Five Wide: 2023 Week Eight
By Thomas Willoughby
We’re halfway there, folks. The (about) midpoint of the NFL season. I think we know who’s good and who isn’t good. Barring a massive turnaround, we likely know who is and isn’t going to in that conversation in 6/7 weeks. We’re into it, now.
Another weird week of NFLing, I found. Seldom few major talking points, which isn’t great when trying to put together five talking points from this weekends NFL action. We’ll try, though. Lords knows we’ll try.
Picking up a segment from last week, it’s another vitally important kitwatch edition. This weekend saw the debut of two new (old) uniform combinations, both yielding victories for their respective organisations. Look good, play good.
From the early slate, the Tennessee Titans took the Halloween weekend seriously by dressing up as a long-dead organisation. Out they came donned in the uniforms once worn by the Houston Oilers, before they moved to Tennessee. Baby blue, throwback logos, it’s no wonder the league is obsessed. The jerseys seem to house magic powers, because Will Levis looked unstoppable on his debut against a Falcons defense that has been largely good this season.
🎥 Take a look behind the scenes of the Oilers uniform reveal pic.twitter.com/pRtcQtBAqk— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) October 26, 2023
Later that day, the Seattle Seahawks dusted off a box in their loft, dug past the hundreds of loose Super Nintendo cartridges in it, and found their royal blue jersey, silver helmet combo from the ‘90s. They, too, came up with a big win over the Cleveland Browns, playing out their final drive to absolute perfection.
I’ll echo what I said last week: the NFL needs to fully embrace the throwback. As we mentioned on this week’s pod Every team should have one, and every team should have 2 or 3 throwback weekends a season. It’s time, Roger.
The San Francisco 49ers have lost three games in a row. They are, undeniably, in a bit of a rut. Granted, they’ve had injuries. Their best and brightest have missed game time, with some other big hitters still waiting in the wings. Hospital wings, that is! EH! Come on.
I’m going to set myself up for a hot takesing: the 9ers are going to be fine. They have too much talent, and too much intellect on the sidelines, for this to be the new norm. They started 2022 3-4 before rattling off 12 wins in a row and making the NFC Championship game. They started 2021 2-4, and also made the Championship game. They’ve got form for this.
The bye has come at the right time for them. A week to heal up, get their heads back in the game, and they’ll be fine. Trust me.
One of my least favourite things about modern football (soccer) is the rise of the celebration police. Goals aren’t easy to score, so it’s easy to get carried away. Which leads to fans of other teams taking it upon themselves to judge what the right amount of celebrating is for the occasion. And accusations of “celebrating like you’ve won the league” flying around. Hate it. So, just know I don’t like myself for this.
Denver. Come on.
Look. I get it. This is your first win over the divisional rival in about eight years. And it was a really impressive win, at that. Keeping the great Patrick Mahomes to only 9 points is massive, man. At no point did it look like the Chiefs would lose this one. And I can understand playing Taylor Swift while your fans stream out. It’s very funny. Fireworks, though? Come on, guys. You’ve moved up from 4th in the West, to 4th. You’re celebrating like you’ve won the Super Bowl. God I feel gross.
Winning in the NFL is difficult, but everybody has at least one in them. Well, everybody except the 2008 Lions and the 2017 Browns. Everybody gets one, eventually. But the longer you go without one, the longer you start to wonder if you’re next on that roll of dishonour.
Luckily for the Panthers, they’re not going to be on that list this year. A 15-13 THRILLER over the Houston Texan spared their blushes, and got them on the board at long last. Now, it’s not going to be the turning point in their season, I don’t think. We’re not likely to see this ship turn around and the Panthers rattle off a bunch of wins to push themselves into the postseason (though, they’re only three games behind 1st in the NFC South, so…?), but this is a big deal for them.
Mainly for Bryce Young who, I think I’m safe saying this, has been doing some pretty ok stuff this season. Nothing electric. Nothing spectacular, but enough to show why they were willing to give up a lot to select him. Regardless, this will feel good. Both for him, and the fanbase. They’ve got one. Now focus on the next one.
Tuesday night saw the trade deadline come and go with a series of serious moves made. The Commanders tore it down by shifting their pass-rush pairing of Chase Young and Montez Sweat to the 49ers and Bears respectively. The Vikings picked up some short-term relief at the QB position by adding Joshua Dobbs for a late-round swap, only to shift Ezra Cleveland moments later to the Jaguars. And the Lions added at receiver, taking Donovan Peoples-Jones from the Browns. It all went on.
I don’t really have a great deal to say on the trade deadline other than that I feel it should be later in the season. Like week 10 or 11 or something. Give it a couple of weeks and teams will truly know whether they’re in the playoff conversation or not, thus ramping up the amount of teams willing to make moves. The more that goes on, the more you have to televise. And the money comes a’rolling in. Food for thought, Roger.
Features Image Credit: Scott Strazzante-The Chronicle