Happy Halloween! Almost, anyway, as the big day takes place on Sunday. Instead of the frightening matchups we got in Week 7, Week 8 offers some intriguing games to help pass the time while you pass out a million pieces of candy. Below are the five games from the Sunday slate that I find most intriguing.
Sunday Early Games:
Pittsburgh Steelers (3-3) at Cleveland Browns (4-3)
The Steelers struggled to start the season, ending up at 1-3. The team won two straight and had a bye week to get rest and, presumably, to get back on track. The Browns, meanwhile, started 3-3 then slumped two 3-3. During a sloppy and short-handed game on Thursday, the Browns got a win over the Broncos. They’re still beat up and now facing a divisional foe at home on Halloween. This could be a fun one as these teams have history and both need a win to keep pace with the Ravens and Bengals.
San Francisco 49ers (2-4) at Chicago Bears (3-4)
One of my favorite Halloween games ever was a Monday Night Football battle between Brett Favre and the Packers and the Bears in Soldier Field. No Favre Sunday, but a desperate 49ers team could be equally as fun. The 49ers entered the season with lofty aspirations but slumped to a 2-4 after four straight losses. Trey Lance got a start, and a bye week was mixed in there, but it’s been quite some time since the 49ers got a win. Jimmy Garoppolo struggled Sunday night but is on track to start again for a team that needs a win to keep hopes alive. The Bears turned the keys over to rookie Justin Fields but it hasn’t been smooth. Fields is fresh off a five-turnover game that saw the Bears slide under .500. Head Coach Matt Nagy is on the COVID list adding an additional wrinkle to this battle.
Sunday Late Games:
New England Patriots (3-4) at Los Angeles Chargers (4-2)
The Patriots have been scrappy with rookie Mac Jones at the helm. The defense kept the team in it through close losses to the Buccaneers, Saints and Cowboys. Meanwhile, the team has beaten the Jets twice and came up with a win over the Texans to move close to .500. Now, Jones hits the road to battle the Chargers. Justin Herbert has looked like a potential MVP candidate in his second year and the Chargers have recorded some big wins, including beating the Chiefs. They were 4-1 before a 34-6 beat down in Baltimore in Week 6. Now, the Chargers have had two weeks to think about it, which doesn’t bode that well for the Patriots.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-1) at New Orleans Saints (4-2)
The Buccaneers have been rock solid this season. A Week 3 stumble in Los Angeles against the Rams is the only blemish on a near perfect campaign for the defending champs. The Buccaneers look every bit like the team that won the Super Bowl in February. The Saints, meanwhile, have had to struggle for everything they’ve gotten. The Saints opened the season with a bit win over the Packers then fell to the Panthers. The Saints battled to 3-2 before the bye and returned with a 13-10 win in Seattle last week. The Saints have a good defense, and they’ll need it if they want to stay with the high-octane offense of the Buccaneers.
Sunday Night Game:
Dallas Cowboys (5-1) at Minnesota Vikings (3-3)
The Sunday Night Football game this week figures to be a good one. The Cowboys have been hot, narrowly falling to the Buccaneers on opening night before rattling off five straight wins. They went into the bye on a high, beating a Bill Belichick-coached Patriots team for the first time. The Vikings have been up-and-down but managed to get back to .500 before their own bye week. The Cowboys welcome back receiver Michael Gallup, adding to an already loaded offensive squad. The Vikings have a powerhouse offense of their own and the biggest question might be if Trevon Diggs can continue his interception streak.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.