NFL Week 8 takeaways – What we learned, big questions for every game and future team outlooks

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Week 8 of the 2021 NFL season had some close Halloween matchups, including an overtime Titans-Colts game that saw a wild pick-six for Tennessee in the final two minutes and then a game-tying drive for Indianapolis. The Titans ultimately won on a big OT field goal.

The Jets came from behind to beat the Bengals with Mike White under center, notching their second victory of the year. The Steelers navigated a 15-10 win over the Browns despite losing their kicker, and the Panthers got past the Falcons to get back in the win column. And on Thursday night, the Packers hung on against Kyler Murray and the Cardinals to hand them their first loss of the year.

But not every Sunday game was close. The Eagles blew out the Lions behind a dominant run game, and the Rams’ offense posted 38 points against the Texans. The Bills won against the Dolphins, who fall to 1-7 on the season, and the 49ers scored 18 points in the fourth quarter to defeat the Bears.

Our NFL Nation reporters react with the takeaways and lingering questions from this week’s action. Plus, they each look at the bigger picture with their current team confidence rating — a 0-10 grade of how they feel about the team’s outlook coming out of the week. Let’s get to it.

Jump to a matchup:
TEN-IND | MIA-BUF | PIT-CLE
LAR-HOU | SF-CHI | CAR-ATL
CIN-NYJ | PHI-DET | GB-ARI

Titans

What to know: The Titans proved they can win an important game without an outstanding performance from Derrick Henry. That was in large part due to Ryan Tannehill and A.J. Brown, who connected 10 times for 155 yards and a touchdown on 11 targets. The win gives the Titans a sweep of the Colts and a three-game lead over Indianapolis in the AFC South. Tennessee has the Rams and Saints as the toughest games left on their schedule. The Colts have difficult matchups with the Bills, Buccaneers, Cardinals and Raiders. — Turron Davenport

Are the Titans wearing Derrick Henry down with so many touches? Henry carried the ball 28 times against the Colts after 29 carries against the Chiefs last week. Henry endured a pretty good pounding against a physical Colts team on Sunday and didn’t have the same explosiveness he normally plays with. Henry has 219 carries on the season, putting him on pace to break Larry Johnson’s single-season record of 416. The Titans’ staff has no plans to scale back Henry’s carries. Fortunately for Tennessee, Henry has shown in the past that he is capable of carrying the load. — Davenport

Davenport’s confidence rating (0-10): 9, up from 8. The Titans overcame an early 14-0 deficit and came back on the road against a division rival. Tennessee was able to generate two turnovers to put it in position to win. The Titans are now in the driver’s seat with a 6-2 record (3-0 in the AFC South).

Next game: at Rams (Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET)


Colts

What to know: So much for the Colts making the AFC South race interesting. What started out with them sending a message early by jumping out to a quick 14-0 lead, ended when Colts quarterback Carson Wentz threw his second interception of the game – all in the final 90 seconds of regulation and in overtime – to severely hurt their chances at winning the division. The Colts’ best hope at making the playoffs now is wild-card spot as they’re three games behind the Titans in the division while also losing the tiebreaker due to being swept by them this season. Wentz had only thrown one interception all season, but his two Sunday led to 10 points and a victory for the Titans. — Mike Wells

Does the schedule favor the Colts to make a run to the playoffs? No. Six of Indianapolis’ final nine games are against teams that went into Sunday with a winning record. The one thing that favors the Colts is that only two of those games against teams currently with a winning record – Buffalo and Arizona – will be played outside of Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. — Wells

Wells’ confidence rating (0-10): 4.4, down from 5. It’s hard to be a playoff team if you can’t beat teams with a winning record. All three of Indianapolis’ victories this season have been against teams with a losing record this season.

Next game: vs. Jets (Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET)

49ers

What to know: The 49ers won a game they had to have, but the next two weeks will be the real test of whether this season is headed in a positive direction. It wasn’t pretty, and Bears quarterback Justin Fields made the Niners’ defense look silly at times. But when you’re on a four-game losing streak, style points don’t matter. At 3-4, the Niners are still staring up at the top two teams in the NFC West division: the Cardinals and Rams. Coincidentally, those are the next two teams on the schedule, with both coming to Santa Clara. Things can change quickly in the NFL, and if the 49ers are going to truly turn the tide on this season, we’ll know it after those games. — Nick Wagoner

Is Deebo Samuel headed toward his first All Pro honor? The competition is tough, but the way it’s going, he should absolutely be in the conversation. Samuel had another monster game Sunday, finishing with six catches for 171 yards. He now has 44 receptions for 819 yards in just seven games this season. That’s the most receiving yards by a 49er in the first seven games of a season ever, surpassing Jerry Rice’s 781 in 1986. What’s more, Samuel’s 819 yards has already eclipsed his career-high total for a full season (he had 802 in 2019). The likes of Cooper Kupp, Davante Adams, Ja’Marr Chase and Tyreek Hill are going to be in the Pro Bowl mix, too. But it’s time Samuel at least gets mentioned among the game’s best at the position. And even if he doesn’t land a nod, he’s in line for a really nice payday in the offseason. — Wagoner

Wagoner’s confidence rating (0-10): 5.3, up from 4.9. There was a lot to be encouraged about offensively, but until the Niners show some consistency on both sides of the ball, it’s hard to go much higher than this.

Next game: vs. Cardinals (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)

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Jimmy Garoppolo runs the option to perfection on this 5-yard touchdown.


Bears

What to know: Chicago seemingly had the game under control until its defense allowed the 49ers to score three second-half touchdowns. Simply inexcusable. The Bears have allowed 30 points or more in back-to-back games for just the second time in the Matt Nagy era. Chicago’s defensive collapse ruined a strong day for rookie quarterback Justin Fields, who dazzled the Soldier Field crowd with a sensational 22-yard touchdown run. But it did not matter. The Bears lost a game they simply had to win, all but ending their NFC North title hopes. — Jeff Dickerson

Where do the Bears go from here? The Bears (3-5) now trail Green Bay by four games in the division. You can forget about them winning the NFC North, and the playoffs seem like a long shot. The Bears still have the Ravens, Cardinals and Packers on the schedule, not to mention two games against the Vikings. This could get ugly. With many calling for Nagy’s job, the final nine games could get very uncomfortable. The Bears only have themselves to blame. The defensive effort in the second half against San Francisco was atrocious. The fear now is that the Bears are about to sink even deeper. — Dickerson

Dickerson’s confidence rating (0-10): 2.3, down from 2.6. If you can’t beat the struggling 49ers, who can you beat?

Next game: at Steelers (Monday, Nov. 8, 8:15 p.m. ET)

Jets

What to know: Quarterback Mike White, in his first career start, delivered one of the Jets’ most memorable wins in years. In a word, he was sensational. He did what injured starter Zach Wilson hasn’t: He energized the franchise by playing “boring” football, to use coach Robert Saleh’s word. White played a smart, conservative game, throwing underneath and hitting his checkdowns. He wound up passing for 405 yards and three touchdowns, the Jets’ first 400-yard performance in 327 games. He didn’t attempt a pass over 20 yards, and he got the running backs and wide receiver Elijah Moore involved in the passing attack. White did have two interceptions, but they weren’t bad decisions, just slightly off-target throws. A no-name QB gave the Jets their best win in years. — Rich Cimini

Do the Jets have a quarterback controversy? One thing is for sure: White earned another start. He will start Thursday night against the Colts, no doubt. Joe Flacco, acquired in a trade, had designs on that gig, but it’s not happening. What about long term? Wilson (knee) may miss one more game. If White has another big game, the Jets will have a decision to make. Clearly, Wilson is the future, but the future can wait a little bit, right? — Cimini

Cimini’s confidence rating (0-10): 6, up from 2. From one of their worst losses to one of their best wins in a span of seven days.

Next game: at Colts (Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET)


Bengals

What to know: The Bengals got the humbling lesson they desperately wanted to avoid. Cincinnati blew an 11-point fourth-quarter lead and, despite being heavy favorites, suffered a stunning upset. Cincinnati was coming off a massive win over Baltimore. And against a one-win New York team, the Bengals squandered a chance at a thee-game winning streak and instead created questions about whether they can sustain their strong start. — Ben Baby

Is the defensive performance concerning? A little. The Bengals have statistically been one of the NFL’s best defenses this season and were coming off a dominating performance against the Ravens and quarterback Lamar Jackson. Cincinnati was straight-up walloped by first-time starter Mike White, who threw for 405 yards and three TDs. — Baby

Baby’s confidence rating (0-10): 6.5, down from 8.5. Some of the Bengals’ old ghosts — shaky offensive play early and a bad defensive outing — showed up in the worst way in the Meadowlands.

Next game: vs. Browns (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Bills

What to know: The Bills got the win and put together four consecutive scoring drives to end the second half, but this was not the blowout performance against inferior teams that Buffalo had earlier this season. The defense allowed Tua Tagovailoa to find receivers downfield, especially DeVante Parker, and seemed slow to get going overall. There were mistakes on offense, defense and special teams, and against a one-win Dolphins team, it was hard to tell that Buffalo was coming off a bye week. Tight end Dawson Knox and starting right tackle Spencer Brown were missed, and this team still has a ways to go. The positive for the Bills is that despite all of that, the team made solid halftime adjustments and came away with the win. Defensive tackle Ed Oliver, someone Buffalo needed to take a step forward this year, exploded at the line of scrimmage throughout the game. The Bills are 5-2 and still have yet to play their best football. — Alaina Getzenberg

Are the Bills’ offensive issues in the first half — especially against the blitz — something to be concerned about? The Bills struggled to get anything going offensively in the first half, converting one of six third downs and earning just five first downs. The three points scored were the team’s lowest in a half since Week 17 of 2019. Quarterback Josh Allen struggled against the blitz in the first two quarters, going 3-for-9 for 17 yards and zero first downs. Allen entered the day facing blitzes at the second-lowest rate this season (16%). The Bills put together two nine-plus-play scoring drives to establish a significant lead in large part because of adjustments to the Dolphins’ blitz, with Allen completing 6 of 8 passes for 57 yards and two touchdowns vs. the blitz on those drives. The offensive line was reshuffled for this game with Brown out due to a back injury, and getting him back will help some of those issues. Going forward, it’s not something to be overly concerned about as this offense is still dangerous, but the Bills need to make better first-half adjustments. — Getzenberg

Getzenberg’s confidence rating (0-10): 7.7, down from 7.8. The Bills were coming off a bye week, yet looked slow and the game was far too close against a struggling Dolphins team, but this is still a good football team that played one of its worst games and still won.

Next game: at Jaguars (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

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Jordan Poyer gets the interception, and Josh Allen runs in a touchdown to help the Bills top the Dolphins.


Dolphins

What to know: Players don’t tank — and the Dolphins haven’t thrown in the towel quite yet. Holding the Bills’ second-ranked scoring offense to just three points at halftime took an inspired effort, especially considering Buffalo’s bye week gave it extra time to prepare. Miami held quarterback Josh Allen in check throughout most of Sunday’s game and was especially impressive on third down early in the game. While Miami’s offense took a while to get going after missing a field goal and fumbling on its first two trips to the red zone, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa led his team to a TD that pulled Miami within six points with 9:39 left, completing a 40-yard pass on fourth-and-6 in the process. All things considered, the Dolphins redeemed themselves from the 35-0 drubbing Buffalo handed them in Week 2 and have a very winnable matchup against the Texans in Week 9. — Marcel Louis-Jacques

At 1-7, will the Dolphins be sellers at the trade deadline on Tuesday? ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the Texans aren’t expected to trade quarterback Deshaun Watson before Tuesday’s deadline, but with its season essentially beyond saving, Miami could acquire some extra draft capital by trading a player or two. Receiver DeVante Parker returned from injury and caught eight passes for 85 yards, both season highs. He could possibly fetch a pick from a contender in need of a physical receiver. Miami could possibly get a first- or second-round pick for cornerback Xavien Howard as well, saving it the hassle of renegotiating his contract this offseason like he wants. — Louis-Jacques

Louis-Jacques’ confidence rating (0-10): 3.5, up from 1. They are clearly not ready to close games out, but giving the Bills all they could handle deserves recognition.

Next game: vs. Texans (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Steelers

What to know: Even without a place-kicker in the second half, the Steelers proved resilient in their first meeting with the Browns this season. Neither side of the ball earned any style points, but the offense did just enough to grind out a win thanks to Najee Harris’ (24 carries, 88 yards, 1 TD) continued development and Pat Freiermuth’s emergence (4 catches, 44 yards, 1 TD). Defensively, the Steelers mostly neutralized the league’s best run game and held the Browns to fewer than 100 yards rushing. The defensive stand late in the fourth quarter that forced the Browns to turn the ball over on downs at the Pittsburgh 26 coupled with Joe Schobert’s recovery of Baker Mayfield’s fumble kept Cleveland at bay. — Brooke Pryor

How much did the Steelers’ failed fake field goal affect the outcome? It wasn’t insignificant. The Steelers have made questionable playcalls at other points this season, but none more head-scratching than the decision to attempt a fake field goal facing fourth-and-long from the 10. Not only did Chris Boswell’s high pass to a well-covered Zach Gentry in the end zone have no prayer of being completed, the Steelers’ kicker was drilled on a helmet-to-helmet hit by Jordan Elliott. In an absolute worst-case scenario, not only were no flags thrown, but Boswell was also ruled out the rest of the game after being evaluated for a concussion. That left the Steelers without a true place-kicker in the second half. Rookie punter Pressley Harvin III took over kickoff duties and warmed up for field goals on the sideline with defensive back Cam Sutton working as the emergency holder. But the Steelers’ lack of confidence in the patchwork crew led to the team attempting — and failing — on two 2-point conversions. Instead of leading by seven points midway through the fourth quarter, the Steelers had just a 15-10 lead. They held on thanks to a defensive stand and a Baker Mayfield fumble, but things got dicey in the fourth quarter. — Pryor

Pryor’s confidence rating (0-10): 4.8, down from 5. The Steelers came out victorious in a typically atypical AFC North slugfest thanks to timely defensive plays, but they were hindered in the second half without a place-kicker.

Next game: vs. Bears (Monday, Nov. 8, 8:15 p.m. ET)


Browns

What to know: The Browns, who entered this year with Super Bowl aspirations, find themselves in last place in the AFC North standings. And following an uninspiring performance against the Steelers, that’s exactly where the Browns deserve to be approaching the halfway point of the season. The passing game has fallen off a cliff. The defense can’t get key stops. Mental mistakes are abundant. And the injuries continue to mount. Cleveland’s season, which began with so much promise off last year’s playoff run, is already teetering on the verge of calamity. — Jake Trotter

What has happened to Cleveland’s passing attack? QB Baker Mayfield has been up and down all season while battling the torn labrum to his non-throwing shoulder. But Sunday, during Cleveland’s final two drives, he at least gave the Browns a chance late in the fourth quarter. Instead, multiple drops and a Jarvis Landry fumble robbed Cleveland’s hopes of a comeback. With Odell Beckham Jr. having become a total nonfactor and Mayfield ailing, Cleveland’s offense is suddenly a total mess — even with its overpowering ground game. — Trotter

Trotter’s confidence rating (0-10): 5.8, down from 6.7. At 4-4, the Browns have little margin for error to still make the playoffs — and they still have multiple issues they’ll have to resolve to get there.

Next game: at Bengals (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Eagles

What to know: The Eagles ran the ball! And whaddya know, it worked. Quarterback Jalen Hurts had been shouldering too much of the offensive load for the bulk of the season, but he had an easier day at the office Sunday as Eagles backs rushed 39 times for 165 yards in a blowout win vs. the Lions. Jordan Howard and Boston Scott combined for four rushing touchdowns, which is one more than all Eagles running backs had combined coming into the game. Coach Nick Sirianni was more creative in his playcalling. He and the offense showed growth — like a flower, you might say. — Tim McManus

Was this performance for real, or just a product of playing the winless Lions? The Lions’ ineptitude factored in pretty heavily here. But both Sirianni and defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon made some adjustments to their approach, and those changes helped accentuate the strengths of their units: the big men up front. With a lean toward the ground game, the offensive line was able to play downhill and exert its will, while tighter coverage in the back end and more pressure looks on defense allowed the D-linemen to get home against Lions QB Jared Goff. It’s a recipe the Eagles should stick to moving forward. — McManus

McManus’ confidence rating (0-10): 3.7, up from 3.1. The Eagles need to show up like this against a decent team. Next week’s home game against the Chargers provides such an opportunity.

Next game: vs. Chargers (Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET)

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Boston Scott runs in a pair of short touchdowns for the Eagles vs. the Lions.


Lions

What to know: On paper, this was a potential get-well game for both teams. And it was for one. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the Detroit Lions, as they played their worst game of the season in a 44-6 loss. Fans began to exit Ford Field before the end of the third quarter, as they trailed 38-0 with boos showering throughout the arena. The sour reaction was warranted as the Lions barely avoided a shutout. — Eric Woodyard

Should the Lions be concerned about the offensive line? Yes. Granted, offensive tackle Taylor Decker and Pro Bowl center Frank Ragnow both remain out with injuries, but the O-line still shouldn’t be allowing quarterback Jared Goff to be sacked five times against Philadelphia. Goff was sacked four times in the first half alone, which tied for his most first-half sacks in any game in his NFL career and also tied for the most first-half sacks by any quarterback in a game this season, per ESPN Stats & Information. This is a serious concern in an embarrassing effort by the home team, which fell to 0-8 for the first time since the infamous 0-16 season in 2008. — Woodyard

Woodyard’s confidence rating (0-10): 1.5, down from 3. Although they’re eight games into the season, the Lions lack an identity as the losses continue to mount.

Next game: at Steelers (Sunday, Nov. 14, 1 p.m. ET)

Panthers

What to know: Matt Rhule was right: Carolina had to run to protect Sam Darnold and win. The Panthers rushed a season-high 47 times for 203 yards, and Darnold wasn’t sacked after being sacked 15 times in the previous four games, all losses. The only flaw in Rhule’s theory was Darnold didn’t protect himself on a fourth-quarter run, which resulted in a concussion that could sideline him for the next game. Carolina (4-4) still stuck to the run for the clinching touchdown. — David Newton

Will the Panthers spread out the running game as they did Sunday when Christian McCaffrey returns? McCaffrey should come off injured reserve this week after missing five games with a hamstring injury. He typically takes the bulk of the workload, but to protect him, the Panthers may be wise to spread the wealth as they did Sunday. Chuba Hubbard had 24 carries, but Ameer Abdullah had eight, Royce Freeman five and Darnold eight. The backs also were targeted eight times on passes. A solid formula. — Newton

Newton’s confidence rating (0-10): 5.3, up from 4. McCaffrey’s potential return would give reason for optimism, but the potential loss of Darnold is concerning, even as poorly as he had been playing the previous four games.

Next game: vs. Patriots (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)


Falcons

What to know: It looked, in many ways, like the season-opening offense against the Eagles. Not much movement. Not much downfield. A game plan that appeared at times ineffective and at others disjointed. There are a lot of potential reasons for this — and one has to wonder how much the game plan was altered by Calvin Ridley being inactive because of a personal issue after practicing all week. But even with Ridley out of the lineup, there’s little reason for Atlanta to have been this ineffective. — Michael Rothstein

How does this team move on without Ridley? The receiver announced during the fourth quarter that Ridley was stepping away from football to work on his mental health, and it’s not clear when or if he will return. His absence means the Falcons are without one of their best offensive options — and their biggest playmaker outside. This elevates Kyle Pitts to becoming the team’s top receiving threat and means perhaps an even bigger role for running back/wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. There’s also this reality: No one Atlanta could bring in would offer the skill set Ridley does at this point. But the team clearly needs to add someone to the receiving corps because without Ridley, the offense looked fairly lifeless against Carolina. — Rothstein

Rothstein’s confidence rating (0-10): 4, down from 5.1. A combination of an offensive meltdown, an ineffective run defense (204) and Ridley’s uncertain return leave many questions about Atlanta’s current state heading into New Orleans.

Next game: at Saints (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Rams

What to know: No letdowns. Coming off back-to-back division matchups, the Rams entered a three-game stretch against the struggling New York Giants, Detroit Lions and Houston Texans, three teams with a combined record of 3-20 after Sunday’s early action. Perhaps it would have been easy to lose focus somewhere through a three-week slog that included two road games, and although they did not earn many style points along the way, the Rams did not suffer any egregious lapses as they improved to 7-1. — Lindsey Thiry

What’s the situation with the once-crowded receivers room? Until a few days ago, the receivers room featured a stacked group with every skill set. There’s no doubt that Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Van Jefferson can lead this team to a Super Bowl, but recent developments have led to some depth concerns. Veteran receiver DeSean Jackson was inactive Sunday after requesting a trade earlier this week (and it’s extremely unlikely he’ll suit up for Los Angeles again), rookie Tutu Atwell suffered a shoulder injury against the Texans when returning a punt, and after catching a 68-yard pass, Jefferson limped off the field. He later returned — but it was concerning, to say the least. Rookie Ben Skowronek was inserted and fared well, but the Rams should be looking for some reinforcements. — Thiry

Thiry’s confidence rating (0-10): 8.3, up from 8.2. It’s a slight uptick for the Rams, who dominated the Texans on the road. But let’s be real: The Texans are bad. Really, really bad. So Sunday’s game hardly provided an accurate gauge of how good the Rams are, and therefore how confident we should feel. But the Rams will have a chance next Sunday in prime time against the Tennessee Titans to show whether they can return to playing at the high level we saw in a Week 3 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or if some of their recent ugly wins turn into ugly losses.

Next game: vs. Titans (Sunday, 5:20 p.m. ET)

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Darrell Henderson finds the end zone for his second touchdown of the game, putting the Rams up by three scores.


Texans

What to know: Tyrod Taylor’s return from a left hamstring injury might not make a difference for this team. The Texans have not won any of rookie quarterback Davis Mills’ six starts this season, but the offense as a whole has struggled. Without Mark Ingram, who was leading the Texans in rushing before being traded to the New Orleans Saints last week, Houston ran for 44 yards on 14 carries. Will having Taylor back salvage the offense? — Sarah Barshop

Who will still be on the team after the Nov. 2 trade deadline? Even if quarterback Deshaun Watson is not traded before Tuesday, there may be other moves made by the team. While wide receiver Brandin Cooks and left tackle Laremy Tunsil are not expected to be moved, sources say, linebacker Zach Cunningham or safety Justin Reid could draw interest. The Texans are slowly adding to their draft capital but seem a long way from competing. — Barshop

Barshop’s confidence rating (0-10): 0.6, down from 0.8. Again, this number has continued to drop since the Texans won the first game of the season. How low will it get by the end of the year?

Next game: at Dolphins (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET)

Packers

What to know: This team might just have the “it” factor. There’s no way to measure that, but given how it has held together despite a rash of injuries, there seems to be something potentially special in play. You get the sense Aaron Rodgers might think so, too, after he said this: “You never know how the team’s going to come together and the chemistry and the relationships and the guys stepping up and dealing with injuries and all the adversity. But we have a good group of guys. There’s a different feeling to the team than even the last couple years. I’m not sure how it’s going to finish up, but I like the energy that we have in the locker room.” Rodgers didn’t have to be Superman for the Packers to win, either. They ran the ball 34 times (a season high) for 151 yards (78 after contact for their second-most such yards of the season) and controlled the clock. — Rob Demovsky

Who needs Stephon Gilmore? Packers fans were upset that the team didn’t make a bigger play for the veteran cornerback, who was traded from the Patriots to the Panthers on Oct. 6. That’s the same day the Packers signed cornerback Rasul Douglas off the Cardinals’ practice squad. Who knows whether Gilmore could have had the game-saving interception that Douglas made in the end with 12 seconds left? But chances are he wouldn’t have, considering that he had yet to play a game for the Panthers entering Week 8. For Douglas, that was his first interception since Week 17 of the 2018 season. He had played 1,450 defensive snaps since the start of the 2019 season, the fifth most by a defensive back without an interception in that span, according to ESPN Stats & Info. — Demovsky

Demovsky’s confidence rating (0-10): 8, up from 7.5. No one would have blamed the Packers if they lost this one as 6.5-point underdogs on a short week with a bunch of guys injured. But in some ways, it shouldn’t have even come down to Douglas’ end zone interception. They could have sealed the game earlier. Coach Matt LaFleur was kicking himself for some of his playcalls in the goal-to-go situations. “I told the group in there, ‘I tried to screw it up for you guys but you wouldn’t allow it.’ That’s a credit to everybody in that locker room,” he said.

Next game: at Chiefs (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)


Cardinals

What to know: The Cardinals are mortal. They suffered their first loss of the season after injuries and COVID-19 decimated their defensive front and passing game. However, they were still in position to win with 15 seconds left, a sign that, no matter what is thrown this team’s way, they can still give themselves a chance behind quarterback Kyler Murray. — Josh Weinfuss

Will this loss snowball into a larger midseason problem for the Cardinals? We saw this movie last season: Arizona gets off to a hot start, then Kyler Murray gets injured and the bottom falls out for the rest of the season. Arizona is 7-1 and Murray was seen leaving the stadium in a walking boot on his left leg. However, as long as the Cardinals’ get their defensive injuries figured out soon, that side of the ball can help prevent a repeat of a similar tailspin while Murray gets right. Murray could be back as soon as next week against the 49ers or in a week or two. But this year’s Cardinals are built differently than last year’s, both from a personnel and emotional standpoint, which will likely prevent another meltdown. — Weinfuss

Weinfuss’ confidence rating (0-10): 8.2, down from 9.5. Having a chance to win with 15 seconds left should show everything anyone needs to know about Kyler Murray, but if the injuries keep up, then a rough stretch may be coming up.

Next game: at 49ers (Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET)


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