All In The Cards: Week 8 Recap

Welcome to the week eight recap of All In The Cards. A lot of wild and crazy things happened last weekend so there are quite a few things to talk about, including the firing of some coaches, some key injuries, and a particular quarterback-benching. The Cardinals are on bye this week but there will still be a regular All In The Cards this week as I will give my midseason grades for each team as well as midseason awards. I hope you enjoy and if you do make sure to follow me on Twitter @QTipsforsports or just search the hashtag #Allinthecards for in-game thoughts and analysis. Without further ado, let’s see how I did with my week eight picks:

How I did with my Week 8 NFL Predictions:

  • Arizona 34, Cleveland 20: This game was a tale of two halves. The first half featured the Cardinals of old, as they continuously shot themselves in the foot and let the Browns rack up a 21-7 lead. The pressure of being the favorite was getting to them and after one Chris Johnson fumble (his first of the season) things started to unravel as both the offense and defense were pushed around by the Browns. Despite a late field goal, it looked like the Cardinals had fallen prey to the trap game. Then the Cardinals did something they never do. Instead of playing scared, the Cards played angry. Right from the second half kickoff, the defense smothered the Browns offense, only allowing 86 total yards and forcing two turnovers. The Browns never scored again while the Cardinals offense scored 24 points in the second half to pull out the victory. To the regular observer this seems like an underwhelming win for the Cards but it is more than that. The Cardinals won their first game this season where they lost the turnover battle (the Cards had four turnovers to the Browns two), thus breaking down the preconception that this team only wins when things go their way. The Cards took this game and now have a bye before they face the Seahawks in what will be the biggest game of Arizona’s season so far. (1-0)
  • New England 36, Miami 7: Even toddlers who can’t put together full sentences know that the Patriots’ offense is excellent, but what we saw Thursday night was that the Patriots’ defense is also a pretty good. They held a Dolphins’ offense that had scored a combined 82 points in their last two games to just a measly seven points. Even more impressive is that the Patriots’ run defense held the Dolphins to 15 rushing yards after Miami accumulated 428 rushing yards over its past two games. If the Patriots’ defense can play like they did Thursday night on a consistent basis, we may see Tom Brady and company complete their second perfect regular season. (2-0)
  • Kansas City 45, Detroit 10: A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that you should never fire a coach unless you know for a fact that the coach, not the players, is the reason you are failing. We saw a couple of teams part ways with a coach this week and for their sake they better be right or else the same thing that happened to the Lions will happen to them. In their first game after firing offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, the Lions were humiliated by the Chiefs as Detroit tied a season-low 10 points scored. The Lions’ eighth ranked passing game threw for only 195 yards against a Chiefs’ defense that ranks a mediocre 21st in pass defense. Either the Lions replaced Lombardi with the wrong guy or it’s the group of players that should shoulder the blame. (3-0)
  • Tampa Bay 23, Atlanta 20: While fourth quarter comebacks are exciting, at some point you need to ask yourself why do you need to make these comebacks all the time? That’s the position the Falcons see themselves in at the moment as their flare for waiting until the fourth quarter to make a run has finally come back to haunt them. Give credit to the Buccaneers, who had a similar lead last week against the Redskins but collapsed in the second half, for finding a way to win in overtime, but this was a long time coming for the Falcons. Despite being 6-2, the Falcons are nowhere near that good when you realize they have trailed in the fourth quarter during six of their eight games. That means the Falcons are only a few plays away from being 2-6. The Falcons need to find out why they keep falling behind because as you saw on Sunday, those deficits are starting to catch up with them. (3-1)
  • Minnesota 23, Chicago 20: Down seven with less than five minutes left to go on the road at a place where you have lost seven straight. That was the position the Vikings found themselves after Jay Cutler ran in for the go-ahead touchdown to put the Bears ahead late in the fourth quarter. What we saw was a Vikings’ team grow up and pull through in crunch time. Let me say this because I know some people might want to call me a hypocrite for praising the Vikings comeback but criticizing the Falcons for always having to come back: the difference is that the Vikings were tied in the fourth quarter before seeing the Bears retake the lead, thus prompting the Vikings to have to score late to win. The Falcons on the other hand fall behind early by multiple scores and then start to play better in the fourth quarter. The Vikings showed resolve by falling behind late and coming out with the win. That’s the sign of a well-coached team. (4-1)
  • Cincinnati 16, Pittsburgh 10: When you combine this loss with the loss of Le’Veon Bell, this may be the game the Steelers look back to if they don’t make the playoffs. While DeAngelo Williams should be able to keep the running game afloat in Bell’s absence, the home loss to the still undefeated Bengals is what will hurt more. The race for the wild card spots will be tough and with someone from the AFC South guaranteed to make the playoffs, we may yet again see a 10-6 or better team miss the playoffs. However, it’s not looking good for the Steelers to even finish 10-6 with the schedule they have left. They host the surprisingly good Raiders this week and still have home games against the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts. In addition, they still have to play the Seattle Seahawks as well as the Bengals on road. Getting to 10-6 will be an uphill battle as the Steelers currently sit at 4-4. This would have been considerably easier if they were 5-3. (4-2)
  • Houston 20, Tennessee 6: As a Cardinals fan, the firing of Ken Whisenhunt has me conflicted. On one hand he led the Cardinals to their only Super Bowl appearance and to back-to-back division titles. On the other hand there are all the stats of Whiz with/without Kurt Warner (24-18 with Warner, 24-53 without Warner). It seems that what ultimately led to Whiz’s demise with the Titans was his unwillingness to change his offense, which doesn’t surprise me. Whisenhunt’s progression scheme fit Warner perfectly, but since Warner’s retirement, Whiz has focused more on finding a quarterback who can work in his system instead of adapting his system to fit his quarterback. That is the key reason he has gone through so many quarterbacks during his time as a head coach and honestly is sounds like a fatal flaw. I still respect Whiz for leading the Cardinals to the Super Bowl and I wish him the best of luck, but this was a coach firing I agree with 100%. (5-2)
  • St. Louis 27, San Francisco 6: I wanted to talk about how the Rams are now 3-0 against the NFC West or how Todd Gurley has rushed for more yards than any other running back through their first four games since the NFL/AFL merger, but when the 49ers make a decision as dumb as the one they announced this week I have to talk about it. Do people forget how bad Blaine Gabbert was when he last played? Gabbert has the worst career QBR of any quarterback in the last 10 years, sporting a terrible 22.6 during his three years in Jacksonville. For anyone unfamiliar with QBR, all you need to know is that a quarterback with a QBR of 50 is considered to be an average. You can’t use the supporting cast argument either because he has a similar supporting cast now so nothing will change. I know the 49ers are frustrated with Colin Kaepernick, and that the offense is currently last in points scored. It just feels like the 49ers are giving up on the season and trying to distance themselves away from the last link to the Jim Harbaugh-era. I hope another team down the line gives Kaepernick another shot, because this season was hopeless for him from the start. (6-2)
  • New Orleans 52, New York Giants 49: This is the kind of box score you usually see during a Madden game, not an actual NFL game. I can’t help but feel that both defenses have been scarred from this experience. I remember in the 2009 playoffs when Arizona beat Green Bay 51-45 that both defenses took some time to recover after being humiliated by the opposing offenses. Neither the Saints nor the Giants’ defenses were that good to begin with, but you really have to worry about their psyche going forward. Suddenly a stop the defense would usually make doesn’t happen and then the team loses a game they needed to win. It will be very interesting watching both defenses going forward. (6-3)
  • Baltimore 29, San Diego 26: It’s really tough to see a warrior such as Steve Smith go down the way he did. Before the year he called this one his last season but after suffering an Achilles injury Sunday it is hard to believe that this will be the last time we see the future hall-of-famer. As for what the Ravens do without Smith, my answer is run the ball more and hope somebody in the receiving core emerges over the next couple of games to be a go-to receiver for Joe Flacco. As for the Chargers, even more weight is on Philip Rivers now with the injury to Keenan Allen. However, unlike Flacco, Rivers still has Danny Woodhead, Antonio Gates, and Malcom Floyd to throw to. (7-3)
  • Oakland 34, New York Jets 20: Derek Carr became the third Raiders’ quarterback since 1970 to throw for over 300 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions (the other two being Rich Gannon and Jeff Hostetler). Even more impressive is that he did it against a Jets’ defense that is one of the best in the NFL. Suddenly the Raiders are over .500 with a win against a good opponent and hope that a future playoff berth could happen as soon as this season. I think it’s a little early to be thinking playoffs, but if the Raiders are able to win one or both of their next two games (at Pittsburgh and then home for Minnesota) then I would probably jump on the bandwagon. The Jets, on the other hand, have lost two straight and while both were against good opponents (the other loss being against New England) the thought of losing Ryan Fitzpatrick for any amount of time really puts their playoff hopes in jeopardy. (7-4)
  • Seattle 13, Dallas 12: The Seahawks did what they had to do and now they go into their bye week 4-4 with a huge matchup against Arizona the week after. The game is important for both teams, as I’ll go further in-depth during that week’s All In The Cards preview, but there is no doubt that the team with more pressure to win that game is Seattle. Even though it seems the Seahawks’ defense has finally gotten back on track, 15 total points allowed in their last two games, they played two of the five worst offenses in the NFL in the 49ers and Romo-less Cowboys. The Seahawks have still yet to beat a team with a winning record and failing to do it against Arizona at home could put the Seahawks so far behind in the standings that they won’t be able to catch up by the end of the season and miss the playoffs. (8-4)
  • Denver 29, Green Bay 10: I didn’t think the Broncos’ defense could continue to carry the team throughout the rest of the season but I was obviously wrong. What we saw against the Packers was one of the best defenses in recent NFL history. You do not simply hold Aaron Rodgers to 77 passing yards. In fact, the Packers offense, which averages 332.1 yards a game, was held to just 140 yards. Broncos’ wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (168 yards) had more yards than the whole Packers’ offense. I still think the offensive shortcomings will eventually bite the Broncos in the butt, but that defense is going to make extremely hard for any team to take advantage of an offensive mistake. As for the Packers they face another tough defense in Carolina this week. I think Rodgers and company will respond but if they don’t then there might be some cause for concern. (8-5)
  • Carolina 29, Indianapolis 26: If reports are true that Pep Hamilton continuously refused to play an up-tempo offense, then this firing makes a little more sense. However, this just seems like the wrong time to bring in a new offense. I understand the concept that in situations like this there needs to be a fall guy, but the truth is that it wasn’t all Hamilton’s fault. Andrew Luck is obviously not himself as he still seems injured and has committed 13 turnovers this season. The offensive line is still bad, the tight ends aren’t as involved, and the defense is ranked 25th in points allowed which puts even more pressure on Luck to perform. If new offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski is able to turn this offense around, then firing Hamilton will have been the right call. The problem is that I don’t think things will change that much under Chudzinski. (9-5)

Week 8 Record: 9-5
Season Record: 78-41 (.655)
Perfect Score Predictions: 2

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