Week 8 Preview: A Clearer Picture
Hard to believe that we’re halfway through the season, but things are starting to make a bit more sense. The best teams are separating themselves from the competition, the teams with surprising starts have held their heat or dwindled into mediocrity, and the teams that are just not that good have stayed, well, not that good. With Spogo nearing launch, I feel like I’m on top of my game, on a higher level of NFL clarity, and I’m going to make sure you’re on top of yours.
Players to Watch
Cam Newton (QB, Carolina Panthers) @ Chicago Bears – 1:00 PM EST
There comes a time in every man’s life, when he must face his demons head on. Well, Cam is having a hard time doing that. It’s evident he’s not used to losing, and it’s driving him mad. Wanting to win can be a great asset, but he is reacting poorly and frankly, playing even worse. Newton has been a shade of his rookie self, and while I know all the physical tools are there, things are not clicking in Carolina. He needs help and their running game is not obliging. This week Newton will have 11 demons on the other side of the ball in a stingy Bears defense. This could either be a statement game for Cam & Co. or the end of the Panthers season.
Reggie Bush (RB, Miami Dolphins) @ New York Jets – 1:00 PM EST
Reggie has found himself in the hot seat with the New York Jets after comments that insinuated Darrelle Revis deserved his injury. Well, Aaron Maybin (Jets linebacker) has come out and publically said they want to knock Reggie out of the game, but do it legally. Considering the pay-for-hit scandal with the Saints, these are probably not the best words. The Jets and Dolphins went to overtime their first game, and Reggie had 10 carries for 61 yards. However, he was coming off an injury and Daniel Thomas got the bulk of the carries. If I was Reggie, I would want to avoid carries this week as well. If Reggie does somehow get injured, serious questions will be raised from the league with this kind of build up.
Games to Watch
Atlanta Falcons @ Philadelphia Eagles – 1:00 PM EST
Both teams are coming off the bye week, which should give them added freshness. The Eagles have done much more than rest their legs; they’ve replaced their Defensive Coordinator, which will give them a new look on Sunday. Andy Reid has a great record coming off bye weeks, but he is coaching to keep his job at this point. For Eagles fans, it’s not the defense that needs the most adjustment; it’s the ball security (I bring this up a lot, but it simply has not changed). Michael Vick has more giveaways than anyone in the league by a wide margin. If he gives it up to this undefeated Falcons team more than once, they’ll have a hard time winning this game. For the Falcons, they just need to execute on offense and create turnovers on defense. Matt Ryan threw three interceptions against Oakland in their last game, an uncharacteristic performance. If they can get the passing game back on track, they should come out with a win. If Ryan struggles, this could be their first loss against an Eagles team with a lot to prove.
New Orleans Saints @ Denver Broncos – 8:20 PM EST, Sunday
If you want to see two quarterbacks performing at the highest level, tune in to NBC on Sunday night. If you’ve read any of my
writing, you know how I feel about Peyton Manning (who I think still hasn’t hit his peak). Last week, Peyton made a quick audible at the line in the fourth quarter then threw a strike to Brandon Stokely, fitting it in a tiny window for a 21-yard touchdown. It was the kind of play that makes you appreciate his genius. Drew Brees plays with similar control, and he now holds the record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass (I see him extending this record to 60-70). While the Denver defense has given up 20+ points in 4 of their 6 games, the Alabama defense could give the Saints D a run for their money. They can’t stop anything. They rank 30th in pass defense (305.2 yds/gm) and 31st in rushing defense (160.1 yds/gm). Undoubtedly the worst defense in the league. I see the Broncos edging the Saints out at home, but it could come down to who has the ball last.
New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys – 4:25 PM EST
A lot has changed since these teams first met. The Cowboys are 2-3 since facing the Giants in the season opener, but more importantly are 1-2 in their last 3 games. They are struggling to replace DeMarco Murray, who suffered an ankle injury in Week 6. Felix Jones and Phillip Tanner are filling in, but neither has taken control, and the ‘Boys average 97.2 rushing yards per game (20th in the league). Their defense has been better than expected, but took a hit when Sean Lee, their leading tackler, was placed on the IR with a season ending big toe injury (sounds kind of ridiculous, but I’m sure it hurts like the dickens). Lee had almost two times more tackles than their next best defender, so they’ll have to fill a big void. The Giants are starting to look like the team that won the Super Bowl. After blasting San Fran on the road, and edging out a dangerous Redskins team led by RG III, the Giants face another tough game on their grueling schedule. The defensive line is starting to show signs of life; I guess they took an extended preseason. This team is also blessed with a QB and Offensive Coordinator that understand each other after years of working together. They have undoubtedly the best two-minute drill in football. We’ll see if they need to employ it again on Sunday.
News and Notes
- Bills DE Mario Williams had surgery on his wrist, it remains to be seen if it will keep him out of games. Williams has 3.5 sacks in 7 games. If he finishes the season with 7 sacks, the Bills will have paid $857,142 a sack.
- Jon Beason (LB, Carolina Panthers) has been placed on the IR after a knee injury, and will miss the remainder of the season. Beason just signed a 6-year, 51.3 million-dollar extension.
- Felix Jones (RB, Dallas Cowboys) is listed as questionable for Week 8. He might be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after he failed to run for 65 yards against the porous Panthers.
- Greg Jennings (WR, Green Bay Packers) saw a specialist about his nagging groin injury on Tuesday. His status for Sunday is unknown, but this seems to be a sign that he hasn’t quite healed.
Anything written herein that does not occur will be blamed on my crystal ball. Enjoy Week 8 football fans.