Some thoughts from NFL Week #8:
(1) Steelers #1 – Pittsburgh widened it’s gap at the top spot at the NFL's best team. Back-to-back "game of the week" victories against quality opponents shows this team is for real. Excellent weapons, excellent defense and quality coaching. Meanwhile, defending champion Kansas City stays #2. with an easy win against the Jets, easily the NFL's worst team.
(2) The Adam Gase Unsolved Mystery – Here's the weekly which continuously begs the question....why does Jets head coach Adam Gase still have a job? His team, a 20-point underdog barely got off the plane, and failed to get in the end zone. It's incomprehensible that Gase is still standing on any NFL sideline.
(3) Patriots Go from Contender to Pretender – Oh, how the mighty have fallen. COVID-19 has wrecked the Patriots season. Since the outbreak in their locker room a few games into the season, they have gone from contender to pretender, suffering the most shocking fall from grace than anyone in the NFL. QB Cam Newton has looked bad in key moments of games, and cost his team a chance to tie Sunday against rival Buffalo with a late fumble.
(4) Speaking of Pretenders.... – This might shock a few readers, but the Saints remain the biggest farce, with the Bears a close second. A match-up between these two teams on Sunday showed us what two lousy football teams with winning records look like. New Orleans somehow wins ugly (check out each of their last three games, all last-minute wins against inferior teams). Nonetheless, these lousy football teams are likely to make the playoffs.
(5) Russell Wilson for MVP – Seattle was decimated with injuries coming into this week's game against NFC West rival San Francisco. The Seahwaks defense, already record-setting bad, was especially vulnerable. Many bettors had the 49ers plus the points for this reason. Yet, Seattle still laid a giant can of whoop-ass the reigning NFC champs. There's no doubt – with apologies to Patrick Mahomes and Ben Roethlisberger – Russell Wilson remains the easy MVP choice through the first half of the season.
(6) Ben DiNucci Starts for Cowboys? Who? -- I’m happy for this kid DiNucci getting his first NFL start (though Dallas failed to win or cover), but seriously – how can NFL outcast Colin Kaepernick not get a job someplace? Especially Dallas, where the Cowboys – rightly or wrongly – are still in the playoff hunt? I’m so tired of people saying team owners want to win first and play politics second. It’s a joke. Dallas can still win this division. Kaepernick would be way better than Little Ben, and probably at least as good, if not better, than injured Andy Dalton, who has looked awful.
(7) Chargers Running Out of Juice – Atlanta clearly has the most epic meltdown losses this season, but the Chargers are trying hard to match them. Stunning losses the past three weeks, losing three straight two-touchdown-plus leads (first time in NFL history). With the stunning loss to Denver on Sunday on the game's final play, that was a 21-point lead gone and another last-second loss to a lousy team. Chargers starting QB Justin Herbert has been great, Anthony Lynn (his coach), not so much.
(8) The Day of Upsets – There were upsets all day. The Vikings went into Green Bay and Dalvin Cook still hasn’t been tackled in a dominating victory versus the Packers. Miami switched to a rookie QB and easily bests a 5-2 Rams team that looked totally outmatched. Las Vegas Raiders traveled into windy Cleveland and smothered an overrated Browns offense, which is clearly lacking without WR Beckham. Lastly, the biggest upset of the day was the Titans laying an egg against young and feisty Cincy. All teams have bad weeks on occasion, especially on the road. An expectation of regression to the medium is also expected – but wow, this week shook every division.
(9) Dirty Football – Late hits, personal fouls, fighting, targeting, defenseless QBs and WRs getting injured are all on the uptick. Hitting has increased, and so have penalties and fines. Admittedly, there is a fine line between quality hitting and dirty play. I’d like to see them close to that line, but not cross it. Injuries may be the biggest story of the NFL, this season.
(10) AFC Dominates – The AFC has the best teams, perhaps holding the top four spots (Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Buffalo, and arguably Indianapolis or Tennessee). Seattle is a clear favourite to make the Super Bowl in the weak NFC. Nonetheless, I’m going to predict Tampa Bay not only wins the NFC South but also ends up in the Super Bowl. One more year of Brady magic on a very talented team might be just the recipe. I also believe Arizona could make a run. They have as much talent as anyone in the league and got the bye on the best week. in my opinion.
No doubt, the second half of the NFL season is going to be fascinating to watch, and bet on!
-- by Sammy Action