NFL
November 2, 2020
BY Lance Cartelli

The Hottest NFL Week 8 Takes

Halfway through the NFL season and things are becoming a lot clearer. Teams like the Steelers and Buccaneers are rising while the Cowboys and Patriots sink to the bottom of the NFL barrel. 

That leaves plenty of opportunity for hot takes. Here are our nine biggest overreactions to the Week 8 slate. 

The Cowboys Won’t Win Another Game

Behind Ben DiNucci, the Cowboys nearly pulled off an upset of the Eagles before the wheels fell off. That might have represented Dallas’ best chance at winning another game this year. 

With this sieve of an offensive line and a historically bad defense, the Cowboys appear to be Jets-level bad. Unfortunately for them, the ‘Boys have already won two games which effectively eliminates them from the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes, but they could easily finish 2-14 and the second-worst record in the NFL. 

With eight games left, the most winnable games remaining for the Cowboys are Week 11 at the Vikings, Week 12 against the Washington Football Team, Week 15 against the 49ers, Week 16 against the Eagles and Week 17 at the Giants. Perhaps Andy Dalton returns and ekes out a win or two — especially now that the 49ers could be without Jimmy Garoppolo and George Kittle — but it’s not likely with this roster and coaching staff. 

That would leave some big decisions for the front office, like do they trade Dak Prescott and start over with a QB at No. 2 or trade the pick and pay Prescott? Or what to do with coach Mike McCarthy following a disastrous first season? 

Mike McCarthy Will Be One-and-Done in Dallas

If the Cowboys do go winless the rest of the way — or heck, even if they win a couple games and go 4-12 — it’s hard to see Mike McCarthy getting a second season. 

The Cowboys could go the patchwork route and fire McCarthy’s assistants and bring in new ones, but the team made a massive mistake by hiring Mike Nolan to be the defensive coordinator and they’ve paid the price with an absolutely abysmal defense. 

It shouldn’t be a surprise that recreating the 49ers’ 2005 coaching staff that went 4-12 would end up going terribly wrong in 2020. 

The Cowboys job is too prestigious for it to be wasted on a boring retread like McCarthy. And with a high draft pick — and potentially Prescott — in a winnable division, Dallas should take the L and move on from the former Packers coach. 

The 49ers Need to Find a New QB in 2021

McCarthy might not be the only person who had high hopes for the 2020 season looking for a job. 

A year removed from taking the 49ers to the Super Bowl, Jimmy Garoppolo’s time in San Francisco should be coming to an end. The Niners need to find Jimmy G’s replacement in 2021 or else they’ll risk wasting away a talented roster that was mere minutes away from winning the Super Bowl. 

Whether healthy or not, Garoppolo has struggled since the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl. In what many believed to be his year of ascension in Kyle Shanahan’s offense, Jimmy G has struggled with accuracy, seeing the field and pocket awareness. 

The 49ers could easily get out of Garoppolo’s contract this offseason. He’d count as just a $2.8 million dead cap hit. Even if the team likes Jimmy G, there's no way they can afford to pay him $26.8 million in 2021 with his long list of injuries in his short career. 

With 2020 amounting to a gap year thanks to injuries and poor play from Garoppolo, the 49ers could be in a position to find their QB of the future to shine in Shanahan’s highly schemed offense.

And in what’s looking like a stacked QB class, the 49ers should have plenty of options in the draft or through trade. San Francisco won’t be bad enough to get one of the top QBs in the draft, but they could be in a position to land the second-tier passers — such as BYU’s Zach Wilson, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance and Alabama’s Mac Jones — to replace their handsome signal-caller. 

If the 49ers opt to go the trade route, they could eye Sam Darnold who could be available if and when the Jets select Trevor Lawrence. 

Either way, the clock is ticking on Jimmy G’s time with the 49ers.

More QBs need to be like Drew Lock

It’s still unclear if Drew Lock is actually good at football. But one thing he is good at is celebrating. 

In case you forgot, here’s Lock in his rookie year rapping while clearly keeping his head in the game. 

And on Sunday, in the Broncos’ comeback victory over the Chargers, Lock turned his celebrating up a notch.

Look at this man break it down. It’s imperative that Lock becomes at least a pretty good quarterback because the league needs more of this. While Lock’s dancing might not be described as “good” or “in rhythm,” all that matters is that he completely committed to it.

While things are slowly changing, the quarterback of an NFL franchise is supposed to be a boring, buttoned-up robot who spouts cliche after cliche in interviews. But not Lock! He’ll rap to Young Jeezy and dance in your face. It’s almost like the modern-day Philip Rivers who would just yell “dadgummit” at defenders. 

Keep dancing, Pop, Lock and Drop It. If all else fails, Hollywood can reboot the Step Up franchise with him in the starring role.

Lock’s celebration wasn’t even the best of the week, though. 

Nyheim Hines has the greatest TD celebration 

In the Colts’ Week 8 beatdown of the Lions, running back Nyheim Hines scored two incredibly athletic touchdowns. But that wasn’t even the most jaw-dropping part of the experience. 

After that amazing play, Hines still had the juice in his legs to pull that off. I might be suffering from recency bias but it’s the best TD celly ever. Not Randy Moss mooning Lambeau Field, not Terrell Owens with the pom-poms, not Joe Horn with the cell phone. Nope. Hines’ backflip-twisty thing — even though he wouldn’t have gotten a 10 from the Russian judges for not quite nailing the landing — owns the championship belt for celebrations. 

Here’s hoping Hines scores more touchdowns so we can see him go full-Simone Biles again. 

Fighting is actually good

Now, I would never condone such a brutal thing as fighting, but sometimes — OK, a lot of the time — it can be a very dumb and fun thing. 

Exhibit A: 

This clash is clearly more dumb than fun, but there’s nothing wrong with that. The best part is that Chauncey Gardner-Johnson has no idea why this is happening. After he gets hit the first time, he just kind of looks around, which is a lot easier when you’re getting punched in the helmet. Javon Wims got ejected and probably hurt his hand more than he hurt CGJ.

In fact, the fight was so legendarily stupid that the prevailing story from the Saints’ overtime win was this random fight. And it even got the intrepid Twitter detectives on the case. 

The NFL needs to get ahead of this and allow fighting like the NHL does because you just know that the Rock saw that while squatting 800 pounds and grunted to his minions to make sure that’s one of the biggest attractions in the XFL’s third rebirth

The Chargers are the bad version of the Seahawks 

The Bolts might not have Phillip Rivers under center anymore, but they’re still the same old Chargers. 

At 2-5, the Chargers have lost all of their games by a total of 19 (!) points. Los Angeles has always struggled to close out victories, which has earned them the nickname “Atlanta West.” But they’re really just the shitty version of the Seahawks. Maybe that's the same thing, but we're going with it. 

The Seahawks always play in incredibly tight games that are weird as hell. That’s exactly what the Chargers do. But the big difference between them is that Seattle — and mainly Russell Wilson — rarely lose tight games. 

Now that the Chargers have found their franchise QB in Justin Herbert, they hope that they won’t have to play in as many tight games. But as Wilson can attest, that’ll just mean Herbert will have to do more to overcome the Chargers’ classic Chargering. 

The AFC & NFC West Will be the Most Fun Divisions in the NFL over the Next Decade

Call it West Coast bias all you want, but it doesn’t take a fortune teller to see the signs that these two divisions should easily be the most entertaining over the next 10 years. 

The NFC West is already the best division in the league, with every team at .500 or better, and it should only get better as the years go by. Russell Wilson turns 32 this month, if he really intends to pull a Tom Brady and play into his mid-40s, then the Seahawks should be blessing us with extremely entertaining games for the foreseeable future. The Cardinals have their own version of Wilson in Kyler Murray, who just turned 23, and he’s just discovering the extent of his superpowers. While the Rams and 49ers might not have MVP-level QBs, they have two of the brightest offensive play-callers in the league in Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan, respectively. They should become more dangerous with time and wisdom. Needless to say, that division is a hellacious nightmare for the four teams in it, but incredibly entertaining for football fans. 

But don’t sleep on how great the AFC West appears to be in the 2020s. 

It might be Patrick Mahomes’ division for the near future, sure, but the AFC West has plenty of teams that could vie for the crown very soon. We already told you about those plucky Chargers, while the Raiders and Broncos could be rather dangerous thanks to a plethora of weapons on the offensive side of the ball. Raiders coach Jon Gruden, who’s under contract through 2028, will be in the division for the long haul and, say what you want about the man, but he makes the league — and the Raiders — more fun. The Broncos, and their dancing QB, are a work in progress, but they possess one of the most talented groups of pass-catchers in the league. It doesn’t get much better than Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, K.J. Hamler, Tim Patrick, Noah Fant and Albert Okwuegbunam as your offensive weapons in the passing game. If Lock realizes his potential, then the AFC West could easily replicate the NFC West and have four teams in the playoff hunt in the not-so-distant future.

The Dolphins are the Best Team in the AFC East

This might be a lukewarm take after Miami's three-game winning streak, but the AFC East is wide open following the Patriots' long foreseen fall from grace. While the Bills have been the favorites since Tom Brady joined the Buccaneers, the Dolphins have consistently been the best team in the division. 

After starting the season slowly, the Fins have blown out their last three opponents. In those three victories, they've outscored the 49ers, Rams and Jets by a whopping 61 points. And a sign of a good team is being able to dismantle other squads. 

It might not always be pretty, especially with Tua Tagovailoa taking over for the Dolphins, but Miami has the talent and coaching to take control over the winnable AFC East. 

Photo: Getty Images/Lines Illustration