NFL Week 8 Recap: Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson Showdown – Halfway Through the Season, Eagles lead NFC and Steelers lead AFC

Week 8 in the NFL featured a healthy mix of close, compelling matchups and a few one-sided affairs. To kick things off, the Baltimore Ravens destroyed the Miami Dolphins 40-0 in Baltimore on Thursday Night Football. Baltimore’s defense shined en route to three defensive touchdowns and zero points allowed as they improved their record to 4-4.

The next contest took place across the pond in London as the Minnesota Vikings bested the Cleveland Browns, 33-16. Minnesota moves to 6-2 after the win, putting them comfortably in first place in the NFC North, especially after the devastating collarbone injury sidelined Aaron Rodgers from the Green Bay Packers.

Transitioning to the Sunday afternoon games, the Buffalo Bills looked to continue its surprisingly good start against the Oakland Raiders in Buffalo.  The Bills trounced the Raiders behind LeSean McCoy’s 151 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries.  This win puts the Bills at 5-2 and only one win behind the New England Patriots in the AFC East.  

The reigning Super-Bowl champion Patriots were also victorious at home against the Los Angeles Chargers. In the surprisingly close contest, Stephen Gostkowski kicked four field goals and Tom Brady added a touchdown pass in the win.

Moving to the tightly contested NFC South, the New Orleans Saints were able to secure a win versus rookie Mitchell Trubisky and the Chicago Bears, improving to 5-2.  The Atlanta Falcons also beat the New York Jets 25-20.  Torrential downpours made for slippery conditions and kept the score relatively low, but the defending NFC Champions found a way to battle through behind Matty Ice’s two touchdowns and a costly Jets special teams turnover late in the game, moving them to 4-3.  The final NFC South matchup featured the Carolina Panthers beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 17-3. Carolina’s victory improved its record to 5-3, another feather in Cam Newton’s fedora.

In a matchup of the best versus the worst, the Philadelphia Eagles predictably dominated the San Francisco 49ers 33-10. Many analysts have named Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz as an early MVP favorite, and for good reason, as he continued his excellent season with 211 passing yards and two touchdowns in the 33-10 win.

As for the other games, the Houston Texans took on the Seattle Seahawks.  Both Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson threw for over 400 yards and four touchdowns apiece, but it was Watson’s late interception to Richard Sherman that sealed Seattle’s 41-38 win. The Seahawks improved to 5-2 with the win, moving them into an NFC West tie with the Los Angeles Rams. Also subjected to over an inch of rain, the Cowboys splashed their way to a 33-19 victory behind Ezekiel Elliott’s 150 yards and two touchdowns on a career-high 33 carries.

The Sunday evening game had the surging Pittsburgh Steelers visiting the Detroit Lions.  Pittsburgh’s defense came up big in this one, holding Matthew Stafford and the high-power ed Lions offense to just five field goals and zero touchdowns in the 20-15 Steelers win. JuJu Smith-Schuster took his opportunity to shine amidst Martavis Bryant’s benching with the game-clinching 97-yard touchdown.

The Eagles seem to have complete control in the NFC, while the AFC is still wide open for Pittsburgh, Kansas City, New England or pretty much anyone else who can step up.  It will be interesting to see if Wentz can keep Philly riding high, and the next few weeks will be very indicative of the playoff picture heading into the winter.

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