We’re previewing the Week 8 NFL slate with score predictions for each game from our Nation reporters, what to watch for in fantasy, Football Power Index projections from ESPN Stats & Information and much more.
The Jaguars have been outscored 90-28 over the past three weeks, so there’s no reason to pick the Jaguars to win Sunday. Three of their top four cornerbacks are out because of injury (including A.J. Bouye), and they will have three undrafted rookies behind Jalen Ramsey. That is less than ideal against Carson Wentz, Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz, and it negates any advantage the Jaguars had from their familiarity with the logistics of the trip to London.
The Eagles had a lighter air about them as the week went on, shaking off the sting of a fourth-quarter collapse against the Panthers. Coach Doug Pederson’s message? Play for four quarters. That will be the mindset as they fight to get on track against a Jaguars team that has been dealing with its own issues.
PHI, 62.6 percent. Blake Bortles will get another start, but he will have to improve on his 18.1 Total QBR over the past three weeks, second worst among 31 qualified quarterbacks in that span. But Bortles is 3-0 with an 8-1 TD-INT ratio and 68 Total QBR in London over the past three seasons, so maybe this will be a good opportunity for the struggling signal-caller.
Ramsey is likely to hold Jeffery — who has averaged 19.9 points per game — in check, so expect Wentz to likely find greater success targeting tight end Ertz or slot receiver Agholor.
Jags’ D bristles at ‘soft’ criticism … Jenkins says Kaepernick deserves NFL job, points to Jaguars … Jaguars believe familiarity with London trip provides slight edge … Trades that make sense for the Eagles.
Joe Flacco should feel at home in Charlotte. He is 3-1 in games at NFC South cities, throwing 10 touchdown passes and one interception (a 123.4 passer rating). Now he faces a Panthers defense that has allowed 13 completions that traveled at least 20 yards in the air (third most in the NFL). Ravens 28, Panthers 20
David Newton’s pick: Baltimore should struggle in the run game against an underrated Carolina defense that held Philadelphia to 58 yards last week. That puts all the pressure on Flacco, and Carolina’s front seven is starting to get its pass rush down. Panthers 21, Ravens 16
FPI win projection: BAL, 52.0 percent. The Ravens lead the NFL in scoring defense (14.4), total defense (280.6 YPG), opponent Total QBR (46) and sacks (27). In the Total QBR era (since 2006), no defense has ever led the league in all four of those categories for a season.
What to watch for in fantasy: John Brown leaped to 13th at wide receiver with a 103 OFP this season, which aligns well with his 108 actual fantasy points (15th most). Brown has been a bit of a boom or bust, but he’s seeing enough work to have fringe WR2 production the rest of the way. Read more.
In case you missed it: Overlooked Newton is as clutch as Brady, Rodgers and Brees … Will Hurst deliver his breakout game against Panthers? … Don’t overlook Panthers’ defense because No. 1 Ravens are in town … Brown’s connection with Flacco involves late brother.