The Andrew Preview: NFL Week Eight

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The last two Superbowl Champions collide in a big matchup on Sunday. Night.

1. It’s been a tough week to be a quarterback. San Francisco QB Alex Smith suffered a separated shoulder in the Niners’ game against the Panthers this past Sunday. He’s expected to be out 2-3 weeks. In his place, the 49ers’ coach Mike Singletary is giving Troy Smith, the former Heisman Trophy winner, his first NFL start in three years. Also, Dallas quarterback Tony Romo suffered a broken collarbone in the Cowboys’ loss to the New York Giants Giant on Monday night. While Romo will not require surgery, he is expected to be out for 6-8 weeks. He will be replaced by former Lions QB Jon Kitna, who has not seen the field in the regular season for more than two years.

2. Lots of news coming out of the Vikings organization. First and foremost, Brett Favre may or may not play in Minnesota’s game against New England this Sunday, despite the fact that he suffered two fractures in his left ankle. At a news conference Favre said, “I would love to play, for no other reason but I’m in this, committed to this team.” Favre has started 291 consecutive regular season games. Still, he commented that “I’m very proud of the streak, but it probably should have ended a long time ago.” It remains to be seen whether Brett will be behind center on Sunday. In other Vikes news, coach Brad Childress was fined for his comments that Minnesota’s narrow loss to Green Bay was “the worst officiated game [he’s] seen.” The NFL fined Childress $35,000 for this statement. In particular, Childress criticized the call on an endzone catch by tight end Visanthe Schiancoe which was initially ruled a touchdown but overturned on review. Childress later said that “50 drunks in a bar” could have made the correct call.

3. The NCAA quickly shot down rumors that it intended to pursue an attempt to coordinate with the NFL to punish rookies who accepted extra benefits in college. The NCAA quickly said that such a proposal is “not currently under consideration.” Certain college coaches presented this proposal as a means to turn the tide against the rash of benefit violations in the NCAA, advocating suspensions and fines for violators in the NFL. The NFLPA immediately objected to the proposal, rejecting the idea of “any penalty being imposed upon a player in the NFL for conduct relating to the receipt of benefits in violation of NCAA rules while the player was in college.”

2008 Detroit Lions Memorial Winless Teams

Buffalo Bills

And then there was one. The Carolina Panthers pulled off their first win in a tight game against the similarly situated San Francisco 49ers to make it off the winless list. The Bills tried valiantly, taking the Baltimore Ravens down to the wire, but at the end of the day they still found themselves as the sole remaining team without a victory. This week they’ll try their luck against the AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs.

Head of the Pack

Your statistical leaders in:

Passing

1. Phillip Rivers (San Diego) –2344 yards.
2. Kyle Orton (Denver) –2140 yards.
3. Drew Brees (New Orleans) – 2029 yards

Rushing

1. Ahmad Bradshaw (NY Giants) –708 yards.
2. Adrian Peterson (Minnesota) – 684 yards
3. Chris Johnson (Tennessee) – 662 yards.

Receiving

1. Roddy White (Atlanta) – 747 yards
2. Brandon Lloyd (Denver) – 709 yards
3. Reggie Wayne (Indianapolis) – 602 yards

Sacks

1. Clay Matthews (Green Bay) – 9.0
2. Osi Umenyiora (NY Giants) – 8.0
3. DeMarcus Ware (Dallas) – 8.0

Three Big Match Ups

1. Green Bay at NY Jets, 1 P.M. EST on FOX – The NFC North is up for grabs this year, with the Packers in the thick of the race. With their victory over the archrival Vikings, the Pack catapulted themselves to a share of first place in the division. Still, they face what may be their biggest challenge of the season. The Jets will be only the second team the Packers have played this year who will enter the game with a winning record. Still, Green Bay is no stranger to playing in close matchups, with six of their seven games this season decided by four points or less. For their part, the Jets have done nothing but win since their one-point loss to the Ravens in the first week of the season. Coming off a bye and sitting at 5-1, the Jets are still only sharing the lead in the AFC East, as they fend off the Patriots. Both teams are fighting to keep up in tight division races, and it should mean a good show.

2. Pittsburgh at New Orleans, 8:20 P.M. EST on NBC – It took a controversial decision from a referee and a very close shave, but the Steelers survived their match up with Dolphins to improve to 5-1. On third down in that game, Ben Roethlisberger ran for the endzone. He lost control of the ball, but the ref on the field ruled that he had crossed the goal line prior to losing possession. Upon an official review, it was ruled that Big Ben indeed fumbled before he reached the goal line, but that it was unclear who recovered the ball in the ensuing scrum, and as such, by rule, the Steelers retained possession for a 4th down play. They kicked the field goal to win the game, amid thunderous boos from the Miami faithful. Nevertheless, the Steelers won the game and sit in first place in the AFC North. New Orleans, on the other hand, has not been so lucky. After starting 3-1, the Saints have gone 1-2 down the stretch, including a shocking thirteen-point loss to the Cleveland Browns this past week. Drew Brees is still throwing with 69.7 completion rate, but the Saints may still be fighting a Superbowl hangover. New Orleans will be desperate to boost themselves out of third place in the NFC South behind Atlanta and Tampa Bay. Expect both teams to be at their best in this matchup of the last two Superbowl Champions.

3. Houston at Indianapolis, Monday 8:30 P.M. EST on ESPN – These are not your father’s…er…big brother’s Texans. Off to their best start in years, Matt Schaub and the rest of this Houston team have had impressive wins over the rejuvenated Reskins, the red hot Chiefs, and yes, even the Colts. With a team that ranks first in Red Zone offense and after a bye week to rest and recover, the Texans will shoot for their first season sweep of the Colts ever. On their side, Indy has put up some big victories of their own, including big wins over those same Redskins and Chiefs, plus a sound trouncing of the NY Giants. Still, the Colts’ receiving corps has been severely hampered by injuries, with Austin Collie suffering an injured right thumb that will keep him out of the lineup a few more weeks, and Peyton Manning’s favorite target, Dallas Clark, out for the season. This game will go a long way in deciding an increasingly tight division race, so expect both teams to come out hungry for a victory.

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