NFL Schedule Week 8: NFC South Rivals Carolina and Atlanta Ready to Meet Again

Despite Injuries, Dallas Cowboys Remain Heavy Favorites Against Chicago Bears

 
Can Arizona’s Offense Get Going Against the Minnesota Vikings?

It would be hard to consider any of Sunday’s three early NFL games being televised on FOX as can’t miss television when looking at the NFL Week 8 schedule.

Four of the six teams in action have losing records so it remains to be seen how enthralling the games end up being. Players like Atlanta cornerback A.J. Terrell, Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott and tight end Dalton Schultz are among the key players carrying questionable tags.

With the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys in action, two of the five NFC teams currently with winning records will be among the teams playing in the 1 p.m. ET games being televised by FOX. When looking at the NFL betting lines, the Vikings (+600) are tied for second and the Cowboys (+650) come in fourth among the odds to win the NFC title.

Carolina Panthers vs Atlanta Falcons

Line: Atlanta -4.5

With the struggles by defending NFC South champion Tampa Bay, the Panthers and Falcons have a little more to play for these days. It is among the early games on the NFL Week 8 schedule.

Atlanta (3-4) is tied for the division lead despite dropping both of its NFC South games so far. Carolina (2-5) is just a game out of first place.

Both teams have quarterback issues as a Marcus Mariota-P.J. Walker showdown isn’t going to excite many folks. Mariota is completing just 58.8% of his passes with seven touchdowns and four interceptions. In the three games that he has played in, Walker is completing 70.5% of his passes with two TDs and no interceptions. Walker is expected to start even though former starting quarterback Baker Mayfield will be available to return to action.

A key for Atlanta will be to get rookie receiver Drake London and second-year tight end Kyle Pitts more involved in the offseason.

Carolina has dealt away star running back and disgruntled receiver Robbie Anderson in recent weeks leaving the Panthers lacking for offensive playmakers.

Atlanta has won seven of the last nine matchups against Carolina. Each of the last four matchups have finished as one-score games.

Carolina is last among the 32 teams in total offense while Atlanta ranks 30th in total defense.

Atlanta is 6-1 against the spread this season including a 3-0 mark at home.

Chicago Bears vs Dallas Cowboys

Line: Dallas -9.5

Just when the 5-2 Cowboys get quarterback Dak Prescott back, now there are questions about the health of running back Ezekiel Elliott. Even with that issue, the Cowboys are favored in one of the signature games on the NFL Week 8 schedule.

Tony Pollard can handle the lead back role for Dallas, but having both of them available gives Dallas a solid running game.

CeeDee Lamb has yet to post a 100-yard receiving effort this season and perhaps that will change with Prescott back on the field.

Speaking of multiple running backs, Chicago’s tandem of David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert will continue to lead the offense for the 3-4 Bears. Quarterback Justin Fields seems more comfortable running the ball than throwing it at times. He has been sacked 27 times and injuries are piling up on the interior of the line.

The game features the NFL’s leading tackler (Chicago’s Roquan Smith) as well as one of the three players (Micah Parsons of Dallas) with at least seven sacks.

Each of the last seven games between the Bears and Cowboys finished over the total. Dallas has covered in five of its last six games.

Arizona Cardinals vs Minnesota Vikings

Line: Minnesota -3.5

Is this the week the Arizona offense goes off? The Cardinals (3-4) will be facing a Minnesota defense that has allowed more passing yards per game than any other NFL team except Atlanta. With DeAndre Hopkins back, maybe this will be the week that Kyler Murray goes to work. The Week 8 NFL odds favor the host Vikings.

Each of Minnesota’s last four games have been decided by eight points or less so the 5-1 Vikings are finding ways to win. Coming off a bye week, the Vikings look to take down another team thought to be a playoff contender to go with victories against Green Bay and Miami.

Running back Dalvin Cook and receiver Justin Jefferson look to continue to produce. It would help the Minnesota offense for another receiver to emerge. Key offseason acquisition Za’Darius Smith leads Minnesota with 5.5 sacks.

Minnesota has won 12 of the last 16 games against Arizona. Four of the last five games between the teams have been decided by seven points or less.

Arizona is 0-4-2 in its last six games against Minnesota and has lost its last 10 road games against the Vikings.

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