With October in its twilight, Halloween is right around the corner.
Pumpkins have been carved and placed next to fake rocks with hide-a-keys etched into their underbellies all across America. We'll bide our time glued to the couch watching horror movies we've seen so many times that they're no longer scary but nostalgic. With fear-mongering now in vogue, we ask ourselves: Who has the most to fear heading into NFL week 8? I'll tell you who.
Adam Gase and the New York Jets vs. The Kansas City Chiefs
Adam Gase continues to fail to prove that he's not the problem in New York. Now he faces his former Running Back in Le'Veon Bell. If Bell can have a big game against Gase this week, Gase's inadequacy will only be further proven. And what a scary matchup this already was for this Jets team. Darnold had a passer rating of 31.1 last week against the Bills and gained 4 yards in the second half. Through seven weeks of play Darnold has a touchdown to interception ratio of 1:2 and has declined in almost every major statistical category from last year. The Jets ranked 31st in offense last year and now rank 32nd.
The metaphorical bloom is so far off the rose at this point for Adam Gase that it's six feet underground and being digested by earthworms.
Viewers of Primetime Football Games
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In a weird year like this, we're all constantly seeking these temporary escapes from reality. The NFL acts as America's most popular mental reprieve and with a highly contested Presidential election mere days away, the need for such distractions feels only more pressing. Unfortunately, the NFL primetime schedule isn't cooperating this week.
The week 8 slate kicks off with a low voltage NFC South matchup between the Falcons and Panthers. The Panthers are surprisingly scrappy yet expectedly milquetoast. Meanwhile, the Falcons appear to be allergic to winning, their losses play out as though they were authored by Lemony Snicket. Sunday night the melatonin pills continue as the Eagles take on the Cowboys.
Both teams have 2 wins yet are tied atop the wretched NFC East. The Eagles are a shell of their former team after a storm of injuries, and the Cowboys are starting third string Quarterback, Ben DiNucci. The slate hardly gets better Monday night when a dangerous Tompa Bay takes on a defunct New York Giants team. Can whoever is in charge of flex scheduling please take some pride in their position? These matchups are dreadful.
John Elway vs. Justin Herbert
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It would appear John Elway is impervious to criticism. Which makes sense, SEE: Hall of Fame Career; Super Bowl MVP; and Peyton Manning. But since Manning's departure, the Quarterback position has oscillated faster than a Lasko fan on setting 3. Is Drew Lock just another failed attempt at bargain shopping at the Quarterback position? The list of quarterbacks to be given the nod since Manning's departure includes Paxton Lynch, Brock Osweiler, and Case Keenum.
Now Justin Herbert comes to town after his first win against the Jaguars last week. The rookie has been sensational through five games. Even outperforming first overall pick, Joe Burrow. It's not like the Broncos passed up on Justin Herbert, Herbert was selected 3rd overall in the 2020 draft whereas Denver didn't make their selection until pick 15. But Herbert still highlights how quickly a quarterback can step in and be an impact player. Whereas the Broncos are still in "wait and see mode" with Drew Lock.
But Denver threw all their eggs in the Drew Lock basket, despite the 2nd round Pick starting only five games and playing inconsistently. The Broncos's lack of foresight to not have a "Plan B" at the Quarterback position becomes more obvious every week. Herbert's stellar play highlights what a young Quarterback could be.
Aaron Donald vs. Tua Tagovailoa
Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times
Well here it is, Dolphins fans" the moment you've all been waiting for. Tua Tagovailoa will finally make his start this Sunday vs. the LA Rams. I think we're all going to miss the Ryan Fitzpatrick era in Miami.
Fitzpatrick was like an all-star on a Washington Generals team. You know his team was built to lose but man did he make it look good. Now Tua will get the nod and make his first NFL start. What a week to do it too. Tua will take the field across the line from Aaron Donald. Donald continues to add lines to his Hall of Fame resume. The five time All-Pro and two time Defensive Player of the Year is having another monster year. He blows up the line of scrimmage seemingly every play and through 7 weeks has accumulated 8 sacks, two forced fumbles, and six tackles for a loss. If you're getting your first NFL start after coming off a season ending injury and getting a surgically repaired hip, Aaron Donald is not the first person you want to play against.
Browns Fans vs. Baker Mayfield
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Browns fans have had it so hard for so long so I hate to pile on here, but this Browns season has got to leave Browns fans feeling disconcerted. Who would have thought after Baker's promising rookie season that two years later he would be the problem? It's got to be frustrating to be a Browns fan. It's always something. This year the rushing attack has been great all year, first with Chubb and now after Chubb's injury with Kareem Hunt.
First year head coach Kevin Stefanski is making the most out of the team talent, which is more than Freddie Kitchens could say, and the Cleveland Defense leads the NFL in takeaways (14). But Mayfield has been inconsistent, Pro Football Focus gives Mayfield a rating of 66.3 for the season and Mayfield has the 25th most passing yards this year and 5th most interceptions. With Odell Beckam out for the rest of the year with a torn ACL, can Mayfield step up and be the Quarterback he was drafted to be as a number one overall draft pick? It's a question at the back of every Browns fan's mind and a question that leaves one feeling scared for the state of the team. Happy Halloween Cleveland.
Unless you're the Pittsburgh Steelers, chances are your team is still uncertain about making the playoffs.
The Packers lost, yet the Saints won. The Seahawks won, but so did the Rams. The NFC is in a frenzy, while the Steelers sit atop the AFC waiting for everyone else to catch up. With only five weeks left, the playoff picture is a little fuzzy, but it clarifies with each game.
Likewise, fantasy playoffs are just on the horizon, and unless you're undefeated, there's a strong chance you're still clamoring for a spot.
If you need to make some moves for a playoff berth, here are some suggestions in this week's drops, swaps and shops.
Note: For ESPN Leagues, all public leagues must submit trades before the trade deadline on Wednesday, November 25th at 12 ET. Rules vary within leagues, but this could be your last week for swaps.
As Ferris Bueller might say: The world of sports moves pretty fast; if you don't stop and look around at least once a week, you could miss it.
Here we'll review what you might have missed in the past week all in one place. Why spend hours scrolling through Twitter to catch up on the news you want? We've already done that for you, so remember to check back every Monday to get your dose of weekly sports review.
Taysom Hill, Andy Dalton, and P.J. Walker all lead their teams to Week 11 victories filling in for injured starting QBs. Cleveland moved ahead of the Ravens in the AFC North with their win over the Eagles while Baltimore fell to the Titans. The Steelers continued to roll and now sit at 10-0 atop the NFL. The Colts outlasted the Packers in an overtime thriller as Indianapolis is now positioning themselves as a team nobody wants to see come playoff time as they boast the best defense in the NFL.
Joe Burrow was injured in the Bengals' game against Washington and he miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury. This should make Justin Herbert the odds on favorite to win Rookie of the Year if you're interested in a futures bet.
At this point, I may never bet on the NFC West again.
Week 10 Vibe Check (2-2)
At this point, I may never bet on the NFC West again. After losing to the Rams last week, Seattle turned around and beat the Cardinals on Thursday night. Every matchup in that division is a heavyweight bout and it's hard to justify betting on one when they can all throw a haymaker at any time. Meanwhile, the Bengals weren't ready for a D like the Steelers and the QB of the future looked stuck in the present reality for the time being.
As for our wins, in a shocking turn of events, betting against the Chargers WORKED! Or, perhaps, I should say betting on the Dolphins worked. Brian Flores looks more and more like he was the true key to the Patriots defensive success in recent years. He took on two NFC teams back to back and cruised against the poor, befuddled Chargers. Tua coming into his own has certainly helped, as well.
Brandon Aiyuk tallied a whopping seven catches down in New Orleans, even as the 49ers completely sputtered and blew a chance to upset a Drew Brees-less Saints. This continues a month long streak of calling player props, which is almost certain to end this week after pointing out its existence. *Fingers crossed* *No jinx* *Reverse jinx*