Previewing NFL Week 8

The weekend got off to an exciting start Thursday night as Green Bay handed Arizona its first loss when Kyler Murray threw an interception in the end zone on second down with 12 seconds left.

But it wasn’t his fault as A.J. Green failed to make the game-winning catch because he didn’t turn around.

Two plays earlier, Murray suffered a knee injury while being tackled. He insisted it isn’t serious and has 10 days to get ready for the next game. We’ll see.

The Arizona loss left five NFC teams with one loss including the Cardinals and Packers. Besides Tampa Bay, which figures to beat New Orleans, and the Rams, who are a virtual lock against Houston, the other team is Dallas, which has to worry about whether Dak Prescott will be at the top of his game because he was limited in practice this week as they prepared to face Minnesota. That will be the Sunday night game.

The Monday night game figures to be a rout with Kansas City likely to beat the Giants. The Chiefs are struggling but should be able to handle the Giants.

CBS will have the single game and will have six of them with Pittsburgh at Cleveland and Tennessee at Indianapolis as the best of them.

In three other games, Cincinnati figures to beat the Jets, Buffalo is likely to handle Buffalo and Chargers figure to beat New England. The Seattle-Jacksonville game is likely to be close because Russell Wilson is hurt but neither team is a contender.

The late afternoon doubleheader Fox games are Tampa Bay at New Orleans and Washington at Denver. Neither figures to be compelling except that Jameis Winston faces his old team when he goes against the Bucs, but the Saints appear to be outmatched even at home.

There are six AFC teams with two losses and three of them, Buffalo vs. Miami, Cincinnati vs. the Jets and Chargers vs. New England. Tennessee vs. Indianapolis, figure to be close while Baltimore and Las Vegas have byes.

Tennessee at 5-2 can virtually wrap up the AFC South division title and a home playoff game with a victory at 2-4 Indianapolis.

A victory would give them a three game lead in the division plus the tie breaker with the Colts. But a Colts victory would put them just one game behind the Titans.

This is like a midseason playoff game for the Colts.

The loser of the Pittsburgh-Cleveland game will be in last place in the division at 3-4. It will put them two games behind Baltimore and probably two games behind Cincinnati.

NFL Week 7 in review

This is the year of the NFC.

There are five NFC teams with zero or one loss while every AFC team has at least two losses.

That is the difference in the two conferences after the first seven weeks of the season.

Arizona is the only unbeaten team at 7-0 and currently has top seed in the NFC after the Cardinals routed the woeful Texans as expected.

Meanwhile, Green Bay, Tampa Bay and the Rams all won to go to 6-1. And 5-1 Dallas had a bye but has a four-game lead in its division with the other three teams at 2-5. So those five teams are virtual locks for the playoffs.

The game of the upcoming week is Arizona taking on Green Bay on Thursday night. A Green Bay win would leave five teams with one loss. An Arizona win keeps the Cardinals unbeaten with Green Bay at two losses.

Minnesota, New Orleans and Atlanta are leading the pack in the race for the last two playoff spots at 3-3. The Saints beat Seattle to reach .500 and drop the Seahawks to 2-5. They trail 3-4 Chicago and Carolina and 2-4 San Francisco. But the NFC team in the Super Bowl figures to be one of the first five teams.

Meanwhile, there is a wide open race in the AFC with Cincinnati of all teams currently the top seed after its takedown of Kansas City with a 5-2 mark. Baltimore, Tennessee and Las Vegas, which has won two in a row after the departure of Jon Gruden, are also 5-2. The Bills and Chargers are at 4-2 and Cleveland is at 4-3. Pittsburgh is at 3-3 Kansas City and Kansas City, Indianapolis and Denver at 3-4.

So that means 12 AFC teams are within two games of each other in the race for the seven playoff spots although Cincinnati, Buffalo and Tennessee are currently in the best positions.

The Bengals and Bills are led by quarterbacks Joe Burrow and Josh Allen while Tennessee’s offense features Derrick Henry, who is putting up Jim Brown-type numbers.

—The four one win AFC teams – Jets, Miami, Jacksonville and Houston– are the only teams out of the playoff race and are the AFC teams fighting for the first pick in next year’s draft along with winless Detroit in the NFC. Every other NFC team has at least two wins.

—Mac Jones became the first of the rookie quarterbacks to win three games for the Patriots with the rout of the Jets while Zach Wilson, who has one win for the Jets, suffered a knee injury that will sideline him for two to four weeks. That prompted the Jets to trade for Joe Flacco. Trey Lance also missed the 49ers game Sunday night with an injury. Justin Fields had his worst game for the Bears, throwing three picks and losing two fumbles in the loss to the Bucs. He is now 2-3 as a starter. Trevor Lawrence, who has a 1=5 record, had a bye.

Previewing NFL Week 7

The seventh weekend of the season is a good one for CBS.

It has the best game of the day – Kansas City at Tennessee, featuring the great passer (Patrick Mahomes) vs. the great runner (Derrick Henry). It also has another good early game – Cincinnati at Baltimore.One or both of those games should have been in prime time because the Sunday night game (Indianapolis at San Francisco) and the Monday night game (New Orleans at Seattle) are not premier attractions.

And the CBS third early game – Jets at New England – doesn’t figure to be a good matchup. The two late games – Chicago at Tampa Bay and Houston at Cincinnati – figure to be routs.

Fox only has a single game, three early and two late, and none of them are compelling. The early games are Washington at Green Bay, Carolina at the Giants and Atlanta at Miami. Green Bay figures to rout Washington and not much is at stake in the other two games except for Carolina trying to get to 4-3.

The two late Fox games are Philadelphia at Vegas and Detroit at Rams. The winless Lions figure to have no chance against their former quarterback Matthew Stafford. The Raiders will go for their second straight win with a new coach after Jon Gruden resigned.

So here is what at stake this weekend in the interesting games:

—Kansas City needs a win at Tennessee to avoid falling to 3-4 while a Tennessee win would keep the Titans in command of AFC South at 5-2.–Arizona, Green Bay, Tampa Bay and the Rams all figure to post wins to keep Arizona the only unbeaten team at 7-0, while the other three teams would remain a game behind at 6-1 in the AFC. Dallas has a bye and will stay at 5-1. Those five teams seem playoff bound while the rest of the teams will fight for the two remaining NFC slots.

—Baltimore at 5-1 can take a two-game lead in the AFC North in a win over 4-2 Cincinnati. A Cincinnati win would leave them tied at 5-2. It would also mean that every AC team would have at least two losses.

—The Raiders at 5-2 can take a half game lead over the 4-2 Chargers, who have a bye, with a victory over the 2-4 Eagles. A Raider lost would put the Chargers on top of the AFC West.

NFL Week 6 in review

The NFL saved the best for last in Week 6.

Going in, it looked like there weren’t a lot of good matchups, so it wasn’t surprising that after Jacksonville upset Miami in the Sunday morning game in London, all seven favorites at 1 p.m. won.

And there was only one upset in the late afternoon and Sunday night game – Raiders over Broncos – although Dallas had to go to overtime to beat New England.

So Arizona remained the only unbeaten team at 6-0 by beating the Browns while five one loss teams – Baltimore, Dallas Green Bay, Rams (on Thursday night) and Tampa Bay all won. The only one loss team to lose during the day was the Chargers, who lost to Baltimore.

But the primetime action Sunday and Monday nights was captivating. Pittsburgh went to overtime to beat Seattle as Geno Smith was strip-sacked to set up a game-winning field goal. And in Tennessee, Buffalo spurned a field goal that would have sent the game into overtime and had Josh Allen try a quarterback sneak. He slipped and was stuffed as Tennessee got the win.

Buffalo’s loss means Baltimore is the only 5-1 team in the AFC. The Ravens, who lost their opener before winning five in a row, are followed by five 4-2 teams – Bills, Chargers, Bengals, Titans and Raiders.

The Chiefs, Browns Broncos and Steelers are all 3-3 so it is a wide-open race. In the NFC, while Arizona is unbeaten at 6-0, Tampa Bay, the Rams, the Packers and the Cowboys are 5-1.

In battle for top draft pick, Jacksonville’s victory in London means Detroit is the only winless team at 0-6 while five teams – Jacksonville, Houston, Giants, Miami and Jets all have one win.

—Buffalo’s decision to go for a first down on the quarterback sneak will be the most debated decision of the weekend. The decision made sense not to kick field goal and go to overtime, but they could have had a better play call than quarterback sneak.

—Dak Prescott suffered a calf injury but the Cowboys have a bye so they can hope Prescott recovers in two weeks. He seems to be at the top of his game and makes the Cowboys a Super Bowl contender.

—The Seahawks contacted Cam Newton but didn’t sign him, so they seem committed to sticking with Geno Smith until Russell Wilson comes back. He is playing for his future, trying to convince teams he can be a starter in the league.

—Head coach Kliff Kingsbury was sidelined by Covid but Vance Joseph took over the duties and the unbeaten Cardinals didn’t miss a beat in dominating the Browns. With the Texans coming up next, they are likely to go to 7-0.

—While Tom Brady is 5-1 in Tampa Bay, Bill Belichick is 2-4 in New England and is getting questioned for playing it too conservative at the end of regulation against Dallas as he let the clock run out instead of trying to get a game-winning field goal. The Patriots then lost in overtime.

—Aaron Rodgers led the Packers to the win over the Bears but what will be remembered is that he told the fans after scoring he owns them. He said he blacked out and didn’t know what he said after a fan gave him the double bird.

Previewing NFL Week 6

Are three night primetime TV games each week plus a doubleheader game or two each Sunday afternoon too much of a good thing?

With ratings going up, the format seems to be working for the NFL. The problem is that some weeks, they don’t have enough good attractions for the primetime slots.

This seems to be one of those weeks.

The byes started this week with four teams having their bye week so the NFL has 14 games instead of 16.

The prime time scheduled started Thursday night with Tampa Bay going to Philadelphia. The Bucs won 28-22, but the game wasn’t as good as the final score. The Bucs had a 28-7 lead midway through the third period.

The Sunday night game is Seattle at Pittsburgh, which looked like a good attraction until Russell Wilson was sidelined with a finger injury last week, so Geno Smith will get the start for the Seahawks.

The Monday night game will feature Buffalo at Tennessee, a game the Bills figure to dominate if they don’t have a letdown after the big win against Kansas City last week.

—The two best games – Chargers at Baltimore and unbeaten Arizona at Cleveland – won’t get national coverage. The Chargers-Baltimore is a CBS early game and the Arizona-Cleveland game is a late Fox game, but CBS has the doubleheader games this weekend. The CBS doubleheader games are Dallas at New England, which figures to be an easy Dallas win, and Las Vegas at Denver.

—The Las Vegas game will be interesting because it will be the first game since Jon Gruden stepped down after disturbing emails he wrote several years ago became public. It remains to be seen how the Raiders react to the distraction. The Broncos-Raiders is an old rivalry, but Gruden’s departure adds another element to the game.

—The Patriots are desperate for an upset victory over the Cowboys. If the Patriots lose, they will fall to 2-4 with rookie quarterback Mac Jones while Brady is 5-1 in Tampa Bay.–The Chargers-Baltimore and Arizona-Cleveland matchups will feature four young quarterbacks –Justin Herbert vs. Lamar Jackson (although he was ill during the week) and Kyler Murray vs. Baker Mayfield.

—London will host a game for the second week in a row when the 0-5 Jaguars face the 1-4 Dolphins. The NFL has yet to stage a game in London featuring two winning teams.

—The only other winless team besides Jacksonville is Detroit, which is likely to fall to 0-6 when the Lions play 3-2 Cincinnati. The other one win teams besides the Dolphins are the Jets, who have a bye, Houston and Indianapolis, who play at Indianapolis, and the Giants, who are big underdogs against the Rams.

—Kansas City is desperate for a victory and should get it over a Washington team that dealt with a lot of off the field issues. Including their decision to announce three days before the game that they were honoring the late Sean Taylor along with Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell. The late announcement was criticized for not giving fans much notice and the suggestion was they were trying to change the subject from the emails that Gruden sent to former Washington president Bruce Allen.

—Green Bay can take a two game lead in the NFC t in the NFC North. The Packers come in at 4-1 with four wins in a row while the Bears are 3-2. This will be the 201st game in this long rivalry but the Packers have dominated it the last decade, winning nine of last 10 and 18 of last 20.