Heller: 50 things I learned through Week 8

With this being my 50th article, I’ve decided to make my weekly 10 things I learned article a list of 50 observations through Week 8.


  • Who’s got 22?


Christian McCaffrey is the unanimous MVP choice through the first half of the season.


  • Oldie, but a goodie


Tom Brady is still Tom Brady.


  • Healthy Dalvin is Cooking


After a disappointing season last year, I passed on Dalvin Cook in my fantasy draft this year in favor of Odell Beckham. Silly me.


  • Gardner Minshew; that’s the headline


When big off-season acquisition Nick Foles went down in Week 1 with a broken clavicle, the Jaguars appeared to be in peril. Instead, Minshew Magic was born.


  • Hold-out hangover


Chargers running back Melvin Gordon has not gotten much going since ending his holdout.


  • Defense exists in Foxboro


A team with Tom Brady under center, the Patriots’ defense is the best part of this team, led by a stellar secondary.


  • The book closes on Eli


After starting the season 0-2, the Giants benched their two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback in favor of rookie Daniel Jones.


  • Clock struck on Big Ben


Roethlisberger is on injured reserve with an elbow injury. This could signal the beginning of the end for the veteran signal-caller in Pittsburgh.


  • A.B. squared


Antonio Brown has only played one game before being released by two teams in a matter of weeks. Rookie A.J. Brown, meanwhile, has had an impressive debut season, including a touchdown this past Sunday.


  • Looks like No. 1


The Cardinals put all their eggs in Kyler Murray’s basket. It looks like they knew what they were doing. Murray has been impressive.


  • Kickin’ ain’t easy


A few kickers have been bad, but the most surprising is Adam Vinatieri. The ageless wonder and reliable veteran has missed several key field goals and extra points.


  • Nick Chubb … yeah, him


The Browns running back has been proving last season was no fluke.


  • New-look Browns? Nah


The talk of the off-season was the Browns’ offense with the addition of Odell Beckham, Jr. So far, though, it has looked like more of the same in Cleveland.


  • Not your mother’s Lions


The perpetual laughing stock of the NFC, the Lions have performed surprisingly well even though their record doesn’t represent it.


  • Buffalo repping New York


Out of the three teams that call the Empire State home, the Bills have performed the best.


  • A.J., where are you?


The winless Bengals have been without the services of star receiver A.J. Green … and he has been missed.


  • B’more Jackson


The Ravens’ breakout rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson last season has been even more impressive so far in his sophomore season, utilizing his arm as well as his legs.


  • Frank Gore will play forever


The veteran running back is still gashing defenses.


  • A.P., 2.0


While not the explosive back he once was, Adrian Peterson has proven he can still be effective with the ball in his hands.


  • No. 1 in South Beach


The Dolphins have been dismal, making a good case for the first pick in the draft.


  • What happened on Monday night?


The Dolphins had an early lead and looked like they might have a shot at winning, but the Steelers took the late lead. Why was this a nationally-televised game?


  • Dak, is that you?


While the Cowboys have been another inconsistent team, they can be explosive.


  • LaFleur and Lambeau


Aaron Rodgers appeared a little skeptical about Matt LaFleur’s hiring, but they have figured out how to coexist and be very successful.


  • Keys don’t always work on Monday


On a rumored short leash to start the season, Redskins coach Jay Gruden was fired after his team’s loss to the Patriots.


  • Mile High guy


Another season, another new starting quarterback for the Broncos. Joe Flacco, now injured, was John Elway’s guinea pig to start the year. The Broncos are 2-5.


  • Age caught up to Rivers


While age has not caught up to Drew Brees or Brady, it has for Philip Rivers. He has looked like a backup, not a Pro Bowler.


  • No extension


Neither Jameis Winston nor Marcus Mariota received contract extensions entering the final year of their rookie contracts. Mariota has been benched in favor of Ryan Tannehill while Winston could also see the bench soon.


  • North Face


Hands down, the best division to this point of the season has been the NFC North. The head-to-head matchups are going to be vital.


  • Another L in the ATL


Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and the Falcons have been one of the must-watch teams in recent seasons. This season, they have not been doing enough to win games.


  • O-line, can you block?


When the four-game suspension of Taylor Lewan was first announced, I figured the Titans’ offensive line would struggle a little bit. But there have been times even with Lewan where they have been non-existent.


  • No Luck, no problem


When Andrew Luck announced his retirement weeks before the season started, many thought this year would be a trying one for the Colts. But the team has played well.


  • Fuller house


When you think Texans, you think Deshawn Watson and DeAndre Hopkins. This season, however, Will Fuller picked up where he left off last season before going on injured reserve.


  • Philly not-so-special


The Eagles have been one of many inconsistent teams week-to-week all season. Week 8 was one of their good weeks.


  • Complain and you shall receive


Davante Adams and Stefon Diggs each complained about not getting the ball. In subsequent games, they both were the featured receivers.


  • Sanders in the house


Emmanuel Sanders was traded to the 49ers from the Broncos prior to Week 8. He scored a touchdown on his first drive for the Niners.


  • Mr. Casey, please stand up


After three consecutive goal-line stands in Week 7, ending with a fumble recovered by Jurrell Casey, Casey came up big for his Titans on a critical fourth-down stop in the waning minutes in their victory against the Buccaneers.


  • New team for Teddy?


With Drew Brees missing five games due to injury, Teddy Bridgewater went 5-0 as a starter for the Saints. An audition for a new contract may be arriving.


  • Refs impact the outcome


The rule changes figured to clean up bad calls. But bad calls have cost a few teams a win. Most notably: the Lions were hurt by a bad illegal hands to the face penalty that set up the Packers’ game-winning field goal.


  • Kittle over the middle


Last season’s breakout tight end is having an even better sophomore year.


  • Not easy being coach


First-year head coaches are off to a tough start. Zac Taylor and the Bengals are still winless.


  • London calling


The London games this season have been played in front of packed stadiums. Maybe wanting a London team isn’t too far-fetched.


  • Child’s play


Jon Gruden’s coaching return last season began with an overhaul many thought was crazy, as they traded Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper. Now, he is proving he knew what he was doing.


  • Just run, baby


When you think of best first eight career games for Raiders running backs, you think Marcus Allen or Bo Jackson. But Josh Jacobs is off to a better start than both.


  • Another Bosa?!


Joey Bosa has proven he can get after the quarterback. But his brother and 49ers rookie Nick is even better. He reminds me of Jevon Kearse as a rookie.


  • Clowney is missed


The Texans are missing Jadeveon Clowney, who is in Seattle.


  • Goat School should be accredited


Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett were once Tom Brady’s understudies. They each have their respective teams in first place.


  • Always miss it


Jon Gruden went back to coaching after leaving the broadcast booth. A year later, Jason Witten went back to playing after leaving the broadcast booth.


  • Even the better teams struggle


The Rams and Chiefs have both lost games they shouldn’t have lost. They have since seemed to have right the ship.


  • Two still remain


Roughly halfway through the season, two undefeated teams remain: the 49ers in the NFC and the Patriots in the AFC.

  • Trade deadline

We need a blockbuster. And the Chargers need a quarterback. Hmmm….

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