Everything you need to know as kickoff approaches...
Key game-time decisions
All players questionable unless noted
Harrison: Week 8 predictions
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.
The running back did not practice Friday with an undisclosed illness. UPDATE: Vereen will play Sunday, according to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport.
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.
The wideout was limited on Thursday and Friday. UPDATE: Douglas is officially active.
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.
The runner was a full participant Thursday and Friday. How the Jags' offense mixes him in with Denard Robinson will be something to watch.
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.
All three men were full participants on Friday.
*Winds are our biggest weather factor in Week 8. *
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
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Manuelhelmed 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.
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.
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).
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).
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).
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 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.)
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.