Monday, October 31, 2016

NFL 2016-17 Week 8 Review

(Thursday Night) Tennessee 36, Jacksonville 22 - Not much of a game here, as it was not as close as the score would indicate. The Titans predictably won, and the Jaguars were not even able to keep it close. Marcus Mariota had a very solid game, as he continues to develop into one of the NFL's better quarterbacks. Jacksonville's defense just had no answer for him, and the Jaguars also could not really produce anything on offense, either. Just one of those lopsided affairs, and the Jaguars often seem to be on the wrong side of those. In the meantime, Tennessee has looked hot for several weeks now, and are looking like they might be positioning themselves to make a playoff run. Who would have expected that?

(London) Washington 27, Cincinnati 27 (F/OT) - It is getting so that we are getting so used to these London games, forgetting that they used to be extremely rare and a really big deal! Now, there seem to be stretches where there are some several weeks in a row. And low and behold, what do we get in this game? Another tie! Yes, for the second straight week, we have an NFL contest end in a tie, which usually is actually a quite rare thing in American football. Scoring is not as rare as it is in the other football, nor is it as rare as it usually is in hockey. Yet, somehow, Washington and Cincinnati battled their way to overtime and, eventually, to a tie. 

New Orleans 25, Seattle 20 - Early on, the Seahawks looked like their usual, impressive selves, and ran off to a 14-3 lead early. At that point in the game, it looked very possible that they were well on their way to a convincing road victory to raise their record to 5-1-1/ However, the Saints came storming back to make it 14-13 by halftime. The Saints defense toughened up after the initial letdown, holding Seattle to a pedestrian two field goals after allowing that 14-3 lead early, and Drew Brees orchestrated his offense solidly, completing 27 of 35 for 265 yards and one touchdown. Seattle falls to 4-2-1, although they remain comfortable ahead in the NFC West, while the Saints still stay alive in the NFC South with this victory, improving their record to 3-4 on the year. 

Houston 20, Detroit 13 - Brock Osweiler rebounded from his embarrassing performance in Denver to put up more solid numbers this week, completing 20 of 29 passes for 186 yards and a touchdown. Not a spectacular display of fireworks, or anything, but good enough. Houston dominated the second quarter, taking control of the game. Even though Detroit fought back, particularly in the fourth quarter, they ultimately fell just short of pulling off the comeback. So far, the Texans are a team of extreme contrasts. They are winless on the road, but are undefeated in home games. as they stay atop the weak AFC South. For the Lions, this disappointing loss keeps them in third place in the NFC North.

Kansas City 30, Indianapolis 14 - The Chiefs have played well this season, and they continued to do so in Indianapolis against the struggling Colts. Nick Foles completed 16 of 22 passes for 223 yards and two touchdowns, while Andrew Luck completed 19 of 35 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns in a losing cause for the Colts. This win allows KC to stay on the heels of Oakland and Denver in the AFC West race. Meanwhile, the loss places Indianapolis now two games behind Houston, and a game behind Tennessee in the AFC South, while they just nudge over the last place Jacksonville Jaguars. 

Carolina 30, Arizona 20 - So much for the revenge factor favoring the Cardinals, huh? Arizona got pummeled yet again in Carolina, falling behind badly early, as the Panthers finally showed their old form from last season once again, racing out to a 24-7 lead, and then managing to hang on as the Cardinals rallied, but ultimately fell well short of completing any kind of a serious comeback. Cam Newton completed 14 of 27 passes for 212 yards, although he added 43 yards on seven carries on the ground. Statistically, Carson Palmer had a good day for Arizona, completing 35 of 46 passes for 363 yards and three touchdowns, although most of that came when the Cardinals were fighting the uphill battle of getting back into this game, which they never fully did. The win ends a long losing streak of four games for the Panthers, and allows them to at least entertain some hopes for a comeback to make a postseason bid this season, while the loss for the Cardinals keeps them a game and a half behind Seattle in the NFC West, and prevents them from obtaining a winning record. 

NY Jets 31, Cleveland 28 - For a while there, it really looked like Cleveland was well on their way to victory, as they put themselves up 20-7, and in position to finally noth their first win of the season. Then  the Jets started pushing back, and the Browns allowed 24 straight points that almost went unanswered, until Cleveland managed, finally, to score a touchdown in the final seconds of the game, when it was already too late. Despite the scare, the Jets have recovered some from that dismal 1-5 start, getting a nice recovery for a good road win, as they continue to close in on Miami and Buffalo in the AFC East. The Browns, in the meantime, fall yet again, as they go to 0-8, meaning that exactly half their season is done, and still not a single win have they earned. Well, at least they have the Cavaliers in basketball and the Indians in baseball, right? 

New England 41, Buffalo 25 - I remember someone holding a sign during the greatest comeback in NFL history in Buffalo back in January of 1993 that read "Revenge is Best Served Cold." Well, the Patriots avenged their earlier season loss (so far, their only loss) by shutout, at home in Foxboro to the Buffalo Bills. This time around, with normal starting quarterback Tom Brady back, they left no doubt whatsoever who is the better team. The Patriots scored and scored and scored, with Brady throwing five touchdown passes, and the Bills simply being overwhelmed, as they were handed their second straight divisional loss in a row. The vaunted defense has now allowed over 70 points in the last two weeks, and got exposed both on the ground and in the air. They also missed an opportunity that they had to seriously challenge New England, as this loss throws them back fully three games behind New England, who now seem in a position to coast the rest of the way towards yet another division title. 

Oakland 30, Tampa Bay 24 (OT) - Derek Carr has been solid at quarterback for the Oakland Raiders, but on this day, he was just off the charts good. Carr threw 40 of 59 passes for 513 yards and four touchdowns, including a 41-yard touchdown pass to Seth Roberts on what wound up being the game's final with 1:45 left to power the Raiders past the Buccaneers. It had been a back and forth kind of game to that point, although Oakland manages to come away with the victory to keep pace with the Broncos in the AFC West. Tampa Bay, in the meantime, drops to 3-4, falling farther behind Atlanta in the NFC South. 

Denver 27, San Diego 19 - Two weeks ago, the Chargers got back on track for the season with an upset victory over Denver on Sunday Night Football. This week, however, they might have seen their chances of the playoffs go out the window, and certainly their hopes at least took a hit, with a close but no cigar loss to the defending Super Bowl champions. Denver's rookie quarterback, Trevor Siemian, completed 20 of 38 passes for 276 yards, while Phillip Rivers went 20 of 47 for 267 yards and two touchdowns in a losing effort for San Diego. The Broncos defense was opportunistic again, capitalizing on turnovers and giving the Denver offense some scoring opportunities. Melvin Gordon had an impressive day, as he picked up 111 yards on 23 carries for San Diego. The Broncos remained in a first place tie with the Raiders in the AFC West, with both teams just half a game over the Chiefs, while this loss puts San Diego three games behind in the AFC West. 

Atlanta 33, Green Bay 32 - Both quarterbacks had spectacular days in this back and forth shootout. Aaron Rodgers had perhaps his best statistical game of the season, completing 28 passes in 38 attempts for 246 yards and 4 touchdowns. Rodgers also ran the ball six times, picking up 60 yards, and leading his team in rushing yards. Matt Ryan also had himself an incredible day at the helm for the Falcons, completing 28 of 35 passes for 288 yards and three touchdowns. Green Bay had a very solid second quarter, and threatened to run away with it, or at least to have control over it. However, they were only able to score a total of 8 points in the second half, allowing the Falcons to edge them out. Atlanta stays atop the NFC South by raising their record to 5-3, while Green Bay falls to 4-3. 

Dallas 29, Philadelphia 23 (OT) - The Eagles played well, and seemed serious about wanting to close the gap in the NFC East, rather than allowing the 'Boys to expand on it. But Dak Prescott and Dallas just keep finding ways to win, as Prescott found Jason Witten in overtime for a 5-yard touchdown pass to clinch the win. Overall, Prescott completed 19 of 39 passes for 287 yards and two touchdowns. He also showed some explosiveness with his ground game and speed, at times when pressed to do so, picking up 38 yards on 7 carries, including one touchdown. The Cowboys had to overcome a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter, but they forced a Philly turnover and, later, with just 3:04 remaining, Prescott found Dez Bryant for the tying touchdown that forced it into overtime. Carson Wentz had a good day in a losing cause for the Eagles, completing 32 of 43 passes for 202 yards and a touchdown, although it was not enough to get his team past red-hot Dallas on this day. Ezekiel Elliot also had solid production in the run game for Big-D, as he picked up 96 yards on 22 carries. The Cowboys have now won six straight games, the longest active winning streak in the league, and with the win, they opened a two game lead over the rest of the NFC East. 

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