Week 8 NFL reactions

Posted: November 3, 2020 in Uncategorized
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The Upsets

Cincinnati limited Tennessee’s top five-ranked scoring offense to just 20 points in a surprising win over Tennessee. Joe Burrow did a good job spreading the ball around between a young trio of Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, and Auden Tate. While legendary receiver A.J. Green has seen more usage in recent weeks, the Bengals offense doesn’t seem to need him to score points. This is not likely the Bengals’ year in a tough AFC North, Cincinnati’s defense showed some teeth and the team overall looks promising for 2021 and beyond. The Bengals get a rare win after Marvin Lewis’ departure.

The Vikings look like the Vikings again. In a defensive showout, Kirk Cousins threw the ball 14 times, which does not bode well for his long term future with Minnesota. Cousins has a lot of dead money tied up in his contract until the end of 2022. This performance demonstrated what Zimmer wants his Vikings to be, a grinding running offense and a defense to keep him in the game. Like Cincinnati, Minnesota’s not likely to go to the playoffs in 2020, but if they can win the bulk of their games for the second half of the season, Coach Mike Zimmer may very well keep his job.

The Raiders and Browns played a weather-impacted game of football with heavy winds. I assumed Cleveland would have the advantage with a healthy offensive line and being one of the most efficient rushing offenses in football when neither Baker or Derek Carr were able to push the ball downfield. I was wrong. Raiders’ defensive coordinator Paul Guenther may have saved his job by keying in on Cleveland’s rushing attack and limiting a Browns’ offense averaging 29 points a game to a WHOLE six points. The Raiders are still alive in a crowded AFC, and even have a coveted win over Kansas City.

Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins put the Rams to bed. While Tua’s numbers were ugly as sin, Miami’s scoring forced Jared Goff to throw 61 times, a deviation from where Sean McVay wants to be as a more run heavy offense. The Dolphins refuse to go away, extending their win streak to three. Miami is fielding one of the league’s top defense as Coach Brian Flores establishes himself as the Belichick acolyte who doesn’t try to copy the Patriot way, and the most successful one (RIP Bill O’Brien). The Rams Sean McVay has been among the league’s steadiest coaches, but a failure to make the playoffs again may put him on the hot seat to perform in ’21.

The Rise of Arizona

I was very critical of Arizona’s decision to hire Kliff Kingsbury as their next head coach. The young coach had failed to keep Texas Tech competitive in a softer college football conference and had just accepted a job as USC’s offensive coordinator. I compared the move to Oakland’s hiring of Lane Kiffin (thumbs down). At 5-2 with a QUALITY win over the Seahawks, the Cardinals look like the favorite in most if not all of their remaining games. Arizona is operating as a top ten team on both offense and defense and Murray’s elusiveness continues to give defenses fits. Never mind the Texans’ gift wrapped DeAndre Hopkins for free. The only weakness I see with Arizona is the lack of an obvious power run game, but that’s not slowed them down so far.

It HURTS to see

Eagles’ franchise passer Carson Wentz is having the worst season of his career. Even in games against awful Dallas or worst in the NFL Washington he’s putting up bad numbers. I wouldn’t venture to guess that Howie Roseman saw this coming, nor would I guess that Wentz is just DONE, as we’ve seen several seasons of high level play out of Wentz. Nevertheless, the drafting of Jalen Hurts gives Philly options should Wentz struggles persist into 2021. They still are on the hook for 70+ million dollars even if they did find a trade partner for Carson, but the Eagles have demonstrated they can be a bottom five NFL team and still win the NFC East, so having no cap space for a season wouldn’t even necessarily keep them out of the playoffs. Especially with Dallas actively working against themselves to be bad on purpose.

New England backing into a top 10 draft pick

The Patriots, even in their ‘down’ years have still been able to claim the AFC East crown for 19 out of the past 20 years. New England isn’t even likely to crack .500, never mind make the playoffs. Last NFL draft, I screamed and writhed in pain as Coach/GM/Dark Lord Belichick chose to not draft QBs Jordan Love or Jalen Hurts, and instead trade down to select safety Kyle Dugger. While Dugger is a fine safety, New England needs a Quarterback to at least give the club hope for the future. Belichick’s drafted 4-year juniors or seniors in the past (quarterbacks) who keep turnovers low, so Florida’s Kyle Trask, Miami’s D’Eriq King, or Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond may fit his profile. Patriots corner Stephon Gilmore has put his house up for sale, indicating Belichick may be looking to move him in the offseason. An additional first round pick may suggest Belichick wants to move up to draft Justin Fields or Trey Lance, or it may just be Belichick being Belichick accruing draft picks because that’s what he does. One criticism I have of Belichick is his lack of understanding for how important offense is. He’s had Brad who’s lifted his offensive castoffs year after year and Belichick’s been able to invest heavily in defense while still getting top offensive production from Tom. If he and Josh McDaniels don’t figure something out offensively in 2021, the ‘Belichick sucks’ crowd will have some fair criticism of his inability to win without the greatest quarterback of all time. I don’t feel that criticism is entirely fair, but the Patriots will have to show resilience in the face of a challenge they haven’t faced in 20 years.

I’ve started listening to this album on my drives home from work. I have a 45 minute-ish drive later in the night, and it helps me to get out of work-brain mode. Twisted Myths – Killigrew

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