Each week through the 2019 season, former NFL defensive back and current BBC analyst Jason Bell will highlight five things to look out for that weekend. Watch Jason twice a week on the BBC.
Here are some key things to look out for in Week 8.
The London Games head to Wembley
Next up for the London Games it's the Cincinnati Bengals verses the LA Rams. These players will be excited to come over to London because the word is out that the London Games are special. The fans have been electric so far and players are talking about it. I'm really interested to see how the Bengals head coach Zac Taylor gets on. Even though the Bengals aren't playing well, this is his mentor he's facing in Sean McVay. There are some things that motivate you and as a head coach you are supposed to be a leader, you are supposed to motivate the players. I think he's going to come out and try and throw some nuggets at the LA Rams defense and say 'I understand this guy, trust me these are things we can do'. When you're not playing well, any kind of confidence you can gain will help the players. I'm expecting this defense to be a little more prepared just because Zac Taylor knows this offense. He knows everything about it and he going to bring that knowledge with him. The Bengals are not good on offense, their o-line is bad. They have Joe Mixon, who is a great running back and you can say what you want about Andy Dalton. However, you can have a fancy car but if your tyres are flat it ain't going anywhere. They are struggling in the offensive line and they're going to have to find a way to manufacture some points. If they can step it up on defense with the knowledge Zac has on Sean McVay that will help them. The real story here is the Rams. I'm just so excited to see this defense in its second week with their new acquisition - Jalen Ramsey. I think this team has figured out what they are this year. Last year they were this offensive juggernaut now they're not as dynamic. They are good, but they're not what they were. They can be dominant on defense and I believe they were one player away from that, a corner. With Jalen Ramsey in there it allows them to do a lot of things defensively. I want to see that this week, I want to see how they play with a dominant corner who can do whatever he wants. Against the Bengals offense there is not a dominant receiver out there that he can match up with but they will be looking to tinker with how they call plays defensively. That's what I'll be watching for.
Exciting trades this week
The trade period in the NFL never used to be as significant as it is now. When I played it wasn't a thing that really happened. I like that it's making the game fascinating, and what it's showing is that teams are reaching a point where they are realising what they need to fix to be elite. What they need to be competitive, to go on these playoff runs and hopefully the Super Bowl. Teams are going to the market to make that happen and you see that by the moves that are made. Jalen Ramsey to the Rams is the perfect example. When you look at Mohammed Sanu going to the Patriots and you think ok, why? Well I'm going to tell you why. It's because this team was a power running team and their full back got hurt, that changed what they wanted to do. They don't have Gronkowski and he was a match up nightmare. Edelman is the slot guy and he does a good job but he's smaller. If you put up a physical guy out there like Sanu, he'll be able to run-block and catch passes of course. He'll be a match up nightmare. Who are you going to get to cover him? A safety? A Linebacker? Are you going to have to move a corner in there? It gives them a chess piece which will be very effective. They needed someone else to make defenses question 'how are we going to play them?'. It's a perfect move for them.
Sanders to the 49ers is brilliant. He's not a receiver who is playing at an elite level but he's still great. What's important is he's going to an offense with Kyle Shanahan that he can play in. He's very familiar with this. They already have a great core of receivers, collectively you watch them play and they are being coached well. Sanders is going to be a number one receiver in an already good unit. That is what they were lacking. They had the ability to run the ball, they're dynamic in that department. Now, you get a guy who can beat one on one coverage, anywhere! He runs precise routes; he will completely elevate that team. This is a good move by them and it will work out well.
This leads me nicely onto the game of the week! Panthers at the 49ers. Both teams that play outdoors. So, there is no advantage there! My main matchup is the defense of Carolina verses the offense of San Francisco. The Carolina defense puts a lot of pressure on, they are number one in sacks and they are tied for second in turnovers but what they haven't been elite at is stopping the run. And what do the offense of the 49ers do well? They run the ball. I want to see how they try to stop the run. Does that open them up for the pass? And if it does, will having Emmanuel Sanders help them? If the 49ers are going to be for real, they will need to win some games on offense. I don't see the offense of Carolina exposing their defense at all. But if they keep it tight, can this offense come through and win the game? We shall see.
I think the Patriots will win this game but let's see what Baker Mayfield is really made out of. What the Patriots do defensively is they expose what they think you can't do. They're going to take away your best player, they will take away Odell Beckham Jr. If they think that offense can't pass protect in a way or he can't see the field a certain way, they will go after that and attack. It will be interesting to see if Baker Mayfield can counter that and have some success going against the best defense in football. This will show a lot of Baker Mayfield's growth. Even if they lose the game, if he can execute something where he walks away with the respect of them, it will give him confidence. If Bill Belichick respect you, you can tell when he faces you. I'll like to see how Mayfield will get on; it will say a lot about his progress as a Quarterback.
Once you make a Quarterback change like the Titans did with Ryan Tannehill you expect results. Everybody in the organisation does because there is no going back. And what I have seen from him so far is results. I can see a guy who is willing to throw the ball in tight places. Marcus Mariota wasn't that willing to do that. He wasn't making all of the throws that were there. His accuracy at times was lacking. He didn't turn the ball over which was great. But if you are going to win games in this league you need to take chances. Tannehill is willing to take those chances, when the offense dictates he can do that. He'll be more accurate, and they need that because defensively they are a great team. They will play better if they have an offense that can sustain drives and allow them to rest. They should have more success with him because they have play-makers, they just need to give them the ball. On the other side Jameis Winston is coming back from a terrible game before the bye week. Unfortunately, he faces a good defense that's great on third down. That's where Jameis Winston has, at times, rushed things. He's great at making all the throws, he's great at the intermediate deeper routes. He's very talented but to his credit, he just has no fear. He'll force the ball in and he tries to make plays especially if the Bucs are down. He'll try and bring them back and win, which is what you want out of a Quarterback. This risk of that of course is the turnovers that he causes, and you cannot win if you aren't winning the turnover battle. He needs to constantly improve that to take the next step and be the Quarterback that the Bucs have invested their long-term future in.