The final London game of the year, Fitzpatrick getting back into the game and the Rams march on. All in a weeks work for the NFL.
Texans 42 – 23 Dolphins
Whilst the scoreline was somewhat of a blowout, the first game of week eight was a good one with the Texans continuing to impress in the AFC South. With a strong running game supplied by Lamar Miller (133 yards off 18 carries and a touchdown), quarterback Watson only needed to throw the ball 20 times, completing 16 of them for 239 yards and five touchdowns. Bad news followed the game with Will Fuller’s injury confirmed as an ACL tear that will see him out for the rest of the season. Miami’s Brock Osweiler was mediocre with 241 yards and an interception. The Dolphins relied on a trick play with Amendola throwing their only passing TD of the game.
Panthers 36 – 21 Ravens
The top defense in the league couldn’t stop the high powered Carolina offense, led by Cam Newton who had 219 passing yards and a touchdown as well as 52 rushing yards and another touchdown. Flacco on the other hand suffered in this game, throwing two interceptions to give the Panthers great field positioning. Eric Reid has slotted into the Carolina defense perfectly, recording his first sack and being one of the teams top tacklers of the game for a second week.
Cardinals 18 – 15 49ers
49ers managed to throw another game away when the Cardinals came back to win this one, scoring 15 points in the fourth quarter. Larry Fitzgerald turned back the clock to record another 100+ yard receiving game as well as a touchdown. Josh Rosen is still suffering behind a bad offensive line, being hit seven times in total with three sacks and under constant pressure from the 49ers pass rush. Shanahan’s team will be learning a lot through the season, but this slump is going to take all his management know how to get over.
Eagles 24 – 17 Jaguars
The last game in London for the year and the Eagles took care of business against the Jaguars. The Jags started the game better, forcing Wentz to fumble and intercepting him in the end zone. But the Jags defense was woeful. Bortles didn’t turn the ball over but he struggled to find open receivers, reverting to running the ball often in a bid to keep the chains moving. The line in front of him wasn’t much use and new running back Carlos Hyde was pretty ineffective with only 11 yards off 6 carries. Whilst the win rejuvenates this Eagles teams season, the loss will only hurt the Jags chances further of going to the playoffs.
Bears 24 – 10 Jets
Despite another beautiful touchdown pass from Sam Darnold, this was a quiet game for the rookie quarterback against a defense that once again, prevented the opposition from scoring a rushing touchdown. Trubisky continues to struggle with accuracy (55% completion rate on Sunday) issues and leans more on his legs getting him out of trouble which is not a long term solution for him. He did benefit though from facing a banged up Jets defense which wasn’t able to put enough pressure on him.
Bengals 37 – 34 Buccaneers
I’m not sure what the Bucs were expecting when they quickly replaced Fitzpatrick with turnover machine Jamies Winston. He was at it again on Sunday, throwing four interceptions before being eventually replaced by Fitzpatrick. And the substitution nearly worked with Fitzpatrick able to rekindle some of his early season form and getting the Bucs to within three points after a dismal start on both sides of the ball. The Bengals offense was firing on all fronts, Dalton throwing for 280 yards and two touchdowns and Mixon rushing for 123 yards and another two touchdowns. The Bengals defense was also going well up until the last quarter, recording those four interceptions as well as six sacks. Fitzpatrick has been named as the starter for week nine, we wait with baited breath to see how long that lasts.
Lions 14 – 28 Seahawks
This Seahawks team continues to impress, recording a win on the road against a Lions team that has been performing well over the last few weeks. The difference this week was that the Seahawks were able to bottle up the newly revived running game of the Lions. Kerryon Johnson was only able to rush for 22 yards. On the flip side, Chris Carson was able to generate 105 yards and a touchdown. The success of the running game meant that Russell Wilson only had to make 17 passing attempts, connecting on 14 of them for 248 yards and three touchdowns. Second year receiver, David Moore led the receiving numbers for Seattle with 97 yards and a touchdown. His numbers have been impressive over the last two weeks, might be one to watch.
Chiefs 30 – 23 Broncos
The Broncos played the Chiefs hard in the reverse fixture so it was no surprise, despite Kansas’ high powered offense, that this game was similarly close. Both quarterbacks had the same amount of passing attempts, Mahomes completing just one more than Keenum. The difference came in distance and touchdowns where Mahomes recorded an extra 40 yards and an extra two touchdowns. In terms of rushing attack, the Broncos excelled with Phillip Lindsay continuing to impress in the absence of the injured Royce Freeman racking up 95 yards and a touchdown with an average of 5.3 yards per carry. A performance such as this against any other team might have been enough to secure a win, but not against Kansas.
Giants 13 – 20 Redskins
The Giants troubles go on as they fall to 1-7 with a loss over their division rivals. The Redskins defensive line continue to impress and bottled up Saquon Barkley for just 38 rushing yards, forcing Manning to throw 47 times – never a good thing when this version of Eli is the one on show. Despite that, OBJ was able to generate 136 receiving yards but was unable to find the end zone. Not an issue for veteran running back Adrian Peterson who found the end zone as well as rushing for 149 yards.
Steelers 33 – 18 Browns
The game that cost Hue Jackson his job? Probably not, the previous two seasons did the damage and whilst there has been an improvement, the Browns still haven’t racked up the wins that they should have done. James Conner continues to impress in the absence of Bell with 146 rushing yards and two touchdowns and 66 receiving yards. The Browns defense isn’t one to be sniffed at and those numbers are right up there with what Bell would be able to do. The Pittsburgh defense was able to put a lot of pressure on Mayfield and whilst they only recorded two sacks, they restricted him to just 180 yards from 22 passes. There’ll be more to come about the Browns coaching search I’m sure, but there is the talent on this roster for a good team to develop.
Raiders 28 – 42 Colts
The Colts offense is firing on all fronts at the moment which spells danger for any team that has a subpar defense. Andrew Luck is looking great but what’s more encouraging is the line in front of him which is not only keeping him upright, but also helping a much improved running game. The Colts clocked up 222 yards on the ground, Marlon Mack being the pick of the bunch with 132 and two touchdowns. Things weren’t terrible for the Raiders, Carr had a solid game with 244 yards and three touchdowns and Doug Martin even managed 72 yards on the ground. But the defense is another thing and the lack of pass rush continues to hurt this team.
Rams 29 – 27 Packers
This one was a bit of a ding dong! Packers got off to a good start but the Rams pegged them back to be within two by half time. It all kicked off in the third quarter with 25 points scored by both teams before a fourth quarter where the Rams sealed it with a field goal and forced a fumble by Ty Montgomery which they recovered to end the game. Both quarterbacks played well, with 100+ QBRs. This was the first of a string of tests for the Rams but they proved that as well as beating down bad teams, they can grind out results against the stronger ones.
Vikings 20 – 30 Saints
These two are fast becoming two of my favourite teams to watch in the NFL. The Saints offense bends and sways depending on what they need to do to win the game. On Sunday, both their running backs got 13 carries to keep drives alive. At one point, the Saints had three quarterbacks (Brees, Hill and Bridgewater) on the field to keep the Vikings defense guessing as to what might happen. The Vikings offense was just as effective. Cousins is able to find Diggs or Thielen regularly, the latter going over 100 receiving yards for the eighth game in a row – one catch made over the top of the Saints defender. The difference might have been on defense whereby the Saints were able to sack Cousins four times, Brees was barely touched all game. These two teams should both make the playoffs on their current form and who knows, they might even face each other again.
Bills 6 – 25 Patriots
The scoreline flatters the Patriots slightly with the Bills giving a good account of themselves right up until the last 10 minutes of the game. Before that, it was just field goals. In the first quarter there was trick plays aplenty with both Chris Ivory and LeSean McCoy taking direct snaps. Cordarrelle Patterson for the Pats took up a role in the backfield in place of the injured Sony Michel and did a decent enough job at replacing him. Field goals aside, the Bills were doing a good job at suffocating the Pats offense. For the Pats defense, Trey Flowers was getting to Bills QB consistently, forcing him to have a very uncomfortable night but it was Devin McCourty who finished the night with an 85 yard pick six. Bills should take heart from the result, the Pats should just get on the bus and head back happy with a win.