By Vince Ferrara / @VinceSports
Each week I’ll bring you this week’s NFL schedule with my predictions followed by some great notes and stats directly from the National Football League Communications Department.
Our Sports Animal NFL programming for Week 8
(Sun) 10am – 12:30pm: The NFL Report with John Wilkerson and two rotating Sports Animal hosts
(Sun) 12:30pm – Las Vegas Raiders at Cleveland Browns (Sports Animal)
(Sun) 12:00pm – Tennessee Titans at Cincinnati Bengals (News Talk 98.7)
(Sun) 7:45pm – Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles (Sports Animal)
WEEK 8 NFL SCHEDULE
THURSDAY, SUNDAY, MONDAY, OCTOBER 29, NOVEMBER 1-2
(All times Eastern)
Thursday, October 29
Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers 8:20 PM FOX/NFLN/Amazon
Sunday, November 1
Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens 1:00 PM CBS
New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills 1:00 PM CBS
Tennessee Titans at Cincinnati Bengals 1:00 PM CBS
Las Vegas Raiders at Cleveland Browns 1:00 PM FOX
Indianapolis Colts at Detroit Lions 1:00 PM CBS
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers 1:00 PM FOX
New York Jets at Kansas City Chiefs 1:00 PM CBS
Los Angeles Rams at Miami Dolphins 1:00 PM FOX
Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos 4:05 PM CBS
New Orleans Saints at Chicago Bears 4:25 PM FOX
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks 4:25 PM FOX
Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles 8:20 PM NBC
Monday, November 2
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Giants 8:15 PM ESPN
Week 8 Byes: Arizona Cardinals, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Washington Football Team
Vince’s View: Key NFC East matchup of bad, underachieving teams under intense pressure, Philly and Dallas. Steelers/Ravens is so much fun and physical, especially when both teams are this good. Arguably, these are two of the three best teams in the NFL. 49ers/Seahawks and Saints/Bears are must-see as well. Oh, sorry to bury the lead. Rookie Tua Tagovailoa makes his first NFL start for the Miami Dolphins at home against a good Rams team.
Week 7 Prediction Record: 11-3 (79%)
Season Record: 71-34 (68%)
CALENDAR TURNS TO NOVEMBER AS NFL CONTINUES TO
TURN OUT RARE BRAND OF EXCITEMENT
Tight contests and late-game dramatics, high-scoring suspense and big comebacks – all fueled by budding superstar performers. Welcome to 2020 in the National Football League.
As the league flips the calendar to November and soars toward the season’s midpoint, what could possibly await?
Well, consider that since the league merger in 1970, this year is one of only three in which a team won after erasing a deficit of 13-or-more points in each of the first seven weeks of a season. It also happened in 2015 and 2003.
The latest comeback team, the ARIZONA CARDINALS, trailed by 13 points late in the first half and by 10 with under three minutes remaining in regulation before registering a 37-34 win over Seattle last week. Arizona did not hold a lead until winning with a field goal in the final minute of overtime. Quarterback KYLER MURRAY became the first player in NFL history with at least 350 passing yards, three passing touchdowns, 50 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown in a single game.
And while some careers are well on the way to cruising altitude, others are approaching the runway.
TUA JOINS FOLD OF ROOKIES ON RECORD PACE: When the MIAMI DOLPHINS host the LOS ANGELES RAMS on Sunday (1:00 PM, FOX), TUA TAGOVAILOA will become the third rookie quarterback this season to make his first career start, joining Cincinnati’s JOE BURROW and the Chargers’ JUSTIN HERBERT. The fifth-overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, Tagovailoa is the fourth quarterback selected in the first round by the Dolphins during the common-draft era (since 1967), joining Pro Football Hall of Famers DAN MARINO (1983) and BOB GRIESE (1967), and RYAN TANNEHILL (2012).
- Tagovailoa bids to become the first rookie quarterback to win his initial NFL start since Denver’s DREW LOCK in Week 13 of last season. Lock and his Broncos host Herbert and the Chargers on Sunday (4:05 PM ET, CBS).
- Herbert (1,542) and CAM NEWTON (1,610) are the only quarterbacks ever with at least 1,500 passing yards over their first five NFL games. The sixth-overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, Herbert can tie DESHAUN WATSON (four consecutive games in 2017) for the longest streak of games with at least three touchdown passes by a rookie quarterback in NFL history.
- Including Tagovailoa this week, quarterbacks under the age of 26 are expected to start their collective 100th NFL game in 2020. So far this season, that group has started a combined 91 games, tied for the second-most through Week 7 in NFL history.
- Of those 91 starts by a quarterback under the age of 26, 40 have resulted in wins, the fourth-most victories by quarterbacks under the age of 26 through Week 7 in NFL history.
Burrow’s CINCINNATI BENGALS, meanwhile, are home to Tannehill and the TENNESSEE TITANS on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS). Burrow last week became the first rookie quarterback in NFL history with at least 400 passing yards, three passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown in a single game. With 300 passing yards against the Titans, Burrow would match ANDREW LUCK (six games in 2012) for the most games with 300-or-more passing yards by a rookie in NFL history.
HALFWAY MARK SPOTLIGHTS RECORD-SETTING PACE: This week, 14 teams will reach the halfway points of their regular-season schedules. As the league nears the halfway point of its season, the NFL is on pace to shatter three significant league scoring records: Total points scored, total touchdowns and offensive touchdowns (passing and rushing combined).
- NFL teams this season have combined for 5,329 points, 613 touchdowns and 588 offensive touchdowns (passing and rushing combined), all the highest marks through seven weeks in NFL history.
- Over a full season, those figures are on pace for 12,993 points, 1,495 touchdowns and 1,434 offensive touchdowns (passing and rushing combined), which all would easily establish NFL scoring records.
The seasons with the most points, touchdowns and offensive touchdowns (passing and rushing combined) in NFL history:
*pace through seven weeks
*pace through seven weeks
- Two of those 613 touchdowns were produced by the Tampa Bay combination of TOM BRADY and ROB GRONKOWSKI. Including postseason, Brady has completed 92 touchdowns to Gronkowski, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famers STEVE YOUNG and JERRY RICE for the second-most touchdowns by a pairing in NFL history. Only PEYTON MANNING and Pro Football Hall of Famer MARVIN HARRISON (114) had more.
BRADY, BREES ENGAGE IN UNIQUE CHASE: In one of the more exciting convergences in sports history, Tampa Bay quarterback TOM BRADY (559) and New Orleans quarterback DREW BREES (558) rank 1-2 in all-time career touchdown passes. The quarterbacks are expected to battle for the mark over the season’s final 10 weeks. Last week, Brady threw four touchdown passes and took sole possession of the mark for the first time. They go head-to-head next week in an NFC South showdown at Raymond James Stadium.
- The Saints, who travel to Chicago for an intraconference battle Sunday (4:25 PM ET, FOX), have the league’s No. 1 third-down offense (55.0 percent). The Bears, meanwhile, have the NFL’s No. 2-ranked third-down defense (31.7 percent).
- New Orleans running back ALVIN KAMARA (2,528 career receiving yards) last week became the fourth running back in NFL history with at least 2,500 receiving yards in his first four seasons, joining ROGER CRAIG (2,742), CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY (2,590) and Pro Football Hall of Famer LENNY MOORE (2,573).
LAST MAN STANDING: The PITTSBURGH STEELERS (6-0), who travel to play the BALTIMORE RAVENS (5-1) on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS), are the NFL’s last remaining undefeated team. In each of the last two seasons, and in three of the last five, the league’s last undefeated team has advanced to the Super Bowl. The 2019 SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS and the 2018 LOS ANGELES RAMS both opened 8-0, while the 2015 CAROLINA PANTHERS started 14-0 before advancing to respective Super Bowls. However, those kinds of starts don’t always equate to a Super Bowl finish, shining a light of hope for several teams.
- Including the 2000 Ravens, who won the Super Bowl after a 5-3 start, 24 teams over the last 20 seasons have advanced to the Super Bowl with at least two losses after their first eight games. Last season, the Kansas City Chiefs were 5-3 after eight games, as were the 2016 Atlanta Falcons, 2014 Seattle Seahawks, 2011 New England Patriots, 2010 Green Bay Packers and the 2008 Arizona Cardinals. Earlier, the 2002 Oakland Raiders and the 2001 Patriots each started 4-4 before advancing to the Super Bowl.
- This season, the NFL adopted a 14-team playoff format, with two additional Wild Card teams – one each in the American and National Football Conferences – qualifying for the postseason. Since 1990, at least four teams every season have qualified for the playoffs after failing to make the postseason the year before.
- Seven teams that missed the 2019 playoffs have started this season with no more than two losses: The ARIZONA CARDINALS (5-2), CHICAGO BEARS (5-2), CLEVELAND BROWNS (5-2), INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (4-2), LOS ANGELES RAMS (5-2), PITTSBURGH STEELERS (6-0) and TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (5-2)
The Steelers-Ravens showdown matches the head coaches with the NFL’s top two records in games following a bye since 2010, Baltimore’s JOHN HARBAUGH (8-2) and Pittsburgh’s MIKE TOMLIN (8-3). The Ravens were off last week. The Steelers won their Week 5 contest after their bye.
Baltimore has the NFL’s No. 1 rushing attack (164.3 yards per game), while Pittsburgh features the league’s No. 2-ranked rushing defense (68.8 yards allowed per game).
UNPRECEDENTED MULTI-DIMENSIONAL QUARTERBACKS: Three quarterbacks – more than any season since at least 1950 through seven weeks — have at least five rushing touchdowns: Arizona’s KYLER MURRAY (7), New England’s CAM NEWTON (5) and Philadelphia’s CARSON WENTZ (5).
- Quarterbacks have run for 51 touchdowns, more than any other season in NFL history through a season’s first seven weeks.
- Newton and the NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS are on the road against the BUFFALO BILLS on Sunday (1:00 PM ET, CBS). Bills quarterback JOSH ALLEN has 204 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns this season.
- Allen has 20 rushing touchdowns in 35 career games, trailing only Newton (23) for the most by a quarterback over his first 35 NFL contests.
NFC WEST AT HEAD OF NFL CLASS: The NFC West has another important divisional matchup on the schedule this week as the SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS travel to play the SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (4:25 PM ET, FOX). The NFC West’s 19 wins this season are the most among NFL divisions. It remains the only division in which all four teams are .500 or better and all four teams have a positive point-differential entering Week 8.
- Since realignment in 2002, four teams in the same division have had at least four wins through Week 7 on only two other occasions: The NFC East in 2016 and the NFC East again in 2005.
- Since the 49ers (2012) and Seahawks (2013-14) went to three straight Super Bowls, no other division has produced more conference champions.
The divisions with the most Super Bowl appearances since 2012:
|DIVISION||SUPER BOWL APPEARANCES|
SCORING STREAKS: Entering Week 8, scoring continues to trend at an unprecedented level across the league. The 5,329 points scored are the most in NFL history through seven weeks, while the 50.8 total points per game (both teams combined) is the highest through Week 7 since at least 1970. Overall, seven teams are averaging at least 30 points per game, the most such teams at this point of a season since 1970.
The GREEN BAY PACKERS – who rank second in the league with 32.8 points per game – have scored at least 35 points in four of their first six games this season, including in their 35-20 victory at Houston last week.
With at least 35 points on Sunday against Minnesota (1:00 PM ET, FOX), the Packers will become the sixth team to score 35+ points in at least five of their first seven games of a season in the Super Bowl era. Three of the previous five teams to accomplish the feat advanced to the Super Bowl that season.
The teams with 35-or-more points scored in at least five of their first seven games of a season in the Super Bowl era:
|St. Louis Rams||2000||6|
|Kansas City Chiefs||2018||5|
|New Orleans Saints#||2009||5|
|New England Patriots#||2007||5|
|Green Bay Packers||2020||4*|
|*Through first six games|
|#Advanced to Super Bowl|
The BALTMORE RAVENS are averaging 29.8 points per game this season and are averaging 32.3 points per game since the beginning of the 2019 season, the highest mark in the league over that span. Baltimore has scored at least 20 points in every regular-season contest since Week 11 of the 2018 season, a streak of 29 games.
With at least 20 points on Sunday against Pittsburgh (1:00 PM ET, CBS), Baltimore will tie the DENVER BRONCOS (30 consecutive games from 2012-14) for the longest streak of regular-season games scoring at least 20 points in NFL history.
The teams with at least 20 points scored in the most consecutive regular-season games in NFL history:
|St. Louis Rams||1999-2000||28|
— NFL —
KINGS OF THE NORTH: There are six teams with one-or-fewer losses entering Week 8, tied for the most such teams at this point of a season since at least 1970. Two of those teams, the BALTIMORE RAVENS (5-1) and PITTSBURGH STEELERS (6-0), meet in Baltimore this week in a battle for first place in the AFC North.
It will mark the sixth divisional matchup where both teams have one-or-fewer losses in Week 8 or later since 1970. The eventual division winner won three of the past four matchups.
The divisional matchups where both teams have one-or-fewer losses in Week 8 or later since 1970:
|Pittsburgh (6-0) at Baltimore (5-1)||AFC North||Week 8, 2020||???|
|Kansas City (9-0) at Denver (8-1)||AFC West||Week 11, 2013||DEN* 27, KC 17|
|Miami (5-1) at New York Jets (5-1)||AFC East||Week 8, 2000||NYJ 40, MIA* 37|
|Denver (7-1) at Los Angeles Raiders (7-1)||AFC West||Week 9, 1984||DEN* 22, LA 19|
|Houston Oilers (6-1) at Pittsburgh (6-1)||AFC Central||Week 8, 1975||PIT* 24, HOU 17|
|Buffalo (6-1) at New England (6-1)||AFC East||Week 8, 1974||BUF 29, NE 28|
— NFL —
SEATTLE SUPERSTAR: Seattle quarterback RUSSELL WILSON leads the league with 22 touchdown passes and a 119.5 passer rating this season. In his nine-year career, Wilson has 249 touchdown passes and a 102.2 passer rating, the second-highest mark in NFL history (minimum 1,500 attempts), behind only AARON RODGERS (102.8).
With a touchdown pass on Sunday against San Francisco (4:25 PM ET, FOX), Wilson will become the third player to reach 250 touchdown passes in his first nine seasons in NFL history, joining PEYTON MANNING (275 touchdown passes) and Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (266).
The players with the most touchdown passes in their first nine seasons in NFL history:
|*In ninth season|
With at least three touchdown passes on Sunday, Wilson will have reached 25 touchdown passes in a season for the seventh time in his career and will join Manning (nine seasons) as the only players in NFL history with at least 25 touchdown passes in seven of their first nine seasons.
Last season, Wilson became the first quarterback in league history with a winning record in each of his first eight seasons. With a win on Sunday, Wilson will tie Manning (92 wins) for the most regular-season wins by a quarterback in his first nine seasons in NFL history. Wilson will also tie TOM BRADY (101) for the most wins, including the postseason, by a quarterback in his first nine seasons in NFL history.
— NFL —
MONDAY NIGHT MAGIC: Last week, Tampa Bay quarterback TOM BRADY passed for 369 yards and totaled five touchdowns (four passing, one rushing), his second game of the season with five total touchdowns. The 21-year veteran ranks second in the league this season with 18 touchdown passes.
Brady will make his 25th career appearance on Monday Night Football when Tampa Bay travels to face the New York Giants this week (8:15 PM ET, ESPN). With a touchdown pass on Monday, Brady will become the fourth player with at least 50 career touchdown passes on Monday Night Football, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers DAN MARINO (74 touchdown passes) and BRETT FAVRE (69), as well as DREW BREES (58).
The players with the most career touchdown passes on Monday Night Football:
|Brett FavreHOF||Green Bay, New York Jets, Minnesota||69|
|Drew Brees||San Diego Chargers, New Orleans||58|
|Tom Brady||New England||49|
— NFL —
MAKING HIS MARK IN MINNESOTA: Minnesota wide receiver JUSTIN JEFFERSON leads all rookies with 537 receiving yards this season and in Week 6, became the fourth player with at least 100 receiving yards in three of his first six career games.
If Jefferson – who recorded 175 receiving yards in Week 3, 103 receiving yards in Week 4 and 166 receiving yards in Week 6 before having a bye in Week 7 – records at least 100 receiving yards on Sunday at Green Bay (1:00 PM ET, FOX), he will become the fourth rookie to have four 100-yard receiving games in a five-game span in NFL history, joining ODELL BECKHAM JR. (2014), BILL GROMAN (1960) and JIMMY ORR (1958).
The rookies with four 100-yard receiving games in a five-game span in NFL history:
|Odell Beckham Jr.||New York Giants||2014|
|Bill Groman||Houston Oilers||1960|
|*At least 100 receiving yards in three of his past four games|
— NFL —
ALVIN & THE RECEPTIONS: Entering Week 8, New Orleans running back ALVIN KAMARA leads the NFL with 824 scrimmage yards and ties for the lead league with seven touchdowns (four rushing, three receiving). He also leads all running backs with 46 receptions and 460 receiving yards this season.
With at least four receptions at Chicago on Sunday (4:25 PM ET, FOX), Kamara will become the third running back with at least 50 receptions in each of his first four seasons in NFL history, joining MATT FORTE and Pro Football Hall of Famer LADAINIAN TOMLINSON.
The running backs with at least 50 receptions in each of their first four seasons in NFL history:
|LaDainian TomlinsonHOF||San Diego Chargers||2001-04|
|Alvin Kamara||New Orleans||2017-20*|
|*Has 46 receptions in 2020 entering Sunday|
— NFL —
GARRETT GREATNESS: Last week, Cleveland defensive end MYLES GARRETT recorded two sacks and a forced fumble in the Browns’ victory, his sixth consecutive game with a sack and his fourth game this season with a forced fumble. Overall, he leads the league with nine sacks and ties for the lead with four forced fumbles in 2020.
With a sack and forced fumble on Sunday against Las Vegas (1:00 PM ET, FOX) Garrett will join TRACE ARMSTRONG (2000) as the only players since 1999 with at least 10 sacks and five forced fumbles in their team’s first eight games of a season.
Garrett has totaled 39.5 sacks in 44 career games and can become the fifth player with at least 40 sacks in his first 45 career games since 1982, when the individual sack became an official statistic.
The players with the most sacks in their first 45 career games since 1982:
|Aldon Smith||San Francisco||44|
|Derrick ThomasHOF||Kansas City||43.5|
|*In 44 games|
— NFL —