In these weekly previews, I’ll highlight the results that I found shocking from the previous week, as well as preview the game I am most looking forward to from the weekend ahead. As we get later into the season, I may add some other sections to this, including playoff positioning and a look forward to the upcoming draft.
The Top Games From Week 8
This space will be less about games that were shocking based on preseason expectations and more about the games that had the most impact on the standings as we move past the halfway point in the schedule. This week, I’m highlighting two games because of brief coverage about the trade deadline, but it will usually be three games like it has been in previous weeks. Here are the two games that had the most impact:
New Orleans Saints 30 – Minnesota Vikings 20
I predicted a score of 31-27 in favor of the Saints, so I was pretty close (for them at least), so revenge was had… in a mid-season game that they would have had months to recover from anyway. But a win is a win, and with both teams fighting for their lives within their divisions, the Saints are probably quite pleased to come away with a victory. Drew Brees had only 120 yards passing and a touchdown, but the Saints were bolstered by their defense, with P.J. Williams returning a Kirk Cousins’ interception for a touchdown late in the third quarter which put the Saints up by two touchdowns. They added a field goal to go up 30-13, and only a late Adam Thielen touchdown made the score look as close as it ended up, and the Saints left Minnesota 6-1 (with six wins in a row) and in first place in the NFC South.
Los Angeles Rams 29 – Green Bay Packers 27
Jared Goff outdueled Aaron Rodgers and the Rams came out on top, but if not for a Ty Montgomery fumble on a kickoff return with two minutes left, the game could have been the first loss for the Rams on the season, resulting in champagne popping all over the country among players on the 1972 Dolphins (they still do that, right?). Todd Gurley only scored one touchdown this week, but he remains on pace to score 30 touchdowns this season, and picked up a two point conversion (for all you fantasy football players out there). But it was a non-scoring play by Gurley that sealed up the victory for the Rams, as he fell down at the four yard line after securing a first down after that Montgomery fumble, allowing the Rams to finish running out the clock.
Week 9 Game of the Week
Both of the teams in this week’s Game of the Week were mentioned above, and it will be another must-win game for the New Orleans Saints as they fight for supremacy in the NFC South. This time, it’s the Los Angeles Rams coming in as the underdog (-2.5) in the Superdome, despite being undefeated on the season. As mentioned above, the Rams struggled a bit against the Packers last Sunday, needing a late fumble by the now-departed Ty Montgomery and a first down lay down by MVP-candidate Todd Gurley to seal up the victory.
They should expect another tough game in this one, as the Saints tend to play well at home (64-35 regular season record in the Drew Brees era). The Rams, however, remain the only undefeated team in the league, and the Packers game aside, have looked unbeatable for most of the season. I think this one will be close, but I think the Rams will get to 9-0, but I’m not buying their chances of going undefeated.
Prediction: Rams 34 Saints 31
NFL Trade Deadline
The NFL trade deadline came and went this week, and per usual, it kind of landed with a dud. Unlike major league baseball and the NBA, the NFL doesn’t see a lot of in-season trades, primarily because of the number of games and the difficulties in getting new players into a system without the benefit of offseason work. Nevertheless, we saw a handful of notable players changing teams, including some that could have an impact in their new cities.
On the offensive side of things, the bulk of the moves were among wide receivers, with Amari Cooper, Demarius Thomas, Golden Tate, and the aforementioned Ty Montgomery being moved for draft picks. The Raiders were able to acquire another first round pick for a player not in their plans (Cooper joins LB Kahlil Mack in becoming a future draft asset this season), and Ty Montgomery was shipped out days after fumbling away the game against the Rams. Running back Carlos Hyde was also moved from the Browns to the Jaguars, with the Jaguars dealing with injuries in their backfield.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Rams added another lineman to the rotation, picking up former 3rd overall pick Dante Fowler from the Jaguars. The Giants traded starting DT Damon Harrison to the Lions (Harrison was likely to not be resigned during the offseason) and CB Eli Apple to the Saints. Finally, safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix went from Green Bay to Washington, with hope on the Washington side that he can lend some stability in the defensive backfield with D.J. Swearinger.
Week 9 Bye Teams
To make sure you get your fantasy lineups adjusted as necessary, the following six teams are on byes this week:
Arizona Cardinals, Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants, and Philadelphia Eagles
Until next time…
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