Coming up on half way through what has been an exciting and enthralling season to date. Today I take a look at the Week 8 match ups.
Dolphins @ Texans
Two teams with winning records coming in to a prime time Thursday night game, yet there’s hardly any hype about it at all. That’s probably because of the perceived acceptance that neither are serious contenders. The Dolphins started off the year well but have dropped to their usual mediocrity. The Texans have done the reverse and have won four on the bounce but I can’t help but think quarterback Watson is one big hit away from being knocked out for the season. Saying that, as they’re at home and their defense is becoming more dominant each week and I don’t rate Miami’s quarterback room at all, I’m going for the home team
Eagles @ Jaguars (in London)
Two teams desperate for a win following slumps in performance. Seemingly though, the Jaguars represent a more troubled camp with dressing room fights and the beginnings of a quarterback controversy. Blake Bortles has been declared the starter but is apparently ‘on a short leash’. The Eagles managed to throw away a 17-0 lead with only a quarter left of the game last week with a poor running display which on the face of it hasn’t got much better. Carlos Hyde will make his bow for the Jaguars and should give Blake a little something more reliable to lean on
Verdict: JaguarsEmbed from Getty Images
Ravens @ Panthers
Cam Newton will look to keep the momentum going on Sunday following the 4th quarter comeback win over the Eagles. He’ll face a tougher task though with the Ravens defense comes into town, a defeat to the Saints last week was the first time this season that they had given up a second half touchdown. And it’s that stingy defense and Flacco’s ability to just about get the job done which sways my decision
Jets @ Bears
Sam Darnold continues to impress despite playing against a good defense and having a cast of no-names for receivers. That continues this week and against the Bears, he faces another good defense. On the opposite side, Trubisky is still far from the polished article but the Jets defense are still a little banged up.
Buccaneers @ Bengals
The Bucs got what for them was a good win over an improving Browns team. Winston threw two interceptions again and this week face an AFC North team struggling with form. But in their own backyard, with the pieces they have on offense versus an inept defense, the Bengals look the safer bet.
Seahawks @ Lions
Both teams have shown an improvement in form over their last few games with both starting to reignite their running games. The Lions though have a trio of receivers that will trouble a Seahawks backfield that is relatively inexperienced.
Broncos @ Chiefs
It’s easy for the likes of Von Miller to say they’ll be back to their best when playing a team like the Cardinals. It’ll be a lot harder for them to maintain that form against the explosive Chiefs offense. Mahomes led the Chiefs to a good win on the reverse fixture earlier in the season and if anything, along with the running game, is getting better. The Chiefs defense is also improving and the Broncos have Case Keenum at quarterback still.
Verdict: ChiefsEmbed from Getty Images
Redskins @ Giants
The Redskins are proving to be an effective team, if not very entertaining. A solid running game, a stout defense and Alex Smith not turning the ball over is allowing them to scrape past a few teams. The Giants probably aren’t as bad as their record suggests but their offensive line needs to show improvement to beat the likes of Jonathan Allen and Da’Ron Payne on the Redskins defensive line.
Browns @ Steelers
Due to the amount of overtimes they’ve played, the Browns have played the equivalent of almost a whole extra game compared to the rest of the league. And playing away against a Steelers team who had last week off it could be too much to ask for the Browns to repeat a result close to that of the tie they got when these two met at the start of the year.
Colts @ Raiders
Another piece of the old Raiders team has gone with Amari Cooper now in Dallas. This Colts defense isn’t rated too highly though it is effective and won’t have any trouble stopping the Oakland offense, especially if rookie linebacking sensation Darius Leonard carries on with his fine form. On the other side, Luck is fast getting back to the form that made him one of the best quarterbacks in the league, he won’t have trouble throwing against this defense and nor will he be troubled by much of a pass rush
Verdict: ColtsEmbed from Getty Images
49ers @ Cardinals
Battle of two of the leagues basement teams! The 49ers need to turn over the ball less and have their defense get to the opposing quarterback faster if they are to stand a chance. Denver showed them how to do it last week but that was with a pair of quality pass rushers. DeForest Buckner is currently the only legitimate pass rushing threat that the 49ers have – the Cardinals will need to stop him and Rosen will need to find his receivers quicker if he wants to stay upright this week
Packers @ Rams
Apparently it doesn’t matter what facet of the Rams game you plan to reduce as they’ll just hit you another way. As it stands, the race for league MVP for me is between Gurley and Mahomes, if I were voting it’d be Gurley! Goff though is also impressing with his ability to find his playmakers with ease. Rodgers will find it hard against this defense and he goes up against one time nemesis Ndamukong Suh who he tussled with constantly in Suh’s time with Detroit in the NFC North. Can’t see the Rams losing this one, they’re just too powerful.
Saints @ Vikings
Repeat of a good playoff match last year which saw Diggs saw a miracle walk off touchdown, breaking the Saints hearts in the process. The Vikings haven’t been great at home this year but their defense has been improving and there’s a possible return of Everson Griffen which should help improve them further. Kirk Cousins and the offense also seem to be getting better each week. But the Saints are looking ominously good and will be after revenge after the playoff loss in January.
Patriots @ Bills
The Bills are bad, really bad. The Pats are good, really good.
Verdict: PatriotsEmbed from Getty Images