RDR contributors Julius Kizzee and Wilton Jackson discuss key matchups for Week 8 in the NFL.
Miami Dolphins (3-3) vs. New England Patriots (6-0) (Thursday)
Julius: With the Patriots asserting their dominance yet against the Jets, they look forward to handling another divisional opponent in Miami. The Dolphins are 2-0 since dispatching head coach Joe Philbin. This game should show just how much Miami has to offer the NFL with its recent coaching change. Honestly, I think this game comes down to what happens in the trenches with the Patriots offensive line versus the Dolphins defensive line.
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) October 27, 2015
Wilton: The New England Patriots have not lost to the Miami Dolphins at home since Week 3 of the 2008 NFL Season. During that time, Chad Pennington started as the quarterback for the Jets and Matt Cassel started for the Patriots in that game. Last season, the Pats defeated the Dolphins 41-13 at home but lost on the road 33-20. As long as the Pats are playing in Gillette Stadium, which they will be on Sunday, they have a strong chance in winning in what should be a close game despite last year’s meeting between the two AFC East Division rivals. The deciding factor will be how much the Dolphins can put pressure on Tom Brady in the pocket.
New York Giants (4-3) vs. New Orleans Saints (3-4)
Julius: Here are two teams that are just vying for respect. The Saints, fresh off of a statement win against Indy, look to keep pace for a wild card spot in a weaker-than-advertised NFC playoff race. The New York Giants look to gain even more ground as they sit atop the NFC East. The Giants’ defense just surrendered 227 yards passing to Matt Cassel. Drew Brees is not in the same realm as Cassel, and has the potential to shred this defense apart.
Wilton: The Giants are coming off a tough loss against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday and they will look to rebound from the lost. For the Saints, defeating the Colts was a strong win for them. This week, however, they will be tested again. Here is something to think about. Colts’ quarterback Andrew Luck is a premier quarterback, along with wide receivers in Andre Johnson, Donte Moncrief and T.Y. Hilton. Despite cornerback Delvin Breaux getting tangled up with T.Y. Hilton, leading to two huge touchdowns for the Colts, the Saints’ defense and secondary played much better than previous games this season. The fact remains is that the Saints’ defense will tested again this week, particularly in the secondary. The defensive line must keep pressure on Eli Manning. If they do not, it is a good chance that Odell Beckham Jr could see a lot of action throughout the Saints secondary. Not to mention, if Victor Cruz returns, which he has not officially been ruled out yet for Sunday’s game, things could get even more interesting. The bottom line is that the Giants’ defense will have to find a way to slow Drew Brees and the Saints must keep Manning under pressure and not allow him to get in a rhythm. The last meeting between the two teams was in 2012. The Saints lost 52-27 on the road.
San Diego Chargers (2-5) vs. Baltimore Ravens (1-6)
Julius: The Chargers will travel to Baltimore, in a game that should put the nail in the coffin for one of these teams. Both teams sit at the bottom of their divisions, respectively, and this may be the last chance for each of them to at least have a chance this season. The loser of this game should go ahead and vie for the first pick of the upcoming draft.
Green Bay Packers (6-0) vs. Denver Broncos (6-0)
Julius: This game is one that should have been circled before Week 1. To this day, this is still a game to watch. The pivotal matchup is a Denver defense that is No. 1 in passing yards allowed versus the best quarterback in football, Aaron Rodgers. Of course, Aaron Rodgers will be able to hold his own against any defense placed against him. The question we should all be asking is if a regressing Peyton Manning, at age 39, will be able to keep pace.
Wilton: This game will certainly be one to watch. It will be a battle of one the greatest quarterbacks (Peyton Manning) to play the game versus one of the best quarterbacks (Aaron Rodgers) in the NFL right now in the prime of his career. One might recall Super Bowl 32, when John Elway and the Broncos defeated a young Brett Favre and the Packers 31-24. With this in mind, two great quarterbacks and two undefeated teams, this will make for a great game.
Cincinnati Bengals (6-0) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3)
Wilton: Here is a good AFC North Division game. While the Bengals sit atop the division, the Steelers are still in the hunt for the division crown. The Bengals start the season strong, get to the playoffs and fall apart. With that being said, the Steelers sit right behind the Bengals in the division. Cincinnati will play Pittsburgh on the road. In the last three matches between the two teams, the Steelers have won. Not to mention, the Steelers plan to have Ben Roethlisberger back for this game. I do not see the Bengals winning this game, especially if Big Ben returns. It should be a good game.