NFL Gameday: Week 8

October 25, 2013
TV games
Dolphins (3-3) at Patriots (5-2)

Time (TV): 1 p.m. (CBS).

Line: New England by 6.5.

Notable: One could hardly blame the Dolphins for having an inferiority complex about their own inferiority. While most of the analysis of this matchup has investigated what’s gone wrong with the Patriots, and Tom Brady in particular, poor Miami is frantically waving its hand, yelling, “Hey, New England only just lost a game. We’re mired in a real tailspin over here!” Indeed, after a 3-0 start, the Dolphins find themselves right back at .500, and with the likely prospect of having to cope with a four-game losing streak. After all, they have never beaten Brady in Foxboro when he served as the primary quarterback. Speaking of being under .500, Brady already has three games with a completion percentage below 50.0 this season. He had exactly zero of those in 2012, so if Miami is ever going to rock him to sleep in his crib, now would seem to be the time.

Fantasy scout: Danny Amendola spent the week recovering from a concussion he suffered in Week 6, and his possible return should be of interest to folks who have a losing record. Amendola missed several weeks with a groin injury even before this latest setback, thus leaving plenty of fed-up owners itching to get him off their rosters. He always represents a major injury risk, but also a major opportunity for those who need to roll the dice on a chance at making something of this season. It is actually possible that Amendola is done being injured for the rest of the year, and when he does play, he’s at least a WR2 and more like a borderline WR1 in PPR leagues.

Giants (1-6) at Eagles (3-4)

Time (TV): 1 p.m. (Fox).

Line: Philadelphia by 5.5.

Notable: The Eagles have lost nine straight home games. The Giants have lost eight straight road games. Something’s gotta give! Eli Manning’s usually good at giving; he has 15 interceptions, most in the NFL. For its part, Philadelphia isn’t bad at taking; its defense has eight interceptions, tied for 10th in the league. That defense does give up the second-most yards per game through the air, though, so Manning could still have the success throwing the ball his team will need to win.

Fantasy scout: Michael Vick is back for Philadelphia, and not a moment too soon for both his real team and all the fantasy ones relying on him to be their QB1. How well Vick is able to move today will be worth monitoring, because hamstring injuries have a nasty habit of lingering, and Vick as a pocket passer isn’t any prettier to watch than Eli Manning as ... well, a pocket passer so far this season.

Packers (4-2) at Vikings (1-5)

Time (TV): 8:30 p.m. (NBC).

Line: Green Bay by 9.

Notable: So now the Vikings’ Greg Jennings is saying that he was just “messing around” when he made comments in July that sure sounded like criticisms of ex-teammate Aaron Rodgers. Coincidentally, that’s also how Minnesota is explaining to Christian Ponder why the team gave Josh Freeman the start at quarterback on Monday night. Freeman suffered a concussion, setting up Ponder to get his job back, and the Vikes can only hope he didn’t take their messing around too personally.

Fantasy scout: Adrian Peterson owners had to be horrified at how inept Minnesota’s offense looked on Monday. Unfortunately, Halloween could extend for weeks to come, because seven of the Vikings’ next nine games come against teams currently ranked in the top half of the NFL in rushing defense. After today, Peterson gets Dallas and Washington, which could mark a high point in his trade value.

Seahawks (6-1) at Rams (3-4)

Time (TV): 8:40 p.m., Monday (ESPN).

Line: Seattle by 11.

Notable: Kellen Clemens will get the start in place of injured Sam Bradford, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that maybe Kellen is one of Roger Clemens’s sons, considering that Roger named his boys Koby, Kory, Kacy and Kody. Kellen has the ‘K. Clemens’ thing, but no ‘y’ in his first name, plus there’s a more obvious tell that he’s no Spawn of the Rocket — his relative lack of lack of arm strength. Kellen does have some mobility, which will probably come in handy against Seattle.

Fantasy scout: Percy Harvin has begun practicing, but there’s no telling if or how much he will play against St. Louis. Still, those who adroitly scooped him up off waivers might be well advised to take advantage of the excitement over his impending return. The Seahawks are committed to a fairly conservative offense, so the best return for Harvin might come now, before we see what could be limited use.

Other games
Cowboys (4-3) at Lions (4-3)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Detroit by 3.

Notable: Dez Bryant believes he can do “whatever [Calvin Johnson] can do,” which is nice. But it’s probably not a great idea to give Tony Romo even more incentive to throw into triple coverage, which Johnson notably helped Matthew Stafford get away with last week. The last time these two teams played, Romo threw three picks, two of which were returned for touchdowns.

Fantasy scout: The Lions’ eternal quest for a reliable No. 2 receiver continues. Last week, I highlighted TE Joseph Fauria, a touchdown specialist who is showing incremental signs of expanding his game. This week, I bring you WR Kris Durham, who has only one TD on the season, but he has received 29 targets over the past three weeks.

Browns (3-4) at Chiefs (7-0)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Kansas City by 7.5.

Notable: Alex Smith joined Dieter Brock of the 1985 L.A. Rams as the only players since the 1970 merger to join a new team and win their first seven games. Brock, of course, enjoyed a legendary CFL career with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Smith, by contrast, wears red, and a ‘bomb’ for him would be any pass that actually travels for enough to reach a WR.

Fantasy scout: The promotion of Jason Campbell to Cleveland’s starting QB says less about him and more about how disgusted Browns management was with Brandon Weeden. Still, the pieces — Josh Gordon, Jordan Cameron, an unreliable rushing attack — are in place for possible fantasy success.

Bills (3-4) at Saints (5-1)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: New Orleans by 11.5.

Notable: New Orleans is usually pretty good at getting ahead of opponents, and the Bills had better be wearing their point-scoring shoes today. The Saints are coming off a bye, and thus are not only well-rested, but have had two weeks to think about how they blew a late lead against the Patriots. Drew Brees and Co. surely want to roll up a much bigger lead today.

Fantasy scout: You’re probably not playing the Bills defense today, but it makes for an intriguing unit going forward. Buffalo is first in interceptions (12), fourth in sacks (23) and after New Orleans, its schedule through Week 16 goes: Chiefs (due for some bad games), at Steelers, Jets, bye, Falcons, at Bucs, at Jags, Dolphins.

49ers (5-2) vs. Jaguars (0-7)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: San Francisco by 16.5.

Notable: No truth to the rumor that this game had to be moved to London so that Kanye West could propose to Kim Kardashian. Unfortunately, it is true that, a month after dumping two then-winless teams on the Brits, the NFL now sees fit to have the godawful Jaguars soil their, well, soil. At least San Fran is on hand to show what an actual good team looks like.

Fantasy scout: Those desperate for a QB could do worse than Chad Henne, who is the Jags’ starter for now. He has thrown for over 300 yards in each of his past two games, and the touchdowns will come as long as Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts are on the field. Jacksonville cannot run the ball and figures to be behind a lot.

Jets (4-3) at Bengals (5-2)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Cincinnati by 6.5.

Notable: Cincinnati may be catching Gang Green at just the right time — coming off a win. The Jets have traded wins and losses since Week 1 and, not coincidentally, Geno Smith’s performances have plied a similarly uneven course. It would help Smith if second-year WR Stephen Hill could become at least a poor man’s A.J. Green as a consistent deep threat.

Fantasy scout: Apart from Green, the Bengals have a diversity of weapons, and that’s the problem for would-be fantasy owners. Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu cancel each other out as possible WR2s, Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert do the same at TE, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis is severely cramping Giovanni Bernard’s RB2 style.

Steelers (2-4) at Raiders (2-4)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Pittsburgh by 2.5.

Notable: After an 0-4 start, Pittsburgh thinks it’s still in this thing, and why not? It’s won two in a row and has a great shot at the hat trick today. Oakland is generally woeful, and never more so than after a bye; it’s lost its past 10 post-bye contests by a combined score of 271-139. Keeping QB Terrelle Pryor, who was sacked nine times two weeks ago, upright would help.

Fantasy scout: Like Danny Amendola, Darren McFadden has more than lived up to his reputation as being injury-prone. But like Amendola, McFadden has undeniable talent, and thus he represents a good buy-low gamble for people who need an RB. McFadden has flourished before, and he’s very much in his prime.

Falcons (2-4) at Cardinals (3-4)

Time: 1 p.m.

Line: Arizona by 2.5.

Notable: Steven Jackson is expected to return from injury for Atlanta, but he’ll likely be eased back in, meaning that between him, Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling, the team figures to have all hands on deck to receive handoffs. It’ll need them, too, because the Falcons are averaging a miserable 68.3 rushing yards per game, third-worst in the NFL.

Fantasy scout: The Cards continue to use Rashard Mendenhall as their workhorse, which seems like beating a dead horse, but in fairness, he has faced a rough slate of defenses over the past four weeks (Bucs, Panthers, 49ers, Seahawks). After a Week 9 bye, friendlier-looking matchups (Texans, Jags, Colts, Eagles, Rams, Titans) await Mendy.

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