8 Biggest Winners and Losers from NFL Week 8
Week 8 is (almost) in the books, and it's a week that could help set the tone for the rest of the NFL season.
Some teams got the Halloween scare of their lives (Giants, Ravens), while some teams impressed (Steelers, Eagles).
Some teams even just straight up faltered (looking at you New Orleans).
Like any week, of course, there were winners, and there were losers.
But I'm not talking about the final outcome of the games, rather what they mean long term for the teams as well as the players and coaches on each team.
So, here's a look at eight big winners and losers.
Philadelphia Eagles (Winner)
It took a full seven weeks, but the Eagles are back as the front runners in the NFC East.
"But the Giants are in first place, by two games!"
I know, but here's why the Eagles are the front runners:
Their defensive woes? They seemed to be non-existent Sunday night against the Cowboys. Yes, their linebacking corps is still weak, and yes, they still have an offensive coach coaching the defense, but they seemed to fix some of the problems they've had throughout the year.
As for their offense? Well now they have the No. 1 rushing attack to go along with the No. 9 passing attack in the NFL.
What also helps Philly is that they beat a division rival on national television in the most convincing way possible, while on the same day the team they're chasing in the NFC East just barely escaped at home against the Dolphins.
Which brings me to both the Eagles and Giants' upcoming schedules.
In the next two weeks, the Eagles get the Bears and Cardinals at home, while the Giants travel to New England, then San Francisco.
After that, the two teams will meet at the Meadowlands. It's a very good possibility that the Giants will go from 5-2 to 5-4, while the Eagles go from 3-4 to 5-4.
Based off of Sunday night's performance, I believe it's safe to say that the Eagles might have gotten their swagger back, while for the Giants there's a possibility that they may come crashing back to Earth.
Dallas Cowboys (Loser)
Is it safe to end the talk we get from every pundit this year saying that the Dallas Cowboys are "better than their record?"
I may not personally like the guy, but Bill Parcells does have a point when he said that you are what your record says you are.
Yes, I said Philly is a winner at 3-4, but their 3-4 will improve.
With Dallas, eh, I'm not so sure about that.
Rob Ryan's defense was exposed yesterday as the Eagles racked up 495 yards.
The Eagles managed to do this in the most balanced way possible too; 256 yards in the air, 239 yards on the ground.
Meanwhile the Cowboys offense gained 267 yards. Total.
Dallas' saving grace is their easy schedule, as the only potential playoff team they play before their December 11th game against the Giants is against the Bills.
But this Cowboys team knows how to lose. I know, they've only lost to good teams thus far, but here's the problem they face: two good teams reside in their division, and Washington isn't exactly a pushover (although they were to the Bills on Sunday).
That and I just get the sinking feeling that Jason Garrett just isn't that good of a coach, period.
If I'm Jerry Jones (of course assuming I have Jerry Jones' personality), here's what I'm doing during the offseason.
- Fire Garrett, name Rob Ryan the head coach.
- Pray that the Miami Dolphins, get the No. 1 pick.
- Pray that Jeff Ireland remains their general manager.
- If Ireland is still the Dolphins general manager and the 'Phins have the No. 1 pick, call him on draft day: Tony Romo, a first and a second round pick in exchange for Andrew Luck.
If I know Jeff Ireland, he won't say no to that deal.
Cowboys fans, I just gave you something to pray for. Andrew Luck to Dez Bryant? Sounds exciting doesn't it?
Pittsburgh Steelers (Winner)
Who after Week 1 thought the Steelers were toast?
Who thought that Pittsburgh would suffer from the Super Bowl losers' curse of missing the postseason the next year?
If you thought this, you were wrong, as the Steelers proved to everybody on Sunday afternoon.
I know this game likely meant more to the Steelers than it did to the Patriots, however it wasn't just about the Steelers domination of the Patriots that made them winners this week.
But it was also about a look at the future.
While the Steelers were taking care of business at home, Baltimore had to come from behind to beat a bad Cardinals team.
The Ravens were at home too, and for the first 30 minutes of that game, they were downright terrible. It looked like that Monday night game against the Jags was more of the norm than the exception.
So, who does Pittsburgh get next week? Of course, Baltimore.
Based off of the last two weeks, expect the Steelers to return the favor of Week 1 and firmly take control of the AFC North.
And the AFC, period.
Tim Tebow (Loser)
There's Stephen Tulloch "Tebowing," which some might consider sacrilegious partly because of religious reasons, and partly because some people seem to think Tebow is legitimately the son of God.
Of course, what we found out on Sunday was that in reality, the Denver Broncos are just a bad team while the Detroit Lions are a good team.
But of course, no game that finished with a final score of 45-10 will get more press than this one, simply because of the presence of Tim Tebow, as well as Tulloch's taunt.
So, maybe Tebow isn't really the loser here, the real losers are football fans everywhere, as this story will get beat into the ground like a dead horse.
Then, next week when Tebow and the Broncos come from behind to beat the Raiders, they'll begin talking about how great he is again.
I'm already sick of the Broncos because of Tebow, and mind you, I actually like the guy.
I just hate that they'll become the most talked about 4-12 team in the history of the NFL.
San Francisco 49ers (Winner)
The 49ers defeated Cleveland by 10 in another one of those games that wasn't as close as the score indicated.
Now standing at 6-1, San Francisco leads the NFC West by four games. That alone is enough to make them big winners in Week 8.
Four games, that's the deficit faced by their closest suitor, the 2-5 Seattle Seahawks.
The 49ers can already start calculating their magic number, something no other division leader in the NFL can even begin to fathom (San Fran's magic number stands at five).
San Francisco can clinch the NFC West by Thanksgiving's matchup.
Oh, and this 49ers role isn't a fluke of geography (*cough*2010 Seahawks*cough*).
The 49ers have thus far made three trips out east. Those three games were all against potential playoff teams Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Detroit, all victories.
Yet despite making three trips east already, the 49ers are also due east for games against Washington and Baltimore.
Now, part of me thinks it would've likely been a bit more economical had they scheduled those two games in back to back weeks, thus saving the 49ers in travel costs and jet lag, but that hasn't seemed to bother them quite yet.
In fact, their one loss came at home to the Cowboys in one of the flukiest games of the year, however the Niners have seemed to build from that game.
Is it conceivable that this 49ers team could wind up going 13-3?
Yes, and by the way, Alex Smith is still the quarterback.
Look out for the 49ers this postseason, for after mid-November they'll have the NFC West wrapped up, and should expect to hone their play for the playoffs while fighting with Green Bay for home field advantage.
On top of that, we could see a matchup that should bring many football fans back to the mid to late 90s if they run into Green Bay in the playoffs.
New Orleans Saints (Loser)
In my last article highlighting the 10 NFL Playoff Games We'd Like To See, a common complaint I got was that I left the Saints vs. Packers game off the list.
As entertaining as that game seems on paper (thanks in part to their tremendous opening night game), I'm now about to say something based off of Sunday's performance that will show why I left the matchup off the list.
It's hard for two teams to meet in the playoffs when one of the teams can't get there.
The Saints aren't going to the playoffs this season. A tough division (and tough conference), and inconsistent play by the team will keep them out.
St. Louis should've been a win for the Saints. I know that the difference between the best and worst in the NFL is a fine line, but its not often that a terrible team makes a great team look terrible.
Next week we'll see a rematch against the Buccaneers, another team that's inconsistent (funny thing about the NFC South, the most consistent team has been the Panthers, the team in last place; at least you know what you're going to get out of them, you can't say the same thing about the Saints, Bucs and Falcons).
Tampa Bay is already 2-0 against other NFC South teams, including New Orleans.
Then after that the Saints have the Falcons in Atlanta, a bye week, then the Giants and Lions at home.
If they continue the way they played on Sunday, this four game stretch will surely knock the Saints out of contention.
Buffalo Bills (Winner)
The Bills dominated the Redskins in Toronto, picking up their first win in Canada (on their fourth try).
Meanwhile, at the same time, Pittsburgh demolished New England.
Next week the Bills have the Jets, who are coming off of a bye. For the first time in a while, this game will mean something to both teams.
Don't look now, but guess who's in first place in the AFC East.
Buffalo's upcoming schedule is tough, they play the Jets twice in a four week span.
If Buffalo can pull off the sweep, they'll knock the Jets out of playoff contention.
They already have one win against New England in the bank, too.
Buffalo continues to roll (or circle the wagons), and despite a schedule that also includes games in Foxborough, San Diego and Dallas, I see them continuing to roll into the playoffs.
Team Suck for Luck: Miami and Indianapolis (Winners)
I know, I know, both teams lost on Sunday.
The Colts lost in another game that was worse than the score would indicate, while the Dolphins were victims of a Giants comeback spurred by a poor coaching decision. (I know, that never happens to the Miami Dolphins under Tony Sparano, what a shocker!)
But here's the bright side: first, St. Louis won, and looked very good while doing it.
Secondly, and this is key: as good as Andrew Luck is, on Saturday night we saw that USC quarterback Matt Barkley would also be a pretty good catch.
Both Luck and Barkley looked like real QBs leading their teams the other night, both made the key throws that had to be made (Barkley likely would've won the game too had the officials given USC the one second they should've had, based off the replay they blew the whistle signaling that Woods was out of bounds with the clock still showing one second).
Both will be good NFL quarterbacks.
Take a look at their stats: Luck went 29-of-40 for 330 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, while Barkley went 28-of-45 for 284 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
While yards and completion percentage favored Luck, Barkley held his own and looked great in the pocket, too.
Even if the 'Phins or Colts don't get the No. 1 pick, there's still hope.
While Luck is still the ultimate prize for these two teams, Matt Barkley isn't too bad of a consolation prize.
In fact, he might just be a pretty good one.
The only difference I see is that Matt Barkley will need a year to learn a pro system and adjust to the NFL, as opposed to Luck who could probably step in now if it was possible.
So, feel free Dolphins and Colts to win a game or two down the stretch, alright guys? Same thing goes for the Rams, feel free to keep winning!
Thomas Galicia is a Miami Dolphins Featured Columnist who also writes about other goings on in the NFL. Follow him on twitter, @thomasgalicia, and follow him on Facebook as well. Be sure to check out his archives at www.thomasgalicia.com.