The 2023 NFL season is nearing a turning point. With the league’s deadline approaching on Tuesday, Oct. 31, teams have to seriously consider their rest-of-season prospects and determine whether to add or subtract from their roster over the next two days.
Which clubs looked the best on Sunday, and who’s already looking ahead to next week? Here are all the winners and losers from Week 8.
Winners and Losers From NFL Week 8
Winner | Seattle Seahawks
The San Francisco 49ers looked like they might never lose earlier this season, but three straight losses from Brock Purdy and Co. and solid play from Pete Carroll’s team have put the Seattle Seahawks in first place in the NFC West.
Seattle seemed to defeat the Arizona Cardinals in their sleep in Week 7, but they faced a much stiffer test in the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. While Geno Smith threw two interceptions against one of the NFL’s best defenses, he also tossed two touchdowns — and the Seahawks defense continued to step up when it mattered.
Although Seattle gave up 385 yards to a PJ Walker-led offense, they also managed two interceptions and put the clamps on in the second half. Cleveland’s final three drives ended with a punt, an interception, and a failed fourth-down conversion.
Loser | Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers not only suffered their third consecutive defeat and lost control of their division lead, but Purdy may have suffered his second concussion in as many weeks. If confirmed, San Francisco could theoretically hold its quarterback out when the club returns from a Week 9 bye.
If Purdy, wide receiver Deebo Samuel, and left tackle Trent Williams can all play in Week 10 (and moving forward), there’s no reason to get too concerned about the 49ers. But if San Fran continues to get hit with injury issues, Kyle Shanahan’s squad could be in trouble.
Meanwhile, the Kansas City Chiefs fell to 6-2 by losing to the Denver Broncos in Week 8. It wasn’t any ordinary loss — Sunday marked the first time the Broncos had ever beaten Mahomes. It was also the first time Mahomes hadn’t thrown a touchdown since Week 13 of the 2021 season.
Mahomes was dealing with the flu on Sunday, but he also suffered “multiple large gashes” on his left, non-throwing hand. Still, we’ve come to expect nothing but the best from Mahomes, leaving Week 8 as a likely aberration.
Winner | Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals
When the Cincinnati Bengals lost to the Tennessee Titans to fall to 1-3, it looked like their season might be over. They were well back in the AFC North, Joe Burrow could barely move after tweaking his training camp calf injury, and Lou Anarumo’s defense had just allowed multiple big plays to a Titans offense that didn’t scare anyone.
But the Bengals have won three games in a row since, putting them right back in the playoff mix and just 1.5 games behind the division-leading Baltimore Ravens. Defeating the Arizona Cardinals and then managing a last-second victory over the Seahawks in Weeks 5 and 6 was one thing.
Beating the Niners by two scores in San Francisco is another.
Burrow was uber-efficient, averaging nearly nine yards per attempt while passing for three touchdowns while adding 43 yards on the ground. Joe Mixon finally got going as Cincinnati ran more plays from under center, and the Bengals’ defense forced three turnovers (making up for allowing 460 yards of offense).
Loser | The Post-Kirk Cousins Minnesota Vikings
Speaking of teams who have battled their way back into contention, the Minnesota Vikings would be the NFC’s seventh seed if the playoffs started today — which would have been hard to believe when Kevin O’Connell’s club was 0-3 (and 1-4).
Of course, the Vikings’ Week 8 win over the Green Bay Packers was a Pyrrhic victory, as QB Kirk Cousins appears to have suffered a season-ending Achilles injury.
For Cousins, it’s a devastating injury as he approaches 2024 free agency. While Cousins doesn’t necessarily rely on the athleticism that Achilles injuries are known to sap, interested teams will have to investigate the 35-year-old’s health next spring.
For the Vikings, Cousins’ absence could turn them into sellers at the NFL trade deadline. While general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah might have considered adding pieces with Cousins under center, Minnesota could now trade veterans like edge rusher Danielle Hunter and linebacker Jordan Hicks.
Loser | NFL QBs’ Health
Cousins, Purdy, and Mahomes were far from the only NFL quarterbacks to suffer injuries on Sunday:
- Desmond Ridder (Atlanta Falcons): Suffered a concussion in a loss to the Titans. The Falcons scored 20 second-half points with backup Taylor Heinicke in the game, but head coach Arthur Smith suggested Ridder would remain the team’s starter.
- Kenny Pickett (Pittsburgh Steelers): Left a loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars with a rib injury. QB2 Mitchell Trubisky completed 10 of 16 attempts for 53 scoreless yards in relief.
- Tyrod Taylor (Buffalo Bills): Suffered a rib injury against the New York Jets. Taylor, already replacing Daniel Jones (neck), gave way to undrafted rookie Tommy DeVito, who completed two of seven attempts for -1 yards.
- Matthew Stafford (Los Angeles Rams): Injured his right thumb in a loss to the Dallas Cowboys, then re-injured it while catching a pass for a two-point conversion (yes, you read that correctly).
Winner | Titans Rookie QB Will Levis
With Ryan Tannehill sidelined by a high ankle sprain, second-round rookie Will Levis stepped in as the Titans’ starting quarterback on Sunday. It was only one game, but Levis might’ve solidified himself as Tennessee’s QB for the rest of the season.
Levis was outstanding in a 28-23 win over the Falcons, hitting on 19 of 29 attempts for 238 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. The former Kentucky Wildcat found DeAndre Hopkins four times for 128 yards and three touchdowns and completed passes to six other Tennessee pass catchers.
With Tannehill expected to miss more time, Levis won’t be unseated any time soon. And if he continues to play like he did in Week 8, Levis may never give up the Titans’ starting role.