With another compelling and surprising NFL weekend in the books, it’s time for our NFL Week 8 2023 analysis. Some of the matchups in Week 8 of the 2023 NFL season went as expected, but not all of them. Most importantly, we learned from what happened – well, we think we learned a lot about what happened in Week 8.
Analysis and takeaways from Week 8
It’s not just that there were some surprising results in Week 8, but the way we got to those results was surprising. In other cases, the events of the past weekend helped to confirm what we thought previously about certain teams and their win totals or playoff hopes. With that in mind, here is our NFL Week 8 2023 analysis with our biggest takeaways from the weekend.
The Bengals are back
Understandably, there were some concerns about the Bengals after yet another slow start to the season. Keep in mind that injury concerns lingered about Joe Burrow during the early portion of the season. But after a 31-17 win over the 49ers on Sunday, it’s safe to say that the Bengals are on their way to being the Super Bowl contender we expected them to be at the start of the season.
Burrow wasn’t just good, he was exceptional. He completed 28 of his 32 passes with three touchdown passes. He also ran the ball six times for 43 yards, showing that his legs are healthy.
The kicker is that Burrow and the Bengals did that on the road against one of the best defenses in the NFL. Beating the 49ers on the road is no easy feat. That was San Francisco’s first home loss since Week 7 of the last season when the Chiefs won at Levi’s Field. That was a statement win from the Bengals and a sign that they are poised to compete to be the best team in the AFC.
The 49ers have some problems to fix
On the other side of the coin, the 49ers came out of their loss to the Bengals with some problems that need to be addressed. We can forgive a loss to a Cincinnati team that’s heating up, but it was San Francisco’s third straight loss. While the other two were close losses on the road, it’s still concerning for the 49ers, who now trail Seattle in the NFC West.
Brock Purdy has suddenly become turnover-prone, throwing five interceptions during the team’s three-game losing streak. Those turnovers have helped to limit the 49ers to just 17 points in each of their three losses despite still averaging better than 27 points per game. Three of their next four games are on the road against the Jags, Seahawks, and Eagles, so it doesn’t get any easier for the 49ers, who are approaching a crossroads in their season where the rubber meets the road.
Dallas is capable of big things
If you can figure out the Cowboys, feel free to give us a call. They have been frustratingly inconsistent this season. When the Cowboys lose, they lose big, getting embarrassed by the Cardinals and blown out by the 49ers in their two defeats in 2023.
On the other hand, Dallas is 5-2 with four of those wins coming by at least 20 points. They dominated on both sides of the ball against the Rams in Week 8, showing how good they can be when everything is clicking. This team clearly has some promise but doesn’t bring their best effort every week. Of course, we’ll learn a lot next week when they visit the Eagles.
Patrick Mahomes is human
We knew Patrick Mahomes was feeling under the weather before Sunday’s loss in Denver. Some of the greats have been able to overcome the flu or food poisoning, but even having one of the greatest tight ends of all time couldn’t save Mahomes and the Chiefs. Kansas City suffered its first loss against the Broncos since Mahomes took over as the starting quarterback.
The good news is that the loss isn’t the end of the world. Nobody else in the AFC West has a winning record, so the Chiefs still have a comfortable lead. At the same time, it was a good reminder to the rest of the league that Mahomes is human and can’t save the day every time, even if it feels that way sometimes.
Jacksonville is an AFC contender
Given the state of the Steelers, Jacksonville’s 20-10 win isn’t super impressive. But in the bigger picture, the Jags are now 6-2 after rattling off five straight wins. That includes going 4-0 away from home, which is no small feat. After winning a playoff game last season, the Jaguars look like they are ready to take that next step and become a bonafide contender in the AFC.
Through eight weeks, Jacksonville has a top-10 offense and a top-10 defense. Granted, they are barely top 10 in both categories. But the Jags look solid all the way around and are capable of winning on the road. Games against the 49ers, Bengals, and Ravens later in the year will tell us more. But the Jags continue to answer every question and look like they will be a tough out in the playoffs.
The Texans aren’t ready
Elsewhere in the AFC South, Houston might still be a year away from mounting a serious challenge for Jacksonville inside the division. C.J. Stroud has offered a lot of promise, making us think the Texans could be playoff contenders this year. But that doesn’t appear to be the case after a Week 8 loss in Carolina.
In the last three weeks, the Texans have a pair of two-point road losses to the Falcons and Panthers. Both losses came on late field goals, which hurts. If things had gone differently, we’d be talking about a team with five straight wins. But if Houston were a playoff-caliber team, those are games the Texans would have won, showing they aren’t ready to be a playoff contender this year despite some positive strides.
This could be it for Kirk Cousins
Sadly, Kirk Cousins’ future is in serious question after suffering an Achilles injury in Week 8. His future in Minnesota beyond this season was already in question. Unfortunately, this injury puts his career beyond this season in serious jeopardy. What are the chances a 35-year-old quarterback who isn’t mobile and is only a tad above average in the first place can come back from this type of injury and be the same?
Obviously, you hate to see this happen to someone like Cousins. It’s even worse after he’s pulled the Vikings out of their 0-3 hole and got them to 4-4, making them a part of the playoff picture in the NFC. Minnesota’s season and Cousins’ future are both in a state of uncertainty following the injury.