As the NFL enters Week 8, one of the themes of the season has been close games. Through the first seven weeks, 80 games have been within one score in the fourth quarter, the most such games in a season’s first seven weeks in NFL history.
And not only are the games close but the standings are also tight. As the season nears the halfway point, 25 teams are either in or within two games of the top spot in the division.
Currently, there are 16 teams with a winning record. Since 1990, when the 12-team playoff format was adopted, 274 of the league’s 312 playoff teams (87.8 percent) had a winning record through seven games. But nothing is a given in the NFL. There have been 38 teams since 1990 which had a .500 or lower record after seven games to advance to the postseason. That includes four teams last season – Houston (2-5), Kansas City (2-5), Seattle (3-4) and Washington (3-4).
Week 8 begins on Thursday night with an AFC South matchup as the Tennessee Titans host the Jacksonville Jaguars (8:25 PM ET, NFLN). The action continues “across the pond” on Sunday morning (9:30 AM ET, FOX) when the Washington Redskins face the Cincinnati Bengals at London’s Wembley Stadium. The game marks the third and final 2016 International Series game in the United Kingdom. In Week 4, the Jaguars defeated the Indianapolis Colts 30-27 at Wembley and last week, the New York Giants knocked off the Los Angeles Rams 17-10 at London’s Twickenham Stadium.
The week concludes with a pair of primetime contests as the Dallas Cowboys host the Philadelphia Eagles in an NFC East showdown on Sunday night (8:30 PM ET, NBC) and the Minnesota Vikings visit the Chicago Bears on Monday night (8:30 PM ET, ESPN) in a battle of NFC North rivals.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (2-4) at TENNESSEE TITANS (3-4) (Thursday, NFLN, 8:25 PM ET)
- Jaguars quarterback BLAKE BORTLES threw a career-high five touchdown passes – including three to wide receiver ALLEN ROBINSON (10 catches for 153 yards) – in the last meeting between the teams (December 6, 2015).
- Titans quarterback MARCUS MARIOTA passed for 268 yards with three touchdowns and rushed for 112 yards with a career-long 87-yard TD in his last game against Jacksonville, which Tennessee won 42-39. Mariota is the only player in NFL history to have at least 250 passing yards with three passing touchdowns and more than 100 rushing yards in a single game.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS (4-3) at CINCINNATI BENGALS (3-4) in London (Sunday, FOX, 9:30 AM ET)
- Washington quarterback KIRK COUSINS passed for 301 yards with a touchdown and added a rushing TD in last week’s loss at Detroit. Over his past five starts, Cousins has a 99.2 passer rating and a 4-1 record.
- Redskins wide receiver JAMISON CROWDER had seven catches for 108 yards last week, his second career 100-yard receiving game. Crowder has scored a career-best four touchdowns this season (three receiving, one punt return).
- Cincinnati wide receiver A.J. GREEN had eight catches for 169 yards and a touchdown (48 yards) in last week’s 31-17 win over Cleveland. It marked Green’s ninth career game with at least 150 receiving yards and a touchdown catch, which is the fourth-most in NFL history by a player in his first six seasons.
- Bengals running back JEREMY HILL rushed for 168 yards with a TD (74 yards) on just nine carries in the win against the Browns. Hill’s 168 rushing yards are the third-most in NFL history by a player with fewer than 10 carries in a game.
OAKLAND RAIDERS (5-2) at TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (3-3) (Sunday, CBS, 1:00 PM ET)
- The Raiders are an NFL-best 4-0 on the road this season, including a 33-16 win at Jacksonville last week.
- Oakland quarterback DEREK CARR has 13 touchdown passes and only three interceptions this season for a 97.2 passer rating. Carr’s 13 touchdown passes are the most by a quarterback this season with three or fewer interceptions.
- Tampa Bay aims for its third consecutive win. Last week, the Buccaneers defeated San Francisco 34-17.
- Buccaneers running back JACQUIZZ RODGERS rushed for a career-high 154 yards in the win over the 49ers. Rodgers has recorded his first two career 100-yard rushing games in each of the past two weeks.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (3-4) at DENVER BRONCOS (5-2) (Sunday, CBS, 4:05 PM ET)
- The Chargers erased a 17-point deficit last week to defeat Atlanta 33-30 in overtime. San Diego has overcome a 17+ point deficit in each of the past three seasons and the Chargers are only the fifth team in NFL history to register a 17+ point comeback victory in three consecutive seasons.
- San Diego running back MELVIN GORDON scored three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving) in the victory at Atlanta and leads the NFL with 10 total touchdowns (eight rushing, two receiving).
- In last week’s 27-9 win over Houston, Broncos running backs C.J. ANDERSON (107 yards, one TD) and DEVONTAE BOOKER (83 yards, one TD) each rushed for at least 80 yards and a touchdown.
- Denver’s defense is allowing 291.6 total net yards per game, the best mark in the AFC. The Broncos are allowing 16.7 points per game, the second-fewest in the AFC. Denver’s defense has recorded 22 sacks this season, the most in the league. Broncos linebacker VON MILLER ranks second in the NFL with 7.5 sacks.
GREEN BAY PACKERS (4-2) at ATLANTA FALCONS (4-3) (Sunday, FOX, 4:25 PM ET)
- In last Thursday’s 26-10 win over Chicago, the Packers became the second team in NFL history to have three different players catch at least 10 passes in a single game: DAVANTE ADAMS (13 for 132 yards with two touchdowns), RANDALL COBB (11 for 95 yards with a TD) and TY MONTGOMERY (10 for 66 yards).
- Green Bay quarterback AARON RODGERS set a franchise record with 39 completions in last week’s win over the Bears as he threw for 326 yards and three touchdowns.
- Atlanta quarterback MATT RYAN leads the NFL this season with 2,348 passing yards. Last week, Ryan passed for 273 yards, his 46th consecutive game with at least 200 passing yards. He surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN FOUTS (45) for the longest streak in NFL history.
- Falcons wide receiver JULIO JONES had nine catches for 174 yards last week and leads the NFL this season with 830 receiving yards. Jones is averaging 20.8 yards per catch (40 receptions), the highest in the league among players with at least 25 catches.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (4-2) at DALLAS COWBOYS (5-1) (Sunday, NBC, 8:30 PM ET)
- Philadelphia rookie quarterback CARSON WENTZ has won four of his first six starts and has completed 118 of 185 passes (63.8 percent) for 1,324 yards with eight touchdowns and three interceptions for a 92.7 passer rating.
- The Eagles are the only team in the NFL this season to return a kickoff for a touchdown – and they’ve done it in back to back weeks. In Week 6, WENDELL SMALLWOOD had an 86-yard kickoff-return touchdown and last week, in the team’s 21-10 win over Minnesota, JOSH HUFF returned a kickoff 98 yards for a score. Philadelphia is only the fifth team since 1970 to have a kickoff-return touchdown by a different player in consecutive weeks.
- Dallas rookie quarterback DAK PRESCOTT has won five of his first six starts and completed 125 of 182 passes (68.7 percent) for 1,486 yards with seven touchdowns and one interception for a 103.9 passer rating. Prescott has scored three rushing touchdowns.
- Cowboys rookie running back EZEKIEL ELLIOTT leads the NFL averaging 117.2 rushing yards per game and is the first rookie in NFL history to rush for at least 130 yards in four consecutive games. Elliott rushed for a career-best 157 yards in the team’s Week 6 win at Green Bay.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS (5-1) at CHICAGO BEARS (1-6) (Monday, ESPN, 8:30 PM ET)
- The Vikings have allowed 84 total points (14.0 per game), tied for the fewest allowed in the NFL this season with Seattle. Minnesota is allowing 279.5 total yards per game, the best mark in the league.
- The Vikings have forced a league-best 16 turnovers this year and lead the NFL with a +11 turnover differential.
- Chicago rookie linebacker LEONARD FLOYD, who was selected in the first round (No. 9 overall) of the 2016 NFL Draft, scored his first career touchdown last week against Green Bay when he had a sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery in the end zone. He finished the game with a career-high two sacks.
- Bears wide receiver ALSHON JEFFERY has 37 catches for 574 yards (95.7 per game) in his past six games on Monday night. Jeffery has at least 95 receiving yards or a touchdown catch in all six of those contests.
2016 NFL STANDINGS
|American Football Conference|
|New England Patriots||6||1||.857||176||107||3-1||3-0||5-1||1-1||3W|
|New York Jets||2||5||.286||119||180||1-2||1-3||2-3||1-0||1W|
|Kansas City Chiefs||4||2||.667||136||123||3-0||1-2||3-2||2-0||2W|
|San Diego Chargers||3||4||.429||206||185||2-1||1-3||2-3||1-2||2W|
|National Football Conference|
|New York Giants||4||3||.571||133||141||2-1||2-2||3-3||1-1||2W|
|Green Bay Packers||4||2||.667||140||123||3-1||1-1||3-2||2-1||1W|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||3||3||.500||128||159||0-2||3-1||3-2||2-0||2W|
|New Orleans Saints||2||4||.333||176||195||1-2||1-2||1-2||1-1||1L|
|Los Angeles Rams||3||4||.429||120||154||1-2||2-2||3-3||2-1||3L|
|San Francisco 49ers||1||6||.143||144||219||1-3||0-3||1-5||1-2||6L|
NFL WEEK 8 SCHEDULE
THURSDAY, SUNDAY & MONDAY, OCTOBER 27, 30-31
(All times local)
Byes: Baltimore, Los Angeles, Miami, New York Giants, Pittsburgh, San Francisco
|Thursday, October 27||Sunday, October 30 (cont’d)|
|Jacksonville at Tennessee, 7:25 PM (NFLN)||Seattle at New Orleans, 12:00 PM|
|Oakland at Tampa Bay, 1:00 PM|
|Sunday, October 30||San Diego at Denver, 2:05 PM|
|Washington at Cincinnati (London), 1:30 PM||Green Bay at Atlanta, 4:25 PM|
|New England at Buffalo, 1:00 PM||Philadelphia at Dallas, 8:30 PM (NBC)|
|Arizona at Carolina, 1:00 PM|
|New York Jets at Cleveland, 1:00 PM|
|Detroit at Houston, 12:00 PM
Kansas City at Indianapolis, 1:00 PM
|Monday, October 31
Minnesota at Chicago, 7:30 PM (ESPN)