The baddest beat of the season; Cleveland’s coaching changes; the Bucs’ big bust: Just another week in the NFL. We’ll give you all the 2018 NFL news you can handle in under three minutes (Disclaimer: you can stay longer than three minutes. Time is relative). Here’s the best—or worst—of the NFL from Week 8.
The Play Bettors Won't Soon Forget
So you had the Rams giving 7 ½ and you were praying for an impossible last-minute cover that would make up for at least some of the bad luck that is killing your wagering career. After all, who among the millions in the betting public can’t rattle off their own personal Top Five of Bad Beats faster than they can recite the birthdays of family members?
You’d already been saved by a miracle—a fumble by the Green Bay Packers’ kick returner Ty Montgomery, who defied a coaching order to take a touchback in the end zone and let Aaron Rodgers work his magic in the final two minutes of the game. Yet now, with a 29-27 lead, your Rams were simply running out the clock. And then, remarkably, there was Todd Gurley turning the corner at the 10-yard line, with an open path to the end zone and an easy touchdo...
Pure rage ensued, as millions of phones were thrown through a television when Gurley went to the ground. The phones that were spared were used to tweet unspeakable things at Todd, which he smugly shrugged off post-game.
In truth, of course, Gurley did the smart thing by choosing not to score, as scoring and would've given Rodgers' the chance to work his comeback magic. And, actually, as it turned out, Gurley’s give-up apparently helped more bettors than it hurt, at least in Las Vegas. The majority of money there was on the Packers, and so according to the Las Vegas Journal-Review, the Gurley play resulted in a swing of more than $1 million in favor of bettors at the sports books in town.
With the win, the undefeated Rams, who started the season at 20-1 odds to win the Super Bowl, are now prohibitive favorites in Vegas at 8-5.
The Firing The Whole World Saw Coming...Plus One More
If you watched HBO’s Hard Knocks this summer, you can’t be surprised that Hue Jackson on Monday became the first NFL head coach to get fired this season. The TV series gave you a remarkably unfiltered look at the tension on the coaching staff, to the point where it felt like newly hired GM John Dorsey had brought in offensive coordinator Todd Haley to be the head coach-in-waiting.
The real surprise then, was that the outspoken Haley was shown the door along with Jackson this week, after reports that the two of them were barely speaking. At a press conference Browns’ owner Jimmy Haslam cited “internal discord” as the reason for the change, as he and Dorsey surely feared the effect of such an unhealthy environment on rookie QB Baker Mayfield.
Not to mention Jackson’s 3-36-1 record over two-plus seasons, of course.
In any case, Jackson and Haley are out, and the interim head coach, seemingly by default, is defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, a loud antagonist himself in the Hard Knocks series.nA new coach will be in place next year, probably an offensive whiz of some sort to bring out the best in Mayfield.
Almost certainly the Browns will be better off for it. Presumably, they won’t be as full of Hard Knocks-worthy intrigue either, but who knows? They're the Browns.
Fitzmagic is Back, But What's Next for Jameis?
Is Jameis Winston the new Ryan Leaf?
More and more the Bucs’ QB, the former Heisman Trophy winner and 2015 No. 1 overall pick, looks like a colossal bust, after losing his starting job again to Ryan Fitzpatrick. In 49 starts, Winston has a mind-boggling total of 71 turnovers, and that doesn’t include another 20 fumbles recovered by the Bucs. Yeesh.
“A zebra doesn’t change his stripes,” ESPN analyst and former NFL lineman Damien Woody said Monday. “The guy is a turnover machine. And the most damning thing about it is that a journeyman like Ryan Fitzpatrick can come in and make this offense look totally different.”
Yes, after nearly pulling off a spectacular comeback win in Cincinnati, Fitzmagic is back in business, as coach Dirk Koetter has again turned to the soon-to-be 36-year old QB to try and save Tampa Bay’s season.
But the big-picture question is whether Winston is the still the future for the Bucs. Or is he an all-time bust? One thing for sure is that Jameis won't be eating many more W's anytime soon...
The Worst of the Worst?
So who ya got as the worst team in the NFL?
The Giants and 49ers, at 1-7, and the Raiders, at 1-6, are the current contenders, and we are about to get some clarity to this riveting question on the primetime NFL stage. According to AP, which credits Football-reference.com, there have been 784 prime-time games played in the NFL on Nov. 1 or later. The combined .133 winning percentage of the Raiders and 49ers will be the lowest ever in such a game.
For the sake of said clarity let’s hope the 49ers lose to the Raiders because, in a bit of timely scheduling, they host the Giants, who have a bye this week, on ESPN the following Monday night.
So Who's the True GOAT?
Tom Brady vs. Derek Anderson wasn’t exactly a compelling matchup of quarterbacks Monday night, but the good news is we’re about to get one for the ages, as Brady hosts Aaron Rodgers and the Packers on Sunday night.
It’s only the second time the two future Hall of Famers have squared off, with Rodgers coming out on top in a 26-21 win in Green Bay in 2014. And Brady, a huge Rodgers fan, can’t wait.
“I think it’s inspiring,” he said Tuesday on his weekly WEEI-radio spot. “Even for me, I watch his game and it makes me want to get out there and practice and improve, because I think he’s so phenomenal. His ability to throw the football is unlike any in probably the history of the league. It’s pretty awesome to watch.”
If that’s not enough, even Michael Jordan is weighing in on something of a GOAT debate, tongue firmly in cheek, to help promote the game for NBC.
Yes, it’s that enticing.
Also, while we're here, LeBron or MJ?
*Out-of-market games only. Select int'l games excluded.