Note: All times Eastern.
Ten Random Thoughts
Score: 27-24 Steelers
It's an aesthetician's nightmare: Ben Roethlisberger is expected back Sunday, which is great news for the Steelers and potentially awful news for the Bengals. His career record against the Bengals is 17-6, including a sweep in 2014. This year the Bengals look like the better team based on record, but they also have not dealt with quite the level of injury and suspension issues as the Steelers. Ben's return comes in Pittsburgh, though, and in the 1934 throwback uniforms -- the "bumblebees". One thing is certain: on Sunday, one of these teams is going to "earn their stripes".
Score: 24-23 Dolphins
Looks like someone found Snowflake and a pair of Isotoner gloves: Two weeks ago, this game looked like the Dud of the Year. A Dolphins team that couldn't have found their collective rear-end with both hands, a map and a flashlight? An undefeated Patriots team at the top of the league in offense? In Foxboro? Good grief, they could have bound, gagged and blindfolded the Dolphins and it wouldn't have been any uglier. But now, though...this went from Dud of the Year to potentially the Game of the Week. Kudos to Miami interim head coach Dan Campbell for making football in Miami fun again. Or, maybe, Ace Ventura earned his fee again this year.
Score: 31-21 Chargers
I thought these guys were supposed to be elite?: Entering the season, this looked like it could be a marquee matchup. It’s still likely to be a pretty close game, but no one expected these two teams to be so collectively awful. To be fair, neither team is constantly losing badly. They just aren’t managing to do enough each week to win. Of course, that's kind of like saying you are almost pretty enough to not scare the horse every time you try to ride it.
Score: 23-13 Cardinals
Ha ha only serious, Bruce: Man, did the Cardinals ever get shafted by the NFL schedulers. Not only do they play three straight games against the AFC North, they don’t even let them play two straight in a single region. In consecutive weeks, they play the Steelers in Pittsburgh, the Ravens in Phoenix and the Browns in Cleveland -- and the home game in the middle of the sandwich was probably against the weakest of the three teams.
Score: 19-10 Titans
The "Cover Your Eyes" Game of the Year: We’ve all heard about "an irresistible force meeting an immovable object". This is more like two clouds of flatulence meeting in the dark of night somewhere over the Pacific Ocean: no one notices, no one cares and nothing is affected -- but it still stinks. On a separate note, I wonder if Ryan Mallett was late for his firing?
Score: 21-17 Giants
If Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde double-dated, we'd get this: Will it be Bad Eli versus Old Drew, Bad Eli Versus Rejuvenated Drew, Good Eli versus Old Drew or Good Eli versus Rejuvenated Drew? Guessing that is a feat roughly akin to predicting the weather in Portland Oregon four years, three months and sixteen days int the future. If I had that crystal ball, I’d be playing weekly fantasy football on FanDraftDuelKings, or wherever, rather than writing this drivel each week -- because correctly predicting which of those guys will show up each week is some magical kind of voodoo.
Score: 31-28 Raiders
It's not great -- but it's an improvement!: In recent years, these two teams are relatively close in record and overall performance, with the Jets a win or two better. This year really isn't a whole lot different, but they have both bumped that level up from somewhere between "subpar" and "utter garbage" to "decent" and "not really all that bad". They may be two of the more underrated teams in the league this year. Or, it might all be smoke and mirrors.
Score: 20-17 Cowboys
Dysfunction comes in several flavors: Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel. Neither is a particularly desirable option at quarterback. Weeden disappeared from games in the second half, and Cassel threw three picks -- including a pick-six -- in his one start so far. If I'm Dallas, I stick with Cassel, though. Against the 2014 Seahawks defense, I'd keep pounding the rock and only throw when I absolutely had to. It worked for Dallas last year. Against the 2015 Seahawks defense, though, even Cassel has a chance to look like a superstar.
Score: 30-20 Packers
You can't both win 'em all -- but you don't have to lose any, either: One thing is almost guaranteed: there will be one fewer undefeated team after week 8. And, now that I’ve said that, this game will probably end in a tie.
Score: 27-13 Panthers
Boy, that de-escalated quickly: This was supposed to be a critical game for both teams -- a litmus test, if you will. Instead, it’s looking like a potential blowout in Charlotte. Andrew Luck is playing like a rookie -- maybe even like a freshman -- making decisions that would make every Browns quarterback since 1999 cringe. Meanwhile, the Panthers are continuing to win games in numerous ways -- a sign of a true contender.
All The Rest
Score: 17-13 Lions
Buccaneers @ Falcons (Sunday, 1:00 p.m.)
Score: 24-13 Falcons
Score: 20-14 Bears
Score: 22-10 Rams