By: Darius Boamah
The NFL is headed into week 8 and these gamedays feature lots of rivalries.
5. Los Angeles Chargers vs. Denver Broncos @ 4:05 PM EST CBS
The Los Angeles Chargers will fly over to Denver to take on the Broncos in an AFC West divisional matchup. These two teams are at the bottom of the table, but divisional matchups are always interesting and both of these teams can bring it. The Chargers have found success through their up-and-coming rookie quarterback Justin Herbert who has racked up impressive numbers. Just last week, Herbert threw for 347 yards and three touchdowns. Keenan Allen is Herbert’s favorite target and he will be dangerous against Denver. The Broncos on the other hand have a fairly decent pass defense with only 8 touchdown passes allowed. Denver’s running back Phillip Lindsay had 9 rushes for 79 yards last week, 8.8 yards per carry, and if he can play the Chargers will need to shut him down. Lindsay is questionable right now after receiving a concussion in week 7 against the Cheifs. If the Broncos can get their run game going with Melvin Gordon and the possibility of Lindsay, they can give Los Angeles a lot of trouble. The Chargers’ rush defense is not very good and they have allowed teams to run all over them, like last week when they played the Jaguars. Broncos quarterback Drew Lock has also been struggling, so the run game will be very important for them, unless Lock can get back on his game.
4. Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles @ 8:20 PM EST NBC
In possibly the biggest rival matchup this week, the Dallas Cowboys will travel to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles. This is one of the greatest rivalries in sports and the players on each of these teams will be ready to go to war. Both teams have struggled this season, the Cowboys lost their starting quarterback Dak Prescott and their backup Andy Dalton, now they will look to rookie quarterback Ben DiNucci to lead the team. Philadelphia has struggled this season with lots of injuries in their reciveing core and a weak offensive line. The Eagles have allowed 28 sacks this season and their quarterback Carson Wentz has not been great. However, last week Wentz performed like his usual self throwing for 359 yards and two touchdowns. The Eagles also have the third best rush defense in the league and have amassed 28 sacks so far. The Cowboys offensive line has also struggled this season, just last week, they allowed six sacks. DiNucci and Dallas running back, Ezekiel Elliot, will have to bring it this week if they want to have a chance. DiNucci may need to bring a strong passing performance to counteract the Eagles’ strong rush defense. The rookie quarterback has not been tested too much so far, so this game will be important for him to make a statement. This NFC East divisional game will be intense, the Eagles fighting to keep the top spot, and the Cowboys trying to take that top spot.
3. New Orleans Saints vs. Chicago Bears @ 4:25 PM EST FOX
The Chicago Bears will host the New Orleans Saints this weekend. Both of these teams have been doing fairly well this season, the Bears are 5-2, and the Saints, 4-2. This matchup will prove difficult for both sides because both of these teams are strong. Nick Foles, Chicago quarterback, has put together a decent offense this season. He has not been great, however, he has found a way to put his team in the lead. One weak part of their offense is the run game. They have the worst rushing offense in the league with an average of 3.8 yards per carry. The Bears will have to rely more on the passing game this week because the Saints have a very strong rush defense. This is where Foles needs to show up if he wants to lead his team to victory. On the other side, the Saints have one of the best quarterbacks on their side, Drew Brees. Chicago has a very good pass defense and has not given up too much in the air. However, Brees has found ways to break teams in the air, even without Michael Thomas, he has the highest completion percentage so far this season at 72.6%. Alvin Kamara is also a dangerous assest on New Orleans. He has been solid this season running for 4.9 yards per carry and 60.7 yards per game. The Bears rush defense is not a solid as their pass, so, Kamara will definitely be a threat. This will be another close game with a lot of back and forth.
2. San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks @ 4:25 PM EST FOX
In an NFC West divisional showdown, the San Francisco 49ers travel to Seattle to take on the Seahawks. The 49ers are coming off of a commanding win over the New England Patriots and will be looking to continue the streak in Seattle. San Fran is sitting at the bottom of the division, however, they are right in the mix with just one win less than each of the other teams. The Seahawks are coming off of a loss against the Arizona Cardinals and will be looking to get back on the winning side and hold their top spot in the division. Last week, Russel Wilson threw for 388 yards and three touchdowns, He also threw three interceptions which is out of character for Russ, especially this season. The Niners defense can capitalize on this knowing that Russ can be shut down, and they have proved themselves to be one of the best pass defenses in the league. Last week they completely shut down Cam Newton and tallied three interceptions. On the offensive side, the Niners have a very strong run game that has begun to show out and punish teams. In last weeks game against the Cardinals, the Seahawks showed that they have an average defense, both passing and rushing. If they want any chance to stop San Francisco they will need to tighten up. Seattle can find success if they can squash the run game and force Niners quarterback, Jimmy Garappolo, to throw the ball. Seahawks Niners games are always fun to watch and you can expect both teams to show out.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens @ 1 PM EST CBS
Lookout for the classic rivalry game between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers. These games are always intense with both sides going at each other. This year both teams have played extremely well and this years clash will be very interesting to see. The Ravens are coming off of a bye week, so they have had time to rest and prepare for this big matchup. On the other side, the Steelers just played against another formidable team last week and now have another big game. Last week Rothlisberger put together an ok game. He threw for 268 yards, two touchdowns, and also threw three interceptions. Steelers running back James Connor played well last week, running for 82 yards, 4.1 yards per carry. Baltimore has a solid defense, however, they are vulnerable on the ground, allowing teams 4.6 yards per carry and about 109 yards per game. Their pass defense on the other hand is one of the best holding teams to below seven yards per attempt. Baltimore also has the highest blitz percentage in the league with 46.1%. The only thing is, Pittsburgh’s biggest asset is not their offense, it is there defense. They have one of the best pass and rush defenses in the league this season, and they showed it after facing one of the best offenses last week in the Titans. They also have a strong blitz defense, second in the league, with 42.7%. Lamar Jackson has been good in rushing this year, with 6.9 yards per carry. However, it will be much more difficult against the powerful Steelers rush defense. Baltimore’s strength this season has been the run game, so they will need to turn it on. Lamar will also need to have a strong passing game this week, as the run game may be a lot harder to use. This AFC North matchup never fails to be interesting and will be a great game, especially this season since both teams are doing so well.
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