Titans 34 Colts 31
Indianapolis was a 3.5 point favorite at home for the divisional matchup against the AFC South leading Tennessee. The Titans covered and won outright largely in part to two late interceptions from Carson Wentz, who up to that point had been having the best game of his career as a Colt. The big news from this one, however, was league leading rusher Derrick Henry going down with a significant foot injury. He has already gone under the knife, and apparently all went well, but he will be missing a minimum of 8-10 weeks. If that’s the case, he could possibly be in the mix for a Titans playoff run; assuming that they can effectively find a new offensive identity without him and maintain their division lead through the remainder of the regular season. Veteran Adrian Peterson has been signed, and is expected to be elevated from the practice squad rapidly, but it will take a strong platoon effort in their backfield in order to replace Henry’s production. Peterson and Jeremy McNichols are both solid adds on the waiver wire in fantasy football this week.
Dolphins 11 Bills 26
Buffalo hosted Miami as 14.5 point favorites, and had confident bettors across the country biting their nails until they doubled up on the Dolphins in the fourth quarter. Every win in the NFL has to be earned, and the challenge is ramped up with division opponents. Miami put together a great defensive effort that limited the vaunted Bills offense and had Josh Allen looking uneasy all afternoon. In the end, however, the Bills reign supreme and continue their hunt to repeat as AFC East champions.
Jets 34 Bengals 31
The biggest upset of the week, and possibly the entire season. With Cincinnati coming off of an imposing week 7 victory over the Ravens that seemed to solidify them as contenders, there weren’t many that saw this coming. Especially considering that the Jets trotted out back-up quarterback Mike White for his first career start. Not only did White lead the Jets to victory, he would wind up leading all quarterbacks across the league in passing yards for the week with 405. New York signed veteran Joe Flacco to his second stint in the meadowlands last week when rookie first-rounder Zach Wilson went down with a knee injury, but it’s hard to imagine a situation where White doesn’t maintain the starting role until Wilson is ready to return. The effort was complimented by 15 carries for 77 yards and a score from running back Michael Carter, who continues to build on an impressive 2021 campaign.
Steelers 15 Browns 10
In a classic AFC North showdown, the Steelers returned to old form in bullying the little brother Browns. Granted, Cleveland is battling through injury and Nick Chubb seemed to be missing his usual edge in his return after missing last week with a hamstring injury. Baker Mayfield continues to grind through the injury to his non-throwing shoulder, and it seems as if that may be taking a greater toll on his performance than the team had hoped. He had a wide open shot at Odell Beckham Jr. late in the game that he under threw and proved to be the difference. As always, Pittsburgh is a tough matchup for anyone, because that’s just the way that it is and always has been with Mike Tomlin at the helm. This loss serves as the official panic button for the Browns with the Ravens and Bengals appearing to pull away in the division at the halfway point.
Patriots 27 Chargers 24
Another upset from Sunday that holds significant context. This seems to be a normalizing result for the AFC. The Patriots have slowly been coming together with rookie quarterback Mac Jones, a steady rushing attack led by Damien Harris, and the usual and consistent Bill Belichick defense. New England improves to .500 with the victory, and is very much so in the hunt. On the other hand, the Chargers are still a very competitive club, and a legitimate contender for the AFC West. However, with the Raiders seemingly reaching the apex they have had targeted for the Derek Carr era and the Chiefs plugging away and hovering in the middle of the pack, Los Angeles is going to have their hands full down the stretch and needed the momentum of a victory over this tough Pats team. There aren’t many negatives to point out about the Chargers aside from a weak run defense, but after losing two of their last three, it does feel a bit like “go time” for them. Particularly considering they finish the season with three of their last four games against divisional opponents.
Washington 10 Broncos 17
The Broncos squeezed out this win in a game that Washington appeared to be hellbent on losing. Taylor Heinickie threw two interceptions, and The Football Team was shutout in the first and fourth quarters. A battle between two less than exciting teams lived up to its hype, or lack there of. The biggest news between these two teams on the week is that the Broncos elected to move on from veteran and perennial Pro-Bowl linebacker Von Miller. They sent him to the Rams for a second and third round pick in the 2022 draft. With Denver’s pass rush being the main highlight of their season to this point, it is fair to assume that they serve primarily as a rain cloud over opponents parades for the remainder of the season.
Giants 17 Chiefs 20
A narrow victory for the former Super Bowl favorites over a two win Giants team highlighted Kansas City’s flaws more than it rejuvenated their hopes. No win is a bad win, but there surely are ugly ones. The Chiefs offense that seemingly redefined prowess in the NFL over the past three years continued its woes and had very limited and fleeting success. The turnover bug has been clamped on the former MVP Patrick Mahomes all year, and the adversity has appeared to be overwhelming to this point. Monday night’s week 8 finale wasn’t defined by the interception as previous weeks have been for the Chiefs, but it did rear its ugly head on their first possession. A tipped pass in the end zone landed in the hands of third year Giants DB Julian Love, but Daniel Jones’ second pass of the ensuing drive was taken right back by second year Chiefs linebacker Willy Gay Jr. The game would continue on with the same back-and-forth nature, and finished with the Giants having just over a minute on the clock to put a game winning drive together. The main highlight for the Chiefs is that their pass rush that sits at the bottom of the league in sacks put its stamp on the end of the game with two sacks and allowed for the offense to take victory formation at home.
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