AFC South

Week 8 Takeaways

Packers vs. Rams
You probably wouldn’t call it a blue print, but the Packers Defense had a lot of success against the Rams Offense throughout most of the first half. Their blitzes seemed to give the Rams some trouble, and Jared Goff did not throw the ball accurately with pressure around him. L.A. eventually made some adjustments, but it will be interesting to see if other teams around the NFL can take anything from Green Bay’s performance and try to use it against the Rams moving forward. That offense still seems pretty tough to handle at this point, though.

With that being said, man the Packers can’t seem to get out of their own way. Aaron Rodgers didn’t touch the ball in the final 5 ½ minutes due to a Ty Montgomery kick-return fumble. This game was a microcosm of Rodgers’ career since Green Bay’s 2010 Super Bowl win: The defense showing glimpses but ultimately being unable to lock down the other team, and mistakes being made around Rodgers at the worst times.

You can’t help but feel like the Packers have wasted the prime of Rodgers’ career by putting a sub-par team around him. Sure, the defense played well in the first half, but this year has been more or less a continuation of the last 8 years. Just look at the Packers’ defensive ranks from 2011-2018 in points per game allowed: 19, 11, 24, 13, 12, 21, 26, 15. This doesn’t account for some of the absolutely awful defensive performances in the playoffs during that same time period. While there has been some improvement this season, the Packers aren’t winning anything until the team around Rodgers becomes more competitive.

Saints Look Comfortable Away from the Superdome
The Saints earned a convincing win against the Vikings on Sunday Night, marking their second straight road win against a tough opponent. The name of the game this week was the Saints Defense, which generated some key turnovers that swung the game in their favor. Last week, the Saints showed the ability on offense to win ugly. This week, they showed that their defense has the traits that can compete in any environment against any offense. New Orleans is now 4-0 on the road.

The 8-0 Rams come to town next week for what could be an NFC Championship Game preview. There are some great matchups on both sides of the ball in that one.

The Buccaneers’ QB Question
Jameis Winston was atrocious against the Bengals. His four interceptions happened for a variety of reasons. He forced throws, made inaccurate passes, failed to read the defense, and stared down his receivers. He was benched for Ryan Fitzpatrick, who brought the Buccaneers back from an 18-point deficit to tie the game before ultimately losing on a last-second field goal.

The Buccaneers have a decision to make, and it all depends on how they view Jameis Winston. If he is truly their quarterback of the future, then he should be back under center next week and it shouldn’t even be a question. If he is not, though, the Buccaneers should play the quarterback that gives them the best chance to win. That might be Fitzmagic right now.

Jaguars are in trouble
Jacksonville looked like a potential challenger to New England’s AFC throne after beating the Patriots convincingly in Week 2 and starting the season 3-1. They have lost four straight since then. Blake Bortles has struggled, and his play is definitely an issue. More concerning, though, is their defense, which has looked quite unremarkable lately. They have allowed 28.5 points per game during this four-game losing streak. People can complain about the Jaguars offense all they want, but if that defense doesn’t start to get its act together, the Jaguars have no shot of doing anything significant this season.

Seahawks and Panthers have been Sneaky Good
Not many people are talking about either of these teams. The Panthers just beat the defending champions on the road and then absolutely took it to the Baltimore Ravens, who entered Week 8 with the #1 defense in the NFL. Cam Newton games are not always pretty. His talent is off the charts, but he has battled consistency issues his entire career. His last 5 quarters of play have been really good, though, and the Panthers are now sitting pretty at 5-2.

The Seahawks no longer have the Legion of Boom. In fact, there are not a lot of familiar or household names on that defensive unit these days. Seattle is not nearly the same team it was a few years ago, yet their defense is still performing at a level close to the top of the league. And Russell Wilson is the glue that keeps this team chugging along. He is currently completing 65.9% of his passes and has a 16-4 TD-INT ratio to go along with a 112.8 passer rating. The Seahawks now sit at 4-3 and are poised to make a run for the playoffs as we move into the second half of the season.

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