Here are some random thoughts about Week 8 in the NFL…

  • There was a time earlier this season when everyone was convinced that the Death Star known as the New England Patriots was on the verge of imploding because of an ineffective defense.  But as Mark Twain once said, “the report of my death was an exaggeration”, and now the same can be said about the Patriots.  In their last four games, the Patriots went 4-0 and have allowed an average of only 12.75 points per game.  No longer is there talk that New England’s reign over the AFC East is finished.  Instead, it’s whether or not they can win Super Bowl number six.
  • The NFL and the NFLPA will attempt to spin this news to their benefit but the message from the paying public about how they have recently conducted business is clear.  Kansas City’s win over Denver was the lowest-rated and least watched Week 8 Monday Night Football game ever.
  • The reason why the Buffalo Bills are in contention for the AFC East title and their first playoff appearance since 1999 is simple, despite having an inconsistent and unexplosive offense.  The Bills lead the NFL in turnover margin at +14 or by an average of +2 per game.
  • Every time they show Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano on the sidelines, the first thought that comes to mind is that he is what Willy Wonka would look and act like if he were an NFL head coach.
  • Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford can throw the football all over the field as much as he wants, like he did on Sunday night, but until Detroit fixes the problem that has plagued Stafford his entire career, the Lions will always be a fringe playoff contender.  In the 116 games Stafford has been team’s starting quarterback, the Lions have had a running back rush for 100 or more yards in a game only seven times.
  • You can blame Tampa Bay’s disappointing 2-5 record on the play of quarterback Jameis Winston all you want but the problems run deeper.  The offense, designed and orchestrated by head Dirk Koetter, is too basic and unimaginative for any quarterback to have success in the NFL.
  • If anyone doubts the importance of a strong offensive line, then they need to look no further than the Dallas Cowboys.  They are the reason why quarterback Dak Prescott has progressed so quickly in only his second season and why their running game won’t skip a beat when and if Ezekiel Elliott begins to serve his six-game suspension.
  • During the broadcast of the Dallas-Washington game on Sunday, the NFL aired a public service announcement promoting October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  On the first play following the announcement, Ezekiel Elliott carried the ball for a significant gain.  And the NFL wonders why they are accused of being tone-deaf.
  • When the first round of the year’s NFL Draft was completed, most experts agreed that the picks made by Tennessee, the Los Angeles Chargers and Cincinnati graded out to an A or B.  Each team selected a wide receiver in the first round in the first nine picks, choosing Corey Davis, Mike Williams and John Ross respectively.  With the season now at the halfway point, Davis, Williams and Ross have combined for eight receptions and 88 yards, causing many of those experts to re-evaluate and change those grades to failing.
  • It was promising to see the Bengals defensive line step up and play a major role in the team’s 24-23 victory over Indianapolis on Sunday.  What was not so promising was the continued dismal play of the Bengals offensive line.  The Colts entered the game ranked 27th in the NFL in rushing defense and yet the Bengals rushed for only 58 yards on 21 attempts on Sunday.  Meanwhile, quarterback Andy Dalton continues to fear for his life every time he drops back to pass.  Dalton was sacked three times and was constantly under siege, even though, at times, the Colts only rushed two defenders.  Unless the offensive line improves in short order, the Bengals are going to need more than just a weekly Carlos Dunlap interception return touchdown to stay in contention for a playoff spot.
  • The NFL’s biggest issue with Miami’s Kiko Alonso’s shot to the head of Baltimore’s Joe Flacco wasn’t the hit itself.  Instead, they need to explain why, in a league constantly preaching player safety and claiming they will not tolerate any action by a player that jeopardizes or comprising another players well-being, Alonso wasn’t ejected from the game for the blatantly egregious hit or why he hasn’t been fined or suspended.  Meanwhile, the league has no problem quickly fining a player for wearing the wrong color socks or shoes or having an unapproved sponsor on a hand towel.  It’s just more proof to the argument that the NFL is inconsistent with their rule enforcement, hypocritical when it comes to player safety and biased when it comes to whom they chose to punish and with what severity.  Simply put, when it comes to player safety, the NFL is all talk and no substance.

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