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The Wolf Sports Newsletter: October 31, 2023

Happy Halloween! All 32 NFL teams were in action ahead of the holiday, so there’s a lot to cover this week before today’s trade deadline.


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Week 8 NFL highlights


The Vikings were able to beat the Packers at Lambeau to improve to 4-4, but it came at a cost: Quarterback Kirk Cousins is out for the season with a torn Achilles. Minnesota was already without Justin Jefferson (hamstring) the past three weeks, and a ton was placed on Cousins’ shoulders in Kevin O’Connell’s offense. Rookie fifth-round pick Jaren Hall out of BYU is set to take over at quarterback, but we’d think the Vikings—currently in playoff position in the NFC—are considering a move for a veteran option. Meanwhile, Green Bay is 2-5 for the first time since 2005.



The Bengals emerged from their bye red-hot and looking like a powerhouse, handling the 49ers at Levi’s Stadium, 31-17. Joe Burrow was 28/32 for 283 yards and three touchdowns and added six carries for 43 yards on the ground—looking much healthier than he did while dealing with the calf issue during the first six games. San Francisco enters their bye week with three consecutive losses, and Brock Purdy has thrown two interceptions in each of the past two games. But 49ers star running back Christian McCaffrey tied Lenny Moore for the most consecutive games with a touchdown in NFL history (17).



A.J. Brown made more crazy plays and set the NFL record for consecutive games with 125+ receiving yards (six), helping the Eagles win another shootout over the Commanders, 38-31. Philadelphia is now the only 7-1 team in the league, and they got stronger last week after adding All-Pro safety Kevin Byard in a trade with the Titans (incredibly, the team they stole Brown from).





In a 13-10 overtime game that included 24 punts, the Jets defeated the Giants in the New York battle. The Jets were given life after a Graham Gano missed field goal kept the game at 10-7 with under a minute remaining in the fourth quarter, and Zach Wilson made a couple of clutch throws to force overtime in the eventual win. Tyrod Taylor left the game and went to the hospital because of a rib injury, and the Giants had -9 passing yards in the game. Starting quarterback Daniel Jones (neck) is expected back for Sunday against the Raiders after missing the previous three games.


The Cowboys defense and CeeDee Lamb (12 receptions for 158 yards and two touchdowns) dominated versus the Rams, 43-20. Daron Bland recorded a pick-six of Matthew Stafford (thumb, day-to-day), and Bland now has three pick-sixes this season. The cornerback’s exceptional play has helped the Cowboys deal with the tough loss of All-Pro Trevon Diggs. Circle this Sunday afternoon’s Cowboys-Eagles matchup on your calendar.



The Broncos shut down Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in a 24-9 win to improve to 3-5. Kansas City lost three fumbles, and Mahomes was intercepted twice in the shocking performance in wintry Denver. With all the trade talk surrounding the Broncos, they are right back in the playoff mix after the upset win—and their defense has played muchbetter, particularly over the past few games, since giving up 70 points to the Dolphins in Week 3. This was Mahomes’ first career loss to the Broncos, as well as his first road divisional loss.



The Lions dominated more than the score indicated, outgaining the Raiders 486-157 in a 26-14 Monday night win. First-round rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs totaled 189 yards and a touchdown, showcasing his tremendous ability that should make those that doubted Detroit for selecting him look foolish over the years. On the Vegas side, the offense has struggled mightily—not hitting 20 points in any game this season, aside from a safety putting the team at 21 points late against the Patriots—and it starts with Jimmy Garoppolo having no time to throw; however, Jimmy G did miss Davante Adams—who himself is uncharacteristically dropping passes—on a couple of potential touchdown deep balls last night.



Other Week 8 games:



  • Bills 24, Buccaneers 18: A Hail Mary attempt nearly gave Tampa the comeback win, but Buffalo controlled things last Thursday night—led by a fantastic outing from Josh Allen, who connected with Gabe Davis and emerging star rookie tight end Dalton Kincaid for touchdowns while running another in himself. Also, the Bills added veteran running back Leonard Fournette to the practice squad.
  • Jaguars 20, Steelers 10: We’ll get to the officiating in a bit, but Jacksonville was able to win a gritty one at Pittsburgh to improve 6-2. Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick left the game with a hamstring injury and has already been ruled out for this Thursday night against the Titans, while quarterback Kenny Pickett left the game with a rib injury and is uncertain for TNF.
  • Titans 28, Falcons 23: Second-round rookie quarterback Will Levis threw four touchdowns (three to DeAndre Hopkins) to lead the Titans to a win in his first career start—so the Kentucky product’s career is off to about as good of a start as possible, leading to speculation that veteran quarterback Ryan Tannehill could be available for trade. For Atlanta, they benched quarterback Desmond Ridder for Taylor Heinicke in the second half, which gave the offense a definite spark. Also, the Falcons lost star defensive lineman Grady Jarrett to a torn ACL.
  • Dolphins 31, Patriots 17: A Jalen Ramsey interception and more questionable officiating didn’t help, but New England simply doesn’t have enough firepower to keep up with Miami. Tyreek Hill is over 1,000 receiving yards through eight games. The Pats took yet another huge injury hit, with top receiver Kendrick Bourne done for the year with a torn ACL.
  • Saints 38, Colts 27: Indy’s defense struggled to stop the duo of Alvin Kamara and Taysom Hill (two touchdowns each), with New Orleans getting to 4-4 in the tight NFC South. It was a nice bounce back for the Saints offense after an animatedly frustrated Derek Carr in Week 7 said he needed to “chill out.”
  • Panthers 15, Texans 13: In a matchup between the top two picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, the defenses stepped up—with Bryce Young having an efficient day and making enough plays to top C.J. Stroud and Houston. Young is on the board with his first career victory, and there are thankfully no winless teams remaining.
  • Seahawks 24, Browns 20: In yet another example of shaky officiating, the Seahawks beat the Browns on a bubble screen to rookie receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba with 38 seconds remaining—and it looked like a no-doubt hold by DK Metcalf. Still, Cleveland arguably benefited from officiating in past weeks, and Seattle found a way to get a win in their slick throwback uniforms. The Seahawks are at 5-2 and lead the NFC West, and they added defensive lineman Leonard Williams in a trade with the Giants.
  • Ravens 31, Cardinals 24: It was an odd-feeling game that the Cardinals cut to one possession in the end, but the Ravens were able to survive against the scrappy Arizona squad behind three touchdowns from running back Gus Edwards. As John Harbaugh said after the game, the good teams “find a way to win those games.”
  • Chargers 30, Bears 13: Los Angeles avoided falling into any type of primetime trap, putting together a promising all-around performance against undrafted rookie quarterback Tyson Bagent in his second career start.


Top fantasy performers in Week 8


  • Cowboy WR CeeDee Lamb: 35.0 points
  • Titans WR DeAndre Hopkins: 32.8 points
  • Commanders QB Sam Howell: 30.98 points
  • Bills QB Josh Allen: 29.06 points
  • Eagles WR A.J. Brown: 29.0 points


(point totals are for half PPR scoring)


NFL officiating is under fire


As mentioned, the Steelers were not at all happy with the officiating in their loss to the Jaguars. Receiver Diontae Johnson and kicker Chris Boswell were the most vocal postgame. Johnson basically implied that the officials must have been paid off to be that bad.



To be fair to a frustrated Johnson, the play where quarterback Kenny Pickett was injured was a textbook roughing-the-passer penalty, with the Jags’ Adam Gotsis driving his body weight into Pickett—yet officials did not throw a flag. And Steelers safety Keanu Neal was called for a more questionable roughing penalty for a hit on Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence. It’s easy to see why they were upset.


During last week, Colts owner Jim Irsay publicly—against NFL policy—revealed that he was told there were incorrect calls made late in their Week 7 loss to the Browns. And Giants pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux also voiced displeasure with the refs following the Week 8 loss to the Jets.


Overall, NFL officiating has certainly been disappointing at times. All teams, players, and fans want is an even playing field, and it’s unfortunate that poor officiating can lead to people feeling that isn’t the reality.


NFL news and notes


The NFL trade deadline is tomorrow at 4:00 PM ET. Trades made to this point:


  • Eagles acquired safety Kevin Byard from the Titans for a fifth, a sixth, and safety Terrell Edmunds.
  • Seahawks acquired defensive lineman Leonard Williams from the Giants for a 2024 second and a 2025 fifth.
  • Patriots acquired cornerback J.C. Jackson from the Chargers.
  • Chiefs acquired wide receiver Mecole Hardman Jr. from the Jets.
  • 49ers acquired pass rusher Randy Gregory from the Broncos.
  • Dolphins acquired wide receiver Chase Claypool from the Bears.
  • Falcons acquired defensive lineman Kentavius Street from the Eagles.


Veteran receiver Marvin Jones Jr. has retired after 11 NFL season (12 years including missed 2014 season due to injury). Jones caught 547 passes for 7,421 yards and 58 touchdowns in his career.


The Packers signed pass rusher Rashan Gary signed a four-year, $107 million extension negotiated by… Rashan Gary.



‍‍♂️ The NFL suspended Broncos defensive back Kareem Jackson four games for his Week 7 hit on Packers tight end Luke Musgrave, but an appeal brought the suspension down to two games.


The Bills placed tight end Dawson Knox (wrist) on injured reserve, and the Cardinals placed tight end Zach Ertz (quad) on injured reserve. Both players are out for a minimum of four games (already missed one each in Week 8).


Other Sports Updates


University of Michigan football is under fire for apparent sign-stealing. Some people are calling for the death penalty, while others (including some coaches) do not think it is a huge deal. And Michigan reportedly rescinded a contract extension offer to head coach Jim Harbaugh. Stay tuned.



College football highlights:


  • Kansas upset then-No. 6 Oklahoma, 38-33.
  • Then-No. 8 Oregon took on the tough road environment and coasted to a 35-6 win against then-No. 13 Utah.
  • No. 1 Georgia continued its dominance, blowing out Florida, 43-20.
  • Then-No. 18 Louisville shutout then-No. 20 Duke.
  • No. 24 USC survived versus Cal, 50-49.
  • Then-No. 23 UCLA beat Colorado, 28-16, with the stout Bruins defense sacking Shedeur Sanders seven times.


⚾️ The Diamondbacks stunned the Phillies twice at Citizens Bank Park to win the National League in seven games and advance to face the Rangers. The Rangers lead the World Series, 2-1.


NHL player Joe Thornton has retired after 24 seasons. He is 6th all-time in games played (1,714), 12th all-time in points (1,539), and 7th all-time in assists (1,109).


⚽️ Lionel Messi won his record eighth Ballon d’Or, becoming the first MLS player to win the award.


South Africa won the 2023 Rugby World Cup.


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