McCaffrey does all of it; Vikings are legit; Steelers are a multitude: 3 up, 3 down

Week 8 of the NFL season is nearing closure, with solely Monday Evening Soccer left to be performed. After 13 video games on Sunday, whose inventory has moved up and down? I’ve my solutions.


A.J. Brown — Philadelphia Eagles

I have been on the document in my perception {that a} single extensive receiver has far much less of an affect on profitable and dropping than most soccer followers want to consider. For instance, the commerce of Tyreek Hill has not impacted the Chiefs’ win-loss document. Davante Adams has not helped the Raiders win in any respect. However like all theories, it is by no means absolute — and every now and then a transaction for a large receiver can remodel an offense and/or the quarterback. That is what AJ Brown has carried out for the Eagles offense.

The Eagles offense lacked a constant downfield passing assault final season. I strongly consider you’ll be able to’t win at an elite stage on this sport with out explosive passes. Any such passing assault would loosen up a protection that may be geared as much as cease the excellent Eagles run sport. Philadelphia traded for Brown to assist Jalen Hurts unlock a deep passing risk for the offense and it was on full show Sunday. Brown had three first-half touchdowns and completed the sport with six receptions for 156 yards. He has completely made an affect. Safeties must find Brown as a substitute of specializing in the run sport, and the Eagles speeding assault will get extra favorable coverages to run the rock. This commerce has already borne fruit in Philadelphia.

Christian McCaffrey — San Francisco 49ers

In his second sport since being traded to the 49ers, McCaffrey’s numerous talents have been on full show. When the commerce for CMC was made, I assumed it solely made sense for the Niners if CMC was capable of create explosive passing performs. They didn’t want him to run between the tackles; they’ve that sport already. They want him to make performs in area, and with out Deebo Samuel within the lineup Sunday, CMC was that man. McCaffrey had eight catches for 55 yards, together with an superior landing catch. He added 94 yards on the bottom. Plus he threw for a landing on a trick play.

I’ll warning restraint over at this time’s efficiency by saying the Niners personal the Rams within the common season. No matter they do on offense appears to work in opposition to Los Angeles. So whereas CMC was capable of unlock extra yards and extra factors, their system at all times appears to work in opposition to this group. I need to see it in opposition to different opponents earlier than rendering judgment on the affect of CMC on this offense.

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings are 6-1 and have the second-best win share within the NFC. They’ve completely not gotten the respect they deserve for his or her quick begin this season. They’ve crushed a single group with a profitable document, and that was the Dolphins with out Tua as their quarterback. The Vikings are proper across the center of the pack in each offensive and defensive effectivity they usually lacked some huge performs within the passing sport. That appeared to vary after their bye in opposition to the Cardinals. Each Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen had explosive catches at this time and Cousins averaged 6.4 yards per try. That quantity is low however it’s increased than what we have seen from the Vikings. That could be a constructive enchancment. The Vikings cross rush was capable of hound Kyler Murray at this time and make his life troublesome. The Vikings protection additionally stymied the Cardinals’ conventional operating sport The Vikings are on observe to win the NFC North and whereas they may not get them the appreciation they deserve, their inventory is manner up.

Vikings defeat Cardinals 34-26 after two clutch sacks by Minnesota protection on final two performs of the sport

Vikings defeat Cardinals 34-26 after two clutch sacks by Minnesota defense on last two plays of the game

The Vikings’ protection proved to be the heroes of their 34-26 victory over the Cardinals. Za’Darius Smith and Harrison Phillips got here up with the sacks.


Los Angeles Rams

The place to start? The Rams are simply not good proper now, and it appears unlikely that adjustments this season. GM Les Snead’s mantra is “F*** them picks,” and whereas it labored final 12 months, the shortage of depth on the roster is exhibiting now. Their offensive line is a wreck, they don’t have any dependable operating backs they usually don’t have any cross rush exterior of Aaron Donald. Matthew Stafford’s arm would not look as crisp and Allen Robinson hasn’t helped a lot. To make issues worse, it seems Cooper Kupp sustained a probably severe harm on the finish of their loss to the 49ers. If he is out for any time frame the Rams offense will actually wrestle to attain.

Sadly, it is troublesome to see any path ahead exterior of including a number of items by the commerce deadline, one thing the Rams mustn’t do. The Rams have the Bucs, Chiefs, two video games with the Seahawks, Chargers and extra challenges forward. With the 49ers and Seahawks taking part in the way in which they’re, it seems the Rams won’t be a playoff group.

NFC South

The worst division in soccer might even see a group with a dropping document win the division. After the wildest sport of the day, the place the Falcons ought to have misplaced a number of instances however received anyway, they’re 4-4 and lead the division. However what do the Falcons do properly? Run the ball? OK, positive. The Saints and Panthers are 3-5, and if the Saints can get wholesome, simply will likely be feisty. The Panthers are simply ok to make video games shut however they will not be profitable greater than six video games this season. The most suitable choice for a group with a profitable document to take the division crowd is Tampa Bay. The Bucs seem fully damaged proper now. They cannot do something accurately however they’ve Tom Brady. Additionally they have a struggling offensive line, horrific play calling at instances and extensive receivers with drop points. I simply make it a behavior to not depend out Tom Brady.

Atlanta pulls off a wild victory in time beyond regulation versus the Panthers

Atlanta pulls off a wild victory in overtime versus the Panthers

Carolina tied the sport with 12 seconds left within the sport however due to an unsportsman-like conduct penalty after the Panthers’ landing they have been pushed again and missed the PAT.

Pittsburgh Steelers

I performed in over 80 video games, and stood on the sidelines for one more 40 or so. In these 120 video games, I can depend on my hand the variety of instances the group I used to be taking part in on, or taking part in in opposition to, executed a whole line change with the substitutes. It is uncommon as a result of even in a blowout there’s at all times a sense a comeback can occur. Additionally, guys have play time bonuses and different incentives to maintain taking part in. Nicely, the Eagles had an empty-the-bench sport, with all of the gamers who dressed getting a possibility to play as a result of there was no shot the Steelers might make a comeback. Eagles heart Jason Kelce was even noticed sporting a Halloween masks on the sidelines in the course of the fourth quarter.

That is a great distance of claiming the Steelers are unhealthy. They’re uncompetitive in opposition to any competent opponent. They misplaced to the Payments 38-3 and the Eagles 35-13. The offense was anticipated to wrestle as Kenny Pickett discovered the place however the scheme is so terrible it would not assist the younger quarterback. The protection nonetheless flashes in opposition to the worst offenses, however they’re clearly lacking T.J. Watt. When he comes again, I am curious to see if the protection retains them in video games.

Geoff Schwartz performed eight seasons within the NFL for 5 completely different groups. He began at proper deal with for the College of Oregon for 3 seasons and was a second-team All-Pac-12 choice his senior 12 months. He’s an NFL analyst for FOX Sports activities. Observe him on Twitter @GeoffSchwartz.

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