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NFL BOOTLEG: Week 8 overview

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The Week That Will Be: Week 8

The ultimate football rule? "Any given Sunday." Yes, Detroit — one of the lowly NFL teams — can beat New Orleans. Sure, it'll be a win nine out of ten times, but you never know. That's why the play the game, and that's why the are 6-1, not 7-0. The team that has beaten Green Bay, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh and San Fran couldn't top the .

This week gives us a lot of those matchups — when two teams of not-so-equal stature meet, but if an upset happens, everything goes to ayche-ee-doublehockeysticks. Take, for example:

#5: at
Big Blue, 3-3, goes into the Vet to take on the division leading 4-2 . It's one of those games where the away team should fall quietly at the hands of the defending division champs; where a probably overrated team visits a probably underrated one. In other words, it's ripe for an upset. Probably won't happen, but a bad outing by and an 2000 NFC title game-like one out of is always possible.

#4: at
More on the same theme, but a much bigger deal. Both are 4-2, and while the Niners may be the cream of the NFC crop (well, them and four other teams), their loss last week isn't too reassuring. Arizona, on the other hand, has played only two teams with a .500-or-better record, going 1-1 in those matchups. You can't call 's boys favorites. Not by a long shot. But if they win, they're suddenly a game up in the West and have beaten San Fran at San Fran.

#3: at
A total toss up. The Steleers are without . The may miss . The teams are 3-3 in a weak AFC North. Could this game decide who goes to the playoffs? Sure can — but it probably won't, not on its own at least. A win by the , though, puts them 3-0 in the division, and they've yet to play Cincy at home. Taking this game on the road means the just about have to return the favor, and in Week 17, that could be tough. In other words, a win isn't as big as a loss. Still, it's big. With Atlanta and Cincy coming up, Baltimore could be 6-3 before you know it.

#2: at
Just two weeks ago, the looked like favorites in the AFC West. Now, they've lost to the reborn and, even worse, the — in Oakland. The are 4-3 and looking at beating Detroit this week; it's possible only one wild card will come out of the West. And Oakland needs a road division win. Kansas City, at 3-4 (and 0-2 in the division), can't afford to fall much further. A loss here is a nail in their coffin. This matchup has rivalry written all over it anyway, but now, it also has playoff implications.

#1: at
For Denver, the same AFC West rules apply. For the , it's time to stop the slide and show that they can, indeed, get to ten wins. But someone has got to lose. The have looked somewhat stale in recent weeks, and it will be a testament to their coaching staff if they come out recharged and with a better understanding of their game plan and plays. If they flounder, the missed opportunity of fixing what's broken over their bye week will come back to haunt them. For Denver, it's time to show that they're as good as they looked versus San Diego — not the close-but-no-cigar team that lost the Miami, or the "phew" team that barely one-upped KC last week. They have next week off, but then go to Oakland. Beating good teams is the mark of a champion — falling to them, even on the road, is a warning sign.

Tagged: Bills, Raiders, Rams, Patriots, Saints, Giants, Eagles, Ravens, Cardinals, Steelers, Chargers, Kerry Collins, Donovan McNabb, Jerome Bettis, Ray Lewis

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