NFL season 2013, Week 8: What to watch in Sunday's games

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Green Bay heads to Minnesota and yet another NFL game takes place in Wembley Stadium on Sunday.

Week 8 in the NFL isn't lacking for built-in storylines. The old Minnesota-Green Bay rivalry continues Sunday night, Mike Shanahan returns to Denver and the Jaguars head over to London in a "home" game against the 49ers.

Here is a look at what to watch for in each game on Sunday.

Cowboys vs. Lions (1 p.m. ET, FOX)

Two of the league's most prolific offenses are set to face off, but the Cowboys might be more concerned about the status of injured defensive end DeMarcus Ware in Week 8. Ware sat out the Week 7 win against the Eagles with a thigh injury, the first game he has missed since being drafted in the 2005 NFL Draft.

After dealing with various offensive injuries much of the season, the Lions had a fully healthy Reggie Bush and Calvin Johnson clicking against the Bengals. Johnson finished with 155 yards and two touchdowns, one of which came against triple coverage. The last time Detroit met Dallas, the Lions overcame a 24-point second half deficit to win, 34-30, on Oct. 2, 2011.

Browns vs. Chiefs (1 p.m. ET, CBS)

Brandon Weeden once again heads to the bench after the Browns tagged Jason Campbell for the start against the Chiefs. The Browns have lost two straight behind a stagnant offense, scoring 17 and 13 points in the losses. It will be the first start of the season for Campbell, who last captained the Bears in a 32-7 loss against the 49ers on Nov. 19, 2012.

The undefeated Chiefs already have a few records in the books, and are looking to expand on a couple. The Chiefs are the first team in NFL history to start the season 7-0 after posting the worst record in the previous season, and quarterback Alex Smith is the first quarterback to win his first seven games with a new team since Dieter Brock did with the Los Angeles Rams in 1985. Jamaal Charles should get in on the fun, as he averages 122.7 rushing yards against the Browns over his career.

Dolphins vs. Patriots (1 p.m. ET, CBS)

A month ago, the Dolphins were sitting at 3-0 and enjoying their best start since 2002. They haven't won a game since then -- although their past two losses were by a combined five points. Still, even amongst the losing streak, there have been some positives. The Dolphins ran for a season high 120 yards against the Bills in Week 7 and quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw a career-best three touchdown passes as well.

The Patriots are licking their wounds after an obscure penalty call on a missed field goal gave the Jets the necessary second chance to pull off the win. Luckily, the confines of home against the Dolphins have always been good to New England. The Patriots have won four straight games at home against Miami, and Tom Brady often has a field day in the process. He threw for a career-best 517 yards in a win over the Dolphins in 2011.

Bills vs. Saints (1 p.m. ET, CBS)

The Bills avoided a three-game losing streak thanks to two fourth-quarter field goals by Dan Carpenter. Quarterback Thad Lewis did just enough to keep the Bills in the game as he won his first game of the season after replacing E.J. Manuel as the starter following his season-ending injury. Although he hasn't put up the prettiest stat line, Lewis shows poise in the fourth quarter, posting a 121.9 passer rating towards the end of the game this season.

The Saints had the bye week off to digest their last minute loss against the Patriots in Week 6. Playing at home will be the best place to shake the memories of the loss. Quarterback Drew Brees is 15-4 at home since 2011, but isn't sure on the status of his favorite target tight end Jimmy Graham. Graham went without a reception against the Patriots, the first time he was held without a catch in 46 games.

Giants vs. Eagles (1 p.m. ET, FOX)

The Giants finally got a win last week in one of the uglier Monday Night Football games in memory. With it, the Giants avoided their worst start since opening 0-9 in 1976. It wasn't a pretty win, but there were a couple of good takeaways. Eli Manning didn't have an interception for the first time this season, and the Giants' defense held Adrian Peterson to 28 rushing yards.

One of two streaks has to give. The Giants have lost eight straight on the road, and the Eagles have lost a franchise-record nine straight at home. Quarterback Nick Foles sustained a concussion in a 17-3 loss against the Cowboys in Week 7. Rookie Matt Barkley replaced Foles, but threw three interceptions in the process. Michael Vick returned to practice on Tuesday after missing two weeks with a bad hamstring, but his status for the game is still uncertain.

49ers vs. Jaguars (1 p.m. ET, FOX)

After a couple of rough losses, the San Francisco 49ers juggernaut is back on track. The 49ers have won four straight, topping 30 points in each contest. They'll head to Wembley Stadium in London for the contest, where the 49ers have won four straight games. They'll have a choice pairing against the Jaguars, as the 49ers are the third-best rushing team in the league and the Jaguars allow the most rushing yards per game.

It will be the first of four "home" games for the Jaguars in London, and the players must be hoping the change of scenery helps turn things around. The Jaguars' offense was anemic in a 24-6 loss to the Chargers last week. The Jaguars are 0-7 and off to the worst start in team history on both sides of the ball. The defense has given up more than 34 points four times this season, and the offense has scored in single digits four times as well.

Jets vs. Bengals (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS)

The Jets pulled into one game behind the Patriots for the AFC East lead after a rare penalty breathed a last dying gasp into their game-winning drive. Geno Smith passed for one touchdown and rushed for another, pulling off another game-winning drive in the win. Smith is now the only quarterback since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 to muster four game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime in his first seven games.

The Bengals are 5-2 and hold a two game lead in the AFC North after defeating the Lions in Week 7 for their third straight win. Andy Dalton outplayed Matthew Stafford in the win, throwing for 372 yards and three touchdowns, but they needed Mike Nugent's 54-yard field goal as the clock ticked away to pull off the win.

Steelers vs. Raiders (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS)

After starting the season 0-4 for the first time since 1968, the Steelers have gone back to the basics in winning their past two games -- lots of rushing and lots of defense. The Steelers have allowed 22 points in their last two games, versus 110 in their first four games. Rookie running back Le'Veon Bell rushed for a career-best 93 yards last week.

The Raiders have won their past two games against the Steelers at home, and quarterback Terrelle Pryor is undefeated in Oakland as a starter this season. The Raiders will need running back Darren McFadden to have a healthy hamstring; he has been slowed in his past three games, rushing for a combined 90 yards. When McFadden last played the Steelers in 2012, he finished with 113 rushing yards.

Redskins vs. Broncos (4:25 p.m. ET, FOX)

The obvious story here is that Washington coach Mike Shanahan makes his return to Denver. He'll bring a Redskins team that is clicking on all cylinders. The Redskins are coming off one of their best offensive performances, a 45-41 win over the Bears. It was the most points Washington has scored since 2005 and the 499 yards of offense were the most since 1999. The Redskins will be without a couple of their starting safeties as they look to contain the Broncos' offense, however. Reed Doughty suffered a concussion in Week 7 and Brandon Meriweather is suspended for one game for hits on defenseless players.

The loss to the Colts last week snapped the Broncos franchise-record 17 game regular-season winning streak, dating back to last season. A quick reminder of how unstoppable Denver was before last week, however: the Broncos' 298 points scored in their first seven games is the most in NFL history.

Falcons vs. Cardinals (4:25 p.m. ET, FOX)

Atlanta is slowly rebounding from the nightmare beginning of their season. The Falcons opened the season 1-5, dealing with injuries to Steven Jackson and Roddy White, but got a real gut punch in Week 5 after Julio Jones was sidelined for the rest of the season with a foot injury. Harry Douglas slotted nicely into his role in a Week 7 win over the Buccaneers with seven receptions for 149 yards and a touchdown. The Falcons might have Jackson back, who practiced on Wednesday, but White's status is still uncertain.

The Cardinals are coming off two consecutive defeats to NFC West foes after losing to the 49ers and Seahawks. They'll need a bit of time off in their bye week in Week 9 to regroup and ice the wounds. Carson Palmer was sacked seven times against the Seahawks and the defense absolutely fell apart against the run in the past two losses. After only allowing an average of 79 rushing yards in their first five games, the Cardinals gave up a total of 284 yards to the 49ers and Seahawks.

Packers vs. Vikings (8:30 p.m. ET, NBC)

It is supposed to be a rivalry, but Aaron Rodgers' time in Green Bay has made it a bit lopsided. Rodgers has won six of his past seven games against Minnesota, and has a good chance at adding to that total as Green Bay takes on the offensively-challenged Vikings. Even with injuries to James Jones, Rodgers hooked up with Jarrett Boykin instead and didn't miss a beat in a 31-13 win over the Browns in Week 7.

There are multiple big stories coming from Minnesota for this game. It'll be Greg Jennings taking on his old team, and there is a good chance he'll have his third different quarterback in as many weeks as Christian Ponder might have to play in place of Josh Freeman. Coach Leslie Frazier gave Freeman the vote of confidence despite his performance in Monday Night Football, but Freeman has shown concussion-like symptoms since then.

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