It’s that time of the week again. Time to plan out and arrange your weekend football viewing around all of the other events, responsibilities, or conflicts happening in your busy life. We want to be helpful to you in this endeavor, so we’ve analyzed the Week 8 NFL schedule and picked out a half-dozen games that are worth your time and interest (in addition to your favorite team’s game, the matchups that will make or break your fantasy team, etc., of course). Without further ado, here are the six NFL Week 8 games you need to watch listed in chronological order.
Chargers at Broncos — Thursday, 8:25 p.m. ET, CBS and NFL Network
This matchup lost a little bit of its luster when San Diego slipped up at home against Kansas City Sunday, but still, Peyton Manning’s 5-1 Broncos against Philip Rivers’s 5-2 Chargers with the division lead on the line makes for compelling, must-watch television. (When’s the last time we could say that about a Thursday Night Football game?) The Chargers have won in four of their last five trips to Denver, a fact that the Broncos are certainly well aware of, while Manning will be looking for career touchdown passes No. 511, 512, 513, 514, 515, etc.
Ravens at Bengals — Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS
A month ago, the Cincinnati Bengals were undefeated — the No. 1 team in our power rankings and looking like a legitimate Super Bowl contender. How the mighty have fallen. The Bengals came back to earth with a blowout loss in New England, tied the Panthers at home, and then suffered an embarrassing 27-0 shutout defeat Sunday in Indianapolis. Cincinnati will try to right the ship Sunday against first-place Baltimore, and getting star wideout A.J. Green back would definitely help. Green referred to his team’s recent play as “the scum of the crop,” and while we have no idea what that means, it’s probably not good and he’s probably right.
Bears at Patriots — Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, FOX
Speaking of star wide receivers with strong opinions about their squads’ disappointing performances, Bears WR Brandon Marshall certainly fits that description. Marshall gave his teammates a piece of his mind in the locker room after a third loss in four weeks, and is confident that “his voice was heard.” (Um, yes, Brandon, we’re pretty sure it was. The media heard your voice from the hallway, so the Bears probably didn’t miss a word.) Anyway, a trip to Foxboro to face Brady, Belichick, and the Patriots is probably not the cure for what ails Chicago, but tune in to see how Marshall’s team ultimately responds to his — how can we put this nicely? — pep talk.
Seahawks at Panthers — Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS
Last year, Seattle and Carolina combined to win every regular-season game they played except for seven. So far in 2014, the Seahawks and Panthers have combined to win every regular-season game they have played except for seven. There’s a lot of 2014 left. Both teams have been decidedly mediocre this fall, with the Panthers resting at 3-3-1 and the Seahawks at 3-3. Sunday’s game could be pivotal for two franchises that still have hopes of playing into February, including the defending Super Bowl champs.
Eagles at Cardinals — Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, FOX
There are only four one-loss teams remaining in the NFL, and two of them play Sunday afternoon in the desert. The 5-1 Eagles visit the 5-1 Cardinals, and Philadelphia will try to exert their high-tempo pace against the league’s toughest rush defense (Arizona is only allowing 72.5 yards per game on the ground). Will one of these high-flying teams be back in 14 weeks for the Super Bowl? No team has played a Super Bowl in its own stadium, but the Cards look to be legitimate contenders, especially now with Carson Palmer healthy.
Colts at Steelers — Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS
There’s no question about it: The Colts are hot. Indianapolis heads to Pittsburgh Sunday riding a five-game winning streak, while the Steelers’ 2014 season has looked like this: Win, loss, win, loss, win, loss, win. If the pattern holds true, the Colts should be in good shape … but isn’t that why they play the games on the field? If the Steelers want to break the trend, they’ll need to slow down NFL passing leader Andrew Luck. Oh, and scoring three touchdowns in 73 seconds again this week wouldn’t hurt either.