Week 8 of the NFL season concluded with an underwhelming field goal-riddled game between Kansas City and Denver.
The Monday night game was the culmination of another disappointing week of football. Ultimately, there wasn’t enough attention-grabbing matchups to intrigue fans in Week 8.
There was, however, the game of the year in the NFL. The contest between Houston and Seattle saved an otherwise nap-inducing Sunday of football — as fans across the country recovered from the weekend’s Halloween festivities.
The Texans and Seahawks game Sunday afternoon provided early political-based headlines for the NFL. Earlier in the week, Texans owner, Bob McNair, made regarding NFL players and their handling of the national anthem situation.
However, Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson's thrilling matchup at the game was prime entertainment for football fans.
The game totaled 10 touchdowns and was decided on the last drive of the game for Seattle, as Wilson found Jimmy Graham, over the middle for a go-ahead touchdown with 25 seconds remaining.
The game ended 41-38, in favor of Seattle. The Texans didn’t notch a win. They did, however, find hope for the future as Watson is on a fast track to rewriting the NFL history books. In his first six career starts, Watson has thrown 19 touchdown passes and posted a quarterback rating of 103.
Wilson and the future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning hold the NFL record for rookie passing touchdowns with 26. As mentioned, Watson has 19 through seven games.
To put that in to perspective, it took Manning 12 starts to reach 19 passing touchdowns. Watson has done it in 6.5 games — Watson started the second half of Week 1 against Jacksonville. Likewise, it took Wilson 12 starts to reach 19 passing touchdowns.
Watson is on pace to shatter the rookie passing touchdown record, if he continues to play at the same dominant pace that he has.
Remember when Bill O’Brien started Tom Savage over Watson in Week 1? The Texans eventually lost that game to Jacksonville, what was he thinking?
As for the rest of the AFC, it has played out as many predicted — the Steelers and Patriots would be the class of the AFC. Both teams are tied for the conference lead at 6-2.
Just weeks ago, the Steelers were blown out by Jacksonville and sitting on a less than impressive record of 3-2 — leaving Ben Roethlisberger questioning if he still had what it takes to compete at a high level.
Since then, the Steelers have reeled off three straight wins and sit atop the AFC North. Its safe to say that you still have what it takes, Ben.
After starting the year 2-2 and sending the sports media into a frenzy, the Patriots have won four in a row and seem poised for another run at the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Don’t be surprised if these two teams are battling it out in January for a spot in the Super Bowl.
Throughout the sloppy play in Week 8, we did learn some valuable lessons to guide the rest of the 2017 NFL season.
1. The Patriots handling of the Jimmy Garoppolo situation was strategic and brilliant
On Monday night, just before the Chiefs and Broncos kicked off, the Patriots agreed to send quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers in exchange for a 2018 second-round pick.
The Patriots held onto Garoppolo for as long as they could and once it became evident that he would not re-sign with the team, they decided to move him for a second-round pick.
The Patriots now have the liberty of holding onto the pick (which will likely be the first or second pick in the second round) or flipping it for a contemporary need — defensive help.
There have been trade talks surrounding the Eastern Illinois product, since he was drafted in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft.
The Patriots, however, handled the situation with patience. And they will benefit from this trade, in whatever way they decide to handle the second-round pick acquired from San Francisco.
2. When Kyle Shanahan leaves your team, the offense disappears
After watching the Falcons offense struggle on offense again, the play-calling and decision making of first-year offensive coordinator, Steve Sarkisian, was called into question.
In 2016, under Shanahan, the Falcons were the No. 1 scoring offense in all of football. Shanahan got the most out of the talent he was provided with as Taylor Gabriel had a breakout year at wide receiver and Matt Ryan posted career-high numbers earning the NFL MVP and having his team within 15 minutes of a Super Bowl win.
The Falcons returned all skill position starters from a year ago. They did, however, lose their offensive coordinator.
Also, Shanhan was at the head of the Browns’ offense in 2014. A year in which the Browns were surprisingly not 10 games under .500. They finished the year at 7-9, their best record since 2007.
Shanahan was able to get the most out of quarterback Brian Hoyer and improve a Browns run game that had been lacking for years. The Browns ranked 17th in rush yards per game in 2014. When Shanahan left in 2015, the Browns dipped to 22nd in rush yards per game.
Shanahan hasn’t seen much success in his first year as head coach of the 49ers. After all, he wasn’t given much talent to work with. One thing is for sure, he was a hell of an offensive coordinator.