Three Games to Watch, Week 8

The sinfgle best game of the weekend - or the one with the most meaning and potentially the most excitement - happens to be one this site will cover back to front, up and down on Sunday. Green Bay-Denver is the place to be and, if this were a Giants or Buccaneers or Duke football site (sorry Duke), I'd be telling you to glue your rear end to a seat Sunday night and don't move. Sports on Earth usually pays me to recap two or three games and the Packers-Broncos game isn't one of them this week, but instead of watching The Walking Dead or talking to my family, I'll be watching this game because it should be a doozy.

You have to kill some time before this game of undefeateds though, so here are three games which, while paling in comparison to the battle at Mile High, are pretty damned compelling.

New York Jets at Oakland Raiders

This just in: the Raiders are pretty good.

They aren't ready to compete for a title or anything, but they are very sharp and much closer than anticipated. After hanging with the Broncos two weeks back, they slapped the Chargers hard and now they can make some inroads towards a potential Wild Card spot by beating the Jets. Derek Carr is developing faster than expected and Amari Cooper is one of the best young receivers in the league.

They run into the best defense in the NFL, featuring one of the stronger secondaries in it as well. If they struggled against Chris Harris, TJ Ward and Aqib talib, it's not all that much easier against Darrelle Revis, Buster Skrine, Antonio Cromartie, Marcus Gilchrist and Calvin Pryor. Still evem a close loss could further cement the legitimacy of this team.

For the Jets, they have to avoid letting last week's close loss and late game collapse turn into a thing. They want to be taken seriously as contenders, so this is one of the games they are supposed to win. A loss here will feel too much like 'Same old Jets' but a win will only give them so much credit as the Raiders are a team they are expected to beat.

There are a lot of things riding on this game - playoff spots, divisional spots - and it also has some interesting matchups as well. Definitely worth killing time with.


Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers

It's the return of Big Ben Roethlisberger! The Steelers went 2-2 with Roethlisberger out and were able to tread water. This will be the first time all season that Roethlisberger, Martavious Bryant and Le'Veon Bell have been on the field at the same time this season and together they (and Antonio Brown) make for a ridiculous offense. 

The Bengals have a good defense, but how good? They haven't met a great offense yet - even the Seahawks aren't quite there this season. Roethlisberger and company are a great test for them.

Meanwhile the Steelers' defense is not all that good. It's young in some places and way too old in others, and it will have its hands full with Andy Dalton, AJ Green, Marvin Jones, Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill. This shouldn;t be a tough game for Dalton but we've seen the weirdness that Heinz Field brings out in the Bengals.

Like the Jets-Oakland game, this one has a lot riding on it - divisional titles, playoff seeding, Wild Card slots and potentially home field advantage.


Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears

Here's one thatr is relevent to your interests. The Vikings aren't going to vie for the NFC North title, but they will be a pain in the read end. They should beat Chicago handily, but that's if they are truly ready to shine in the spotlight. The Vikings have to learn to handle success. So will they? Can Teddy Bridgewater pick up the pace on his play? Can Adrian Peterson improve his play after a disappointing week against Detroit? Can this defense cotinue to improve week to week?

The Bears are a mess, but they aren't the Detroit Lions. Of course they would prefer to not have to worry about figthing Detroit to stay out of last in the division, but then they have to win games like these.

The bears ride or die with Jay Cutler, and after the Jimmy Clausen experience was nauseatingly bad, they have to hope Cutler can be consistent and not turn the ball over. Matt Forte and Alshon Jeffer should get a ton of wortk, and we might see some Martellus Bennett action as well.

More than anything, this game turns on the Bears defense and how it pressures Bridgewater. If they get in his face and the cornerbacks cover the receivers, Bridgewater will make some mistakes. However, if the Vikings offense line can hold up - no sure thing - the Vikings could continue their run and keep their Wild Card hopes alive.

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