NFL Week 8: Over & Under Reactions

By Steve Moyse

The sheer number of injuries every year in the NFL is always difficult to come to terms with, particularly when so many happen in a single week.

Just to name a few of the injuries from Week 8: Kirk Cousins and Al Woods tore their Achilles, Grady Jarret and Kendrick Bourne tore their ACL, and Tyrod Taylor was taken to hospital with a Rib Injury.

As players and teams across the league try to recover, let’s look into this week’s ‘Over and Under-Reactions’.

Overreaction: Will Levis Is A Game Changer For The Titans

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When 12-year QB Ryan Tannehill picked up an ankle injury that would side-line him for the Titans Week 8 match-up against the Falcons, 2nd Round Pick QB Will Levis was presented with the opportunity of a life-time.

And boy did he deliver…

Levis put up 238 yards for 4 TD’s, earning himself a 130.5 passer rating, as he led the Titans to only their 3rd W of the year.

While I can completely understand the excitement, particularly from Titans’ fans, let’s take a second before we anoint Levis the new ‘King of Tennessee’.

Yes, his performance was incredibly impressive. However, historically, very few QB’s who have popped off to start their NFL Career have then been able to maintain that level of performance.

Put it this way, the only other QB to throw 4 Touchdown passes to start their career, Marcus Mariota, is now considered to be a perennial back up after losing his job as the Falcons’ QB1 last season. Ironically his replacement, Desmond Ridder, has also now lost the job.

All this to say, that although Levis’ performance potentially indicates a bright future, to suggest that this is a clear sign of what is to come, is definitely an overreaction.

Overreaction: The Raiders' Season Is Over

Following back to back embarrassing performances against the Bears and Lions, HC Josh McDaniels, GM Dave Ziegler and OC Mick Lombardi were fired by Raiders’ Owner Mark Davis. Leaving Linebacker Coach Antonio Pierce as the teams Interim HC.

When you then consider just how disgruntled their star players are, largely due to the lacklustre play from the Quarterback position, it’s easy to see why Raiders’ fans are ready to move on from 2023.

But maybe all is not lost – or at least not yet.

On paper, a massive mid-season shift in the Coaching staff isn’t exactly the best of ideas. In reality however, it tends to be rather effective.

Over the last 20 years, immediately following a coaching change, teams tend to play with an extra spring in their step – an added motivation that often leads to a surprise run of form. In fact, during this time period, the majority of teams who made a change at HC, finished above their expected win percentage.

This isn’t to say that the Raiders are about to make an almighty run at the playoffs. However, I do think that they stand a good chance against a beaten-up Giants’ team in Week 9, and will surprise people as the season goes on.

Under-Reaction: Jermaine Johnson & Bryce Huff's Production

Between multiple serious injuries in the 1st half, atrocious weather and the most combined punts in any game for over 20 years, The New York Jets vs New York Giants ended up being one of the least invigorating games of the season.   

Hidden behind all of the above however, is the unbelievable play of New York Jets’ Edge Rushers, Bryce Huff and Jermaine Johnson II. In Week 8, the two traumatised the Giants’ Offensive Line, combining for: 11 Tackles, 9 Pressures, 3 Sacks, 2 Tackles for Loss and 2 QB hits.

What’s even more impressive, is that the duo have been doing this all season long. Not only do they lead the team in Sacks through 8 weeks, they both sit in the top 6 for Pressure Rate among NFL Edge Rushers since Week 5 – with Huff in first place, 11.6% higher than Trey Hendrickson.

Without a doubt, Huff and Johnson are one of the most underrated Defensive tandems in the league. Plus, at just 25 and 24 years of age, they both have plenty left in the tank and will give the Jets an elite pass rush for years to come.

Under-Reaction: Christian Benford Stepping Up

The Buffalo Bills’ have been no stranger to the injury bug in 2023, particularly on the Defensive side of the ball – losing both Matt Milano and Tre’Davious White for the rest of the season.

While devastating, CB Christian Benford has taken full advantage of his increased role – putting on a clinic against the Buccaneers on Thursday night.

Lining up opposite Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, 2 of the best WR’s in the NFL, Benford allowed just 3 receptions for 39 yards while recording 3 vital tackles and a PBU. This resulted in Benford walking away with a 71.3 overall grade from PFF – the 5th best of any player on the Bills’ Defense.

For the Bills’ to have a 6th Round Sophomore on the roster, who’s capable of locking-up Mike Evans on the majority of his routes, is incredibly exciting.

With Buffalo having reinforced their secondary by trading for CB Rasul Douglas, Benford will drop down into the CB3 role. Considering just how productive Benford has shown himself to be – this Bills’ secondary is now deep and ready to take on the AFC’s Gauntlet of QBs.

Under-Reaction: Kirk Cousins' Impact On The Vikings

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You have to feel sorry for the Minnesota Vikings. First they have a rough start to the season, then Justin Jefferson is placed on IR and then, just to top it all off, Kirk Cousins tears his Achilles.

Everyone around the league is at least somewhat aware of the impact that Cousins’ injury will have on the 2023 Vikings. But I still don’t think we’re fully acknowledging just how important he was to this team.

Before his season came to a close, Cousins led the league in Touchdowns, was 2nd in Passing Yards, had a passer rating of 103.8, a near 70% completion percentage and had led the Vikings to 4 wins in their last 5 games. All this with his receivers dropping more passes than any other team.

The Vikings have now traded for QB Josh Dobbs in the hope that they can continue their recent run of form. However, Cousins’ ability to overcome adversity, both on and off the field, was never commended enough and will be sorely missed by Vikings’ players, fans and coaches in 2023.

Feature Image Credit: Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Steve Moyse

NFL Analyst

Steve Moyse is a Writer, Podcaster and long suffering New York Jets fan. Stay tuned with his content via Twitter – @steve_moyse