Oct 27 2016

NFL 2016 Week 8 Gameplan

I’m in the Pacific Northwest covering the NBA (check out the 2016-2017 NBA Lightweight Report!!!), but I can depart from that venture for an hour or two and give you the goods for Week 8 in the NFL.

Now, Week 7 was a strong one overall for the Gameplan: I went 11-3-1. But that one! A tie! Ye Gods. First, let’s get to the games I got wrong that had actual winners:

– The Eagles came back home and got their first win in four weeks, beating the Vikings 21-10. No more undefeated squads! Philadelphia’s pass rush got the job done in this one, giving former Eagles QB Sam Bradford a rude welcoming back with six sacks and 13 QB hits. Bradford also had his first three giveaways of the season.

– The Chargers were on the other side of a comeback this week, going to Atlanta and defeating the Falcons 33-30 in overtime. The Falcons had a 27-10 1st half lead and a 30-20 4th quarter lead, but San Diego WR Tyrell Williams had a career-high 140 receiving yards and Falcons head coach Dan Quinn’s decision to go for it on 4th down in his own territory in overtime backfired.

– Miami RB Jay Ajayi had 49 rushes for 187 yards (3.8 avg) and a TD in 9 games as a rookie last season. In his last two games this season, he has 54 rushes for 418 yards (7.7 avg) and 3 TD! Ajayi gained another career-high 214 yards in a 28-25 win against the Bills, becoming the 4th player ever to rush for 200+ yards in back-to-back games.

– The tie. The deadlock between the Seahawks and Cardinals benefits Seattle more than Arizona, as it keeps the Cardinals at .500 while the Seahawks retain their division lead. But the Cardinals left several points on the field before K Chandler Catanzaro doinked a 24-yard FG in OT. And Seattle’s defense was on the field for 95 snaps in a game that lasted 3 hours and 41 minutes. And basically ended with Seattle K Stephen Hauschka sending a 28-yard game-winning FG wide left in OT. Safe travels east to both of those teams for 10am PT starts Sunday.

Six teams on byes! I forgot to mention that the 2015 Broncos had their bye in Week 7. Bye Week 8 still has the most Super Bowl champions with 5:

  • The Dolphins are 3-4 for the second straight season. This time last year, they were coached by Powerthirst Dan Campbell. Now, rookie head coach Adam Gase has his offensive line together and is running the ball. All of that gives frustrating 5th-year QB Ryan Tannehill a cover to hide under for once. Now, let’s see if Miami can start defending the run better – they’re 30th in rush yards allowed per game.
  • The Ravens last started 3-4 in 2013. You may remember that year as the one in which QB Joe Flacco got paid after being named Super Bowl XLVII MVP. Flacco has already thrown 308 passes this season, but has only 5 TDs to show for it. I can’t stand this team. They’ve already changed offensive coordinators, yet they’re coming off a loss in New York where Flacco dropped back 45 times (with no TD, of course) and Baltimore ran it only 12 times for 6 yards. Flacco’s 1.6 TD% would be the 5th-lowest figure ever for any passer with at least 300 attempts – and the lowest since 1995, when Trent Dilfer had 4 TD and 18 INT in 418 attempts for a 7-9 Buccaneers team.
  • The Steelers are 4-3 for the third straight season. Every year with this team, man. The good thing for the Steelers is that the AFC North is at it’s absolute worse at this point of the season, so Pittsburgh can do less than usual and still win the division. The offense isn’t at “best in the NFL” status 1 but it is a top-10 unit with two of the league’s best in RB Le’Veon Bell and WR Antonio Brown. And QB Ben Roethlisberger, if/when he gets healthy.
  • The Giants have more issues to deal with, like deciding priorities between WR Odell Beckham Jr. being a “distraction” and handling discipline for a domestic abusive K appropriately. At least they’re 4-3. Then again, they were 4-3 last season too, and the division was much weaker. You see how that ended. New York is allowing a 77.5 passer rating this season, which ranks 5th-best and bodes well for them if they can sustain it.
  • Los Angeles has a fresh QB controversy for their bye week, with Case Keenum coming off a 4-INT game in London. Head coach Jeff Fisher has been 3-4 3 of 5 seasons with the Rams, which should surprise no one. In reality though, 1st overall pick Jared Goff isn’t rescuing an offense that ranks 30th overall and 29th in rushing. And that 4-game streak of 125-yard rushing games that RB Todd Gurley had last year seems like forever ago with Gurley averaging 3.0 yards a carry.
  • None of these teams on bye have issues like the 49ers though, who are 1-6 for the first time since 2010, when Mike Singletary was replaced at head coach by Jim Tomsula for the last game of that season. Chip Kelly had to know what he was signing up for. As expected, QB Colin Kaepernick isn’t rescuing the worst offense in the league – he’s arguably been worse than QB Blaine Gabbert was. The only question is how does GM Trent Baalke return in 2017?

Marvin Lewis spent the 2002 season as Washington’s defensive coordinator, and he has a chance to go 4-0 against his old team in London Sunday. The last time Washington beat the Bengals was in 1991 – a season that saw them have a Week 8 bye and a Super Bowl win. Washington won’t be on a bye until next week, I don’t think they’ll win the Super Bowl, and I also don’t have them beating the Bengals in Wembley Stadium:

Jacksonville at Tennessee: I wish people stop having such a bad attitude about this game! The Jaguars haven’t made the playoffs since 2007, the Titans haven’t made the playoffs since 2008, and neither team will be over .500 no matter what happens tonight. But it’s still a pivotal game in a division that currently has the worst QB as the only team with a winning record. 2 Jacksonville needs to find a way to get QB Blake Bortles going earlier – he struggles mightily with his accuracy and awareness, but Tennessee’s secondary is a good elixir if the Jaguars can pass block. And on the other side of the ball, it’s time for Jacksonville CB Jalen Ramsey to make a play on the field – he’s quickly getting notorious for his extracurriculars, so he should be backing it up against a group of Tennessee WRs who scare nobody.

New England at Buffalo: The Patriots have one loss this season – at home, vs. Buffalo, with injured rookie QB Jacoby Brissett failing to lead New England to any points. New England head coach Bill Belichick hasn’t been swept in the division since the Jets and Dolphins got him in 2000, and the Bills haven’t swept the Patriots since 1999, when Pete Carroll was New England’s head coach. The tables have also turned on the Bills, as RB LeSean McCoy is dealing with a hamstring injury, while Patriots QB Tom Brady steps into the lineup. Buffalo allowed Jay Ajayi to go off last week, and Patriots RB LeGarrette Blount already has a career-high and league-leading 8 TD runs to go with a career-high 80.9 rush yards per game. An X-Factor for the Bills is the impact of NT Marcell Dareus, who is set to make his 2016 debut after missing the first seven games due to suspension/injury.

Philadelphia at Dallas: The road team has won the last six in this matchup. Dallas has the logistics advantage coming off a bye week and getting healthier. 3 The Eagles dominated a Minnesota offensive line to the point of submission in Week 7, but it’s a tall task to expect that level of play against a Dallas offensive line that is top-10 in sack percentage, top-5 in rush yards per play, and tops overall in rushing yards per game. This is also a matchup of two rookie passers in the same division in Philadelphia QB Carson Wentz and Dallas QB Dak Prescott, marking the first Cowboys-Eagles game that featured two rookie starters at QB. Philadelphia’s backs and receivers have to help their rookie out on the road.

Minnesota at Chicago: How did Chicago get two home Monday Night Football games?!?!?! This is the last game of October, and I bet we’ll get more tricks than treat this Halloween. The Vikings are smarting from a loss coming out of their bye, and they’re banged up, but at least they know they can win. Chicago is only starting QB Jay Cutler (thumb) because QB Brian Hoyer broke his arm on Thursday Night Football. Cutler is an aggressive thrower who should target WR Alshon Jeffery relentlessly, but Minnesota’s defense is just as aggressive, and there shall be a cacophonous parade of offensive errors in this one.

The last time the Bills swept the Patriots was in 1999 - which is also the last time the Bills made the playoffs. (Mark E. Johnson/AFP/Getty Images)

The last time the Bills swept the Patriots was in 1999 – which is also the last time the Bills made the playoffs. (Mark E. Johnson/AFP/Getty Images)

Show 3 footnotes

  1. So much hype around that this offseason, as if Pittsburgh was actually going to be consistent and healthy enough to realize it 
  2. Bro. Houston QB Brock Osweiler already has 3 games this season with at least 40 pass attempts and under 200 yards. That’s as many as Peyton Manning had his whole career. Free Nuk!
  3. Read: Dez Bryant

1 ping

  1. NFL 2016 Week 9 Gameplan »

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