Week 8 means another week of football! Several matchups to watch this Sunday as Dak Prescott and the Cowboys head to FedEx Field to clash against Kirk Cousins and his Redskins. Another matchup to watch is Philip Rivers and the Chargers Vs Tom Brady and the Patriots in Gillette Stadium. What should also be on your radar, is an NFC matchup between Super Cam and the Panthers against Famous Jameis and the Buccaneers. Several other intriguing face offs to watch so let’s get right into it!
Minnesota Vikings @ Cleveland Browns; 9:30am
1. Minnesota’s run game vs. Cleveland’s run defense
Minnesota lost Dalvin Cook for the season a few weeks ago (Torn ACL) and since then has had to rely on free-agent acquisition Latavius Murray and Jerrick McKinnon. Though Murray had 100 yards rushing last week against the Ravens, he has been subpar at best while McKinnon is a third-down back who has also been subpar. Cleveland’s strength is its run defense and ranks 5th best in rushing yards allowed with 83.7 yards/game. Add two and two together, this could end u being a game in which Keenum has to throw 30-45 times this game.
2. Cleveland’s O-line vs. Vikings front seven.
With Pro-Bowl tackle Joe Thomas lost for the season, backup tackle Spencer Drango will need to fill in for an already shaky offensive line. This Minnesota defense will really put this Browns unit to the test as Minnesota ranks 6th best in the league with 21.0 sacks while also ranking as the 7th best defense overall.
3. Hue Jackson’s handling of QB’s
Supposedly DeShone Kizer will remain as starting QB after getting benched last week against the Titans, but that is subject to change. Don’t be surprised if Hue Jackson makes another change at QB midway through the game. Recently, Jackson has been under heavy scrutiny for the way he’s been changing QB’s, especially since he was considered to be a “Quarterback Whisperer.”
Bold Prediction: Minnesota’s defense forces 7 turnovers along with notching 7 sacks.
San Francisco 49ers @ Philadelphia Eagles; 1:00pm
1. San Francisco’s O-Line vs. Eagles defense
San Fran’s O-line consists of left tackle Joe Staley and right tackle Trent Brown, however, the interior line is much weaker compared to the two tackle positions. Considering Philly boasts the best run defense in the league (67.0 yards/game allowed), the O-line will need to find a way to expose this Eagles defense. If they can’t run the ball, C.J. Beathard will be asked to carry the weight of the team on his shoulders. For a rookie like Beathard, having a solid run game would take pressure off of him, but this matchup is not favorable for San Francisco.
2. Carson Wentz’s stat line
What a season Wentz is having. Some people believed he would suffer from a sophomore slump, criticizing his deep ball accuracy, and how his feet would stop moving when he locked onto his first read. That was last year and now he’s taken a massive leap in the right direction, receiving praise from his teammates and is already in the MVP conversation. Look for Wentz to keep slinging the ball against a 49ers defense that ranks 28th in passing yards allowed with 393.1 yards/game.
3. San Francisco’s third down defense
San Francisco’s biggest weakness on defense is their ability to get off the field on third down. They rank dead last allowing the highest conversion percentage on third down with almost 50% while the Eagles offense ranks first in third-down conversion with a little over a 50% conversion percentage. San Fran will have to stop Wentz and company on third down if they want any chance of winning.
Bold Prediction: Wentz accounts for 6 TD’s (5 Passing, 1 Rushing)
Oakland Raiders @ Buffalo Bills; 1:00pm
1. Derek Carr vs. Bills defense
Derek Carr will need to carry the team on his shoulder (literally) once again as he will head into this game without Marshawn Lynch and a run game that is already suspect. Carr and crew will face a Buffalo defense that ranks 26th against the pass this season.
2. Raiders secondary vs. Bills receivers
The Raiders will be without Karl Joseph, David Amerson and Gareon Conley due to injuries. This depleted secondary will need to step up against a mediocre receiving corps, consisting of Jordan Matthews, Zay Jones, etc.
3. Tyrod Taylor
T-Mobile will be looking to expose Oakland’s secondary and run defense that ranks 19th (113.9 yards/game) which could work in his favor if he runs option routes alongside Shady McCoy. He’ll also be looking to keep Oakland’s offense off the field by milking the clock and attempting to dominate time of possession.
Bold Prediction: LeSean McCoy scores 3 TD’s (2 rushing 1 receiving)
Atlanta Falcons @ New York Jets; 1:00pm
1. Falcons run game vs. Jets defense
Atlanta’s 12th ranked rushing offense (120.5 yards/game) is much lower than it was a year ago, but look for the yardage to pile up against a Jets defense that ranks 28th (126.6 yards per game) in rushing yards allowed. Favorable matchup for the Falcons.
2. Josh McCown vs. Falcons defense
Josh McCown looks much better than Matt Ryan does and narrowly lost last week after throwing a terrible interception in the last minute of the game. Atlanta’s pass defense ranks 14th (215.5 yards/game) while the Jets passing offense is ranked 22nd in the league. It’ll be a challenge for McCown, but considering he’s been in the league for over 15 years, he should find a way to spread the ball around.
Bold Prediction: Matt Ryan throws as many interceptions as McCown throws touchdowns
Chicago Bears @ New Orleans Saints; 1:00pm
1. Mitch Trubisky vs. Saints defense
Mitch Trubisky completed a mere three passes last week in the win against Carolina, but he’ll need to complete more than three in order to come out victorious. The Saints defense suddenly looks legit following their Week 1 and 2 follies. New Orleans is tied for 13th in total sacks (17.0 sacks) and look to add to that total against a rookie QB. They’ll look to get after him early and often to throw him off his game.
2. Bears defense vs. Drew Brees
Drew Brees is a Hall of Famer without a doubt, but the Bears don’t care. They’ll be looking to have a similar performance against the Saints like they did against the Panthers. Brees threw two interceptions against the Lions defense and the Bears will hope he throws more. The defense will need to get after Brees while also trying to cover the back end.
Bold Prediction: Alvin Kamara racks up 150 yards from scrimmage along with 2 TD’s
Los Angeles Chargers @ New England Patriots; 1:00pm
1. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram vs. Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon
Perhaps the most productive pass rushing duo dating back to last year will look to take down Brady, but Solder and Cannon will certainly be up to the challenge. Since Week 4, Brady has gotten rid of the ball much faster. Even so, this tandem will be hungry for sacks and will keep their motor running until the whistle is blown. These guys can dominate games and don’t be surprised if they do just that.
2. Tom Brady and Philip Rivers
Two great quarterbacks will be facing off again in Foxborough in what looks to be a close affair. One quarterback has five Super Bowls to his name, while the other has none. Nevertheless, this could be the last time these two quarterbacks meet each other in the regular season as their careers begin to wind down. Look for this game to be a shootout and a fight to the final second of the game.
Bold Prediction: Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram combine for 5 sacks
Carolina Panthers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers; 1:00pm
1. Jameis Winston’s shoulder
According to some sources, Jameis re-injured his shoulder against the Bills. If that is the case, then the Bucs may be forced to run the ball more with Doug Martin. This would also be a clear disadvantage for Jameis because he tends to throw the ball at least 30 times a game, but the Panthers defense will look to rough him up.
2. Panthers run game Vs Bucs defense
The Panthers rushing attack has been virtually nonexistent throughout the whole year as it has been Cam carrying the team on his back more than expected. Cam is doing too much right now and they need to go back to pounding the rock. Running the ball could work against the Bucs defense that is ranked 17th in total rushing yards allowed per game (113.7).
Bold Prediction: Cam Newton rushes for more yards than the Panthers running backs combined… again
Indianapolis Colts @ Cincinnati Bengals; 1:00pm
1. Bengals run game vs. Colts defense
The Bengals have started to feature Joe Mixon more and more into their offense, but the run game still hasn’t been as successful as some people would’ve hoped. The Colts defense meanwhile ranks 26th in the league in rushing yards allowed with 124.7 yards/game. Look for the run game to pick up this time around and look for a big performance from Joe Mixon.
2. Colts secondary Vs Bengals receivers
The Colts secondary lost a key defender last week in Malik Hooker who suffered a season-ending knee injury. A.J. Green looks to have a big game against a defense that ranks 31st in passing yards allowed with 300.7 yards/game. With a depleted and inexperienced secondary, this matchup is very favorable for the Bengals.
Bold Prediction: Bengals defense forces 5 turnovers and scores a TD
Houston Texans @ Seattle Seahawks; 4:05pm
1. Deshaun Watson vs. Legion of Boom
Deshaun Watson faces his toughest opponent in the toughest stadium: the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Watson will need to be at his best when facing this defense. He also has to keep the crowd noise (which acts like a 12th defender) in mind because it is incredibly loud and difficult to come out with a win against Seattle.
2. Duane Brown
Duane Brown finally ended his holdout just a week ago and has been activated to the Texans active roster. Now, all eyes will be on him as some teams are rumored to be interested in trading for Brown. We’ll see if he’s still got it in him, or if the holdout makes him rusty.
Bold Prediction: Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson account for 8 total TD’s
Dallas Cowboys @ Washington Redskins; 4:25pm
1. Ezekiel Elliott vs. Washington defense
Zeke will be looking to crack 100 yards rushing against a staunch Redskins defense. The Redskins rank 8th best against the run (94.5 yards/game) so Zeke will have his work cut out for him running against Washington.
2. Kirk Cousins vs. Cowboys defense
Kirk will be looking to beat Dak Prescott for the first time, but he’ll have to be careful not to let the Cowboys pass rush get to him as they rank 6th in the league with 21.0 sacks. It won’t be easy but since he’s had a passer rating above 100 every game dating back to Week 2, so he could continue to dissect defenses.
3. Josh Norman vs. Dez Bryant
How could you not pay attention this matchup? Josh Norman is coming off a rib injury which has kept him off the field the last three games and is currently labeled as “questionable” for Sunday’s tilt. Dez has been underwhelming this season and has yet to crack the 100 yard game but it is bound to happen. Unlikely he’ll break through this week, but at least we’ll see Dez and Josh getting chippy and attempt to get inside each other’s heads.
Bold Prediction: Rob Kelley rushes for more yards than Zeke.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Detroit Lions; 8:30pm
1. The Three B’s Vs Lions D
Ben, Brown, Bell. The Three B’s will head to Ford Field to face a Lions defense that ranks 11th in total defense. The three of them and others on offense will need to find a way to outplay this defense whether it’s utilizing Le’Veon more in the passing game, or running the ball more with him, it will be a tough task especially considering they are away from home.
2. Matt Stafford’s mobility
Matt Stafford had the benefit of a bye week coming off a loss where he was limited to being a passing from the pocket due an ankle injury he suffered a week before. All eyes will be on whether or not he has fully recovered from that injury. If he has recovered then Detroit will be that much more dangerous, but if he hasn’t, then Pittsburgh will be looking to exploit that against a poor offensive line.
Bold Prediction: Ameer Abdullah racks up more scrimmage yards than Le’Veon Bell.