NFL Week 8 Winners & Losers

By Lee Wakefield & Peter Mann


We are (sort of) halfway through the 2023 NFL season (damn you seventeenth game). Winners and losers aplenty this week, or should we have called these tricks or treats considering we’ve just passed Halloween?

Either way, there were quarterbacks getting injured left, right, and centre… Some receivers were left frustrated, there was some outright bad defense, and the Broncos beat the Chiefs for the first time in eight years! But also a tonne to celebrate. None more so than our first winner…

Winners - Lee Wakefield

Carolina Panthers

Prior to this weekend, there was just one team still on the launchpad, awaiting their first win of the season, and that was the Carolina Panthers.

However, the wait is over.

The Panthers faced the Texans, with Bryce Young matching up against C.J. Stroud, the two top rookie passers from this past draft.

Young took the win, the first of his career.

It was far from a classic, it was 15-13, won by a walk-off field goal from Eddy Piniero. But as they say, a win is a win, and I doubt that the Panthers care about the scoreline.

Neither the Panthers nor the Texans were expecting to be good this season – Although as I have mentioned on the podcast a few times this year, I feel like the Texans are ahead of their own developmental curve – But no team wants to go winless. No team wants to risk joining the 2008 Detroit Lions on the winless wall of shame and the longer it goes on and a dub is not gained, the larger that looms.

Personally, I am pleased for Bryce Young and the Panthers so it was an easy decision to give them a moment in the sun to commemorate their victory this week.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Despite this not being the best game in the world on Sunday, the Jaguars’ win at a soggy A̶c̶r̶i̶s̶u̶r̶e̶ ̶S̶t̶a̶d̶i̶u̶m̶  Heinz Field has earned them a place in the winners’ column this week.

It wasn’t so much the performance, it is what this means for this team.

The Jaguars are an objectively good football team that knows how to win games. It’s been like this for around a year now, and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down.

Despite maddening fumbles, the rain, and Trevor Lawrence’s penchant for a red zone interception, the Jags overcame and made it five wins on the bounce, including two on this side of the Atlantic.

I feel like these five wins have shown that Doug Pederson’s guys have some grit about them and that they are gritty and grizzled enough to be able to go to a historic, legacy franchise, like the Steelers and tough out a win in bad weather.

I get it, the Steelers aren’t great and their offensive coordinator is the butt of a lot of Twitter jokes but it feels like the Jags are here to stay. Maybe despite what Chris Boswell was complaining about, it really was always the Jags. Or maybe that’s what the Steelers were complaining about, I don’t know… The refs are bad for everyone, Chris.

Will Levis

What a debut Will Levis. Four touchdowns on debut, the first quarterback to do this since Marcus Mariota did the same for the Titans back in 2015.

Jeffrey Simmons was certainly impressed.

The Titans need some clarity with regards to their quarterback situation, and perhaps this headline-grabbing performance from Levis will provide that.

The injury to Ryan Tannehill isn’t ideal but maybe it’ll allow the Titans some breathing room to figure out their situation.

The booing of Malik Willis is unfortunate and it was great to see Titans players, including Levis, defend him.

Mike Vrabel is holding his cards close to his chest at this point but the arm talent, the ceiling that this gives the Titans, and perhaps, in the fans’ eyes at least, the fact that it isn’t Malik Willis all give Levis the edge in the race for the starting job?

Levis connected on three 50+ yard touchdowns aside from those three bombs, 14 of his other 15 passes were completed for fewer than 10 yards.

So this was very much Harry Kane scoring from the halfway line, or a bunch of tap-ins from a few yards out.

Is it sustainable? Who knows. But one thing it was, was fun to watch. So welcome to the winners’ circle, Will.

Losers - Peter Mann

Quarterbacks Who Are Banged Up

The injuries just keep coming in the NFL this season and this past weekend was no different, with some five QBs falling by the wayside including Kirk Cousins (Minnesota Vikings) and Matthew Stafford (Los Angeles Rams). 

Cousins alone has been ruled out for the remainder of the current season (the Vikings have traded for Arizona Cardinals QB Josh Dobbs) following a non-contact Achilles tendon injury late on in the Vikings’ 24-10 victory over Green Bay Packers. 

Having been sacked for the second time in succession, in the fourth quarter, before pulling up, with his HC Kevin O’Connell saying afterward that:” We’re thinking about our leader…. Our guy right now and I’m just so proud of him and the way he’s played all season.” 

Stafford meanwhile was seen to catch his thumb in the helmet of an opposing player, in the closing stages of the first of the Rams’ 43-20 loss to the Dallas Cowboys; although the Rams’ QB started the second half, he exited shortly after. 

Although reports state that the thumb isn’t broken, or fractured, he will miss some time as the Rams look at options ahead of their next outing; other passers picking up injuries included Kenny Pickett (Pittsburgh Steelers), Tyrod Taylor (New York Giants) and Desmond Ridder (Atlanta Falcons) – it’s one of those seasons…

San Francisco 49ers

For Kyle Shanahan and the San Francisco 49ers, the wheels have certainly come off the Super Bowl-bound bus in recent weeks. 

Having started the season with a thunderous, impeccable, 5-0 record in the NFC West, the Red & Gold have since lost three straight, Cleveland Browns (19-17), Minnesota Vikings (22-17), and this past weekend, a somewhat disheartening loss to Cincinnati Bengals (31-17). 

Surprisingly, the Niners have registered seventeen points in each of those three losses, but the score in the against column has increased disastrously, totalling more than seventy (more than the previous five combined) as their QB Brock Purdy had an error-strewn game, and the defense, that was carved open by the Bengals’ Joe Burrow.

Meanwhile Nick Bosa, in the Niners’ defence, was a complete no-show. 

A bye week upcoming may be a good thing for Shanahan’s franchise, especially as, in late November or December, the Red & Gold are scheduled to face the current West leaders, Seattle Seahawks, twice in the space of three weeks – two games that could well define the Bay Area franchise’s season. 

Las Vegas Raiders

Speaking of the West Coast, and after the Denver Broncos dismissed the Kansas City Chiefs 24-9 to go 3-5 in the AFC West, J̶o̶s̶h̶ ̶M̶c̶D̶a̶n̶i̶e̶l̶s̶’ Las Vegas Raiders were completely embarrassed in Monday Night Football, going down 26-14 against Detroit Lions (apologies Laura Woods). 

Everything that can go wrong has gone wrong this season for the Silver & Black, and not only is McDaneils at the forefront of it all, so is Jimmy Garoppolo, the majority of those, should they be watching the (mis)fortunes of the Raiders, wondering if/when back-up Aiden McConnell is going to be afforded a chance to shine – McDaniels though, he doesn’t want to talk about that (strange response). 

There were only 157 yards gained by the Raiders compared to some 486 by the Lions, Detroit’s finest seemingly running roughshod at Ford Field; as for Davante Adams, the Raiders’ WR was visibly frustrated following another performance in which his QB showed little interest in targeting him – and the rumour mills stating he wants out. 

In an attempt at shutting down those rumours, Adams said, according to Albert Breer, Sports Illustrated, after the loss (the Raiders now 3-5 with the Broncos) that: “I don’t know what to say at this moment. 

“I truly don’t. I wish I had the words to say something that’s not gonna get blown up in the media or taken out of context,” Adams though is on his worst run average since 2017 as the Raiders continue to flounder, and after promising so much. 

Feature Image Credit: Sports Illustrated

Lee Wakefield

NFL, CFB & NFL Draft

Lee Wakefield IS A defensive line enthusiast, Chargers Sufferer, and LONG-TIME writer and podcaster with a number of publications. Find his Chargers content over at Bolt Beat. @Wakefield90 on twitter