Welcome to another installment of my weekly NFL Column. My goal is to watch everything so that you don’t have to. I will present to you the best games to watch back; the craziest moments; the best individual performances and the season-long stat leaders and records. I will also be previewing the upcoming gameweek, too.
If that sounds like something you’re interested in, check in each week.
Not everybody in the UK has the ability to watch almost 20 hours of live NFL every week, but I’ll make sure you don’t miss anything you’d wish you didn’t. Without further delay…
This is what happened This Week in the NFL.
Game of the Week
If you can only watch one full game in its entirety, watch this one:
Carolina Panthers @ Atlanta Falcons
Now this was CRAZY. You have to go watch – at the absolute least – the highlights for this one and then report back.
I’m being serious, watch this madness.
I watched the final episode of House of the Dragon this week and it had nothing on this game in terms of dramas and twists and turns.
Carolina Panthers 34 – 37 Atlanta Falcons
That scoreline on its own is looking pretty exciting, to be fair, but the way we got there was absolutely nuts. The Carolina Panthers entered this game off the back of an incredible upset, beating the visiting Buccaneers, trying to gain some momentum. The Falcons have been a pleasantly surprising team so far, with a couple of gutsy wins behind Marcus Mariota.
The first quarter was incredibly quiet, ending 3-0, but from the second quarter onwards, it picked up. First drive of Q2, TD Falcons (Kyle Pitts scoring is always exciting). Second drive, TD Panthers. Then, as halftime approached, a Falcons pick-six. The chaos was well and truly underway.
In the third quarter, there was a bit more of a tactical reset, with just a field goal on Carolina’s side of thing, while the Falcons finished the quarter on an 8 play 62-yard drive.
Then there was the 4th quarter. Now it’s time to pay attention. When Q3 ended the score was 13-21 in favour of Atlanta.
Then there were 34 total points scored in this quarter, so buckle up.
A 75-yard drive ending in a D’Onta Foreman 1-yard TD started the quarter, and then after a Falcons field goal they went straight back up the field 60 yards for Foreman to drive it in once again, as Carolina took the lead 28-24. The Falcons then immediately responded, with a massive play to Damiere Byrd, for a 47-yard TD. With the pressure on, down 3, the Panthers tried to go for it on 4th and failed, putting the game in Atlanta’s hands. However, the defense locked in and forced them to take a field goal, meaning their lead was just 6 points.
That lead was pretty important, though.
P.J Walker and the Carolina offense got the ball with 36 seconds to go. That was plenty. On the third play of the drive, he heaved an incredible pass to D.J Moore, who hauled it in for an epic 62-yard TD, tying the game at 34-34. Unfortunately, while celebrating this exciting moment, he removed his helmet, earning a 15-yard penalty, which was enforced on the PAT, making it a pretty long kick. Eddy Pineiro then proceeded to miss said kick, taking it to Overtime.
In Overtime, Pineiro then missed another game-winning kick opportunity, and the Falcons won the game with a walkoff ‘this is how to do it’ field goal from Younghoe Koo. 34-37.
What a game.
Other games to watch back
Miami Dolphins @ Detroit Lions
Arizona Cardinals @ Minnesota Vikings
Upset of the Week
For this one it isn’t the result – although I wish it was – that was particularly surprising, but the score.
Las Vegas Raiders 0 – 24 New Orleans Saints
Yes, my beloved Raiders got absolutely embarrassed this week. Let’s talk about just how bad it was. By the time my NFL Game Pass stream was working, they were already losing 17-0. The Raiders offense managed to record just 183 yards of total offense and they couldn’t find the end zone once. Vegas even pulled their starters toward the end of the game to just avoid adding injury to insult. Alvin Kamara baptised their defense, too, but we’ll talk about that more later.
Winners and Losers
Baltimore Ravens (5-3)
New Orleans Saints (3-5)
Denver Broncos (3-5)
Atlanta Falcons (4-4)
Dallas Cowboys (6-2)
Miami Dolphins (5-3)
Minnesota Vikings (6-1)
New England Patriots (4-4)
Philadelphia Eagles (7-0)
Tennessee Titans (5-2)
Washington Commanders (4-4)
San Francisco 49ers (4-4)
Seattle Seahawks (5-3)
Buffalo Bills (6-1)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5)
Las Vegas Raiders (2-5)
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-6)
Carolina Panthers (2-6)
Chicago Bears (3-5)
Detroit Lions (1-6)
Arizona Cardinals (3-5)
New York Jets (5-3)
Pittsburgh Steelers (2-6)
Houston Texans (1-5-1)
Indianapolis Colts (3-4-1)
Los Angeles Rams (3-4)
New York Giants (6-2)
Green Bay Packers (3-5)
Teams on Bye
Kansas City Chiefs (5-2)
Los Angeles Chargers (4-3)
Philadelphia Eagles (7-0)
We’re still flying, ladies and gentlemen.
I don’t know what more there is to say than simply: this team is legit. We’ll be discussing them in the following standout individual performers segment, so I won’t drop exact stat lines here, but Jalen Hurts and A.J. Brown went absolutely nuclear this week. Their rapport is growing and that connection could be at the heart of this dominant offense. What a performance.
The defense also did it’s thing, putting the pressure on Kenny Pickett and making Pittsburgh’s life hell. They sacked Pickett 6 times and forced two turnovers, one with an interception and one fumble. C.J. Gardner-Johnson’s interception punctuated the game, on the Steelers final desperate drive.
Philadelphia sports fans are having the time of their lives right now, so enjoy yourselves Eagles fans.
Next, they’re heading to Houston. Same time here again next week?
Standout Individual Performers
Christian McCaffrey, San Francisco 49ers
1 rushing TD, 1 receiving TD and a passing TD. 183 total yards.
This was a really fun one, so I knew I had to put him first. Christian McCaffrey became the first player since 2005 to hit the trifecta: 1 rushing TD, 1 receiving TD and a passing TD. He has settled in very quickly in San Francisco and this week he had his first proper workload. CMC rushed the ball 18 times for 94 yards and also caught 8 of his 9 targets for an additional 55 yards, to add to his two scores. Then there’s the matter of his passing efforts. He threw a 34-yard dime to Brandon Aiyuk on a HB-pass trick play, resulting in a perfect passer rating of 158.3 – epic.
Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
32 carries, 219 rushing yards and 2 TD’s.
If you didn’t see this one coming you need to get in the library and study some history. Derrick Henry absolutely murders the Texans, without fail, every time he is afforded the opportunity. Four of his top six rushing yardage totals in his entire career have come in his last four meetings with Houston. He has recorded 211, 212, 219 (this week) and 250 rushing yards in these games. He also scored multiple touchdowns in every one of those games. This week’s 219 yard and 2 TD performance was a mere formality for King Henry.
A.J. Brown, Philadelphia Eagles
6 receptions on 11 targets for 156 receiving yards and 3 TD’s.
In any other week, this performance would probably be up top, although to be fair, that could apply to a lot of people in Week 8. A.J. Brown went absolutely nuts this week. Everybody knows that the Eagles are the biggest talking point right now, starting 7-0. This performance, though, this wasn’t just another win in the results column, this was dominant. A mid-draft trade acquisition, Brown joined a solid offense and has made it a great one. This week he was targeted 11 times and he caught 6 of them for 156 receiving yards and 3 TD’s. What is it going to take to stop this team? More than Pittsburgh had.
Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles
68% completion rate, 285 passing yards and 4 passing TD’s. 140.6 passer rating.
One of the biggest question marks when the Eagles showed their intentions with the acquisition of Brown was: ‘is Jalen Hurts good enough to lead a team deep into the playoffs?’ Now, naturally, we still don’t know the answer to that, but he’s doing pretty damn well in the regular season. This week he threw 4 passing TD’s, a new career-high, while managing a comfortable win at home. He threw 285 passing yards and completed 68% of his passes, securing a 140.6 passer rating. He’s not quite on Christian McCaffrey’s level, but not bad.
Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
18 carries for 62 rushing yards and a TD, plus 9 receptions on 10 targets for 96 receiving yards and 2 TD’s.
The Las Vegas Raiders looked like a limp noodle this weekend and I shall say no more on the matter. Alvin Kamara embarrassed them, getting a hat-trick, with two coming through the air and one on the ground. The dual-threat half back had 158 yards from scrimmage and went from having 0 TD’s on the season to 3 in one day.
Za’Darius Smith, Minnesota Vikings
7 solo tackles including 3.0 sacks, plus 1 pass defended.
We’re getting to the defense earlier than normal here, because I think Za’Darius Smith deserves it. You will start to recognise shortly that a lot of people had 3 TD’s this week, but I think 3.0 sacks might be just as awesome. The Packer-turned-Viking has looked amazing in his new threads. He has only had one game all year without a sack-involvement, putting up 8.5 sacks in the first 8 weeks. Having more than a sack per game is ridiculous, and ties him with Matt Judon for the league lead.
Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys
14 carries for 131 rushing yards and 3 TD’s.
The Dallas Cowboys (maybe Jerry Jones, but I’ll say Dallas Cowboys anyway) are committed to Ezekiel Elliott being their RB1. However, Tony Pollard does not share this commitment. He has shown time and time again that he presents one of the biggest one-play threats in the league. Pollard carried the ball just 14 times, but turned those touches into 131 rushing yards and scored 3 times. One score came on a 54-yard breakaway, that we have become surprisingly used to from the Cowboys 1b. I would love to see him get a full-time role somewhere else next year, because the talent is immense.
D’Onta Foreman, Carolina Panthers
26 carries for 118 rushing yards and 3 TD’s.
I did tell you there were a lot of people with 3 of something this week, and D’Onta Foreman is one of them. After trading away Christian McCaffrey, the Panthers have found themselves trusting in Foreman for a pretty hefty workload – and he’s killing it. They handed the ball off to him 26 times this week, tying his career-high carries, and he turned them into a whopping 118 rushing yards (yes, that’s exactly how many he got last week too) and secured himself a hat-trick. The Panthers lost in absolutely spectacular fashion – which is why D.J Moore won’t be getting a shoutout this week – but Foreman gave everything he could to get it done.
Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins
81% completion rate, 382 passing yards and 3 TD’s.
The Miami Dolphins are doing some crazy things this year on offense. They look confident and play aggressively and their quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has taken a huge step to make use of his weapons in a high-powered offense. We’ll talk about his main weapon in a moment, but I needed to shout out Tua first. 382 passing yards and 3 TD’s, plus a very efficient 29/36 (81% completion rate) to secure the win.
Tyreek Hill, Miami Dolphins
12 receptions on 14 targets for 188 receiving yards.
Tyreek Hill is known as ‘Cheetah’ for a reason, we all know that. But over the last two or three seasons, he has shown himself to be so much more than just a speedster. He runs good routes with that speed and he is an incredibly underrated receiver at the catch point. He attacks the ball in the air and gets after it on plays you wouldn’t expect him to. This week was an amazing example of that, when he hauled down a catch in incredibly tight coverage, practically bouncing off defenders. 12 receptions on 14 targets isn’t something that happens if you’re just a fast guy – neither is 188 receiving yards. Cheetah is dominating this year.
DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals
12 receptions on 13 targets for 159 receiving yards and an incredible one-handed TD.
Want to talk about the kind of person who deserves 12 receptions? DeAndre Hopkins is that guy. The Cardinals wideout was suspended for the first six weeks but has returned and immediately hit the ground running. He was targeted 13 times in Minnesota this week and caught 12 of them. He put up 159 receiving yards and scored. His touchdown was a thing of absolute beauty, snagging the ball out of the air with one hand while fighting off a defender with the other. Quintessential DHop. In two games back he has been targeted a ridiculous 27 times, and this level of production is what you get when you give him this many opportunities.
Travis Etienne, Jacksonville Jaguars
24 carries for 156 rushing yards and a TD.
Speaking of opportunities… Last week, you may recall my excitement for Travis Etienne seemingly earning a proper RB1 workload ahead of Week 8. Jacksonville let him loose with 24 carries a full 10-carry upgrade on his previous high, and he responded by having the best game of his young career. Those 24 rush attempts turned into 156 yards and he score his second touchdown in back-to-back weeks. The Jags have a talented young back here and it’s great that he will now get a true RB1 role.
Stat Leaders Through Week 8
Passing Yards – Joe Burrow CIN, 2329
Passing TD’s – Patrick Mahomes KC, 20
Rushing Yards – Nick Chubb CLE, 841
Rushing TD’s – Nick Chubb CLE, 10
Receiving Yards – Tyreek Hill MIA, 961
Receiving TD’s – Stefon Diggs BUF and Travis Kelce KC, 7
Total TD’s – Nick Chubb CLE, 10
Tackles (combined) – Roquan Smith BAL, 83 [Traded to BAL from CHI this week]
Sacks – Matt Judon NE and Za’Darius Smith MIN, 8.5
Interceptions – 5 players tied at 4
Week 9 Preview – What to watch
Teams on Bye
New York Giants
San Francisco 49ers
Week 9 Best Games
Los Angeles Rams @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tennessee Titans @ Kansas City Chiefs
Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals
Tyler’s Bold Week 9 Prediction
Derrick Henry will rush for 100 yards but the Titans will still lose in Kansas City.
Week 9 Storylines
The Eagles have the chance to go 8-0 on Primetime. Eagles @ Texans, TNF
Two 2-win teams have to make something happen soon or their seasons will be over. Raiders @ Jaguars, 6pm
An NFC North rivalry between two struggling teams. Packers @ Lions, 6pm
The rivalry of a generation sees fresh faces. Colts @ Patriots, 6pm
Minnesota are 6-1, but Washington are showing some serious heart this year. Vikings @ Commanders, 6pm
Who wins between an NFC West team way overperforming and an NFC West team way underperforming? Seahawks @ Cardinals, 9:05pm
Which of these two struggling NFC Championship favourites will get their 4th win? Rams @ Buccaneers, 9:25pm
Can Derrick Henry do enough on his own to beat Kansas City at Arrowhead? Titans @ Chiefs, SNF
After making a big move at the trade deadline, Baltimore look to set the tone. Ravens @ Saints, MNF