NFL Week 8
Follow along here for frequent updates and developments from all of Sunday’s NFL games. Check back after “Sunday Night Football” for a look at the biggest moments and trends to watch.
The Eagles and Jaguars tangle at 9:30 a.m. ET in the final London game this season, setting up a day of big-time matchups that include the Packers vs. the Rams and the Vikings vs. the Saints on “Sunday Night Football.”
But first, the Eagles-Jaguars game, which all but guarantees one team a very long, quiet flight back to America. (Given all the overtime games this season, it might be both of them, but let’s be optimistic and root against a tie.)
The Jaguars garnered headlines ahead of kickoff when four players were arrested after a brawl stemming from a bar bill in a nightclub. Among those reportedly detained were cornerback D.J. Hayden and safeties Ronnie Harrison and Jarrod Wilson. Safety Barry Church reportedly was involved but not detained. “We are aware that four of our players were detained over restitution of a bill,” the team said in a statement. “The matter is being resolved and the players are with the team. Any discipline will be handled internally.”
This matchup (on the NFL Network, the NFL app and fuboTV) will be the second international game to feature teams that made the playoffs the previous year, but this marks the first international meeting of two teams that actually won postseason games the season before. But things change quickly and, while pitting the defending Super Bowl champion against a team that was a fourth-quarter collapse against the Patriots away from joining the Eagles in Minneapolis last February may have seemed like a good idea to the schedule makers last winter, but that was then. The Eagles are 3-4 after a horrific home loss to the Panthers, whom they led 17-0 in the fourth quarter, and could become the 17th team in NFL history to miss the playoffs the season after winning the Super Bowl. Their three wins have come against teams that are a combined 5-14.
At least the Eagles have a quarterback, though, in Carson Wentz. Now if they can just fix their third-down and red-zone issues. They’re 17th in the red zone and 16th in third-down conversions.
The Jaguars’ quarterback is Blake Bortles, who was benched in the third quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Texans and has committed eight turnovers in the last three games (all losses). Jacksonville is 3-4 and the loss quickly was followed by reports of the Jaguars yelling at one another in the locker room, but Coach Doug Marrone plans to start Bortles, who says he “couldn’t care less” about being the scapegoat for the team’s struggles.
Steelers’ memorial: The Steelers will observe a moment of silence before kickoff in remembrance of those killed and wounded in the shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue.
Can the Packers stun the Rams? At the other end of the spectrum is the game between the Green Bay Packers and the 7-0 Los Angeles Rams, a game in which the Packers opened as the biggest underdog in Aaron Rodgers’s career as a starter (Westgate Las Vegas’s SuperBook had the Pack at 8.5-point underdogs). For Green Bay, 3-2-1 after its bye, the questions surround the left knee Rodgers injured in the season opener.
“If I’m completely healed, I don’t need to wear a brace,” Rodgers told reporters last week. “Feel more comfortable without it obviously. Having dealt with a knee injury for much of my football life, obviously you’re more protected. You see some guys who do wear it all the time without having issues, but I just feel more comfortable without having it on. So if it’s not on, that means I’m feeling great and if it is, that means I’m not quite all the way back.”
Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Packers are entering a make-or-break portion of their schedule. Their next five games are against teams with a 23-10-1 record at the moment and only one of those games is in Lambeau.
And the Rams? They look like the best all-around team in the league, but they’ve lost the last five times they’ve faced Green Bay. (So we’re saying there’s a chance for the Packers.)
The Rams game is far from the only thing going on in L.A., which will experience something the Los Angeles Times is calling a “sports equinox.” Okeedoke.
Saints-Vikings deja vu: The Saints and Vikings will play for the third time since the beginning of last season, but all anyone remembers is the playoff game last January in which the Vikings came away with a 29-24 victory. It was Stefon Diggs’s Minnesota Miracle catch in that game that crushed New Orleans. Both teams are downplaying the revenge factor, but the loss has marinated for nine months with the Saints.
Both teams are rolling, too, in the NFC and are in first place in their divisions. The Saints have won five games in a row, the Vikings three. While both exemplify the “offense first, defense later” philosophy in the NFL this season, there’s also the sense that this might just be Act I, with the second act to come sometime in January 2019.
Saddest note of the day: Giants quarterback Eli Manning is on pace to be sacked 55 times this season. His previous high? 39 sacks in 2013.
Something new on Sunday night: NBC will debut a field goal “tracer” a device that can map the flight of the football on field-goal attempts, on “SNF.” Called SNF Kicks, NBC says it will provide other info, like trajectory, ball speed and a “good from” stat that will show the farthest distance from which the kick would have been good. It’ll be used on attempts of 45-or-more yards.
DeSean Jackson wants a trade? Tampa Bay wide receiver DeSean Jackson recently requested a trade, according to the NFL Network, and the demand was met with a refusal. Reminder: the trade deadline is Tuesday.
Trade watch: The NFL’s trade deadline didn’t used to be a thing. Now it is. (Read more.)
Carr downplays problems: Raiders QB Derek Carr disputes report of “fractured relationship” with Raiders teammates. (Read more.)
Meanwhile in Raiderland: The trade of Amari Cooper may have crushed whatever was left of the team’s morale. (Read more.)
Too hale to fail? Do the Redskins have the surest footing in a suddenly slippery NFC East? (Read more.)
Carruth’s son honored: Chancellor Lee Carruth and his grandmother, Saundra Adams, will be honored before the Panthers’ game against the Ravens. Adams’s daughter, Cherica, was seven months pregnant with Chancellor when she was killed in a drive-by shooting arranged by Rae Carruth, the Panthers’ wide receiver, in 1999. The baby was born prematurely, with cerebral palsy and brain damage because he was deprived of oxygen. His grandmother has raised him and Rae Carruth last week was paroled after nearly two decades in prison. “What a nice gesture by the team!” Saundra Adams said Friday. “We are both so excited.” (Read more.)
Who’s off: The Falcons, Cowboys, Chargers and Titans have byes this week.
Will Mack play? Bears linebacker Khalil Mack may miss a game for the first time since he entered the league in 2014. He was limited in practice Friday because of an ankle sprain and is listed as questionable against the Jets. New York wide receiver Robby Anderson (ankle) and cornerback Trumaine Johnson (quadriceps) are listed as doubtful.
Still no Fournette: You’ve heard this one before. Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette (hamstring) will miss his fourth consecutive game. Cornerbacks A.J. Bouye (calf) and Tyler Patmon (neck) and tight end James O’Shaughnessy (hip) are out. Eagles linebacker Nate Gerry (ankle, knee), running back Darren Sproles (hamstring), cornerback Sidney Jones (hamstring) and safety Corey Graham (hamstring) have been ruled out.
Panthers’ Smith: Wide receiver Torrey Smith won’t play against the Ravens.
Fuller on IR: Texans wide receiver Will Fuller is out for the rest of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered Thursday night.
Griffen returns: Everson Griffen rejoined the Vikings last week after being absent since Week 3 while dealing with mental health issues that were “bigger than football.” Coach Mike Zimmer was noncommittal about whether he would play Sunday night against the Saints. Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (hamstring), linebacker Anthony Barr (ankle), safety Andrew Sendejo (groin) and left guard Tom Compton (knee) will not play and left tackle Riley Reiff is doubtful.
Crowder out: Redskins wide receiver Jamison Crowder has been ruled out against the Giants.
No Burfict: The Bengals have ruled out linebacker Vontaze Burfict (hip), running back Giovani Bernard (knee) and wide receiver John Ross (groin). Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (calf) and defensive end Vinny Curry (ankle) also are out.
Packers WRs update: Wide receivers Randall Cobb (hamstring) and Equanimeous St. Brown (knee) and offensive tackle Jason Spriggs (ankle) are listed as questionable against the Rams.
Berry doubtful: Chiefs safety Eric Berry (heel) and linebacker Justin Houston (hamstring) are listed as doubtful and center Mitch Morse (concussion) has been ruled out. Broncos linebacker Von Miller is expected to play.
Start/sit: Expect a slow week from the Saints’ Michael Thomas. (Read more.)
The waiver wire: Colts RB Marlon Mack is your top priority. (Read more.)
Week 8 cheat sheet: Dig in and dominate. (Read more.)
Must players: The fantasy football players you need in your lineup. (Read more.)
ATS Betting Tips/Picks
The Redskins’ pass rush figures to be a problem for the Giants. (Read more.)