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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Houston now trails in the fall classic

Astros fall in World Series Game 1 as Braves come out swinging

Framber Valdez had a forgettable start in World Series Game 1 as the Braves tagged him with five runs. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a dominant end to win the ALCS and American League pennant, the Houston Astros welcomed in the National League champion Atlanta Braves for World Series Game 1 at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday. With Houston favored to win not just this game but the entire series, the Braves shook up those expectations by finding early success at the plate to build a lead they would hold to take a 1-0 series lead.

Final Score: Braves 6, Astros 2

World Series (Best of Seven): Atlanta leads 1-0

Winning Pitcher: A.J. Minter

Losing Pitcher: Framber Valdez

Valdez unable to replicate ALCS Game 5 success as Braves mount early lead

For the optimist, not having home-field advantage in an MLB postseason series affords you a benefit: you can score first and take captive momentum first in the series. The Braves did that against Framber Valdez, as Jorge Soler became the first player in league history to hit a homer in the first plate appearance of a World Series, putting Atlanta out to an immediate 1-0 lead. They would get another in the first frame, getting a one-out infield single by Ozzie Albies, who would steal second to get in position for an RBI double by Austin Riley.

Houston had the chance to respond in their first inning against former teammate Charlie Morton, getting a single and two walks to load the bases with no outs. They'd strand all three runners, though, as Morton made it through unscathed but having used 26 pitches. Atlanta kept putting stress on Valdez, extending their lead to three runs with back-to-back singles to start the second before later getting an RBI groundout.

Valdez gave up two more in the top of the third, once again allowing a leadoff single, this one setting up a two-run homer to make it a 5-0 Braves lead and forcing Houston's starter out of the game early. Yimi Garcia entered and was able to retire the three batters he faced to end the frame.

Braves lose Morton to injury as both bullpens begin long night

After stranding the bases loaded in the bottom of the first to keep the Astros off the board, Morton followed it up with a 1-2-3 second. He started the bottom of the third by retiring his fifth batter in a row, getting a strikeout of Jose Altuve. He would immediately call trainers to get him out of the game, though, as he would later be diagnosed with a fractured fibula, presumably from a ball that ricocheted off his leg in the prior inning, ending his season in a disappointing turn of events for the Braves.

That set up a long night for both bullpens, and next up for Houston was Jake Odorizzi. He started with a scoreless fourth, working around a two-out error to keep it a five-run game. The Astros began a rally in the bottom of the fourth, getting runners on the corners with one out on a Kyle Tucker double and Yuli Gurriel single. Chas McCormick brought in the first run of the board for Houston, but that's all they would get as Atlanta's lead remained four runs.

Astros drop Game 1

Odorizzi kept going on the mound, tossing a 1-2-3 fifth, then getting one out before a one-out single in the top of the sixth would prompt Dusty Baker to move on to Phil Maton, who finished the inning. Maton returned in the top of the seventh, getting a strikeout before a double and a walk would result in the call to bring in Ryne Stanek.

A double play against his first batter allowed Stanek to finish the seventh, and then he returned in the eighth. He faced three batters that frame, getting one out before a walk and a single would put runners on the corners as Houston moved on to Brooks Raley. A sac fly by Freddie Freeman off of Raley made it a five-run lead again, but a leadoff triple by Yordan Alvarez in the bottom of the inning would set up Carlos Correa for an RBI, a groundout to make it 6-2.

Atlanta's bullpen continued to do well, though, limiting the damage to that one run in the eighth, then returning to hold on to the four-run lead in the bottom of the ninth to give the Braves the upset win to start the series. The loss extends their home losing streak in the World Series to five games (having lost all four at home in the 2019 World Series against the Nationals) and puts them down 0-1 and in need of a win in Game 2 to try and reset the series into a best-of-five.

Up Next: World Series Game 2 will be another 7:09 PM Central scheduled start time on Wednesday from Minute Maid Park. The expected pitching matchup is Max Fried, who is 1-1 with a 3.78 ERA in three postseason starts, for the Braves, and Jose Urquidy, who went just 1.2 innings while allowing six runs (five earned) in his start in the ALCS.

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