NFL Week 8 Recap: 5 Things I Think
1- Get Well Soon, Zach Miller!
For the third week in a row injuries—one injury in particular this time—grabbed a lot of headlines. Chicago Bears tight end Zach Miller suffered a knee gruesome injury on a play in the endzone on Sunday in New Orleans. I was paying attention to the wrong TV and missed it when it happened live on the NFL Red Zone Channel, but a couple of people in the room winced and groaned. Their reactions were enough to let me know that I did NOT need to see that footage (and I still haven’t). The injury turned out to be a severely dislocated knee, but the reason this knee injury stood out from a sea of NFL knee injuries is the sobering story that surfaced once Miller was seen by medical professionals. We learned that he was in danger of losing his leg and had to undergo emergency vascular surgery. I repeat, in danger of LOSING HIS LEG! The dislocation had so damaged an artery that we stopped hearing about whether Zach would ever play football again and started hearing that the freak injury might cost him an appendage. We’re pretty numb to these injuries because they seem to happen all the time, but make no mistake: this one was different. We wish Zach Miller a full recovery.
2- I am SOOOOOOOO Sick of the Patriots
As I said in the preamble to the Week 8 Picks, I felt like this was the week we would begin to see some teams separate and I think I do feel like it’s all starting to take shape. The Eagles, Saints, and Seahawks all wrapped up a perfect October and sit atop their respective divisions. The fourth division leader in the NFC also won on Sunday and has what looks like a stranglehold on the NFC North. Case Keenum and the Minnesota Vikings everyone!! It feels like the Rams somehow won by not playing even though Seattle caught them in division. I’m buying all the stock you will sell me on those five teams. The AFC is probably a little murkier through the middle, but I am confident that New England, Pittsburgh, and KC are the class of the conference. The AFC South is the one division in football that I think will change the most. I don’t trust Tennessee and I think Jacksonville is too up and down. I believe Houston is the one team with a losing record at this point in the season that will really make some noise. This leads conveniently into the third Thing I Think . . .
3- Houston Texans @ Seattle Seahawks: The Game of the Year
For all the chatter we endure about dumb things that aren’t football, we finally have a breathtaking, on field contest to feed the media machine. Two potent offenses traded blows as their traditionally strong defenses struggled to keep pace. Deshaun Watson continues to break the mold and reset expectations as he became the first QB ever to throw for 400+ yards and 4 TDs while also rushing for 50+ yards. Yep, that had never happened before in NFL history, but a rookie did it in his 7th start. Oh by the way, his team lost. For the second time this season Seattle figured out how to win a 50-50 game against an upstart media darling. I said it after they beat the Rams a few weeks back and I will say it again: you’re gonna have to kill Seattle to knock them off the perch. I wish Bill O’Brien would have been more aggressive on offense towards the end instead of giving the ball back to Seattle and relying on his gassed defense. I wish he would have taken a timeout when that gassed defense was getting ripped to shreds by a white hot Russell Wilson on the ensuing drive. But this was a thrilling game that more of America should have gotten to see. Speaking of which . . .
4- “America’s Game of the Week” wasn’t great, but don’t blame the ‘Boys and ‘Skins
The first time I ever spent a Sunday watching NFL Red Zone, I knew there was ZERO chance that it would last. It simply had to be too good to be true. “I get to watch all the best parts of the games with none of the commercials or other junk I don’t want? What’s the catch?” For awhile there truly was no catch. Scott Hansen came into our living rooms for 6-7 hours every Sunday and played tour guide while we just sat there with the football hooked directly to our veins like an I.V. The product, however, has changed subtly over the last few years. And the 4PM EST slot on Sunday showed us the warts of the system. If you didn’t notice that there were only two games being played in that late time slot yesterday, you should have. This is what happens now. They have squeezed all the games out of that slot to set up “America’s Game of the Week,” essentially forcing us into other take-it-or-leave-it window, just like Thursday Night Football, Sunday Night Football, Sunday early-morning football in London, and Monday Night Football. Clever right? Every household outside of Houston and Seattle that doesn’t have Sunday Ticket was left watching the Cowboys an Redskins which was a sloppy game with very little pizzazz. We should have had to option to flip over to the Houston-Seattle game, but we got screwed because of advertising dollars and pressure from CBS and Fox. If you’re a big time football fan, I encourage you to check out 506sports.com where they publish coverage maps every week with announcer pairings. It won’t stop you from getting screwed over by the No Fun League, but at least you’ll see it coming. Speaking of what’s on TV
5- World Series Game 5 Beat Sunday Night Football Head to Head in the Ratings
You’re probably thinking that a World Series game should beat Week 8’s SNF game and you’re right, but that simply hasn’t been the case in recent years. Until things started sliding last season the NFL was king. And for all the talk about the NFL’s slumping ratings that have cropped up in the last year, football was still always squarely ahead of MLB. Until last night. So with yesterday being the last MLB Sunday of the year, you bet I’m dedicating one of my Five Things I Think to the boys of summer! For the second straight October we’re getting some truly compelling baseball. Houston and LA were really the best teams all year and the Fall Classic has been everything we could have ever wanted. There are home runs, extra innings, lead changes, ace pitching, and drama drama drama. Game 6 is tomorrow in LA with the Dodgers now facing elimination and Houston eyeing its first World Series trophy in franchise history. If you haven’t been watching, you’re not too late to get in on the fun!
One final note about NFL ratings: The NFL confirmed that it’s too late too flex out of having the Dolphins and Raiders on SNF next week. Good luck with those ratings, NFL. At least MLB won’t be there to kick you while you’re down.