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NFL Week 8: What to Watch

Things keep getting weirder and weirder, so what’s going to go down in week 8?  Keep your eyes on these matchups:

Steelers at Ravens: Sunday, 11.1 1:00 pm ET

6-0 vs 5-1 with the AFC North the line?  

What to watch for: Big Ben and the crew vs. thatRavens topranked scoring defense.  Can the Ravenssecondary contain new weapon Chase Claypool? Is that even possible? Lamar Jackson and an electric Ravens offense that runs the ball more than almost anyone against a Steelers defense that has allowed the fewest rushing yards (413) in the league thus far.  The Ravens will be looking to retain their AFC North title, but to do that, they’ll need to first unseat the last remaining undefeated team in the NFL.  

Patriots at Bills Sunday, 11.1 1:00 pm ET

If the Patriots are as bad as they looked last week, this should be a walkover for the Bills.  But then again, Buffalo couldn’t get into the end zone against the Jets last week…

What to watch for: An unfortunate amount of billboard material for New England from the Bills perspective.  As Tom Brady has seamlessly integrated in Tampa Bay, the Patriots have struggled after a covid-related layoff. “Too many days off???” All week long, New England has heard that two decades of dynasty were all about Tom Brady and that Bill Belichick is (really,national media?) overrated.  That’s not going to go over well.  The Bills are coming off a very mediocre performance against the worst team in the league in which they kicked six field goals to survive.  New England, despite their struggles for cohesion on offense, is still a top-ten scoring defense.  Not to mention that you can’t imagine New England just handing the AFC East over. If the Bills want the crown, they’re going to need to take it from a team that came within inches of beating Seattle on the road and has a quarterback playing to keep his career alive.  

49ers at Seahawks: Sunday, 11.1 4:25pm ET

Seattle comes off a stinging loss to Arizona, while San Francisco is finding its footing.  And these games are always awesome.

What to watch for: As the defending divisional and NFC champs, the Niners can’t be ruled out, no matter how many times Russell Wilson pulls a rabbit out of his hat.  Last weekend’s loss to the Cardinals showed us that the Seahawks aren’t invincible, while a romp over New England showed us that the Niners can dominate without great play from their quarterback.  What’s that?  You didn’t notice?  Oh, Jimmy G threw no TDs and two interceptions against the Pats last weekend, and the Niners still put thirty-three points on the board.  He’ll be looking to rebound against a porous Seahawks passing defense (2212 passing yards allowed- second worst in the league) that has allowed nine hundred more yards in the air than New England (1369 pass yards allowed- fourth-best in the league).  I expect San Francisco to make this one really interesting.  

Saints at Bears: Sunday, 11.1 4:25 pm ET

A clash of two teams that both sit in second place in their divisions with playoff aspirations.  I don’t want to say that it’s a must-win for either team, but in a crowded NFC, it might be just that. 

What to watch for: Drew Brees and the Saints have stumbled only twice this season, once to Las Vegas in the Raiders home opener and once to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.  They’ve bested the division-leading Buccaneers and the resurgent Panthers and I don’t know that they’ve lost much steam in their pursuit of another Lombardi Trophy.  The Bears two losses came at the hands of the ball-hawking Colts and the Rams, but they’ve also beaten both the Panthers and Buccaneers.  Uneven quarterback play has plagued the Bears all season long, and against a top-tier unit like New Orleans, it could finally hurt them.  They benched Mitchell Trubisky for Nick Foles, but following a good game against the Falcons, Foles has hardly fared better, throwing only three touchdown passes and five interceptions.  He’s also been sacked eight times for almost eighty yards over that four-game span.  The Bears offense might be questionable,ranking as the sixth-worst scoring unit in the league, but the Chicago defense has allowed only 140 points, good enough for seventh-best league wide.  Despite that proficiency on defense, I expect to see the better-rounded Saints keep pace with the Buccaneers on the road this week.  

For more NFL thoughts and opinions from Tom, check out his author page.

Image Source: Associated Press Images

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