Maybe the Broncos should consider moving all of their games to London.
Through the first seven weeks of the season, the Broncos offense has mostly looked helpless, but that changed on Sunday in England. In a game against the Jaguars, Denver lit up the scoreboard with three touchdowns in a 21-17 win. Scoring three touchdowns doesn't usually qualify as lighting up the scoreboard, but it does when you're a Broncos team who went into this week's game as the lowest-scoring offense in the NFL.
So why was Denver finally able to find some success on offense? The biggest reason is that Russell Wilson finally started playing like the Russell Wilson the Broncos thought they were getting when they made a blockbuster trade for the QB back in March.
Wilson's ability to throw the ball accurately downfield is one reason why he's been so successful in his career and he showed off that ability against the Jaguars. One of Wilson's best throws of the day came in the third quarter when he hit Greg Dulcich with a 38-yard pass that traveled 30 yards in the air.
It’s beautiful. 🤩@Greg_Dulcich | 📺: ESPN+— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) October 30, 2022
That throw came on a 92-yard scoring drive where Wilson went 5 of 5 for 88 yards. Wilson seemed to have a great connection with Dulcich, who caught three of the passes on the drive for 78 yards. That touchdown put the Broncos ahead 14-10, but it was a lead they would lose late in the fourth quarter after a one-yard run by Travis Etienne with just 3:54 left to play.
At that point, the Broncos went back out on the field and it felt like their season was on the line, but Wilson didn't seem too bothered by the pressure. On the first play of the drive, Wilson arguably saved Denver's season with 47-yard pass to K.J. Hamler.
GO LONG, @Kj_hamler!— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) October 30, 2022
📺: ESPN+ pic.twitter.com/xZaqOTl4Ui
Six plays later, Latavius Murray would score the game-winning touchdown from one-yard out.
Another reason why the Broncos offense was so good is because it was unstoppable in the red zone. Going into Week 8, Denver had the WORST red zone offense in the NFL, scoring a touchdown on just 23.5% of their red zone trips (To put that in perspective, every other team in the NFL was converting at least 35% of their red zone trips into touchdowns heading into Week 8).
In this game, the Broncos went a perfect 3-for-3 in the red zone and a big reason is because Nathaniel Hackett actually showed some creativity. Denver's first touchdown of the game came on a six-yard catch by Jerry Jeudy that seemed to catch the Jaguars off-guard.
You love to see it, @jerryjeudy 🤩— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) October 30, 2022
📺: ESPN+ pic.twitter.com/6oCyEdvZhf
The Broncos offense was by no means perfect on the day. As a matter of fact, it looked like it was going to be another nightmare game for the unit early on. On the Broncos' first four possessions, they punted three times without getting a single first down and Wilson also threw an interception. Earlier in the season, that probably would have been enough to start a full collapse, but this time around, the offense was able to rebound.
On those first four possessions, Wilson was just 2 of 6 for 19 yards and an interception, but after that, he went 16 of 24 for 233 yards and a touchdown.
The Broncos have a playoff-caliber defense and if the offense continues to improve, this team could eventually sneak into the wild-card race.
Alright, let's get to the grades for every game from Week 8. If you're looking for a deeper dive on the Ravens' win over the Buccaneers that was played on Thursday, be sure to click here.
Cleveland 32-13 over Cincinnati (Monday)
|From offense to defense to special teams, the Bengals melted down in every way that a team can meltdown, and they did it under the national spotlight. In their first game without Ja'Marr Chase, the Bengals struggled to move the ball at all, and if that continues to be a theme going forward, this team could struggle to stay in the race for the AFC North title if Chase is out for an extended period of time. Even with the offense struggling, the thought was that that the Bengals defense could keep the team in this game, but the defense got beat down by the Browns. Even the normally reliable Evan McPherson had a bad night with a missed field goal and a missed extra point. This game was an all-around disaster for a Bengals team that will be hoping it was an anomaly and not the new norm without Chase.|
|With their season basically hanging in the balance, the Browns responded by dropping a bomb on the Bengals. In what was easily their most impressive performance of the year, the Browns played four quarters of nearly flawless football. Jacoby Brissett (278 passing yards and 1 TD) diced up the Bengals, while Nick Chubb (23 carries for 101 yards and two TDs) and Amari Cooper (five catches for 131 yards and one TD) all helped carry an offense that embarrassed a Bengals defense that had been one of the best in the NFL, especially in the second half. The only thing better than the Browns offense was their defense. With Myles Garrett leading the way, the Browns forced two turnovers while sacking Joe Burrow five times. At 3-5, the Browns are still relevant, and if they keep playing like this, they could be very relevant late into the season.|
Bengals-Browns grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Denver 21-17 over Jacksonville (London)
|It doesn't matter which country the Broncos are playing in, their defense is always good. Although the offense got off to a slow start, the Broncos were able to stay in this game thanks to some stellar play from their defense. Justin Simmons came up with one of the biggest plays of the game when he picked off Trevor Lawrence at the 1-yard line. Kwaun Williams also came up with a pick late in the fourth quarter that ended up icing the win. The Broncos did struggle to stop the run, but they shut down the Jaguars passing game on a day where they sacked Trevor Lawrence twice (with both sacks coming on third down). The Broncos defense has been playing well enough to win games all season and Denver's offense finally did its part to help with that on Sunday.|
|It's going to be a long flight back from London for Trevor Lawrence. The Jaguars played well enough to win in this game, but they came away with a loss in part because of two costly interceptions from Lawrence. The first one came on the 1-yard line in the first half, killing an 80-yard drive. The second one came on the Jacksonville's final offensive play of the game. The Jaguars also had three other possessions that got inside of Denver's 45-yard line, but they came away with zero points on all three due to two sacks taken by Lawrence and an intentional grounding. The quarterback's struggles overshadowed the play of Travis Etienne, who looks like a star in the making. The second-yard back rushed for 156 yards and a TD on just 24 carries.|
Broncos-Jaguars grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Atlanta 37-34 over Carolina (OT)
|The Panthers might be looking for a new kicker after this loss. Eddy Pineiro had two chances to win this game, but he blew them both. First, he missed an extra point at the end of regulation, then he missed a 32-yard attempt in overtime. Of course, the missed extra point was from 48 yards, which only happened because D.J. Moore got flagged for excessive celebration after catching a 62-yard TD with 12 seconds left to play. The mistakes by those two players specifically cost the Panthers any chance at a win on a day where they definitely played well enough to win. D'Onta Forman was nearly unstoppable (118 yards three touchdowns) and Moore came up big (152 receiving yards) until his boneheaded penalty. The Panthers are now in last place in the NFC South, but the upside is that that know they're good enough to compete for a division title.|
|The Falcons are officially in first place in the NFC South thanks to a wild win that was sealed by a Younghoe Koo game-winning field goal in overtime. The Falcons won this shootout because their offense was clicking on all cylinders. Even Kyle Pitts got in on the action, catching five passes for 80 yards and a TD. The Falcons' rushing attack continues to steamroll everyone. This week, they totaled 167 yards on the ground with Caleb Huntley leading the way (91 yards). The Falcons didn't play perfect football -- Marcus Mariota threw two interceptions and the defense struggled -- but as they've proved this year, they don't need to play perfect football to compete in the NFC South. This team is good enough to win the division and it's no fluke that they're in first place heading into Week 9.|
Panthers-Falcons grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Miami 31-27 over Detroit
|The Dolphins found themselves in an early 14-0 hole, but they were able to dig themselves out of it thanks to the dynamic duo of Tyreek Hill (188 receiving yards) and Jaylen Waddle (106 yards and two touchdowns), who combined for 294 receiving yards. The two made life much easier for Tua Tagaovailoa, who targeted them with 23 of his 36 passes (Tua threw for 382 yards and three touchdowns). The Dolphins were nearly unstoppable on third down, converting 8 of 12 attempts, which included two different third-and-13 conversions. One reason the Dolphins were able to win this shootout is because their defense actually showed up for the second half. After surrendering 27 points in the first half, the Dolphins pitched a shutout over the final two quarters. This team is now rolling heading into November.|
|This game looked like it was going to turn into a blowout win for the Lions after they took an early 14-0 lead, but for the third straight week, this team forgot how to play football in the second half. After scoring 27 points in the first half, the Lions got shut out in the second half, which continues an ugly trend for the Lions: They've now been outscored 48-0 in the second half over the past three weeks. Losing close gams to good teams was good enough for last year's Lions, but it's not good enough for this year's group. Dan Campbell needs to figure out to get his team playing two good halves.|
Dolphins-Lions grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Minnesota 34-26 over Arizona
|When Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins are on the field, the Cardinals will almost always have a chance to win and those two kept Arizona in the game against the Vikings. Hopkins caught 12 passes for 159 yards, which included an insane one-handed TD catch. The problem for the Cardinals is that they simply made too many mistakes (Kyler threw two interceptions) and the defense absolutely disappeared in the red zone. The Vikings made five trips inside the Cardinals' 20-yard line and they scored a TD on each trip.|
|Minnesota jumped out to a 14-3 lead and then hung on for dear life in this game. When the Vikings are winning games, Justin Jefferson (98 receiving yards) and Dalvin Cook usually have something to do with it and that was the case here. Cook was especially big for Minnesota on Sunday, finishing with 125 total yards and a TD on 25 touches. Although the Cardinals made things close, the Vikings defense came up with multiple big plays to stymie Arizona's comeback attempts. The defense picked off Murray twice in the second half and sacked him a total of four times in this game. It's starting to look like the Vikings are the second best team in the NFC behind only the Eagles.|
Cardinals-Vikings grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
New Orleans 24-0 over Las Vegas
|The Raiders were so bad in this game that giving them an 'F' is an insult to the letter 'F.' Derek Carr got benched in the fourth quarter on a day where the offense didn't reach Saints territory a single time while he was in the game. The Raiders' offensive failures led to the team's first scoreless game since 2014. This was a nightmare loss for a team that's now 2-5 and Josh McDaniels' first season on the job is quickly spiraling out of control.|
|The Saints ended their two-game losing streak and they did it by destroying the Raiders in every way that one NFL team can destroy another team. The defense surrendered less than 200 yards while pitching a shutout for just the fourth time since 2000. Offensively, Alvin Kamara had his way with the Raiders. Not only did the Saints running back rush for 62 yards and a touchdown, but he also added 96 receiving yards and two touchdown catches. The Saints' 3-5 record might be ugly right now, but the good news for New Orleans is that ugly can win the NFC South title. This was the Saints team everyone thought they were going to see when the season started and if they keep playing like this, there's no reason they can't win the division.|
Raiders-Saints grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Philadelphia 35-13 over Pittsburgh
|The Steelers just aren't on the same wavelength as the Eagles right now, and it showed at various points in Sunday's loss. Their offensive line was dominated by the Eagles pass rush as Pittsburgh allowed six sacks and 11 quarterback hits, causing Kenny Pickett to make brash decisions with the football. Pickett kept his composure until the fourth quarter, when he fumbled and had an interception when the game was out of hand. Their secondary was no match for the Eagles passing game as Minkah Fitzpatrick had his worst game of the season in coverage. Philadelphia had four touchdown passes of 25-plus yards. The bye week couldn't have come at a better time for the Steelers, as they look to regroup and try to salvage a season that was in transition anyway.|
|A dominant performance by the Eagles offense from start to finish, highlighted by the performance of A.J. Brown -- who had the first three-TD game of his career. Brown finished with six catches for 156 yards and three scores (all of which came in the first half). Both Brown and Jalen Hurts -- who threw a career-high four touchdown passes -- were out of this game in the fourth quarter as Philadelphia ran just one play in the red zone all day (an 11-yard touchdown run by Miles Sanders). The Eagles had four touchdowns of 25-plus yards, dominating a Steelers team that has a lot of work to do. Philadelphia also finished with six sacks and had two takeaways as the Eagles are off to a 7-0 start -- matching the best in franchise history. This team is good. |
Steelers-Eagles grades by Jeff Kerr (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
New England 22-17 over N.Y. Jets
|The Patriots picked off Zach Wilson three times and rode a 16-7 second-half run to victory. Mac Jones didn't have the kind of outing that would solidify his status as the unquestioned QB1, as he completed 24 of 35 passes for 194 yards, one touchdown and one interception, but Rhamondre Stevenson balled out with 143 scrimmage yards. Shoutout to Nick Folk as well, as he converted on all five of his field goals and his one extra point.|
|We were wondering how this Jets offense was going to look without star running back Breece Hall, and what would happen if Zach Wilson was forced to throw more. Well, it wasn't good. Wilson threw for a season-high 355 yards and two touchdowns, but completed less than 50 percent of his passes and threw three ugly interceptions. The Jets rushed for just 51 yards. They will need more from Michael Carter and James Robinson and less from Wilson if they want to start another win streak|
Patriots-Jets grades by Jordan Dajani (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Dallas 49-29 over Chicago
|Falling behind by 21 points in the first half just won't win you many games in the NFL, especially for a Bears team that runs the football on 59.9% of its offense plays, the highest rate in the NFL. Justin Fields wasn't bad, totaling 151 passing yards and two passing touchdowns for a career-high 120.0 passer rating on a day where he also added 60 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. Fields being able to lead the offense to the highest point total the Cowboys have allowed so far this season is nice, but their defense severely weighs down their grade. The 49 points allowed were the Bears' most in a game since 2014, when the Packers put up 55 in a win over Chicago. |
|Tony Pollard, who was filling in for an injured Ezekiel Elliott, gets an A+ for rushing for 131 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries, which were all career highs. He probably won every fantasy matchup, as well as the Cowboys' real-life matchup against the Bears. Dak Prescott also looked more like the 2021 version of himself in his second start back from a fractured thumb, completing 21-of-27 passes for 250 yards, two passing touchdowns and an interception. The only demerit for Dallas is their defense allowed a season-high 29 points. They allowed two rushing touchdowns against the Bears after only allowing two rushing scores in the first seven games. Micah Parson did help make up for those defensive struggles by returning a fumble for a TD in what was easily one of the wildest plays of Week 8. |
Bears-Cowboys grades by Garrett Podell (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Tennessee 17-10 over Houston
|The Titans were missing their starting quarterback on Sunday, but that didn't seem to matter because they won this game by doing what they do best: Playing defense and letting Derrick Henry run wild. And there's no one Henry runs better against than the Houston Texans. On a day where the Titans only threw 10 passes, Henry carried the load on offense with 219 yards and two touchdowns, marking the fourth straight time where he's topped 200 yards against Houston. Henry had more rushing yards than the Texans had total yards on offense. Tennessee's defense limited Houston to just 161 yards, which was the fewest yards the Titans have allowed in a game since 2010. Thanks to Henry and this defense, this team seems destined to win the AFC South for the fourth straight year. |
|The Texans knew exactly what the Titans were going to do on offense in this game and they still couldn't stop them. Houston's defense got bulldozed by Henry, who rushed for 219 yards. Despite giving up those huge numbers to Henry, the defense limited to the Titans to just 17 points, which means the Texans could have won this game if they had gotten any production from their offense, but they got nothing. Dameon Pierce got shut down (15 carries for 35 yards), which left Davis Mills to carry the load and he wasn't quite up to the task. The Texans have one of the worst records in the NFL for a reason and it's because they just don't have the same talent that most other teams have.|
Titans-Texans grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Washington 17-16 over Indianapolis
|What a wild ride for the Commanders: Their defense kept them in it and then the offense took over in the final minutes. This game could have turned into a Colts blowout win, but Washington's defense came up with two huge turnovers on separate drives where Indy had driven inside of the Commanders' 25-yard line. Like the defense, the offense wasn't perfect, but it came up with big plays when the team needed them most. After only mustering seven points through the first three quarters, the Commanders exploded for 10 points in the final five minutes to win the game. Taylor Heinicke struggled at times, but he also came up with multiple clutch throws, including a 33-yarder to Terry McLaurin that set up a QB sneak for the game-winning TD with just 22 seconds left to play. At 1-4, most people left the Commanders for dead, but this team has now won three straight games and seems to be getting better every week.|
|One of the reasons the Colts benched Matt Ryan is because the offense wasn't scoring any points and things didn't improve much with Sam Ehlinger running the show this week. In his first career start, Elhlinger was serviceable (201 yards, zero touchdowns), but he also made one huge mistake when he lost a fumble inside Washington's 20-yard line. That was one of two fumbles the Colts lost on the day deep in Washington territory (Jonathan Taylor lost the other one in the third quarter). Defensively, the Colts' biggest mistake came from Stephon Gilmore, who gave up a 33-yard pass to Indy's 1-yard line in the final seconds that set up Washington's game-winning touchdown. The Colts simply aren't good enough to make multiple big mistakes like that and still win.|
Commanders-Colts grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
San Francisco 31-14 over L.A. Rams
|Despite sharing a field with the reigning Super Bowl MVP, Christian McCaffrey was the difference-maker in this game. He ran for 94 yards on 18 carries and a score, caught eight passes for 55 yards and a touchdown while also throwing his second career touchdown pass. McCaffrey is helping 49ers general manager John Lynch's case as this year's NFL Executive of the Year. McCaffrey's presence undoubtedly made things easier for Jimmy Garoppolo, who had an exceptional second half that included touchdown passes to McCaffrey and Kittle. Garoppolo threw for 235 yards on 21 of 25 passing while not turning the ball over. On defense, San Francisco shut down the Rams' running attack while making Los Angeles one dimensional. Led by Fred Warner (12 tackles and a sack) and Nick Bosa (three tackles and a sack), the 49ers held the Rams to just 61 yards in the second half. The 49ers held Cooper Kupp to just one catch for 7 yards after halftime.|
|Los Angeles' defense couldn't stop Christian McCaffrey. It also struggled to contain Brandon Aiyuk, who was on the receiving end of McCaffrey's touchdown pass. The real story for the Rams was their continued lack of offensive rhythm. The Rams couldn't run the ball, which put Matthew Stafford into too many predictable passing situations. Allen Robinson II played well (he caught five passes for the second straight game), but he alone wasn't enough to offset the Rams' lack of a running game and a third receiving option.|
49ers-Rams grades by Bryan DeArdo (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Seattle 27-13 over N.Y. Giants
|Without a pair of muffed punts by Richie James, they win this, right? Wrong. Daniel Jones either had no one separating downfield to target, or refused to push it past the sticks when the game was still on the line. On the ground, meanwhile, he and Saquon Barkley both moved their fair share; they just didn't move very far. The defense deserves props, and is chiefly responsible for making this a contest. They're still a feisty squad. But you can't expect to pull out close games again and again if your only recipe is bootlegs and read-options.|
|Not a pretty game here, but like the Giants, they haven't always needed aesthetic victories to get real wins this year. You'd like to see more from the ground game early on -- Kenneth Walker III was a virtual nonfactor until his late-game score -- and they need to be less streaky to contend. But Geno Smith was once again poised in and around the pocket; he would've had three TDs if not for a Tyler Lockett drop. Their star receivers stepped up in crunch time. And the defense had no issue swallowing up Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley.|
Giants-Seahawks grades by Cody Benjamin (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Buffalo 27-17 over Green Bay
|Any chance the Packers had of pulling off an upset went down the drain after they fell behind 14-0 just one play into the second quarter. The Packers were able to move the ball on the ground -- they rushed for more than 200 yards -- but when you're down big, moving the ball on the ground doesn't really help because you're also burning up the clock. The offense did show signs of life at times, but there was no way this unit was going to be able to keep up with the Bills in a shootout. The defense did pick off Josh Allen twice in the second half while limiting the Bills to just three points, but the Packers' inability to move the ball on offense until the final minutes of the fourth quarter made a comeback impossible. The Packers were clearly the inferior team and they have a lot of work to do if they want to be able to hang with the best teams in the NFL which is something you never thought you would hear about a team led by Aaron Rodgers.|
|The Bills coasted to a win after jumping out to a 24-7 lead in the first half, but it didn't feel like they played a great game. For one, Josh Allen struggled with his accuracy. Not only did the Bills QB complete just 52% of his passes, but he also threw two interceptions. Despite Allen's struggles, Stefon Diggs still totaled 108 receiving yards and a TD. It's a good thing the Bills built and early lead, because Buffalo's offense did almost nothing in the second half. The Bills weren't perfect on Sunday night, but when you're as good as they are, you don't need to be win games.|
Packers-Bills grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)