The potential end of one season in Northern California. Continued domination back east with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Meanwhile, Philip Rivers and the Colts look like the real deal in the AFC South. These were the backdrops during Sunday’s Week 8 NFL action.
In between, the Los Angeles Rams struggled against a rookie quarterback making his starting debut. A dynasty could also be on the brink of ending in New England.
Here’s a look at the top takeaways from Sunday’s Week 8 NFL action, just a few days before the trade deadline.
The Los Angeles Rams are pretenders, not avengers
We saw it in the first half of Sunday’s Week 8 game against the Miami Dolphins. Despite Aaron Donald setting up a Rams game-opening touchdown with a strip-sack of Tua Tagovailoa, Los Angeles was completely outplayed in South Beach. In fact, the Dolphins had more points (28) than net passing yards (26) in the first two quarters en route to taking a huge 25-point halftime lead.
When all was said and done in Miami, the Rams lost by the score of 28-17. Jared Goff was downright disastrous under center, throwing two interceptions and losing two fumbles. Now 5-3 on the season, all of the Rams’ wins have come against either NFC East teams or a pretender in that of the Chicago Bears. This is the worst team in the NFC West despite its winning record. Take that to the bank and run with it.
Indianapolis Colts look like a problem
A lot of the talk in the AFC South this season has surrounded MVP candidate Ryan Tannehill and the Tennessee Titans. For good reason. Prior to their narrow Week 7 loss to the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers, the Titans looked like the real deal. Now, about a halfway through the 2020 NFL season following Sunday’s action, that might not be the case.
As Tennessee was losing to a one-win Bengals squad, Indianapolis came to play big-time against a red-hot Detroit Lions squad. Already boasting one of the top defenses in the NFL, the Colts finally saw borderline future Hall of Fame quarterback Philip Rivers break out.
In what seemed to be his first great game as a member of the Colts, Rivers completed 23-of-33 passes for 262 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Meanwhile, the Colts’ stout defense held Detroit’s rushing attack to 29 yards on 13 attempts in a 41-21 win. Now at 5-2 on the season, Frank Reich’s squad looks like the real deal.
Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense is championship caliber
Now at 7-0 following their 28-24 win over the division rival Baltimore Ravens in Week 8, it’s rather clear that Pittsburgh is the biggest threat to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC. However, it’s not as much about Ben Roethlisberger and the team’s offense. It’s more about the other side of the ball.
That came out in droves against reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson on Sunday. Including a pick-six early, the Steel Curtain 2.0 was all over the mobile Jackson. Having already racked up 26 sacks in six games, Pittsburgh picked up four more on Jackson. The likes of T.J. Watt, Cam Heyward and Minkah Fitzpatrick are playing out of their minds. This has Pittsburgh as a legit Super Bowl contender at the unofficial midway point of the NFL season.
It’s time for the New England Patriots to sell at NFL trade deadline
Driving for a potential game-winning touchdown inside the Bills 20-yard line late Sunday afternoon, Cam Newton had the defining moment of his Patriots career. A comeback win would have moved New England to 3-4 and well within reach of Buffalo in the AFC East. It was not to be.
By virtue of holding the ball like a loaf of bread, Newton pretty much fumbled the Patriots’ season away. Buffalo would go on to take a knee and a 3.5-game lead on New England. For his part, the much-maligned quarterback has thrown zero touchdowns against five interceptions since returning from COVID-19.
At this point, the Patriots need to think long and hard about selling ahead of the NFL trade deadline. That includes guard Joe Thuney and fellow Pro Bowler, cornerback Stephon Gilmore. This team is going nowhere fast. It’s time to stop holding on to false hope.
Injuries, bad quarterback play lead to lost NFL season in San Francisco
The defending NFC champion 49ers entered Week 8’s contest against Seattle winners of two in a row and at 4-3 on the year. There was some hope that this injury-plagued squad might have turned the corner. Russell Wilson and Co. had other ideas. In a game that saw both Jimmy Garoppolo and George Kittle exit with injuries, Wilson threw four touchdowns. That was enough for the Seahawks to come out on top by double-digits.
With a short week ahead of their “Thursday Night Football” matchup against the Packers, these 49ers are in trouble. Garoppolo has been absolutely disastrous at times this year. He no longer looks like San Francisco’s quarterback of the future.
The backdrop here is real. Garoppolo, Kittle, Raheem Mostert, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Dee Ford, Kwon Alexander, Jordan Reed and Richard Sherman have all missed time to injuries this year. Nick Bosa is out for the year with a torn ACL. That’s six Pro Bowl performers. It’s hard to blame injuries for a team’s lack of success. But right now, these injuries are the story of the 49ers’ 2020 campaign. And after Thursday, it will likely end up being a lost season in Northern California.
Let’s talk about Joe Burrow
A lot of the focus following the Bengals’ win over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday was the lackluster performance from Tennessee. For good reason. Mike Vrabel’s squad entered the game with a 5-1 record and sitting pretty atop the AFC South. The backdrop here was a Bengals team that boasted a 1-5-1 record despite leading in the fourth quarter five times this season.
When all was said and done Sunday in Cincinnati, Joe Burrow outplayed NFL MVP candidate Ryan Tannehill. The rookie No. 1 pick completed 26-of-37 passes for 249 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions in the shocking 31-20 win. Burrow has had the Bengals competitive all season. However, the team had failed to get over the hump prior to Sunday.
From a pure statistical perspective, Burrow is on pace for what would be a rookie record 4,544 yards to go with 22 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. These are some absolutely tremendous numbers from the reigning Heisman winner. It also has us on the brink of talking about him a lot more despite the Bengals’ 2-5-1 record.
Has Patrick Mahomes reentered the NFL MVP conversation?
Let us preface this by saying that Kansas City was a near three-touchdown favorite over the hapless Jets on Sunday. Mahomes leading his Chiefs to a 35-9 win while throwing five touchdowns is not a surprise. However, there was not a lot of talk surrounding the reigning Super Bowl MVP earning his second regular-season NFL MVP award in three years.
We can now put that to rest. Through the first half of the Chiefs’ schedule, Mahomes is on pace for nearly 5,000 total yards with 46 total touchdowns and two interceptions. Yes, you read that right. He also has the Chiefs at 7-1 and averaging a robust 31.6 points per game. Sure the NFL MVP talk has surrounded Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers more. That’s fine. But Mahomes is now entering the chat.
Did Sunday change the NFL trade deadline?
There was a major elephant in the locker rooms of many teams around the NFL on Sunday. The league’s trade deadline is Tuesday. How certain teams might have performed during Sunday’s Week 8 action could be telling moving forward.
We previously focused on the New England Patriots. However, there’s other squads to look into. Will the Green Bay Packers attempt to find more help at receiver following an abysmal showing from their second-tier options? Could the San Francisco 49ers now go into full-scale sell-off mode ahead of Thursday’s game against the Packers.
In Indianapolis, the Colts might very well look to add a piece or two. The same thing can be said for the Buffalo Bills following a narrow win over the hapless Patriots.
Things certainly did change for these teams ahead of the NFL trade deadline. We now wait.