It’s already Week Eight in the NFL, and we are starting to see the cream rise to the top, with teams such as Denver, Indianapolis, New England, Baltimore, Green Bay, and Dallas looking like the NFL elite.
But as we know, a couple of weeks can change that.
Some big Week Eight questions: Can the Cincinnati Bengals get their act together? Can Brian Hoyer keep his job? Is the arrow pointing down on Seattle? Can the Saints win their 11th home game in a row with Green Bay visiting?
Let’s take a close look at Sunday’s action . . .
Baltimore Ravens (5-2) at Cincinnati Bengals (3-2-1)
The Ravens should get back the left side of their offensive line, LT Eugene Monroe and LG Kelechi Osemele, after missing a few games.
Joe Flacco is rolling with new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak doing a great job dialing up the plays, and this should continue against the NFL’s 31st-ranked defense.
The Bengals did beat the Ravens in Week One, thanks to a long touchdown reception by A.J. Green. Unfortunately for the Bengals, he’s not going to play this week due to a toe injury.
This is a statement game for the Bengals, who have lost three games in a row. Another loss, and this season could start spiraling out of control.
This game could go either way.
St. Louis Rams (2-4) at Kansas City Chiefs (3-3)
This “Missouri Bowl” matchup certainly favors the Chiefs.
First of all, the Chiefs are one of the NFL’s best running teams, with the two-headed monster of Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis, and they are facing one of the league’s lowest-ranked run defenses.
Plus the Rams are going to have issues protecting quarterback Austin Davis against the Kansas City’s talented pass rush led by Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, in one of the loudest stadiums in the NFL, where it’s hard to hear the snap count.
Expect Kansas City to prevail.
Indianapolis Colts (5-2) at Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3)
Andrew Luck is on fire with 19 touchdown passes this season. In his six of seven games, he’s gone over 300 yards passing.
And he must be licking his chops facing the Steelers, who have issues at cornerback, where one starter is injured (Ike Taylor) and another was benched (Cortez Allen).
But the struggling Steelers corners will benefit from the absence of Colts standout WR Reggie Wayne, sidelined with an elbow injury.
When you have Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback, you always have a puncher’s chance. And his favorite target, Antonio Brown, is having a Pro Bowl level season.
This game could go either way.
Miami Dolphins (3-3) at Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6)
Don’t expect this to be much of a home game for the Jags, with a lot of fans of the cross-state Dolphins grabbing seats.
Ryan Tannehill comes off perhaps his best game as a pro, going 25-32 for 277 yards and two touchdowns in an upset win over Chicago.
Also, both of Jacksonville’s starting corners are hurt—Alan Ball is definitely out with a biceps injury, and Dwayne Gratz is questionable with a hip issue.
Miami should be able to win this game.
Minnesota Vikings (2-5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-5)
It’s unclear who will start for quarterback for Tampa Bay—Josh McNown or Mike Glennon—but does it really matter? Both have contributed to the Bucs having the NFL’s 30th-ranked offense.
They are even worse on defense where they rank 32nd.
But perhaps the lousy Bucs defense can regain traction against Vikings rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who has thrown five picks in the last two games. He’s clearly not ready to start.
Tampa Bay should prevail at home.
Written by DAN LEBERFELD
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