New Orleans Saints: Jameis Winston, QB
Week 8 featured a matchup that football fans have been slowly waiting for since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers decided to move on from the Jameis Winston era. The Saints played the Bucs at home in a defensive thriller that lead to a 36-27 triumph.
New Orleans might’ve won the game but they are left without starting QB Jameis Winston after an apparent torn ACL injury will sideline him for the rest of the season. Winston was helped off the field early in the second quarter and was later carted into the locker room after receiving treatment in the medical tent. He was questionable to return but was then transferred to a local hospital where he got the diagnosis and was ultimately put on crutches.
Minnesota Vikings: Dalvin Cook, RB
The Vikings now move to 3-4 after a gut wrenching loss to the Dallas Cowboys at home. The Cowboys had a big time second half that lead to a 20-16 victory despite playing without starting QB Dak Prescott.
Minnesota was held to just 177 yards in the air and converted 1 of 13 third down attempts, which is their lowest percentage in over five years. Dalvin Cook continues to ease his way back into the workhorse running back role after receiving 18 carries on the evening. He concluded the ball game with an average gain of 4.3 yards, notching a total of 78. The Vikings schedule doesn’t look to appealing as they face the Ravens, Chargers and Packers in the next three weeks so they’ll need to have Cook and the rest of the squad fully healthy if they want to compete for a spot in the postseason.
Los Angeles Rams: Jalen Ramsey, CB
The Los Angeles Rams were in the Lone Star State for Halloween in preparation for a matchup against the Houston Texans. The Texans have dealt with injuries and poor discussion making all year and the Rams took complete advantage, headed back home with a 7-1 record which is now tied for first place in the NFC West.
While the front office was working through the trade deadline bringing former All-Pro Von Miller to L.A, the Rams defense was feasting on the field. They allowed just 44 rushing yards and snagged a key interception in the second quarter to secure a scoreless first half half. Ramsey played 70% of defensive snaps and picked up one forced fumble, one tackle for loss and one pass defended. He played zero special team snaps and got some rest in the ball game as the Rams prepare for the second half of the season
Carolina Panthers: Brian Burns, DE
The Panthers finally snap a three game losing streak against the Atlanta Falcons on the road. They secured their fourth win of the season with a 19-13 victory as they jump to third place in the NFC South behind the Saints and Bucs.
Their defense was the star of the show forcing two interceptions and only three third down completions that lead to 35 minutes of possession. Defensive end Brian Burns finished the division matchup with half a sack and one QB hit while the rest of the D-line rushed the offense to very little throwing time leading to nine total QB hits and six passes defended.
Los Angeles Chargers: Derwin James, SS / Asante Samuel Jr., CB
The Chargers headed back home after an excruciating loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 6. They were slated to play the New England Patriots in a much needed bounce back game that ultimately fell short 27-24.
Despite the Chargers midseason woes Derwin James continues to show why he’s one of the best safeties in the league and a front runner for Comeback Player of the Year. James was a tackling machine yet again with 13 in the contest and one forced fumble. L.A. is now ranked second in the NFL amongst defenses with 10 forced forced fumbles on the season.
Asante Samuel Jr. lead the Chargers secondary that held the Patriots to have just one player with over 38 receiving yards. Samuel had three total tackles in the matchup. He started his rookie season with a definitive splash but has been slow as of late as he continues to get comfortable with his role.
Philadelphia Eagles: Josh Sweat, DE
Josh Sweat and the Eagles traveled to Detroit, Michigan on Sunday to face the winless Lions. Philly ran over the Lions with a 44-6 blowout win where both the offense and defense dominated. The Eagles rushed for 236 yards behind the two-headed attack of Jordan Howard and Boston Scott.
Their defense absolutely obliterated the Lions forcing three scoreless quarters with one touchdown, three passes defended, six sacks, seven tackles for loss, 12 QB hits and 63 total tackles. They held Detroit to just 57 yards on the ground and forced eight costly penalties. Sweat had one of the best games of his career with two QB hits, two tackles for loss and two sacks while only playing 48% of snaps. He’s slowly blossomed into the Eagles best pass rusher and will lead this defense for years to come with veteran Fletcher Cox taking a back seat.