The NFL has almost wrapped up Week 8 action – tonight’s Monday Night Football game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New York Giants will bring it home – and yesterday’s slate of games offered a little bit of everything. It’s becoming clear that several high-profile players don’t have the job security they may have thought they had and that some other players might need to consider anger management classes. As the season progresses, this week and next will give sports gamblers a pretty good idea of what to expect as the second half of the season comes into focus.
The Pittsburgh Steelers may have been put off as their game against the Baltimore Ravens got underway yesterday, but they didn’t let it get them down. On the very first possession of the game, Ravens linebacker Robert Spillane stole the ball for a pick-six that put Pittsburgh at a disadvantage. But, Ben Roethlisberger didn’t let it get him down and the quarterback bounced back to take control. Two second-half touchdown passes helped the Steelers overcome the interception and they went on to win, 28-24. With that victory, Pittsburgh can still claim to be the only undefeated team in the NFL this season, and the Ravens fall to 5-2.
The Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings gave fans a thrill yesterday. The first half saw both offenses working the field and scoring two touchdowns each, but the second half proved to be something different. The Packers suddenly found themselves scrambling against a defense that was sowing chaos at almost every turn, and the Vikings offense was in complete control. By the time it was over, the now 5-2 Vikings had handed the Packers just their second defeat of the season on their way to a 28-22 victory.
The Tennessee Titans were 5-1 going into their game against the 1-5-1 Cincinnati Bengals yesterday, and this game should have been an easy one for Tennessee to wrap up. The Bengals and quarterback Joe Burrow had other plans, though. The Titans were lackluster throughout the game and, after having gone 14-for-14 in red zone scoring this year, they suddenly found an unexpectedly tough defense that denied them from crossing the goal line. The Titans have now dropped two consecutive games as the Bengals improved to 2-5-1 with their 31-20 win.
How about the New York Jets? They had their typical day yesterday and this game doesn’t need a lot of attention. The Kansas City Chiefs walked away with an easy 35-9 win after quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw five touchdowns, and the only question now is, with a 0-8 record, how much longer will the Jets keep head coach Adam Gase around?
Speaking of hanging around, New England Patriots brass might be considering some of its previous choices from before the season started. The team lost 24-21 against the Buffalo Bills yesterday and dropped to 2-5 as a result. The drop comes thanks to a dropped ball, as quarterback Cam Newton fumbled and lost the ball with just minutes to go, negating a chance for the Pats to score a game-tying field goal or possibly the go-ahead touchdown. If Newton thought he was in trouble after Week 7, he has to be more concerned now.
Russell Wilson would love to be the league MVP this year. if the Seattle Seahawks quarterback can continue to do what he did yesterday against the San Francisco 49ers, he has a real shot at it. He may have put up one less touchdown than did Mahomes, but it was enough to keep his name at the top of the MVP list. The Seahawks are looking like a team that wants a Super Bowl title this year and improved to 6-1 with their 37-27 win against the Niners yesterday.
Tua Tagovailoa is now officially a Miami Dolphins quarterback and cemented his spot yesterday after throwing his first NFL touchdown against the LA Rams. From there, the Fins made easy work of the Rams, forcing four first-half turnovers – one of which went back for a defensive touchdown – and showing an unstoppable defense that hammered away throughout the game. 3-3 going into the game, the Fins improved to 4-3 with the 28-17 victory, while the Rams dropped to 5-3.
The NFC East still looks a little odd, with all four teams showing losing records. However, at least the division leaders gave themselves a boost yesterday. The Philadelphia Eagles are now 3-4-1 after beating the Dallas Cowboys 23-9, and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones most likely had a major temper tantrum after the game. Neither team played a pretty game, but the Eagles gave a better ugly game.
The New Orleans Saints needed overtime and a smack in the head – literally – to win their game against the Chicago Bears. The Saints played steady offense across all four quarters, but their defense was a little sloppy, and the game was tied at 23 at the end of regulation. Javon Wims, wide receiver for the Bears, gave the Saints some unexpected motivation to win after, in the third quarter, he went off on Saints safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson on the field, smacking him several times like they were in a UFC grudge match. It cost him the rest of the game, and will most likely cost him much more, and the Saints got fired up enough to push through with extra energy on their way to a 26-23 OT win.
For gamblers who looked at the Over/Under in Week 8, eight of the games hit the over, while five fell short. Tonight’s game between the Bucs and the Giants has Tampa Bay as the extreme favorite, at -700, and an Over/Under of 45. The real question is whether the Bucs can cover the 13-point spread.