Here is how The Examiner breaks down this week in the NFL.
WEEK 8 STORY LINES
1. How many touchdowns can Tom Brady throw? The New England Patriots’ quarterback has 27 and is on pace for more than 60, which is insane to anticipate happening. Still, no one is giving him a challenge. The NFL is his sandbox and everyone else is just visiting.
2. The San Diego Chargers could be without a home. San Diego is caught in the terrible wildfires ravaging Southern California’s coast and the NFL is wondering what to do with one of their marquee franchises. Above all else, the most important thing is that people find safety. Football will be waiting for them when they get their lives in order.
3. The NFL is taking its game abroad for the first time in the regular season. London’s Wembley Stadium will host just the second regular-season game outside of the United States when Eli Manning and the New York Giants take on the Miami Dolphins. (The 49ers and Arizona Cardinals played in Mexico City in 2005.) This is the first of an annual trek to Europe for the NFL as it seeks to increase its fan base following the demise of NFL Europe.
— Matt Palmer
GAME OF THE WEEK
Steelers (4-2) at Bengals (2-4)
The Pittsburgh Steelers looked unbeatable for the first three weeks of the season, but have lost two of three and have a bitter but still talented Cincinnati Bengals team waiting for them. Running back Willie Parker, who has 600 yards rushing but just one touchdown, and the Steelers hold a half-game lead over the Baltimore Ravens, who will travel to Pittsburgh next week. This is a must-win for the Steelers because they struggled mightily against Baltimore last year. The Bengals, on the other hand, are desperate for a win — especially with all of the recent turmoil surrounging receiver Chad Johnson.
WEEK 8 PICKS
COLTS AT PANTHERS The Colts are just rolling along while the rest of the country looks longingly at the Patriots. Colts 38, Panthers 21
BROWNS AT RAMS The Browns are very quietly competitive in the AFC North and could ruin a lot of playoff pools. Browns 13, Rams 6
GIANTS VS. DOLPHINS (London) The Dolphins might be the first franchise to go undefeated and also winless. Giants 27, Dolphins 20
EAGLES AT VIKINGS The Eagles start out slow seemingly every year, but this might be the one that seals Andy Reid’s fate. Vikings 24, Eagles 21
STEELERS AT BENGALS The Bengals have no room for error. They have to grow up or be left behind once again. Bengals 24, Steelers 23
LIONS AT BEARS The Bears have to re-establish dominance in the North or their stay on top of the NFC will have been short. Bears 13, Lions 10
RAIDERS AT TITANS The Titans will have Vince Young back and a chance to solidify their place among the AFC’s elite. Titans 17, Raiders 14
BILLS AT JETS The Bills are hyper-competitive while the Jets have a hanging Chad. Stick with the Bills. Bills 26, Jets 16
JAGUARS AT BUCCANEERS Are the Bucs for real? No. They have had a soft schedule and Jags will expose them. Jaguars 24, Buccaneers 6
TEXANS AT CHARGERS Expect the Chargers to wear their emotions on their sleeves no matter where game is played. Chargers 34, Texans 17
SAINTS AT 49ERS What happens when you get two underachieving teams together? The country flips the channel. Saints 20, 49ers 17
REDSKINS AT PATRIOTS If there’s one thing that can challenge the juggernaut Patriots’ offense, it’s the Washington “D.” Redskins 23, Patriots 21
PACKERS AT BRONCOS The Broncos could be getting their act together, just in time to disappoint Denver fans in the playoffs again. Broncos 19, Packers 17
— Matt Palmer
PLAYER TO WATCH
Yes, the St. Louis Rams are really 0-7. Some of it is due to the plethora of injuries they have suffered. Running back Steven Jackson, who was expected to have a big year, has been out since Week 3 with a groin injury, but practiced Wednesday and is expected to play against a suspect Cleveland Browns defense.