The rich got richer, the poor got poorer, pecking orders got established, and a few times saw their world lurch in a not so happy direction in week #7. We’re back at the Real Deal Report to break it all down.
Game of the Week: Seattle Seahawks 211 over New York Giants 208
Was there ever a question? The obvious game of the week going into the week lived up to its billing, with the two NFC powerhouses going back and forth with each other all weekend long. For the Giants, the newly acquired Mike Evans dropped a cool 27 to introduce himself to his new franchise, Chris Boswell poured in 19 points from the kicker spot, and only an Aarti Burns zero kept the Giants from going over 100 points on defense. It was much simpler on the Seattle side, where Ezekiel Elliott somehow yet again delayed his suspension and used the opportunity to go off to the tune of 219 all purpose yards and three touchdowns (47 fantasy points). The ironic part about this game? Eddie Jackson, a throw-in CB in the deal that brought Evans to the Giants scored two defensive touchdowns, good for 33 fantasy points. This is in turn 6 more than Mike Evans, and enough to win the game. While I’m certain we’re all convinced that Magic Mike is going to put up crazy points for years to come, the Giants can say they lost his first game as a direct result of the trade.
What are the ramifications? Well, New York has now lost to both Detroit and Seattle, leaving the Lions and Hawks in the clear drivers seats for first round byes, assuming Seattle can hold off a tough Houston squad that always seems to play well against division leaders.
Jacksonville Jaguars: I’m not entirely sure WHERE to put the Jaguars on this list. On one hand, the Jaguars just keep on hunting. In a brutal game where both starting quarterbacks (Cutler and Palmer) sustained potentially career ending injuries, Jacksonville gutted out a gritty 192-186 win over the scuffling yet competitive Colts and their 56 million dollar man. As you might expect with a game that levels both starting QBs, it was a defensive struggle, with the teams combining for 249 defensive points. Game ball goes to safety Kevin Byard, who intercepted 3 passes, provided 26 points, and was almost certainly the difference in the game. Coupled with a Titans loss, the Jags go to 8-2 and move into sole possession of first place in the South – and get a chance to add to their lead in week 8 against the Rams while the Titans get an angry Giants team (now with a Mike Evans!).
On the other hand, Jacksonville no longer has a quarter back, as Jimmy “GaroMarco” Garoppolo and some guy named Kyle Sloter are the only other QBs on the roster. Despite an 8-2 record, a top 3 point total in the AFC, and first place in the division, it’s a hard life without a quarterback. We’ll see if the Jags can survive – they have everything else this year.
Pittsburgh Steelers: And, after all that, same as it ever was in the AFC North. The Steelers recover from a tough week 6 loss to smash the Bengals by 40 in their week 8 showdown behind the now expected mighty games from Le’Veon Bell and Jarvis Landry. Just as hopeful for the yellow and black, the bottom four on their offense contributed a combined 35 points, which is the sort of production they need to see going forward. DeForest Buckner scored 22 to pace an underwhelming defensive performance. The Steelers are now, somehow, sitting at 6-3-1, a game and a half up on Cincy and with the tiebreaker. Same as it ever was.
Minnesota Vikings: Every week, the Vikings get mightier. One week after going off for 213 in a win over Green Bay, the Vikings decided they liked it so much that they up and did it again, this time for 233 (good for second highest point total of the week) and obliterated the reeling Baltimore Ravens by almost 100. Dak was his usual self with 29, but as always, it was that absurd Minnesota defense that scored 129 points despite a zero from Paul Pos (I still can’t spell his last name) lusjalkdsyaisuasdny. Here’s the thing. From dead and buried at 1-6, the Vikings have now won three straight to move to 4-6 – only two games out of the wild card and with 6 to go. It’s a long shot, but the Southern monsters do have this habit of beating each other up, and if the defense keeps putting up these kind of point totals… a run is possible.
Honorable Mentions: Cleveland Browns, Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: It is very hard to be in the best division in RDFL. It’s even harder when everybody else in that division wins and you lose. It’s yet harder when that loss drops you into last place and out of the wild card. And it’s hardest when you score only 47 points in a lackluster loss to a beatable Cardinals team. Josh McCown did his part with 24 fantasy points, and so did Von Miller and LaVonte David, who combined for 17 tackles, 2 sacks, and a pair of fumbles. But just about nobody else did theirs. The Bucs get Carolina this week, and so need to shake this one off in a hurry. Only one game out of the wildcard, they can’t afford another less.
Tennessee Titans: Similar story for Tennessee, who did not hold up their rivalry bargain with the Jaguars. While Jacksonville was gutting out a win with an injured quarterback, the Titans were riding Case Keenum (5 points) to a positively early-season Colts-esque 29 point offensive day. The offense only added 67, and I kid you not, the leading scorer for Tennessee was kicker Ryan Succop, with 14. Smoked by hapless Cleveland (now with an Eddie Jackson!), Tennessee now gets a brutal game against the Giants, and faces the very real possibility of being two games back in the division with five games to go.
Cincinnati Bengals: Yet another opportunity squandered for the Bengals, who seem to like big games about the same amount as Donald Trump likes telling the truth, Bernie Sanders supporters like paying for things, and politicians everywhere like being classy, upstanding individuals without ulterior motives. (See what I did there, by the way? I offended both Trump and Bernie, and so nobody can be mad at me for partisanship! Bwahaha). Also, the common thread is that they don’t. At all. With a chance to yet again seize control of the division, Cincy mailed in a 150 point duffel bag of used Kleenex and lost by 40. Sticking with this week’s theme, it was bad offense (under 50 total points) that did in the Bengals, and, just like with Tennessee, their kicker was very nearly the leading scorer (Harrison Butker, whose name I will eventually make fun of, got 14 – while Derrick Kindred barely eeked him out with 14.5). Cincy is still in the race, but they need to figure it out very, very quickly as time (and opportunities) are beginning to run out.
Dishonorable Mentions: Dallas Cowboys, Baltimore Ravens, LA Rams
Week 8 Games of the Week: This is a week with quite a few excellent games to choose from, many of which will have bearings on key playoff races.
Arizona Cardinals vs. Green Bay Packers: The Cardinals just won’t say die. Coming off middling victories over Philadelphia and Tampa Bay in consecutive elimination games, the Cards have made up exactly zero ground on the high-flying Seahawks, but find themselves only a game out of the wild card race. Green Bay is only two out, despite a very disappointing season. Yet again, the winner shall have hope. What Arizona will not have is a full contingent of players, with no less than 14 players on bye this week. Can they gut out yet another W?
Buffalo Bills vs. Oakland Raiders: The next unfortunate victim to try and put a crimp in Buffalo’s perfect season is the Oakland Raiders. And Buffalo is NOT what Oakland needs. At 6-4, the Raiders are clinging precariously to the last AFC playoff spot and seeking to stave off challenges from the Jets and Bengals, both sitting at 5-5. The Raiders will have to get it down without their quarterback as well, with the Packers on bye. I don’t love their chances
New York Jets vs. Atlanta Falcons: The New York Jets are playing a game with real playoff indications in week #8! This is exciting stuff, and should send hope to teams like Washington, Dallas, Miami and San Francisco. It can happen! Unfortunately for the Jets, they get a 6-4 Falcons team with a lot to play for, and who just dropped 228 for the third highest point total of week #7. The saving grace? Bye weeks again. The Falcons lose John Brown, TE Evan Engram, and QB Jared Goff for week 8, while the Jets are all aboard the Wentz Wagon and ready to ride it to a winning record.
Carolina Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: After a tumultous first ten games, Carolina finds itself atop the NFC South at 8-2, with a little distance over 6-4 New Orleans and Atlanta, and by only two games over the 5-5 Buccaneers. A win by Carolina would help to put a little distance between them and missing the playoffs, while a Tampa Bay win throws this division back into a wide open jumble that all four teams can win. Not as much bye week turbulence in this one, which means advantage Carolina – the Panthers are outscoring the Bucs by an average of 30 points per game so far this year.
Detroit Lions vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: Another epic class between divisional leaders, as the Steelers face off against the Lions. Having reasserted their hold on the AFC North, Pittsburgh now faces one of the highest scoring teams in RDFL while the Bengals get Indy. It’s very possible that next week could see another half game margin. Detroit, meanwhile, seeks to put a little distance between themselves and the Giants for that first round bye. Despite both team’s status, Detroit has a pretty clear edge, having outscored Pittsburgh 2200-1900 through the first ten weeks of the year.
Houston Texans vs. Seattle Seahawks: Yes, Houston is 2-7-1. No I have NO IDEA how that is possible. A couple of illegal lineups early in the year hurt their record, and a couple of inexplicably rough performances buried them in a very deep hole. But man has this team gotten up for big games. In week 5, they tied Kansas City 196 even, giving the Chiefs their only record blemish. In week 7, they dropped 228 points in a shellacking of Cleveland. Last week, they looked for all the world like they were going to knock off the mighty Lions before Derek Barnett took the game back with a pair of second half sacks on Monday Night Football and gave the Lions the lead 208-196. Houston is 2-7-1, yes. But this team is WAY better than that record indicates, and this has ALL the indicators of a trap game for the Seahawks, coming off an emotional win over New York. I’m picking Houston for the upset here.
New York Giants vs. Tennessee Titans: Speaking of them thar G-Men, this angry team comes home to face the Tennessee Titans after only their second loss of the year. New York doesn’t really need this game all that badly. They face no challenges within the division, as the Eagles remain a full three games behind and New York has the tiebreaker. But Tennessee needs it in the worst way as they seek to avoid falling two games back of Jacksonville in the AFC South. They are not all that likely to get it, with their entire special teams on bye. The Titans need a herculean effort to get back on track in this one.
Good luck everyone!