NFL Recaps: Week 8

WASHINGTON — My dear readers…let me level with you. Right now it feels like I’m going to spend the next few weeks (specifically next week, when I give out Midseason awards in the Week 9 recap) eating crow from all my bogus preseason predictions.

That brand of crow will likely taste a lot like Cardinal. Before the year started, I had Arizona pegged as no better than a .500 team and all they’ve done is make me look ridiculous. And a man in my position can’t afford to be made to look ridiculous.

Instead, the Cardinals are winners of three straight games and are off to a 6- 1 start, their best since 1974. In fact, Arizona is 13-3 dating back to Week 8 last season. That puts them even with Denver for the best record in the league over that span.

It might be time to start taking the Cardinals seriously.

I know what you’re thinking…we’ve been here before. In 2012, the Cards started 4-0, only to be dealt 11 losses in their last 12 games. But that was on former coach Ken Whisenhunt’s watch. Bruce Arians is the man in charge now, and he’s managed to turn water into wine in more than one NFL city.

These Cardinals don’t make much sense statistically. The defense ranks in the bottom third of the league in terms of yardage, but this bend-but-don’t-break unit gives up just under 20 points per game, which is fifth-best in the NFL. Offensively, Arizona ranks near the middle of the pack. Andre Ellington is capable of breaking a big play at any time, but they don’t have a big time running back to carry the load. Carson Palmer doesn’t have a freak athlete at tight end, but he’s got the ageless Larry Fitzgerald, the up-and-coming Malcolm Floyd, and out-of-nowhere phenom John Brown at receiver. The Cards even lost Palmer for three games and didn’t miss a beat with career clipboard- holder Drew Stanton under center.

Every year, there’s a team that emerges despite long odds and wins consistently without the style points the Broncos, Packers, and Patriots seem to rack up with elite quarterbacks. Arizona looks like that team in 2014. The Cardinals still have some rather long odds to overcome. They still share a division with the last two teams to advance to the Super Bowl from the NFC, and still have to play Dallas and Detroit — two teams that have also surprised football fans with fast starts.

But some could argue Arizona is armed with a better defense and maybe even a deeper offense than the ’08 squad that fell just a Santonio Holmes toe tap short of a Super Bowl title.

This time, the Super Bowl is being played in the desert. What better time to end Arizona’s championship drought? Now to quench your thirst for the Week 8 recap:

Chargers 21
Broncos 35

You’d think a team with such a prolific offense would have a more savvy scoreboard operator…

Ravens 24
Bengals 27

Who needs A.J. Green when you have Mohamed Sanu?

Lions 22
Falcons 21

Detroit basically won because of a boneheaded penalty at the end of the game and Atlanta blew a 21-0 halftime lead to tie their team record for largest blown lead. It was as if these guys were playing a game that started at 9:30am. Hope you got your money’s worth, London.

Rams 7
Chiefs 34

Hey St. Louis… if Austin Davis is the next big thing at QB, maybe don’t let him get sacked seven times. Nobody can thrive laid out on the turf all day.

Texans 30
Titans 16

Zach Mettenberger’s first NFL start was doomed the minute he made J.J. Watt angry. Never make J.J. angry. You wouldn’t like him angry.

Vikings 19
Bucs 13 (OT)

Boy, if Mike Zimmer is passing a kidney stone just imagine what Lovie Smith is going through right now…

Seahawks 13
Panthers 9

We’re about to find out how good Russell Wilson really is. Seattle is going to need to lean on him if they’re going to catch Arizona in the NFC West (my August self is still in disbelief at that sentence).

Dolphins 27
Jaguars 13

Blake Bortles is on pace to throw an NFL rookie record 28 interceptions this season. Somebody tell Blake there are some Peyton Manning records you don’t want to break.

Bears 23
Patriots 51

Tom Brady is 87-13 at home in his career. This was the seventh time New England has scored at least 50 points in the last eight seasons (no other team has more than three games with 50 points in that span). Yeah, maybe the Patriots are pretty good.

What’s not good? Celebrating a sack and blowing out your knee. How has this happened twice in the same season??

Bills 43
Jets 23

Geno Smith clearly doesn’t care and Michael Vick was decidedly mediocre…but the Jets D couldn’t stop Kyle Orton from throwing 4 TDs. Everything must go in New York.

Eagles 20
Cardinals 24
Jeremy Maclin…about that Gatorade bath. You’re doing it wrong.

Raiders 13
Browns 23

I mean, somebody had to win…right?

Colts 34
Steelers 51

It’s not at all hyperbolic to say this was a beat down of epic proportions: the Colts are the first team since the 1991 Bears to follow up a shutout by giving up 50+ points. In case you forgot, Hall-of-Famers Mike Ditka, Mike Singletary, and Richard Dent were still in Chicago that year.

Also, Big Ben rang Indy’s bell to the tune of 522 yards and 6 TDs, both Steeler records. Feels like the driving force behind a return to the AFC North penthouse for Pittsburgh, no?

Packers 23
Saints 44

Watching Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees play this game reminded me of the movie Trading Places. Don’t be surprised if Brees and Rodgers conspire to take down Duke and Duke later this week.

Redskins 20
Cowboys 17 (OT)

There are a lot of reasons to hate the ‘Skins. Colt McCoy isn’t one of them. The third string QB going into his home state of Texas and knocking off first- place Dallas to help the Redskins win back-to-back games for the first time since 2012 is the stuff underdog stories are made of.

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