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Week 8 Cheat Sheet

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Everything you need to know as kickoff approaches...

Key game-time decisions

All players questionable unless noted

Harrison: Week 8 predictions
Will the Seahawks snap a two-game skid -- or will the Panthers end a bum streak of their own? Elliot Harrison makes his picks. READ

Calvin Johnson (ankle) WR, Detroit Lions

The drama continues for Megatron. There remains some faint hope he can dress this week after being limited in London practices. UPDATE: Johnson is officially inactive. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Detroit wanted to get their receiver a full month of rest before he returns Week 10.

Jimmy Graham (shoulder) TE, New Orleans Saints

The tight end was limited all week. Drew Brees will need his playmaker to be more than a decoy this week to keep pace with the Packers.

Trent Richardson (hamstring) RB, Indianapolis Colts

Richardson didn't practice all week and could join Reggie Wayne in street clothes.

A.J. Green (toe) -- DOUBTFUL -- WR, Cincinnati Bengals

After not practicing all week, it appears Andy Dalton will again be without his star wideout. UPDATE: Rapoport reported on NFL GameDay First that Green won't play vs. the Ravens, the receiver plans to return next week

Shane Vereen (illness) RB, New England Patriots

The running back did not practice Friday with an undisclosed illness. UPDATE: Vereen will play Sunday, according to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport.

Jon Bostic (back) LB; Lance Briggs (ribs) LB -- Both DOUBTFUL -- Chicago Bears

If neither plays, the Bears' D will be in trouble versus Tom Brady.

Reggie Bush (ankle) RB; Brandon Pettigrew (foot) TE -- Both DOUBTFUL -- Detroit Lions

Neither is likely to play after missing practices this week. (Running back Theo Riddick, who is probable, will likely take Bush's snaps as the change-of-pace back.) UPDATE: Both are officially inactive.

Harry Douglas (foot) WR, Atlanta Falcons

The wideout was limited on Thursday and Friday. UPDATE: Douglas is officially active.

Jadeveon Clowney (knee) LB; Brian Cushing (knee) LB; Brooks Reed (groin) LB, Houston Texans

Clowney was limited all week and could see his first action since Week 1. Cushing didn't practice all week, while Reed returned Friday on a limited basis. UPDATE: Rapoport reported on NFL GameDay First that Clowney will play Sunday.

Toby Gerhart (foot) -- PROBABLE -- RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

The runner was a full participant Thursday and Friday. How the Jags' offense mixes him in with Denard Robinson will be something to watch.

Vincent Jackson (rib) WR; Josh McCown (right thumb) QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jackson was limited all week. McCown was a full participant on Friday. It still appears Mike Glennon will get the start, but whether McCown dresses as the backup remains to be seen.

Darren Sproles (knee) RB; Jason Kelce (hernia) C; Mychal Kendricks (calf) LB, Philadelphia Eagles

All three men were full participants on Friday.

Calais Campbell (knee) DE, Arizona Cardinals

If Campbell can go, it would mark his first game action since injuring his knee against the Denver Broncos when he was illegally blocked.

MNF

Demarcus Lawrence (foot) DE, Dallas Cowboys

Jason Garrett told reporters that the second-round defensive end is expected to be activated Week 9.

Robert Griffin III (ankle) QB; Tracy Porter CB (hamstring); Ryan Clark S (ankle, shoulder), Washington Redskins

RGIII and Porter are both questionable for Monday night. The Redskins do expect Clark to be ready for action against the Cowboys.

Weather Tracking*

Winds are our biggest weather factor in Week 8.

Bills at Jets -- 60 degrees / Winds (Around 14 mph at kickoff)
Rams at Chiefs --75 degrees / Winds (10 mph)
Bears at Patriots -- 55 degrees / Winds (13 mph)
Raiders at Browns -- 55 degrees / Winds (11 mph)
*Forecasts courtesy of Weather Underground

Brooks: Must-see matchups
What are the most intriguing Week 8 battles in games across the NFL? Bucky Brooks provides his scouting eye. READ

Three matchups to watch

Drew Brees vs. Green Bay Packers secondary

Aided in part by the emergence of rookie safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, the Packers' pass defense has leaped up the charts this season. Green Bay is fifth in the NFL, allowing just 214.9 passing yards per game, while allowing opponents a passer rating of just 74.0 (best in the NFL). Drew Brees has had a passer rating below 74.0 only four times in his last 42 home games. The quarterback has thrown a pick in five out of six games this season, including a killer last week. Brees must solve the Packers' defensive riddle, create explosive plays and avoid the big mistake to keep pace with Aaron Rodgers' potent offense.

Eagles running game vs. Cardinals' stout front

With or without Darren Sproles, the Eagles will run the ball. LeSean McCoy looked more like his usual dynamic self in Philly's win prior to the bye. He'll need more of the same against a Cardinals front giving up just 72.4 yards per game on the ground. Players like the seemingly ageless Larry Foote and young Kevin Minter are making hole-stuffing plays in defensive coordinator Todd Bowles' versatile scheme. It will be intriguing to see what games Bowles employs Sunday to slow down the genius of Chip Kelly.

Rob Gronkowski/Tim Wright vs. Bears' linebackers and safeties

Last week the Chicago Bears' linebackers looked lost and the safeties weren't much help in coverage either -- Charles Clay toyed with them. Assuming Lance Briggs and Jon Bostic (both doubtful) are out again, Tom Brady could be staring at huge mismatches with his athletic tight end duo of Gronk and Wright. Getting Chris Conte back should be some aid to the Bears' defense, but not close to enough to slow down Gronk and a re-emerging dual tight-end look the Patriots will employ.

Did You Know?

Detroit Lions at Atlanta Falcons (London)

Matthew Stafford and the Lions' offensive numbers are down across the board this season. Detroit is averaging 4.7 fewer points per game and 60 total fewer yards per game -- 30.4 fewer passing yards and 29.6 fewer rushing yards -- than 2013.

The Falcons' defense ranks 30th in total defense (412.1 YPG) and 30th in scoring defense (28.4 PPG). Atlanta is allowing the second-most yards per play in the NFL (6.19) and has allowed 470-plus yards in four of seven games this season. The Falcons have given up 100 plays of 10-plus yards this season, fifth most in NFL. Opposing passers have a rating of 97.5 against the Falcons this season.

Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers

Russell Wilson's season numbers: 65.7 completion percentage, 215.2 yards per game, 10 touchdowns, two INTs, 101.9 passer rating (NFL's fifth-highest passer rating). The quarterback is on track for his third straight season with an 100-plus passer rating, which would make him the first signal-caller ever to start his career with three such seasons.

Oh, mighty Panthers defense, where have you gone? Carolina is allowing 12.8 more points, giving up 87 more yards and compiling 1.7 fewer sacks per game than last season. The Panthers have allowed 37-plus points in four of their last five games. Ouch.

Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals

Division interception rivalries! Joe Flacco has struggled in his career versus the Bengals, throwing more than twice as many interceptions against Cincinnati (16) than any other team. Likewise, Andy Dalton has more interceptions vs. the Ravens (11) than any other team.

The Ravens' defense has not allowed more than 23 points in any game this season and has held five of seven opponents to 20 points or fewer. The Bengals' defense, however, has allowed 107 total points in the last three games after allowing a combined 33 points in its first three contests.

Miami Dolphins at Jacksonville Jaguars

Last week Ryan Tannehill, who rushed for 48 yards, is the third player in NFL history with at least 275 passing yards, a completion percentage of 78.0 or better and 45-plus rushing yards in a single game. He joins Ken Anderson (Nov. 3, 1974) and Jeff Garcia (Dec. 14, 2003) and as the only players to accomplish the feat.

Blake Bortles has thrown an NFL-high 10 interceptions. If the rookie keeps throwing interceptions at this rate, he'll finish 2014 with 28 picks. It's the same number of interceptions that Peyton Manning threw as a rookie -- and also the rookie record.

St. Louis Rams at Kansas City Chiefs

Austin Davis became the fourth undrafted quarterback to defeat the defending Super Bowl champion within his first five career starts. Unfortunately for Davis, the list does not scream Hall of Fame success: Max Hall in 2010 vs. Saints; Jake Delhomme in 2003 vs. Buccaneers; Ed Rubbert in 1987 vs. the Giants (during players' strike).

File this one under the category of "Who Knew?": Kansas City is the most successful team on third-and-long (more than six yards to go), converting 45.7 percent of the time. The NFL average is 28.0 percent. It's a particular oddity because Alex Smith is averaging just 6.2 air yards per pass attempt on the season.

Smith spent 2005-2012 playing in the same division with the Rams. Smith has started against six different Rams QBs, including Jamie Martin, Marc Bulger, Keith Null, A.J. Feeley, Kellen Clemens and Sam Bradford. Davis will be the seventh.

Chicago Bears at New England Patriots

Last time the Bears were under .500 after seven games of a season was 2007. It's also the last time Bears were 3-5 after eight games. In 2007 Chicago started 3-4, finished 7-9 with Brian Griese, Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton as quarterbacks.

Matt Forte averaged 3.2 yards per rush in Weeks 1-3. He is averaging 4.5 yards per rush in Weeks 4-7. His 52 receptions lead the NFL (and puts him a on a 119-reception pace, which would be the most ever by a running back). Forte is trying to become the seventh different running back to lead the NFL in receptions for a season.

The Patriots have won 18 straight home games in October. Their last October home loss: Oct. 2, 2005 vs. San Diego. Drew Brees was the quarterback and LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for 134 yards and two scores.

New England has scored 107 points in their last three games combined (3-0). They scored 80 points in the first four games combined (2-2). Tom Brady and Co. have zero turnovers in their five wins and five turnovers in their two losses.

Buffalo Bills at New York Jets

The Bills are throwing the ball more with Kyle Orton under center. The veteran is averaging 87.2 yards per game more in his three starts than when EJ Manuel helmed Buffalo. Last week, Orton threw the ball 43 times, completing 72.1 percent of his passes. It's the highest completion percentage for a Bills QB with 40-plus attempts since Jim Kelly in 1994 (72.7 percent on 44 attempts in Week 12 vs. Packers).

Chris Ivory is averaging 6.2 yards per rush in the second half of games this season, the highest average in the NFL among all players with at least 30 second-half rush attempts.

Minnesota Vikings at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Vikings' offense has failed to reach 300 yards of total offense in any of the last three games. Minnesota has eight giveaways during their three-game skid. For the season the Vikings have only 10 touchdown drives (fewest in NFL) and are averaging 4.87 yards per play (30th in NFL).

Ouchtown, population Teddy Bridgewater: Minnesota has allowed 27 sacks this season (second most in NFL), including 13 in the past two games.

Lovie Smith's defense ranks dead last in points per game (34), yards per game allowed (422.8), passing yards per game given up (294.5) and opponent's passer rating (111.9, which would set an NFL record). For the season Tampa Bay has forced three-and-outs on just 10.1 percent of opposing drives, worst in the NFL. In their last four games the Bucs are giving up 41.3 points per game.

Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans

Apparently when Ryan Fitzpatrick connects, he connects deep. This season, Fitzpatrick has completed 64.7 percent of 20-plus air yard passes (highest percent in the NFL among starting QBs).

Reasons Ken Whisenhunt went with sixth-round pick Zach Mettenberger: The Titans' offense has scored fewer than 20 points in five of seven games this season. In Week 7 they recorded a season-low 236 yards. Tennessee also owns the NFL's worst third-down percentage (31.3).

Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals

Quick stats:

Philadelphia is third in scoring offense (scored 27-plus points in every game this season). Arizona is fifth in scoring defense (allowed 20 points or fewer in five of six games).

The Eagles have allowed two sacks total in the last five games. The Cardinals have at least one sack in seven straight games (seven total).

Philadelphia is last in the NFL in red-zone scoring (40.0 percent). Arizona is tied for 26th in red-zone scoring defense (66.7 percent; three rush TDs, seven pass TDs).

The Eagles' defense has a takeaway in every game this season. The Cardinals' offense has one interception, fewest in the NFL.

Arizona has the best rushing defense in NFL (72.5 YPG). Philadelphia had a season-high 203 rush yards in Week 6 (174.0 yards per game in the last two games).

The Cardinals are tied for second-fewest opponent plays of 10-plus yards allowed this season (78). The Eagles have 11 touchdowns of 10-plus yards, tied for third most in NFL.

Oakland Raiders at Cleveland Browns

Darren McFadden has 279 rushing yards and two touchdowns this season. He's the only Raider with a rushing TD. The running back has averaged over 4.0 yards per rush in only one of his last 12 games.

Last week, Ben Tate compiled a season-low 36 yards rushing. Despite missing two games due to injury, Tate leads the Browns with 279 rush yards. He's on pace for 977 rushing yards, which would be the most by a Browns running back since Peyton Hillis in 2010 (1,177 yards).

Indianapolis Colts at Pittsburgh Steelers

The Colts' offense has ran 538 plays, the third most through the first seven games since 1964. Their 216 total points leads the NFL (sixth-most in franchise history through seven games). Their NFL-leading 3,170 yards of total offense is the most in franchise history through the first seven games. Their five straight games of 400-plus yards is the longest streak in franchise history. And the Colts are the only team in the NFL to have seven players with 15-plus receptions this season.

Antonio Brown has started the season with seven straight games with five-plus receptions and 80-plus receiving yards, tying Dwight Clark (1982) for the second-most consecutive games achieving those marks to start a season in NFL history. (Hall of Famer Michael Irvin had nine consecutive such games to start the 1995 season.)

Brown also threw a touchdown pass last week and became only the third player in NFL history to have at least nine catches and throw a TD pass in a single game (James Wilder, 1984; Jerry Rice, 1995).

Green Bay Packers at New Orleans Saints (Sunday Night Football)

In the three head-to-head matchups between Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees, the home team has won each game. Although Rodgers is 2-1 in those games, Brees has the better numbers, including 10 touchdowns, zero interceptions and a passer rating of 122.5 to Rodgers' nine TDs, four INTs and a passer rating of 102.5.

Green Bay has four giveaways this season (tied for second fewest in NFL). New Orleans has four takeaways this season, also tied for second fewest in NFL.

The Saints' offense leads the NFL with 6.3 yards per play. The Packers' defense allows 5.2 yards per play (eighth fewest).

Green Bay leads the NFL in points off turnovers (55). New Orleans has allowed opponents 47 points off turnovers (tied for sixth most).

Washington Redskins at Dallas Cowboys (Monday Night Football)

DeSean Jackson has two straight games on Monday night with 100-plus yards and one touchdown. No player has had three straight Monday night games with 100-plus receiving yards and one or more receiving touchdowns.

The Cowboys have not beaten a team this season that currently has a winning record -- Tennessee (2-5), St. Louis (2-4), New Orleans (2-4), Houston (3-4), Seattle (3-3) and the Giants (3-4).

The Cowboys are tied with the Colts for the most drives of 10-plus plays or more this season but face a Redskins defense that has allowed only five 10-plus-play drives. Washington also has allowed only 14 runs of 10 or more yards, while Dallas has 35 rushes of 10-plus yards.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast previews every Week 8 game, and breaks down the Broncos' win over the Chargers. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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