Winners, losers and other NFL Week 8 observations
Another monster game for DK Metcalf, another stunning loss for the Chargers. Plus a look at next week's early point spreads.
The Chargers did it again.
Los Angeles became the first team in NFL history to blow at least a 16-point lead in four consecutive games in Sunday’s 31-30 loss at Denver.
Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert threw three touchdown passes as L.A. jumped out to a 24-3 lead, but could only watch as Broncos' quarterback Drew Lock hit Penn State rookie K.J. Hamler on the final play to tie it and Temple alum Brandon McManus nailed the extra point.
Herbert joined Deshaun Watson as the only rookies ever to throw three touchdowns in four consecutive games. He has one win in that span.
New Kid In Town
If there was ever any question who was more responsible for the Patriots dynasty the last two decades — the coach or the quarterback — it has been answered in these last two months.
Tom Brady was.
The Patriots allowed their quarterback to sign with Tampa Bay in the offseason and they’ve been running uphill ever since. The loss to Buffalo on Sunday was their fourth in a row. They are 2-5 and the ESPN folks now have to sell us on a Patriots-Jets Monday Night game next week. The Jets are 0-8.
Cam Newton, the former MVP brought in by coach Bill Belichick to replace Brady, has not been the answer. The Patriots were in position to take the lead in the final minute at Buffalo, but Newton fumbled on a quarterback keeper with 31 seconds left. Buffalo, which went 3-32 against Brady, took a knee and skated out with a 24-21 win.
“It affects me more that I still am jeopardizing this team’s success because of my lackluster performances protecting the football,” Newton said. “Coach trusts me with the ball in my hands and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve got to do a better job of protecting it.”
Newton has seven interceptions, two touchdown passes, and six TD runs.
Bills head coach and La Salle High product Sean McDermott had never beaten Belichick/Brady in six tries. His team is now 6-2 and sitting atop the AFC East. Miami (4-3), which surprised the Rams, is in second place.
In Newton’s defense, the Patriots wide receiving group is in as bad of shape as what the Eagles have endured. Leading receiver Julian Edelman (knee) did not play and is not expected back any time soon. N’Keal Harry (concussion) also sat out.
The Patriots dressed five wide receivers on Sunday. Four were undrafted players. The only one drafted is special-teams ace Matthew Slater, who hasn’t caught a pass in nine years.
Jakobi Meyers had six receptions, Damiere Byrd (Timber Creek H.S.) had three. And that was it for the wide receivers. They used to have a quarterback who could help compensate for those holes. But he’s in Tampa now, and the Patriots are in third place.
Winners & Losers
Another week, another addition to the DK Metcalf highlight reel. The second-year wide receiver, who keeps a list of the wide receivers drafted ahead of him (which includes the Eagles' JJ Arcega-Whiteside), was simply dominant in a key division win over the 49ers. He had 12 catches for 161 yards and two scores. Rip Howie Roseman all you want for taking JJAW, but Metcalf was the ninth wide receiver taken in 2019. He’s not the only GM who whiffed.
The Jets are 0-8 for the first time since 1996 when they went 1-15 with old friend Rich Kotite as their coach.
Playful moment when Patrick Mahomes carried teammate Tyreek Hill piggyback-style after firing his final touchdown of the game as Kansas City overwhelmed the Jets. Mahomes had five touchdown passes. Jets quarterbacks have four — all season.
The Jets went off as 19.5-point underdogs and lost 35-9. Teams getting at least 19 had covered seven of nine over the last 20 years.
The Steelers (7-0) remain the NFL’s only undefeated team after a grinding win at Baltimore. Records going into the game of the last three teams they’ve beaten: Cleveland (4-1), Tennessee (5-0) and Baltimore (5-1).
Tua Tagovailoa’s first career start was a winning one. His stats were modest (93 passing yards, one TD pass), but the Dolphins got touchdowns from their defense and special teams and beat the Rams, 28-17. Tagovailoa was the first lefty to start at quarterback since Dallas’s Kellen Moore in 2015.
Tua’s counterpart, Jared Goff, had 61 pass attempts. He targeted Cooper Kupp 21 times, which is almost as many passes total that Tagovailoa attempted (22).
Nyheim Hines had two touchdowns and celebrated with somersaults that would have impressed Simone Biles. His first touchdown was one of the best plays of the day. His second wasn’t bad, either.
Dalvin Cook became the third opponent to score four touchdowns in a game at Lambeau Field, according to the database at Pro-Football-Reference.com. Cook ran for 163 yards on a career-high 30 carries, and added 63 more yards on two catches. Cook ran for three scores, and had another on a 50-yard screen pass. The other opponents to score four times at Lambeau are Bears quarterback Bobby Douglass in 1973, and Carolina running back DeAngelo Williams in 2008.
This replay of Ronnie Stanley’s broken ankle injury is not for the faint of heart. The Ravens' best offensive lineman, who signed a $99 million extension on Friday, was rolled up on accidentally by Steelers 250-pound linebacker T.J. Watt.
It was a little wistful seeing Indianapolis Frank Reich using Trey Burton on a trick play on the goal line against Detroit coach Matt Patricia. Burton, the tight end who threw the “Philly Special” play in Super Bowl 52 when both coaches were assistants for the Eagles and Patriots, took a direct snap for a two-yard score to seal Indy’s 41-21 win.
In what is usually a bad sign for the betting public, favorites were 3-9 against the spread this week heading into the Sunday nighter. Only the Colts, Chiefs and Seahawks covered as favorites.
A bettor at PointsBet put up $125,944 lost a six-leg parlay on the two biggest upsets of the day. The winning wagers were Chiefs to lead at half, a first quarter TD in Baltimore-Pittsburgh, the Bills to score at least five points in the first half and a first quarter touchdown in Indy-Detroit. The losses were money-line plays on the Packers and Titans, who were touchdown favorites but lost outright to the Vikings (1-5 entering the game) and Bengals (1-5-1), respectively. The bet would have won $499,997. Ouch.
He said it
“Nothing about this game was pretty from an offensive perspective until the end and we looked at the scoreboard."
— Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger
“I look for Tua to light them up today.”
— ESPN analyst Rex Ryan around 12:30 Sunday afternoon
“DK Metcalf is an absolute freak. In a league of freaks, he’s the freakiest of freaks.”
— Fox analyst Mark Schlereth
Nick Bellore? Sounds like somebody from a Bond film. Shoutout to Sean Connery. The late, great.
— NFL Red Zone host Scott Hanson after running a highlight of the Seahawks fullback’s 9-yard reception.
“There’s no one to leap to. It’s sad, actually.”
— Fox announcer Kevin Burkhardt after Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook leaped into the empty stands at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field.
Consensus odds via VegasInsider.com as of Sunday evening.