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NFL Week 8 Preview: The Packers or Broncos Will Lose This Week

Aaron Rodgers Peyton Manning
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The NFL heads into Week 8 of its 2015 season with a record five teams still unbeaten. Each of the undefeated squads face serious challenges this week. Here’s a preview of the action:

Thursday, October 29

Can Dan Campbell and the Dolphins Beat the Pats?
Houston Texans v Miami Dolphins
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Miami at New England | Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Mass.; 8:25 p.m. (ET) on CBS/NFL Network

Interim Dolphins head coach Dan Campbell is already on the radar for NFL Coach of the Year honors after just two games. Why? Because Miami (3–3) has looked like a legitimate playoff contender since Campbell replaced Joe Philbin three weeks ago; they’ve captured resounding wins over the Titans and Texans. (Whatever. 2–0 is better than 1–3.)

Enter the unbeaten Patriots, who once again seem destined to wear the AFC East crown. New England (6–0) has more talent than the Dolphins, but their offensive line showed weaknesses in last week’s close call against the Jets. If Miami defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Earl Mitchell can pressure quarterback Tom Brady, the Dolphins could make this game very close.

Sunday, November 1

Ben Roethlisberger Should Return to Face the Undefeated Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers
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Cincinnati at Pittsburgh | Heinz Field, Pittsburgh; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS

Pittsburgh (4–3) needs starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger back from his knee injury if they are to challenge still-undefeated Cincinnati (6–0) for the AFC North title. The two teams meet for the first time this season on Sunday, with Roethlisberger expected to be under center for the Steelers. His return would take some of the pressure off running back Le’Veon Bell, whose 511 yards are good for fifth in the NFL this season.

The bigger challenge for Pittsburgh is cooling off Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, who leads the league in total QBR. Cincy’s offense has been unstoppable thanks to Dalton and his cast of weapons, including A.J Green and Giovani Bernard. If Big Ben can’t sustain drives and keep his defense off the field, it could be a long day for his team.

Seahawks vs. Cowboys Is a Must-Win for Both Teams
Dallas Cowboys v Seattle Seahawks
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Seattle at Dallas | AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas; 4:25 p.m. (ET) on Fox

Is Week 8 too early for a must-win game? Not if your team was supposed to be a Super Bowl contender, but instead finds itself under .500. That’s the story for both the Seahawks and the Cowboys this week.

While both teams have lost several close games and battled key injuries, Dallas (2–4) and Seattle (3–4) have still underachieved in 2015. The Cowboys will send reserve quarterback Matt Cassel against the Seahawks’ staunch defense and hope that he doesn’t throw three interceptions like he did last week against the Giants. Seattle needs to protect the often-sacked Russell Wilson better and hope that he won’t turn the ball over when it doesn’t. Either way, one of these teams will have five losses on Sunday night, meaning they may have to go 7–1 in the final eight games to be in playoff contention.

A Battle of Unbeatens in Denver
Aaron Rodgers Peyton Manning
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Green Bay at Denver | Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver; 8;30 p.m. (ET) on NBC

The Broncos and the Packers are both 6–0 heading into this Sunday night’s showdown in Denver. However, anyone who has watched both teams this season can attest that Green Bay has played much better thus far, especially quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who might be on the way to his second consecutive NFL MVP award.

The Broncos turnover-centric defense merits MVP consideration as a collective. It’s delivered at least four of Denver’s wins, while quarterback Peyton Manning has backslid into being merely a competent NFL signal-caller. Rodgers must avoid turnovers and keep Packers’ drives alive to wear the Broncos down. Running backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks could prove vital in the attack.

Barring the rare NFL tie, one of these teams will have one loss on Sunday night, but both will continue as title contenders in their respective conferences.

Monday, November 2

The Panthers Stay in the National Spotlight
Cam Newton
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Indianapolis at Carolina | Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.; 8:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPN

The Panthers are still the least lauded of the NFL’s five remaining unbeaten teams. Carolina (6–0) has another primetime showcase to shut up their critics when AFC South-leading Indianapolis (3–4) comes to Charlotte this Monday night. Like the Eagles, whom the Panthers dominated last week, the Colts are another division leader without a winning record, but the Carolina defense would give any team fits. If Indy’s Andrew Luck can make them pay in a way Russell Wilson, Sam Bradford and Jameis Winston didn’t, the doubters will have their day.

However, if Panthers QB Cam Newton can deliver against the shaky Colts defense, Carolina would take a big step toward getting their due respect as NFC title contenders.

Other Games

Sunday, November 1
Detroit at Kansas City | Wembley Stadium, London: 9:30 a.m. (ET) on Fox
Tampa Bay at Atlanta | Georgia Dome, Atlanta; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Arizona at Cleveland | FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
San Francisco at St. Louis | Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
N.Y. Giants at New Orleans | Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Minnesota at Chicago | Soldier Field, Chicago; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
San Diego at Baltimore | M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Tennessee at Houston | NRG Stadium, Houston; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
N.Y. Jets at Oakland | Coliseum, Oakland, Calif.; 4:05 p.m. (ET) on CBS

Bye Week:
Buffalo, Philadelphia, Washington, Jacksonville

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