NFL Week Eight Observations: Big deals spice up trade deadline

Alex Smith is having a great year, but the Chiefs are winning with defense. Peter Aiken/Getty Images

Week Eight in the NFL was just as crazy and exciting as we’ve all come to expect from the game we love. Not as crazy and exciting as game five of the baseball title series, but it served to appease our appetites.

The Good

-The Kansas City Chiefs are talented on defense as well. I’ve praised Andy Reid on his use of offensive weapons, but getting five turnovers from the Denver Broncos to win 29-19 was impressive. On a night when the offense wasn’t working, this was a clutch performance by the defense.

-The Minnesota Vikings are 6-2 despite being down to what amounts to their third string quarterback and not having prized rookie running back Dalvin Cook. The defense remains stout, run game is consistent, and Case Keenum is manning the quarterback position nicely. The Vikings are the definition of next man up.

-Last week I said the Buffalo Bills need to get LeSean McCoy more scoring opportunities if they want to maintain their winning ways. McCoy ran for 151 yards and a touchdown Sunday in another Bills win pulling them to 5-2 on the season.  Yes Virginia, the Bills are for real.

-The New Orleans Saints have managed to win five in a row beating the Chicago Bears 20-12. Despite two fourth quarter fumbles by Mark Ingram, the defense managed to hold on and secure the victory when rookie corner Marshon Lattimore sealed the victory with an athletic interception. Who would’ve thought the Saints defense would be the catalyst behind a 5-2, NFC South leading start.

The Bad

-Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed can’t stay healthy. He’s perpetually hurt despite his immense talent. Now it’s a hamstring injury that limited him to one catch for five yards in Sunday’s 33-19 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Same injury will most likely keep him out against the Seattle Seahawks this coming Sunday. Kirk Cousins looks worse for wear whenever Reed isn’t his safety valve.

-The 2-5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ woes can be tied to franchise quarterback Jameis Winston’s inconsistencies. They brought in more weapons (1st round draft pick tight end OJ Howard and free agent wide receiver Desean Jackson), but he’s still as up and down as an instable stock. On consecutive throws in Sunday’s loss to the Carolina Panthers, he threaded a needle between Luke Kuechly and Captain Munnerlyn, then overthrew a wide open Adam Humphries.

-Despite beating the New York Jets 25-20 in what looked like a monsoon Sunday, the 4-3 Atlanta Falcons’ offense doesn’t look the same this year without Kyle Shanahan calling plays. Last year, they threatened to hang 40 every week. Now, they’ve only scored 30+ in two of their seven games.

The Ugly

-Bears’ tight end Zach Miller severely dislocated his knee against the Saints Sunday. He underwent emergency vascular surgery to repair a torn artery which saved his leg. To make matters worse, his would be touchdown catch on the play he injured himself was called back.

-San Diego Chargers’ Travis Benjamin muffed a punt, recovered it, ran backwards into the endzone, and was tackled there for a safety. This play is a microcosm of the Chargers’ season and recent history.

-Mother Nature caused the Falcons/Jets and Cowboys/Redskins games to be played in torrential downpour rain conditions. At one point, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan held his throwing hand under his jersey to keep it dry until he snapped the ball. Here’s another vote for retractable roof stadiums.

Bonus Coverage: NFL trade deadline deals are pretty rare. However, despite Tuesday’s 3 p.m. Eastern time deadline, two pretty big deals were finalized on Monday. The Houston Texans sent embattled left tackle Duane Brown to the Seattle Seahawks for draft picks and cornerback Jeremy Lane, while the New England Patriots dealt quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers for a draft pick. Both deals appear to help both teams get what they need. Only time will tell who got the better of each deal.

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Houston's magic number stays at 2

Astros drop series finale to Mariners after rough start by Greinke

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With their magic number at 2 to secure their spot in the 2020 MLB postseason, the Astros returned to T-Mobile Park in Seattle for this three-game series' finale and rubber game. Here are the highlights from the game:

Final Score: Mariners 3, Astros 2.

Record: 28-28, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Nick Margevicius (2-3, 4.57 ERA)

Losing pitcher: Zack Greinke (3-3, 4.03 ERA).

Greinke unable to complete five innings

While the Astros were being held scoreless, the Mariners were putting up runs on Zack Greinke. They took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first with back-to-back singles followed by an RBI-double with one out. Greinke would stop the damage there, then looked to settle in over the next few frames.

He allowed just one baserunner in the second through fourth innings, a one-out single in the bottom of the fourth. Then, in the fifth, the Mariners would knock him out of the game by getting a one-out single that would come around to score on a two-out RBI-double, followed by an RBI-single to extend the lead to 3-0. Greinke faced one more batter, allowing a single before Dusty Baker would take the ball and move to the bullpen. His final line: 4.2 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 0 HR, 92 P.

Astros try a late rally, come up short

On the other end, the Astros were unable to break through against Nick Margevicius, getting just one hit and two walks through the first four innings. They had a chance to get on the board in the top of the fifth, starting the inning with back-to-back singles before a walk loaded the bases with one out to turn the lineup over. They'd come up empty, though, with George Springer striking out before a long flyball to center by Jose Altuve to end the inning.

After finishing the fifth for Greinke, Andre Scrubb returned for a scoreless sixth, working around a one-out walk. Still 3-0, Blake Taylor took over on the mound in the bottom of the seventh, erasing a leadoff single and two-out walk to keep Seattle from extending their lead. Houston had another chance to score in the top of the eighth, getting two runners in scoring position, but again would strand them.

Cy Sneed was the next reliever out for the Astros, working around a two-out walk to send the game on to the ninth. The Astros would avoid the shutout, getting a two-RBI single by pinch-hitting Josh Reddick in the top of the ninth to make it a one-run game at 3-2. That's as close as they'd come, though, as the Mariners would eventually get the final out to take the series and keep the Astros' magic number stagnant at 2.

Up Next: There is one series left in the regular season for Houston, and it awaits them in Arlington with a four-game series against the Rangers, who are well eliminated from playoff contention. The first of the four games will start at 7:05 PM Central on Thursday with a pitching matchup of Lance Lynn (6-2, 2.53 ERA) for Texas and Cristian Javier (4-2, 3.33 ERA) for the Astros.

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