NFL 2023 Week 8: Biggest questions, risers and takeaways

Patrick Mahomes Struggles as Broncos Intercept Him Twice in Loss

In a stunning turn of events, the Denver Broncos came away with a 24-9 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, snapping their 16-game losing streak. The star of the game was the Broncos defense, which shut down Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, intercepting him twice.

The action-packed Week 8 of the NFL season began on Thursday night with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers dropping their third straight game to the Buffalo Bills. Now, all eyes are on the Buccaneers as they try to find a way to turn their season around.

In other games, the Dallas Cowboys showcased their dominance by running over the Los Angeles Rams. It was also a matchup between the top two picks of the 2023 NFL Draft, as Bryce Young (Carolina) and C.J. Stroud (Houston) faced off for the first time. Unfortunately, the Minnesota Vikings lost their quarterback, Kirk Cousins, to a torn Achilles in the fourth quarter.

Sunday was filled with surprises, as the San Francisco 49ers suffered their third consecutive loss, while the Denver Broncos finally got a win against the Kansas City Chiefs. The night ended with the Los Angeles Chargers easily handling the Chicago Bears.

Our NFL Nation reporters have analyzed all the games, providing insights and answering lingering questions. Let’s dive into the matchups and see who or what is rising and falling for each team.

Chargers: Is Justin Herbert Back?

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert had a rough few games after fracturing his finger in Week 4. However, in Sunday’s game against the Bears, Herbert looked more comfortable and confident, throwing for 294 yards and three touchdowns. It seems like he’s back to his old self.

Stock up: RB Austin Ekeler. After missing three games due to injury, Ekeler returned and played a crucial role in the Chargers’ victory. He scored the game’s first touchdown and led the team in receiving yards.

Stock down: Rushing offense. The Chargers’ rushing offense has struggled all season and continued to do so against the Bears. They finished with only 54 yards on the ground, highlighting an area that needs improvement.

Next game: The Chargers will face the Jets on Monday, November 6, at 8:15 p.m. ET.

Bears: What Happened to the Defense?

The Bears’ defense had shown improvement in the past two weeks, but that progress quickly faded in their game against the Chargers. They struggled to generate pressure on quarterback Justin Herbert and missed tackles consistently. The defense allowed long drives and couldn’t contain the Chargers’ passing attack.

Stock up: TE Cole Kmet. In a game with few positives for the Bears, Kmet stood out with 10 receptions for 79 yards. He provided rookie QB Tyson Bagent with a reliable target.

Stock down: WR Velus Jones Jr. Jones Jr. drew a penalty and dropped a wide-open touchdown pass, contributing to the Bears’ offensive struggles.

Next game: The Bears will face the Saints on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.

Broncos: Will Coach Sean Payton Utilize the Run Game More?

The Broncos ended their 16-game losing streak against the Chiefs with a strong rushing attack. They controlled the game and the line of scrimmage with their methodical running game. However, coach Sean Payton sometimes deviates from the run game, which hampers their success. The Broncos should continue to rely on their running game until someone stops it.

Stock up: CB Ja’Quan McMillian. McMillian had a stellar performance, recording his first career interception and making an impact in run defense.

Stock down: QB Russell Wilson. Despite throwing three touchdown passes, Wilson struggled throughout the game. He was sacked multiple times, fumbled twice, and held onto the ball for too long.

Next game: The Broncos will face the Bills in Germany on Monday, November 13, at 8:15 p.m. ET.

Chiefs: How Damaging is the Loss?

The Chiefs’ loss to the Broncos has put them in a four-way tie with the Dolphins, Jaguars, and Ravens for the best record in the AFC at 6-2. If they want to secure the AFC’s No. 1 seed, they’ll need to bounce back and win their next game against the Dolphins.

Stock up: Pass rush. The Chiefs were able to consistently pressure Broncos QB Patrick Mahomes, sacking him five times. The pass rush created opportunities for the defense.

Stock down: QB Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes had an off-game, unable to lead the Chiefs to a comeback. He failed to throw a touchdown pass and struggled in the red zone.

Next game: The Chiefs will face the Dolphins in Germany on Sunday at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Ravens: Are They the Best Team in the AFC?

The Ravens are making a strong case for being the best team in the AFC. With back-to-back wins over the Lions and Cardinals, they now share the best record in the conference at 6-2. The Ravens have a favorable schedule moving forward, with six of their last nine games at home.

Stock up: S Geno Stone. Stone, who started in place of injured players, recorded his fifth interception of the season. He has been a force in the Ravens’ secondary.

Stock down: WR Odell Beckham Jr. Beckham failed to record a catch in the game, which is a rarity in his career.

Next game: The Ravens will face the Vikings on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.


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