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NFL Match-Up Mania: Week 8

There were 6 games decided by a field goal or less last week. That’s a lot of NFL parity. Geno Smith had his best game of 2013 and still lost, the Rams used special team trickery more than once to take Seattle to 3-3, Colt McCoy came in to save the Skins in a 1 point win, the Chiefs grounded the Chargers, and a veteran in Drew Brees collapsed to help the Lions win while rookie receiver Sammy Watkins won the game for the Bills with a touchdown. This much action and it’s only seven weeks into the season — Awesome! Here’s where you’ll find more excitement — in the Week 8 edition of the Student of the Game’s Match-Up Mania.

Chargers v Broncos

The Chargers appear to be the AFC version of Bronco kryptonite to the Superman known as quarterback Peyton Manning (yes, the Seahawks are a better analogy for kryptonite beating Denver in the Super Bowl 43-8 while also wearing green — no continuity tweets from comic book nerds, please). In their typical tendency to play up (or down) to their opponent, San Diego actually won a game in this pairing that was crucial to their 2013 ascension to the post season. Add that to the improvement of Phillip Rivers, the emergence of Branden Oliver running the football, and the defense’s improved tenacity, and the Bolts have a chance to shock the world as a contender in the AFC West.

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However, let’s not assure the Mile High Marauders a loss quite yet. Manning and company still are a legitimately awesome offense (especially coming off of Manning breaking Brett Favre’s all-time passing TD record last week) and they too have a better defense than they did last season.

Games like this are subject to divisional physics. The Chargers showed how they play down to opposition 2 weeks ago when they squeaked by the Raiders, 31-28 and Week 7’s 23-20 loss to the Chiefs. Now we’ll see if they play up to the challenge of facing Denver. Will it be enough to have more points on the scoreboard? In my opinion, not quite.

Eagles v. Cards

I’ve said it before . . . “there’s no good reason for the Arizona Cardinals to have accomplished everything they have thus far in 2014”. Despite preseason roster losses, suspensions, and injuries this team is producing at a level where they are competing to win the NFC West and Head Coach Bruce Arians should be in discussions surrounding winning his second SoTG Coach of the Year honor.

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They also have the model for stopping the Eagles much like the Niners did when they prevented Philly from scoring an offensive touchdown. An relentless defensive front, and an offense that can hold the football to keep their defense rested enough to stay stout for 60 minutes.

Chip Kelly’s offense is still a force to be reckoned with none the less. Let’s not forget the array of talented tight ends and wide receivers featured in their scheme as well as the arrival of LeSean McCoy to his previous form. The Special Teams unit has also done amazing things recording multiple punt blocks for touchdowns and solid field position throughout the whole season. It’ll be close In this bird battle, but I expect the migrating Eagles to drop.

Honorable Mention

Ravens v Bengals

Our first significant division rematch of the season. After a defensive battle that ended on back to back haymaker TD passes of 70 yards or more, these teams face each other in a contest with playoff implication all over it.

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The X factor for this game is the status of AJ Green. He’s missed time or has been hindered the past few weeks due to a toe injury. As Green is limited, so too were the Bengals who were shut out by the Colts in Week 7. Couple that with neck injuries to star LB Vontaze Burfict, and they certainly have their claws clipped.

It could be argued that Cincy still is a far better opponent than the powder puffs played by the Ravens in the past 2 weeks. Both Steve and Tory Smith have decimated defenses while tight end Owen Daniels represents a solid chunk in support with a mediocre run attack. If the Raven defense can slow any stripe hype in the run game, look for Baltimore to take a commanding lead of the AFC North.

Author Profile

Kyle NashThe Student of the Game
Host of the Student of The Game Podcast Monday @ 7:30pm EST
Writer for NGSC Sports
Narrator of Sport Symposium on NGSC Sports YouTube Channel.

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