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NFL Week 8 Hot Takes: NFL’s elite show their hand

After an unpredictable start to the season, the NFL is settling into a rhythm

Sunday was a long day for football fans, with a 9.30am ET kickoff in London extending the day in a delightful way. After all that football there are more than a few hot takes that need discussing…

Super Bowl favorites show their class

The Patriots defense stinks, Atlanta’s offense is on the rocks, Seattle can’t block… Those were the early season headlines for three of the favorites for Super Bowl LII. All they did this week was shake off those worries and put up W’s. It wasn’t easy by any means, but winning when you’re not at your best is the mark of a contender.

New England had to settle for field goals, but one or two moments aside the defense was strong despite missing Dont’a Hightower. Atlanta finally got a win over an AFC East team after being upset against Buffalo and Miami and losing to New England last week. Russell Wilson put Seattle on his back and produced 482 yards of offense for them, which is more that the whole team put up on the day.

Even Pittsburgh have rebounded from early season worries to string three wins together. The early part of the season may have been unpredictable, but as we approach November the elite teams are coming good.

Deshaun Watson is the real deal

The reason Russell Wilson had to put up so many yards yesterday was because Deshaun Watson would not go away. From an early bomb to Will Fuller to last-minute scrambling and pin-point throws under pressure, Watson was not intimidated by the Legion of Boom or the 12th Man. He did throw three interceptions, but his 402 yards and four touchdowns are hugely impressive numbers for a rookie, nevermind a rookie in the most hostile environment possible.

Watson has already exceeded expectations this season with his production and has finally given Houston hope that they can have consistency at the position. He is a blend of Russell Wilson’s movement ability and Matthew Stafford’s arm talent with Tom Brady’s calmness under pressure. It could be a combination that rules the roost in the AFC for a while.

Monsters of the Midway are back

The only press the Chicago Bears get these days revolves around their rookie quarterback or gruesome injuries (get well soon, Zach Miller), but this defense needs more attention. Going into the Super Dome the expectation is that Drew Brees will slice up your defense, throw for 350 yards and put 30 points up. Not so much against the Bears.

Chicago took away the big plays down the field, giving up some easier underneath throws but controlling things and forcing meticulous drives. They tackled well, hit Brees a few times and while the veteran completed 23 of 28 passes, he didn’t throw a touchdown and the Saints scored only 20 points, and just six in the second half.

With Akiem Hicks, Leonard Floyd, and Pernell McPhee leading the charge up front, Danny Trevathan and Christian Jones were able to maraud and crush the running game. Chicago’s defense doesn’t have the stars it once did, but they are performing extremely well.

Trouble in Tampa Bay

Playoff expectations are giving way to disappointing realities in Tampa. A 17-3 defeat to Carolina was their fourth loss in a row and put the Bucs to 2-5. Jameis Winston was meant to blossom this year, instead he turned the ball over three times on Sunday and completed just over half of his passes for 210 yards. The lingering shoulder issues will no doubt take some of the blame, but Winston’s decision making has always been questionable and it is beginning to be a serious problem now.

Dirk Koetter’s seat is really heating up because he is meant to be the guy that can talk to and improve Winston, and those improvements just aren’t being seen yet.

Buffalo Bills show teeth

Hands up who was waiting for the Bills to collapse? Yep, me too. Turns out though, that Sean McDermott is a magician. This team, despite it’s preseason trades, and the shipping out of Marcell Dareus this week, is working like a well-oiled machine. They crushed the Oakland Raiders 34-14 to move to 5-2.With a defense that can stifle running games, their own electric back capable of moving the chains and the scoreboard, and an opportunistic defense that is tied for the lead in turnovers (17), they have every chance of taking the fight to New England when they finally lock horns in December.

Jacksonville are serious

Bye week teams rarely get a mention in our hot takes since they didn’t play, but Jacksonville made a move to address their glaring weakness (no, they didn’t trade for a quarterback) when they brought in Marcell Dareus at the low cost of a sixth-round draft choice. Dareus comes in to plug a hole up front against the run, where the Jaguars rank dead last in yards per game (138.6) and yards per carry (5.2). However, Dareus isn’t just a run-stuffing defensive tackle. In the two seasons he played under Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone in Buffalo, he racked up 17.5 sacks. Adding another player that can get to the passer is just greedy from the Jaguars, but it shows that they think they can really go far this season. And in a world where killing QBs is the key to defense, who am I to argue?

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Toby Durant

A passionate and opinionated writer, I am currently the NFL editor for RealSport. However, I also contribute to F1, WWE, Football, and other sections of the site, and I have covered the NFL International Series for RealSport and previously contributed to SB Nation.


I also have 10 years playing and coaching experience in American football, starting at the University of Nottingham and including a stint as defensive coordinator at Oxford Brookes University. I may be a Patriots fan but all aspects of the sport interest me, from guard play to special teams.

NFL Week 8 Hot Takes: NFL’s elite show their hand

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