Wow that was terrible! I’m really regretting sticking to this nut-pun theme. Anyways …
Finally! Finally the football gods looked down on us and smiled. The lightest week of the NFL season so far somehow produced the most entertainment of any, and that’s even with the handicap of two terrible bookends: Titans-Jags on Thursday and a sure to be awful Bears-Vikings clash tonight. But even without discussing Gus Bradley’s job security (or why that sentence is even a thing), there’s still far too much to get after this weekend.
Why, here are just some of the topics to come out of a great Week 8: We had finally had a good London game! There was another tie. The number 69. Cam Newton’s safety. Dildos. The struggles of the Seahawks’ offense. Mark Ingram’s benching. How do the Raiders keep winning? How do the Browns keep losing? Wade Phillips. Who is the league’s MVP? Could it be one of the Cowboys rookies? Andre Johnson’s retirement. And the non-event that is NFL trade deadline; but maybe this year will be different?
With so much to burn through, we’re going to ignore the usual Henry’s Nuts format (apologies to shout-out contenders Derek Carr, Dee Ford, and Dez Bryant). It’s time to answer all the questions about Week 8 you never knew you had!
Week 8 in a Nutshell
Fact or Fiction.
The Raiders can’t keep winning like this: Fact.
Oakland’s dramatic 30-24 win over the Buccaneers spit on every cliche announcers and coaches use when discussing what a team needs to do to win on the road.
Jump out to an early lead to take the crowd out of it? Nope, the Raiders fell behind 10-0 early in the second quarter. Win the turnover battle? Oakland didn’t generate a single takeaway, and lost a fumble. Avoid stupid penalties? Hell no! Instead, the Raiders set an NFL record for transgressions. And even after Sebastian Janikowski missed two potential game-winning kicks, Oakland still found a way to emerge victorious.
The Raiders might be the most enjoyable team of the first half, burying conventional wisdom at every turn. They lead the league in penalties and allow more yards on defense than anyone but the Browns, yet they’re leading their division and are a perfect 5-0 on the road. While I’d like to believe this run can continue, let’s take note of what’s in front of them.
All of Oakland’s wins have come against teams that are .500 or worse. Now they head into a stretch where four of their next five opponents are currently .500 or better. It’s not that I think the Raiders will suddenly drop off, but they will need to tighten up their game if they want to win their division, versus just getting into the dance. (Although, given their road record, maybe this team would prefer the Wild Card route.)
Cam Newton isn’t revered like other quarterbacks: Fact.
Both Newton and former teammate Josh Norman had issues with the refs on Sunday. While Norman was focused on calling out one number, the fed-up reigning MVP decided to put the whole league on notice.
Newton’s claims of not feeling safe because the refs aren’t enforcing roughing the passer calls against him have been both supported and refuted across the NFL. While Newton used to draw more roughing the passer calls than the league average, over the last two seasons, he hasn’t received any, despite a few noticeable cheapshots in the season opener at Denver and more on Sunday against Arizona.
Be it an over-correction from officials or something else, there’s no doubt Newton and his giant frame are treated differently than the rest of the league’s signal callers. And it’s not just in the pocket, he’s had odd calls go against him after the whistle too. Maybe it wasn’t the right way to voice his displeasure, but hopefully the NFL looks beyond the sizzle and cuts into the steak.
Tom Brady is the league MVP: Fact.
If you’re going to dock Brady for playing in half as many games as everyone else, then you have to respect how quickly he’s ascending the passing leaderboard. Already tied for 11th in passing TDs, Brady’s averaging the same yards per game as the people’s choice for midseason MVP, Matt Ryan, while boasting a passer rating that’s 18 points higher.
Sure he wasn’t around for the team’s 3-1 start, but as the season unfolds, wins over Miami, Arizona, and Houston look less and less impressive. The most important facet of Brady’s MVP case: with him under center, the Patriots actually look like the best team in football. In a season dogged by mediocrity, why shouldn’t the MVP go to the best player on the best team?
Bills fans are the worst: Fiction.
Drunk and disorderly, sure, but after catching hell for a few classless Kaepernick shirts a few weeks ago, Bills fans showed the world they do have a social conscience. For the final weekend of the NFL’s Breast Cancer Awareness month where everything on the field is pink, one Buffalo fan took it a step further, launching a pink object onto the field that could best be described as … a fake rubber penis.
In a surprise to no one, the flaming pink phallus drew a ton of attention on the internet. And while the pink was an obvious nod to women’s cancer, the dick-ish-ness of the whole situation was a nice reminder for men to go get checked too. Yes, it was definitely a dildo thrown with noble intentions. What else would you expect from the fans who spend their pregame fighting fires by any means necessary?
Seattle can win the NFC with the equivalent of a high school o-line: Fiction.
Actually, comparing them to high-schoolers may be giving some players too much credit. But it’s pretty clear that, much like the Panthers’ strategy of skimping on their secondary, Seattle’s frugal approach to its offensive line (which is the lowest-paid o-line in the league) is not yielding quality results.
Perhaps if Russell Wilson was fully healthy then his athleticism could mask some of their problems, but we won’t find that out this season. Already hampered by knee and ankle injuries, the Seahawks QB now has a pectoral injury to overcome and getting hit about six times a game doesn’t sound like the best cure.
With their ground game producing nothing, Seattle’s protection has to improve somehow if this team is going to capitalize on a weak NFC. Perhaps they’ll be able to pull off a blockbuster trade in the next 24 hours? Hahaha, just kidding.
This NFL trade deadline will be busy: Fiction.
Jamie Collins getting dealt was a shock, until you remember that Bill Belichick basically does whatever he wants with his veteran players and it always seems to work out. And as one of the few organizations that actually participates in the NFL trade deadline, having the Pats make an early move takes away a lot of the suspense. Despite rumors you may hear about Joe Thomas or Alshon Jeffery moving, these things never end up happening.
Andre Johnson is a first ballot Hall-of-Famer: Fiction.
Johnson was one of the league’s top receivers for years, and surely HOF voters will appreciate that he spent his entire career with Houston. Still, he’ll have a ton of talented contemporaries to beat out when he becomes eligible in 2020, like Troy Polamalu, Champ Bailey, Reggie Wayne … wait, what’s that? Johnson has been in the NFL for the last two seasons? You don’t say.
Hopefully we look back on his disappointing season-and-a-half with the rival Colts and Titans the same way we remember MJ’s Wizards career: we don’t. Either way, the first Texans player enshrined won’t get in on his initial attempt.
Other great things from Week 8
Fat-guy touchdown-streak hits three weeks!
Another reason to love the Raiders, they’ve kept (what feels like) a historic run of fat-guy touchdowns going, with a toss to former Buccaneer Donald Penn in his old stomping grounds.
The tie-streak also continues!
Once is an anomaly, twice is an epidemic, at least when it comes to ties in the NFL. And the otherwise useless London game provided us with yet another one, only a week after I defended the Seattle-Arizona game. At least English footy fans have an appreciation for draws, unlike America.
Other bad things from Week 8
Wade Phillips getting wrecked.
Not all instances of coaches getting run over on the sidelines are bad. I imagine seeing Jim Harbaugh get taken out would be quite enjoyable. But Wade has crossed that age threshold where it’s no longer funny, since you’re far too worried about every bone of his being shattered. The 69-year-old (settle down Gronk!) is reportedly fine, after initial assumptions that his leg was broken.
Troy Aikman calling an Aaron Rodgers game.
There are certain QBs Aikman can find no faults with – ever – and when he calls their games, it’s Clockwork Orange-level torture. Aikman seems to praise Rodgers for every incompletion while the QB is playing some of the worst football of his career. The fact that Aikman was calling the best game of the day made his excessive praise all the more intolerable.
At one point, Aikman praises Rodgers for his use of the hard count, despite the fact that he didn’t draw any Falcons offside and was forced to burn a timeout early in the second half. It’s like praising your dog for peeing in the front hall: he didn’t quite get outside, but the effort was there.
Seriously, why is Gus Bradley still coaching?
This prank on Jaguars fans has gone past the point of being funny and is venturing into cruelty. Perhaps Shad Khan just has a Seth MacFarlane sense of humor and is going to stretch this joke out until it’s kind of funny again.