An ugly set of afternoon games this week, as a good team (Colts) and a bunch mediocre but dangerous teams (Chargers, Bears, Ravens, Titans, Texans) go on bye. Here are your Week 8 NFL viewing maps:
Pittsburgh at Oakland: Only four teams have more field goals than touchdowns this season, and the Steelers (14 FGs vs. 9 TDs) have the biggest differential of all. Shaun Suisham has yet to miss, and might be Pittsburgh's MVP.
Buffalo at New Orleans: Thad Lewis gets another start for the the Bills. Just a reminder that Thad Lewis, who might be a perfectly fine QB despite this fact, started his college career by going 1-23 for one of the worst teams in the FBS.
Cleveland at Kansas City: For the second straight week the Chiefs defense gets to face a QB making his first 2013 start (Campbell played for one fourth quarter drive in Week 3). It was fun to watch the Texans fall apart, no so much the Browns. This game might be a little sad.
Dolphins at Patriots: After a 3-0 start the Dolphins have dropped three straight, putting the state of Florida at 17 losses on the year. Florida's worst season was in 2011, when the Bucs (4-12), Jags (5-11), and Dolphins (6-10) combined for 33 losses; in 2013 the state looks poised to lose as many as 40.
NY Jets at Cincinnati: The most bruising matchup of the day, as the fourth-best defense in the league (per Football Outsiders) travels to the seventh-best. The Bengals' dirty little secret is that the their offense is actually decent—Andy Dalton ranks 13th in QB DVOA—but the Jets have been terrible, ranking 30th in offensive efficiency ahead of only the Buccaneers and the Jaguars.
NY Giants at Philadelphia: The Giants are no longer winless, thanks to Josh Freeman and the Vikings' terrible offensive planning, but they're still very bad (and, despite some good receptions, Peyton Hillis had 36 yards on 18 carries, so cool it with the handjobs). The Eagles are just one aggravated hamstring away from having to give the ball to Mark Barkley again.
San Francisco at* Jacksonville: In an attempt to get Americans to love their sport of choice, England sends over Manchester City (the runner-up of the 2012-2013 campaign) and the 2007-2008 Derby County squad (arguably the worst team in Premier League history) to play a game in New York. Give it a watch. It'll be great!
Dallas at Detroit: These are my NFL "teams on the side"—if I'm at a bar watching a team I actually give a shit about and these guys are on, I'll constantly be glancing over. Both have underrated quarterbacks, an incredible receiver, takeaway-oriented defenses (Dallas is tied for third in the league with 15; Detroit is tied for seventh at 13), and the potential to win or lose in spectacular fashion against pretty much any team in the league. Tellingly, these teams have been favored to win 10 times this season, and in only one of those games was the spread more than -4.
Atlanta at Arizona: The 2013-14 Falcons went 7-1 in games decided by seven points or less (ignoring a meaningless Week 17 loss) while this year's squad has gone 1-4. Roddy White has been ruled out for Week 8, and Julio Jones is done for the season. The Cardinals have had better news, as Carson Palmer moves up from fourth-worst QB in the league (by Football Outsiders DYAR) to just fifth-worst, thanks to a truly terrible Monday night performance out of Josh Freeman.
Washington at Denver: Yes, Washington's offense looked like its old self against the Bears last week, but the 'Skins still gave up 41 points, 31 of them after Jay Cutler left the game. Washington has given up 30+ points to four teams this season. The Broncos, despite their perceived defensive awfulness, have only managed that twice.
Who's Getting Screwed?
This week's winner is Florence, S.C., which gets Pittsburgh at Oakland, NY Giants at Eagles, and Washington at Denver. Steelers-Raiders makes a little bit of sense: A lot of South Carolina roots Steelers for some reason, although not Florence County. Giants-Eagles, though?