With week 8 in the books and the trade deadline behind us, we’re all strapped in for the second half of the NFL season. But, before we start, let’s take a look back on every team’s first half and what, if anything, they did before the trade window closed for the year.
Texans 42, Dolphins 23
Houston (5-3): This game was the most entertaining Thursday Night matchup of the season, and it had just as much to do with actual good football as it did with the weirdness. Deshaun Watson (16-20, 239 yds, 5 TD) was the definition of efficient, finally looking like he did before last year’s injury. Lamar Miller also ran for 100 yards in back to back games for the first time since 2015. The only negative is the loss of Will Fuller V, one of Watson’s favorite targets. Not to worry, though; Enter Demaryius Thomas. He’ll fit in well in Houston, who have won 5 in a row after an 0-3 start and look like they might be for real.
Miami (4-4): Let’s talk about how weird this game was. I’m still not entirely sure this wasn’t just a super-realistic game of Madden. First came Mike Gesicki getting flipped over his head like he got hit by a car. Then, came Osweiler getting evaporated, but somehow managed to throw an incomplete pass instead of a fumble. Then, the night was capped off with two of the most insane catches of the year. The first was DeAndre Hopkins with the one-handed catch through the legs. The second was a ball initially caught by a Dolphins receiver, punched about 15 yards down field by a Texans defender, and then caught by DeVante Parker for a gain of 46 yards. Speaking of the Dolphins, Danny Amendola is officially their best quarterback. That about sums up the first half of Miami’s season.
Eagles 24, Jaguars 18
Philadelphia (4-4): In what has been an up and down start to their title defense, the Eagles got back to .500 in London after beating another disappointing team in the Jacksonville Jaguars. Carson Wentz (21-30, 286 yds, 3 TD, INT) finally looks like his old self, and against the vaunted Jacksonville secondary no less. You can’t help but feel this team is just missing something. Doug Peterson is hoping that something is WR Golden Tate, who the Eagles paid for with a 3rd round pick. With the Redskins starting to pull away, Philly will need to keep pace if they want to try and defend their title.
Jacksonville (3-5): It looks like the Jaguars might have been a one-hit-wonder. After starting the season 2-0 after a blowout of the Patriots, the Jags have gone 1-5 and have looked just as bad as their record shows. They’ve been outscored 114-42 in their last 4 games (All losses.), and have put themselves in deep holes to start games, being outscored 67-6 in the first half during that span. I guess Tom Coughlin is blaming chemistry issues, since he shipped out Donte Fowler. That’s got to be slightly annoying for Fowler, since 4 of his teammates were arrested in London for not paying their £50,000 bar tab and they’re all still on the team. I mean, I’m no executive, but I’ll take a stable pass rusher over 4 drunken morons any day. But that’s just me.
Bears 24, Jets 10
Chicago (4-3): Matt Nagy has done a great job turning the Bears around this year, thanks in no small part to his aggressive trade for all-star pass rusher Khalil Mack. Though Mack was out Sunday, the defense still shut down New York’s offense, and the Bears did enough with the ball to get the win. Mitch Trubisky (16-29, 220 yds, 2 TD) had another solid game, though most of his yards came on a 70-yard catch and run from Tarik Cohen in the first quarter. Still, 179 yards in the ground is plenty to keep control of time of possession, and a swarming defense can clean up the rest. Chicago is an old fashioned team; Winning with defense and the run. They’re not always flashy, but they get the job done.
New York (3-5): It’s been a rebuilding year for the Jets, and at the halfway point of the season, things are looking okay. Sam Darnold (14-29, 153 yds, TD) is slowly maturing, but still has yet to recapture the magic of that opening Monday Night game against the Lions. He has started taking better care of the ball, and it’s resulting in some good results for the team. With no extra reinforcements coming in at the deadline, the Jets will have to make due with what they have now to keep improving Sam Darnold and sneak to a .500 record.
Bengals 37, Buccaneers 34
Cincinnati (5-3): The Bengals almost let it slip away, but a dominant defensive performance against the former #1 pick was just too much to slip through the cracks. Andy Dalton (21-34, 280 yds, 2 TD) and Joe Mixon (21 carries, 123 yds, 2 TD) mopped up after the defense picked off Winston 4 times, one of them returned for a touchdown, and the Bengals improved to a 5-3 record, and are right on the heels of their rivals in Pittsburgh. After their bye, games against New Orleans and Baltimore will prove if Cincy is actually for real.
Tampa Bay (3-4): There isn’t much to say here other than Jameis Winston (18-35, 276 yds, TD, 4 INT) may have played his last game in a Buccaneers uniform. FitzMagic was put back in and did more in 17 minutes than Jameis had done all day, clawing the Bucs all the way back from an 18-point hole entering the 4th. The defense just couldn’t hold on the last drive. Now, named the starting QB, Fitzpatrick will try to recapture the magic of his first 3 games and lead Tampa back to the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
Lions 14, Seahawks 28
Detroit (3-4): Matt Patricia is definitely a product of Bill Belichick. With star WR Golden Tate set to hit free agency at the end of the year, Patricia dealt him to Philadelphia for a 3rd round pick. This might be disappointing to fans that want to win now, but had the trade not been made, Detroit would be in the same position they’re in now, except they wouldn’t have a good draft pick they could spend on young talent. As for this week’s game, probably as disappointing as the trade news. Behind the 8 ball and now down their best receiver, this is gonna be another long season for Detroit.
Seattle (4-3): No trade news meant that the Seahawks fans could focus on the beatdown the Birds gave to the Lions in Detroit. Russell Wilson (14-17, 148 yds, 3 TD) is morphing into a clinical pocket passer, surgically picking apart defenses without feeling the need to run on every other play. Instead, Seattle has left that to the running backs. The most run-happy team in football earned 176 yards on the ground and pounded the Lions into submission. With an upcoming stretch vs. the Chargers, at the Rams, vs. Green Bay, and at Carolina, the run game will need to keep up with the workload if they want to make the playoffs during their rebuild year.
Chiefs 30, Broncos 23
Kansas City (7-1): Despite a slow start, the Chiefs improved to 7-1 on the year after completing their season sweep of the Broncos. Not only is that KC’s 7th straight victory against Denver, but it also marks an incredible halfway point to Patrick Mahomes’ (24-34, 308 yds, 4 TD, INT) first season. Mahomes leads the lead in passing yards (2,526) and passing touchdowns (26), is 4th in passer rating (115.3), and is 3rd in adjusted net yards per attempt (9.26), a stat favored by fans of football analytics. He’s on pace to obliterate franchise records for yards and touchdowns, slated to set the mark for yards Week 10 against the Cardinals and for yards early in Week 16. What more could you ask for from a sophomore phenom?
Denver (3-5): The Broncos had a chance to go into Kansas City and steal a win from the Chiefs juggernaut, but that hope petered out after a missed field goal early in the second quarter killed momentum. The game was eventually out of Denver’s grasp, and the Broncos capped off the rough week by trading longtime pass catcher Demaryius Thomas to the Texans. With the season sliding into lost territory, Denver is looking to rebuild around Case Keenum (23-34, 262 yds, 2 TD, INT) and the physical defensive line. The question that still remains is whether Vance Joseph will be in the picture moving forward.
Giants 13, Redskins 20
New York (1-7): The good news is that the rumors surrounding an OBJ trade didn’t pan out. The bad news? Well, the Giants lost again, Eli (30-47, 316 yds, TD, 2 INT) was sacked 7 times, and Saquon could only muster 38 rushing yards. The cherry on top was their backup quarterback getting arrested for nearly running over a cop, reckless driving, running FROM the cops, and resisting arrest. Oh, and did I mention he did the exact same thing the morning before but wasn’t stopped? Just a day in the life of a 1-7 team I guess.
Washington (5-2): It’s official. The Redskins are going all in this year. After trading for Alex Smith (20-32, 178 yds, TD) and signing Adrian Peterson (26 carries, 149 yds, TD) in the off-season, Washington is out to their best start in 10 years and the Skins are out to make themselves even better. Washington added Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to the secondary to help the already-solid pass defense in response to both the Eagles and Cowboys bringing in big wide receivers at the deadline, bolstering their claim on the division. Like the days of old, it looks like the NFC East will come down to week 17, just as it should.
Steelers 33, Browns 18
Pittsburgh (4-2-1): It was just another day at the office for the Steelers, beating down the Browns in what was basically a second bye week for the last 15 years. Big Ben (24-36, 257 yds, 2 TD, INT) had a solid outing before running back James Conner took things over. Totalling 404 yards and 4 touchdowns in his 2 matchups with Cleveland this year, Conner now ranks 3rd in rushing yards, 2nd in rushing touchdowns, and 4th in total yards. If/when Le’Veon Bell comes back, it’ll be tough to justify putting him back in the starting role, especially if Conner doesn’t show signs of slowing down.
Cleveland (2-5-1): The Browns managed to extend some pretty sad streaks with their loss to the Steelers Sunday. Not only has Cleveland NEVER beaten Big Ben in Pittsburgh in 15 attempts, but the Browns have now lost 25 straight road games, dating back over 3 years. And it finally was enough to cost Hue Jackson his job. After literally having the worst record of any head coach in NFL history (except for that time the Eagle’s coach was also the owner), Jackson was shown the door. Surprisingly, so was Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley. Defensive Coordinator Greg Williams is the interim head coach, now the 10th head coach for the Browns since they were reborn in 1999 and the 5th since 2011. Judging by past examples, Williams will be out sometime in 2020. And for that, I wish him well.
Panthers 36, Ravens 21
Carolina (5-2): Cam Newton (21-29, 219 yds, 2 TD) picked up right where he left off after his 4th quarter comeback last week against the Eagles. What was meant to be a tough Ravens defense parted like the Red Sea, letting Carolina chalk up over 150 yards rushing. Christian McCaffrey also grabbed one of the better touchdown catches we’ve seen this year after Newton’s pass to WR Devin Funchess ricocheted into the air and in the middle of 3 Ravens defenders. Sitting at 5-2 and just a game behind the Saints, Carolina is looking to make another deep playoff run. But in a loaded NFC, that’s easier said than done.
Baltimore (4-4): After a 3-1 start, the Ravens have fallen off the wagon and find themselves at .500 at the half way point of the season. Joe Flacco (22-39, 192 yds, TD, 2 INT) was hassled by the Panthers’ front seven all game long, and the run game had a decent showing with a total over 100 yards and a touchdown. This game does prove, however, that the Ravens aren’t close to the top tier NFL teams. Against teams with a winning record, Baltimore is just 1-3, while their wins are over the Bills (2-6), Broncos (3-5), Titans (3-4), and Steelers (1-2-1 at the time). Doesn’t really inspire confidence going forward.
Raiders 28, Colts 42
Oakland (1-6): The Raiders took care of their business before the deadline, meaning the only storyline coming out of Oakland this week was their poor showing against a Colts team struggling just as much as they were. Derek Carr (21-28, 244 yds, 3 TD) played well, but the Raiders’ defense was nowhere to be found. Oakland is a better squad than what their record says, but they’re still nowhere near playoff quality. And with the trade of Amari Cooper, the Raiders are officially in rebuild mode. I can’t wait to see who the Gruden uses all those first round picks he has on. It ought to be interesting.
Indianapolis (3-5): It may have been the Raiders, but Andrew Luck (22-31, 239 yds, 3 TD) and the Colts looked as good as they have all year. Marlon Mack racked up 132 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground, and the running game as a whole eclipsed 220 yards on the day. The defense was a bit shaky, but it was enough to get Indy the win. Despite their losing record, the Colts are still within striking distance to win the division, but they’ll need to string a few more wins together before anyone takes them seriously.
Rams 29, Packers 27
Los Angeles (8-0): They aren’t always pretty, but a win is a win. The Rams are now halfway to a perfect season, but their two toughest tests are still to come. Jared Goff (19-35, 295 yds, 3 TD) took a little while to get into a rhythm, but once he did, he picked Green Bay apart. Todd Gurley added 114 yards on the ground and 81 yards and a TD receiving, but his best play won’t be all that impressive on the stat sheet. As the clock ran down, Gurley had an open walk into the endzone. Instead, he stayed in bounds, took a knee, and let the Rams just run the clock out. For such a high-profile, stat-heavy player, this was a truly veteran move. Oh, and in case the Rams aren’t good enough, they just traded for Jags DE Dante Fowler. This kind of stuff is the culture Sean McVay has created in LA; The one that’s still undefeated.
Green Bay (3-3-1): You could just tell by Aaron Rodgers’ (18-30, 286 yds, TD) reaction that Ty Montgomery’s time in Green Bay had finally run out after his late fumble. Instead of just taking a knee and giving arguably the best QB in the league 2 minutes and a timeout to get into field goal range, Montgomery tried to return the kick. That cost the Packers the game and it cost him his job. The Packers dealt him to Baltimore for just a 7th round pick in 2020, so even if he didn’t get traded, it’s safe to assume Sunday was his last game for Green Bay anyway. Now, Rodgers and Co. head to Foxboro in a duel between two of the best quarterbacks of all time.
Cardinals 18, 49ers 15
Arizona (2-6): The Cardinals may have won the game, but they’ve lost in the long run. This game was to determine which team would have the best shot at the #1 pick, much like last season’s Texans-Colts matchup in week 17. Patrick Peterson wasn’t traded, meaning he’s either happy in Glendale or he’s still upset, but the Cardinals didn’t get any good offers. As for Larry Fitzgerald, well, I guess he really is going to spend his last days in Arizona. I’ve got to say, I wish he got traded so we could see him finally win the Super Bowl he so clearly deserves.
San Francisco (1-7): Week 10 against the Giants now looks like it will be for the top pick in April’s draft after the Niners dropped the ball on Sunday. C.J. Beathard (14-28, 190 yds, TD) wasn’t terrible and the defense played well (2 turnovers and a safety), but the lack of any inspiration on offense holds San Francisco back from any quality wins. The bright side is that the 49ers should be a lot better next year if Jimmy Garoppolo can stay healthy.
Vikings 20, Saints 30
Minnesota (4-3-1): There was no Minneapolis Miracle this time as the Vikings fell to Drew Brees and the Saints. Kirk Cousins (31-41, 359 yds, 2 TD, INT) is now just 5 yards behind Patrick Mahomes after yet another 300+ yard performance. Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs both topped 100 yards for the 3rd time this season, and Thielen is still yet to get fewer than 100 yards in a game. If he can do it this week against the Lions, Thielen will set the all time record for consecutive 100-yard receiving games. As the league leader (By a lot.) in both receptions and receiving yards, the chances that happens are incredibly high.
New Orleans (6-1): Drew Brees (18-23, 120 yds, TD, INT) and the Saints continued their march through the NFC with a big win in the rematch of their painful playoff exit just 9 months ago. Brees and the run game were held mostly in check by a hungry Vikings secondary, even forcing Brees’ first interception of the year, but a pick-six by P.J. Williams and a timely fumble recovery by the defense, made enough of a difference to put the Saints on top. In what might be a preview of the NFC Championship game, the Saints host the Los Angeles Rams this Sunday, where the ’72 Dolphins will be donning their black and gold.
Bills 6, Patriots 25
Buffalo (2-6): Here’s the only stat you need to know about the Bills this game; Buffalo scored as many points for New England as they did for themselves. As for the season as a whole, there are 3 stats to know:
#1: Wide Receivers in the NFL have more touchdown passes this season than the Bills QBs do.
#2 Buffalo is last in total QBR, TDs, yards, completion percentage, points, and first downs.
#3 The Bills have had the same number of touchdowns passes as they’ve had dildos thrown onto their field.
And if that isn’t enough, consider this; Derek Anderson is hurt, and the Bill’s will start Nathan Peterman. #prayforbuffalo
New England (6-2): Despite their best efforts to lose, the Patriots ended up covering the 14-point spread on the road, and won it running away. Tom Brady (29-45, 324 yds) had to work without rookie running back Sony Michel, who’s out with an injury, and for a while it was clear how much Michel’s talents are needed by this team. Until the 4th quarter, New England couldn’t move the ball inside the 30-yard line. Buffalo completely shut the Pats down, especially in the red zone. But when it really mattered, Belichick and McDaniels drew up a great game plan that Brady and Co. executed perfectly. The lone downside to week 8 in New England was the fact that the Pats didn’t make a move on deadline day. There were rumors Belichick was looking for a big WR or DE trade, but nothing came of them. That being said, Brady isn’t complaining about his receivers any time soon.
The Falcons (3-4), Titans (3-4), Chargers (5-2), Cowboys (3-4) all had the week off, able to enjoy Halloween and the trade deadline from the comforts of home. Next week, Atlanta, Dallas, and Tennessee all look to climb out of their first half holes, while the Chargers head to Seattle to take on Russell Wilson and the Seahawks.
Happy Halloween everyone! Come back next week for a new format as the focus shifts from early season progress to the second half playoff push.
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