NFL Rewind

NFL Week 8: Good, bad and ugly

49ers.com

Nail-biters, blowouts, close games, and games that looked closer than what the final score indicated. Week eight of NFL action had a smorgasbord of the type of games played. Here are my observations:

The Good

-49ers running back Tevin Coleman had a historic performance in their 51-13 romp over the Panthers. He's the first 49er since Roger Craig in '88 to have at least two rushing and one receiving touchdowns in a game; and only the third to have four touchdowns in a game (Jerry Rice in '90 & '93, Billy Kilmer in '61). Oh...and rookie defensive end Nick Bosa had three sacks to aid the 49ers 7-0 start to their season. This was a guy I wanted the Texans to sign in the offseason. Did I mention quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo completed 81.8% of his passes?

-Sticking the best division in the NFL (the NFC West), the Rams had quite a day against the Bengals in London. Jared Goff threw for 372 yards and two touchdowns. 220 of those yards and one of those touchdowns came from Cooper Kupp. While their pass to run ratio was more balanced this game (31 to 26), the offensive attack was still pass heavy. It happened to work this game, but only because it was more balanced.

-Despite losing to the Lions 31-26, the Giants have a bright future. Rookie quarterback Daniel Jones threw four touchdown passes and completed 68% of his passes, Saquon Barkley had 27 touches for 143 yards, and the team traded a 2020 3rd & a 2021 5th round pick for Jets' defensive lineman Leonard Williams. If they resign Williams and continue to develop around Jones and Barkley, this team will be fun to watch for years to come.

The Bad

-In a game pitting the teams with the top two picks in the 2015 draft, the Titans came out victorious 27-23 over the Bucs. One would've expected Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston to battle it out. However, Mariota has been benched in favor of Ryan Tannehill (63% completion percentage and three touchdowns), and Jameis completed less than 50% of his passes. Mariota is most likely out in Tennessee, but Jameis appears to have his coach in his corner as Bruce Arians called out the receivers for Jameis' bad day. Total bleep show.

-Panthers' quarterback Cam Newton is still rehabbing his foot injury according to his coach Ron Rivera. So the team is sticking with Kyle Allen moving forward. The real question is: will they stick with Allen once Cam is healthy? Or even more provocative: will they trade Newton before deadline or get rid of him in the offseason?

-Falcons quarterback, and former Texan, Matt Schaub threw for 460 yards and completed 75% of his passes, but only threw one touchdown pass in a 27-20 loss to the Seahawks. This was one of the games that looked closer than what the score indicated because the Seahawks jumped out to a 24-0 lead at the half and cruised to victory. Schaub's stat line was reminiscent of his Texans days. (I apologize to any Texans' fans for opening up this wound.)

The Ugly

-Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco drove a bus over his coaches, reversed it, and ran over them again in his postgame presser. Flacco (rightfully so I might add) was upset at the lack of aggression, specifically the decision to punt on 4th&5 with the ball on the Colts' 43-yard line. At 2-5, now 2-6, what do you have to lose? The salt in the wound: Flacco expected to miss "significant time" with a neck injury.

-The 3-3 Bears were down 17-16, 1st&10 with the ball on the Chargers' 21 yard line, :43 seconds left in the game and a timeout. Bears' coach Matt Nagy chose to let the clock run, kneel the ball, and opted for a field goal. Given their kicker woes over the last season plus, you'd think they'd go for a touchdown, or a closer field goal at least. The field goal of course went wide left and they lost. What a terrible way to lose.

-After eight weeks of football, there are approximately 207 players placed in injured reserve (give or take a few here and there). Some may have a designation to return, some won't. Football is a tough sport. It won't get any less tough without fundamentally changing it. That said, the league and the owners need to give the players more when negotiating the next CBA. They play the most violent game, and have the least amount of job security and guaranteed money among pro athletes.

Week eight brings about a midpoint of sorts for the NFL season. By the time most of you read this, the trade deadline will be quickly approaching, or have passed. There's already been some player movement as teams who are "tanking" or punting on this season have off-loaded players in favor of draft picks to build for the future. An active NFL trade deadline is another way for the sport to have more mass appeal, as if it needed anymore. The second half of the season should bring about more exciting action. I'm especially looking forward to the lesser teams upsetting their playoff bound opponents. Feeling cheesy. May write a midseason award type of article next week. IDK.

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Composite photo by Jack Brame

As things continue to relax as far as the COVID-19 pandemic is concerned, a return to a semblance of normalcy seems imminent. The NBA has some parameters in place for a potential return. Training camps are set to open late this month and the season is supposed to open July 31. Whether that's the rumored Disney-centered one-stop shop or another form, they have a plan in place to return. There's also no argument between the league and players going back and forth about money either (MLB could learn a lesson here).

So when it comes to the potential return, how does that fare for the local team? The Rockets were 40-24 and tied for the fifth seed in the West when the season was shut down. Since they're getting ready to return potentially, we need to be looking at what chances they may have in making a run in the playoffs towards an NBA title.



Harden's new physique

According to his new trainer, James Harden has done more cardio workouts and lost some weight. Specifically, he's done more football player workouts as opposed to basketball player workouts. There was a pic of Harden floating around showing an obvious loss of weight. His new-found cardio and weight loss could mean more late-game and late-season success for Harden and the Rockets.

Westbrook's edge

Russell Westbrook has a competitive fire that can't be put out. It's like one of those never-ending burning torches you see at monuments. He wants nothing more than to prove he's a winner on a high level. Given that he's reunited with a long time friend in Harden, his competitive nature could help fill the gap where Harden may lack. These two have proven they can coexist very well this season. Now could be their time to take surge.

Small-ball

When the Rockets traded Clint Capela, they fully committed to small-ball. There were times they didn't have a guy in the lineup over 6'5. The tallest guy that gets regular time is roughly 6'8. The smaller, quicker lineup is an advantage on the offensive end, but can be a huge liability on the defensive end. Given the stoppage and restart of the season, it could help them. Suppose other teams are sluggish and can't get their chemistry straight. Houston's advantage is that they go through one or two guys and eat off their shooting. Shooting can be worked on during times like these, whereas other aspects of your game can't.


I'm not saying the Rockets have a built-in advantage, but they have as good a shot as they've ever had in the past. The field is wide open to any team that's in the playoff hunt. No team will have a built-in advantage over others. With the Rockets' unique brand of ball, they may be able to make a run at a title this season. Couple that with Harden's weight loss and Westbrook's competitive nature, it could be very interesting. Whenever the NBA comes back this season, which I believe they will, I think this team has a legit shot at winning it all.

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