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
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images
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.
The NFL has reached the halfway point in the season, and we have a clearer picture of who are contenders and who should be turning their attention to 2021 already.
The Chiefs, Ravens, Seahawks, and Packers have justified being favorites to win the Super Bowl going into this season. Drew Brees and Tom Brady have the Saints and Buccaneers positioned to be in a battle for the NFC South title all year. The Bills and Cardinals have gotten MVP caliber performances from Josh Allen and Kyler Murray, which has resulted in both teams exceeding expectations in 2020. The Steelers look damn near unbeatable so far, and head coach Mike Tomlin made it clear that "we do not care" about anything standing between them and a championship.
Let's take a look at the Week 8 power rankings based on what we've seen so far this year.
32. New York Jets (0-7, Last Week 32 +/- 0) - For the second week in a row there isn't a lot to say about the Jets. Until they fire Adam Gase this franchise has no chance to turn things around.
Adam Gase Insists It Way Too Early To Think About Destroying Trevor Lawrence https://t.co/JX8aXuF7XR https://t.co/nzmdunocoQ— The Onion (@The Onion) 1603401604.0
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6, Last Week 29, -2) - Three bad losses in a row and they just don't seem to have enough players on the current roster to win. Still have Packers, Steelers, Browns, Titans, and Ravens on their schedule.
30. New York Giants (1-6, Last Week 30, +/- 0) - Daniel Jones continues to show flashes of what could be next year when Saquon Barkley returns from injury.
29. Dallas Cowboys (2-5, Last Week 25, -4) - Jerry Jones this past week reinforced that Mike McCarthy is their guy which should tell you where this season is going for the Cowboys. Time to jump ship on all Dallas players in fantasy including Ezekiel Elliott.
WANTED: Three men for robbery, stealing a total of $259,000,000 from the Dallas Cowboys. https://t.co/jChAXy2Al6— Fake SportsCenter (@Fake SportsCenter) 1603926956.0
28. Washington Football Team (2-5, Last Week 31, +3) - Antonio Gibson and Terry McLaurin are really good position players for Washington. They cut up a porous Dallas defense in a Week 7 win, and once the Football Team has a new name and quarterback their fortunes could be changing in D.C.
27. Denver Broncos (2-4, Last Week 21, -6) - Denver has been ravaged by injuries this year most notably with Von Miller and Courtland Sutton sidelined for the season. They don't have the depth on their roster to compensate and should continue to fade even with starting quarterback Drew Lock back with the team.
26. New England Patriots (2-4, Last Week 23, -3) - New England is coming off an embarrassing 33-6 loss to the 49ers one of the worst in Bill Belichick's tenure, and things look bleak for the Patriots for the first time in nearly two decades. Cam Newton was benched in the whooping, but Belichick has confirmed that Newton is still the starter there. Unless Julian Edelman can wind the clock back five years there simply isn't enough left in the cupboard for chef Bill to cook with.
Belichick's "magical system" offense, without Tom Brady, currently has the most INTs thrown in the NFL with 11 and… https://t.co/JEaJ9qVQzO— Dov Kleiman (@Dov Kleiman) 1603912338.0
25. Cincinnati Bengals (1-5-1, Last Week 26, +1) - All the Bengals need is a defense because Joe Burrow is already a bona fide stud. He's thrown for 300 or more yards in five of his seven career games and thrown for three touchdowns now twice. Cincinnati is much better than their record indicates and adds yet another team in the AFC North you don't want to face.
Joe Burrow BALLED out today despite the loss: 🔥 440 Total Yards 🔥 4 Total TDs https://t.co/9znwVgeZqK— ESPN (@ESPN) 1603658964.0
24. Houston Texans (1-6, Last Week 22, -2) - Should get on track this week against Jacksonville although the playoffs may be out of reach already for Houston.
23. Atlanta Falcons (1-6, Last Week 24, +1) - The Falcons should've came out of Week 7 with a win, instead their strange season rolls on as it feels like a matter of time before they start to add some games in the wins column.
22. Philadelphia Eagles (2-4-1, Last Week 28, +6) - A big jump by Philadelphia this week as any resemblance of a football team playing football should be enough to win the NFC East this year. Travis Fulgham has settled into a good chemistry with Carson Wentz and has them looking better going into Week 8.
21. Los Angeles Chargers (2-4, Last Week 27, +6) - Justin Herbert gave the Chargers over 400 yards of total offense and four touchdowns last week. They have a favorable schedule the rest of the season and could surprise us by grabbing a wild card spot.
Justin Herbert was electric in the Chargers' win vs. the Jaguars ⚡️ ⚡️ 412 total yards ⚡️ Four total TDs ⚡️ First… https://t.co/4rtcJruEK6— ESPN (@ESPN) 1603669076.0
20. Minnesota Vikings (1-5, Last Week 20, +/- 0) - Coming off a bye week, unfortunately for them they'll be welcomed back by Green Bay this week.
19. Las Vegas Raiders (3-3, Last Week 17, -2) - The Jekyll and Hyde for me the in the first half. They've beaten the Saints and Chiefs, but got crushed by the Patriots, who we thought were good, and the Bucs, who we know are good. Should know more after this week. TBD for Gruden's Raiders.
18. Chicago Bears (5-2, Last Week 11, -7) - I was looking for a reason to fade the Bears this week and I got it with another flat performance by them against the Rams in Week 7. Expect them to continue to trend down until their offense looks like they have a pulse.
17. Carolina Panthers (3-4, Last Week 18, +1) - Christian McCaffrey a longshot to comeback this week, but is back from IR and should be back on the field in the next few weeks. Teddy Bridgewater has kept them competitive picking up a few wins and adding in CMC could turn them into legit playoff contenders.
Christian McCaffrey has been designated to return from the reserve/injured list.— Carolina Panthers (@Carolina Panthers) 1603814799.0
16. Indianapolis Colts (4-2, Last Week 15, -1) - Coming off a bye week, they get a surging Detroit team this week.
15. Miami Dolphins (3-3, Last Week 13, -2) - Tua Tagovailoa will make his first NFL start against the Rams this week. A head scratching move by head coach Brian Flores not only to replace Ryan Fitzpatrick who had the offense clicking, but to put a rookie in front of Rams' defensive superstar Aaron Donald in their first start is asking a lot of the young prospect.
14. Detroit Lions (3-3, Last Week 19, +5) - The Lions look like a different team with Kenny Golladay in the lineup. His long reception setup the eventual winning touchdown in Week 7 against the Falcons.
13. Los Angeles Rams (5-2, Last Week 12, -1) - The Rams have beaten every NFC East team and the Bears to comprise their five wins on the year. YOU'RE STILL ON NOTICE RAMS at least until you get a good win.
12. San Francisco 49ers (4-3, Last Week 16, +4) - The 49ers have dealt with more injuries than anyone this year and coach Kyle Shanahan has done an excellent job keeping his team focused on winning. If they can get healthier down the stretch the division crown isn't out of the question.
11. Cleveland Browns (5-2, Last Week 14, +3) - A career performance from Baker Mayfield who tossed five touchdowns against the Bengals in their Week 7 win made up for the fact that they lost receiver Odell Beckham for the season. Beckham tore his ACL on the team's first drive and will join Nick Chubb on IR.
Baker Mayfield started 0/5 with an INT, then went nearly perfect: 22-23 297 Yards 5 TDs His only incomplete pass… https://t.co/iDSPbl1XEE— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) 1603657787.0
10. New Orleans Saints (4-2, Last Week 10 +/- 0) - The Saints have been playing great in the absence of Michael Thomas. New Orleans gets the Bears this week before two tough matchups against the Buccaneers and 49ers.
9. Buffalo Bills (5-2, Last Week 8, -1) - Tyler Bass made six field goals against the Jets, but those were the only points the Bills could muster against the league's worst team. Josh Allen has played like an MVP at times this season, but needs to reduce the turnovers for them to make a deep playoff run.
8. Baltimore Ravens (5-1, Last Week 5, -3) - The Ravens drop three spots here, but only because they're coming off their bye. Lamar Jackson is going to have to be great over the next five weeks as they play the Steelers twice, the Colts, Patriots, and Titans. This will be a true test of whether Lamar is the same guy we saw last year or if he has in fact regressed.
NFL Twitter when Lamar Jackson makes a bad play or has a bad game https://t.co/azyfqYuCt9— 🃏 (@🃏) 1603419425.0
7. Arizona Cardinals (5-2, Last Week 9, +2) - It feels like Arizona should be moving up more than two spots here, but the competition at the top of this list is fierce. Kyler Murray is one of the most exciting players to watch in this league, and although they will be missing Kenyan Drake for a couple weeks Chase Edmonds has proven to be a reliable fill in.
6. Green Bay Packers (5-1, Last Week 7, +1) - Even without Aaron Jones the Packers continue to put up points. Jamal Williams filled in admirably with 77 yards and a TD. Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams stole the show though. Adams finished with 196 yards and 2 TDs against the Texans. They get the 1-5 Vikings in Week 8.
That @AaronRodgers12 to @tae15adams connection was 🔥 #HaveADay | @Packers | #GoPackGo https://t.co/ra9pEca3hP— NFL (@NFL) 1603657347.0
5. Seattle Seahawks (5-1, Last Week 4, -1) - The Seahawks' schedule does them no favor coming off a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Cardinals. They will play another tough divisional game against the 49ers this week, but that might be just what Russell Wilson needs to get his team refocused and back on track.
4. Tennessee Titans (5-1, Last Week 2, -2) - In the battle of the undefeated in Week 7, the Steelers appeared to be on track to blow out the Titans jumping out to a big first half lead. Tennessee came roaring back however and nearly completed a comeback, falling just short. Pittsburgh has the best defense in the league and did an adequate job of limiting Derrick Henry throughout the game. The Titans will continue to be the favorite to win the AFC South.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-2, Last Week 6, +3) - Coming off a convincing win against the Raiders, they will get the Giants on Monday night. Antonio Brown has agreed to terms with the team and could make his debut Week 9. The Bucs are for real and Tom Brady could be raising a Lombardi trophy again, and not for the Patriots. Sooo 2020.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (6-1, Last Week 3, +1) - The Chiefs are so good that Patrick Mahomes can throw for 200 yards and a touchdown and they still put up 43 points in Week 7. Le'Veon Bell made is Kansas City debut and he will add yet another weapon to that offense to give defensive coordinators nightmares far past Halloween.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-0, Last Week 1, +/-0) - They're a team that just looks the part. Along with the Packers, Chiefs, Seahawks, Bucs - they just look like a SB contender in all aspects of the game. Well coached, talent at every position group, next man up mentality. Best defense in the league. The AFC North will be a gauntlet, but everyone else adopted the dark, the Steelers were born in it.
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES - Bane Blows Up A Football Stadium www.youtube.com