)
32. Lions 0-8 (=)

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