From a rematch of the NFC title game to a shootout in the Coliseum, Breakout Live breaks down all the matchups for week 8 in the NFL.
BYES: Chargers, Cowboys, Falcons, Titans
Eagles vs. Jaguars (in London)
The Jags are reeling and it’s all Blake Bortles’ fault. The defense hasn’t been what it was a year ago, but the Jags are still 2nd in total defense, so they’re holding up their end. So why is Doug Marrone sticking with double-Bs? Beats me. Marrone says Bortles will be on “a short leash” Sunday, but what he really needs is a shock collar. Just give Blake a little buzz every time he’s about to turn the ball over again. As for Philly, a change of scenery should do them good after losing a 17-point lead in the 4th to the Panthers last week. That was pretty bad. Like, Bortles-level bad. It might even be in Philly’s best interest to give Bortles a few gimmies throughout this game, because as long as he’s on the field and not on the bench, the Eagles have the edge.
Ravens @ Panthers
I won’t lie: I have no idea how to pick this one. But as much as I want to just mail it in and predict a tie, I won’t do it. The Ravens and Panthers are about as evenly matched as it gets: two good teams with really good defenses and kinda good offenses. The Ravens are banged up at CB, with 3 guys on the injury report this week. But that doesn’t exactly play into Carolina’s hands as much as you’d think – the Panthers lean heavily on the NFL’s best rushing attack and Cam Newton appeared on this week’s injury report as well with an injury to his throwing shoulder. I’m gonna go with my gut and say Carolina rides the comeback wave after last week’s thriller in Philly. The Panthers fall behind early but claw their way to a W at home.
Broncos @ Chiefs
Both teams are coming off blowout victories in Week 7, except KC’s was sweet and Denver’s was as sour as a bag of Warheads. For one, Arizona is awful, so the Broncos get minimal brownie points there. Huge brownie points for Broncos backup quarterback Chad Kelly, though, who dressed like Charlie Brown after Von Miller’s team Halloween party, and pulled the old QB sneak by entering a random couple’s home, sitting on the couch next to a woman holding her baby, and mumbling incoherently. A road win overshadowed by a backup who had way too many road beers. Speaking of roadies, how tough is it to play on the road at Arrowhead? The Bengals will probably tell you it’s the hardest thing they’ve ever done, because the Chiefs and their crowd made them look like they’d never played football before. The Broncos are even worse than the Bengals, so this one has bloodbath written all over it.
Browns @ Steelers
Who’s up for another OT thriller?! I know the Browns aren’t, as they’ve already played 4 so far this year – just one short of tying the all-time record with 9 games to play. The Brownies have hung tough in every game they’ve played, including that Week 1 tie with this same Steelers team. Pittsburgh sits atop the AFC North at 3-2-1, but they really don’t feel like the same juggernaut that’s been running this division for a decade. And the Browns are no longer everyone’s doormat. The only thing missing from that Week 1 tussle (besides a winner) will be the difference in a surprising-but-not-quite-shocking result, with Baker Mayfield leading Cleveland to a statement win vs. a division rival.
Browns, 24-21 (in OT, obviously)
Seahawks @ Lions
Seattle has started to figure things out offensively, winning 3 of their last 4, the only loss coming to the undefeated Rams in a game Seattle should have won. They’ve been running the ball with the trio of Chris Carson, Mike Davis and Rashaad Penny, and this game would seem to set up well for them. The Lions have one of the worst run defenses in the NFL, getting gashed week after week. No team in the league has had fewer passes thrown against them than Detroit, mostly because it’s so damn easy to run on them. But wait, what do we have here? The Lions just traded for Damon “Snacks” Harrison, the best run-stuffing DT in the NFL, and that move completely changes the landscape of this game. If the Lions can at least slow down Seattle’s run game and force Russell Wilson to make more plays behind an offensive line that’s been better but still isn’t great, that bodes well for Detroit. Still, my gut says Wilson makes just enough plays to get Seattle over .500 for the first time all year.
Buccaneers @ Bengals
The Bengals got embarrassed last week, plain and simple. So how will they respond? They can either stick their striped tails between their legs, or they can act like the top-10 offense they are and shred a weak Bucs’ defense that just got weaker with the loss of LB Kwon Alexander for the season. The Bengals’ defense should be very angry about giving up 45 points in their worst loss since 2009, and I expect Jameis Winston and Co. to feel every bit of that wrath.
Jets @ Bears
Will the real Allen Robinson please stand up? One of the biggest free agent signings of the summer has been inconsistent at best thus far, and he’s coming off his worst game of the year (1 rec, 4 yards). That won’t cut it for a guy who’s supposed to be a legit #1 WR on a team that’s trending upward. QB Mitch Trubisky has some receiving weapons with WRs Anthony Miller (who I think will become a star) and Taylor Gabriel in addition to TE Trey Burton, but if Robinson doesn’t start acting like the $42 million man his contract says he is, the Bears will be just another pretender in the NFC. Chicago’s defense has finally shown some chinks in the armor, but they should have a better showing at home against INT-prone rookie Sam Darnold. The Jets o-line has been good, but with Bilal Powell now on IR and just one healthy safety on the roster, the Jets won’t have enough to escape Soldier Field with a win. I believe in the Bears, if only for this week.
Redskins @ Giants
How good will this game be? In the words of cameo actor extraordinaire Dwight Yoakam in Wedding Crashers, it’ll be not… not good at all. Eli Manning feels like a stage-5 clinger at this point in his career, just holding on for dear life and hoping no one will tell him that he needs to go away. The Giants are a complete dumpster fire and it starts with their QB. Might as well just bring all-state QB Vince Vaughn in at this point – at least he can put the ball wherever he wants. As for Washington, they’ve been about as interesting as an unfruitful Quail hunt, but at least they’re not completely dysfunctional. Washington’s defense is for real and QB Alex Smith, though nothing special, doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. At the very least, it’ll be fun to see what kind of fireworks Odell Beckham and Josh Norman have in store this time around, because their previous matchups have been more UFC than NFL. Let’s get it on and get this game over with as quickly as possible.
Colts @ Raiders
John Gruden claims that the Raiders are not in tank-mode, but here’s a spoiler for you: the Raiders are 100% in tank-mode. What else would you call trading away your two best players for draft picks on your way to being the only one-win team in the AFC? The Raiders have one of the worst defenses in the NFL, which does not bode well against Indy. Andrew Luck has finally started to look like himself and the run game finally has some life with RB Marlon Mack back from injury. Now that WR Amari Cooper has been traded and RB Marshawn Lynch is on IR, QB Derek Carr has no help and Oakland has no hope for 2018.
49ers @ Cardinals
If you like turnovers, this game is your huckleberry, because both QBs love to give the ball to the other team. Cards QB Josh Rosen is the first QB in this vaunted rookie class to really, truly look like a rookie, as he was manhandled by Denver’s defense last week. Niners QB CJ Beathard has actually played pretty well, but any positive strides he’s made have been completely wiped away by his inability to protect the football. Arizona won the first meeting between these two in Week 5, but San Fran lost the turnover battle 5-0 and still only lost by 10. That insane turnover disparity won’t happen again, and with reports this week about CB Patrick Peterson “desperately” wanting to be traded, who knows where Arizona’s collective heads are at right now.
Packers @ Rams
I’m seeing a lot of headlines predicting a shootout at the Coliseum, but I’m not sure if that’s in reference to the game or the line for beer. A friend of mine who’s a Vikings’ fan attended the game a few weeks back, and reported that the beer garden was fully out by 1 pm. Blasphemy! I can neither confirm nor deny the truth behind this, but all I know is that the Rams’ event staff better get their beer ducks in a row before Packers fans come calling. As for the game itself, it should be a real treat for all the boozed-up fans in attendance. Green Bay should be getting WRs Randall Cobb and Geronimo Allison back. Rams WR Cooper Kupp is doubtful, but the Rams have plenty of weapons without him to light up the scoreboard. The stage is set for an upset here, but with Aaron Rodgers’ knee still a question mark against LA’s elite D-line, I don’t think it happens. Plus, I saw Green Bay’s defense against San Francisco, and so did Sean McVay.
Saints @ Vikings
The Saints haven’t faced many bad matchups on their way to 5-1 and 1st place in the NFC South. Well, that changes over the next two weeks. New Orleans better be careful not to look ahead to the Rams next week, because Minnesota’s top-5 passing offense vs. New Orleans’ bottom-5 pass defense certainly qualifies as a bad (and more immediate) matchup. New Orleans did pick up CB Eli Apple from the Giants’ fire sale to bolster their secondary, but I’m not sure how much he’ll help. Apple has played well this year, but he’s not all that far removed from being benched and called a cancer by his own teammate (and team captain) Landon Collins last season. The Vikings will be without RB Dalvin Cook again, but they’re a pass-first offense and Latavius Murray has been more than capable as his replacement in the backfield. 2018 feels like one of those magical years for the Saints where just about everything goes right, but even the best fairy tales have bumps along the way. The next two weeks will tell us a lot about who the Saints really are.
Patriots @ Bills
The Pats and Bills meet for the fourth time on Monday Night Football, but this’ll be the first time these two have met in Buffalo. You know the Bills Mafia will be geeked, but they’re gonna need more than tailgates and tables to stop this Pats freight train. The Pats have won 3 straight and look every bit like the team to beat in the AFC. And with Derek Anderson under center again for Buffalo, the Bills won’t be that team. Anderson threw 3 picks in his debut, which seems like a rite of passage for Bills QBs lately, and the defense nearly outscored the offense in a 37-5 laugher against a mediocre Colts team. Brady is 28-3 all-time against the Bills, and win #29 seems like a foregone conclusion here.