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Shutdown Corner

The NFL’s Week 8 Fight Card

MJD
Shutdown Corner

The Fight Card organizes this week's NFL matchups as if they were a night at the fights, with prelim matches, the mid-card, the upper-card, and the main event. Also included for handy reference are game times, networks, commentary teams and "Vegas expectations," we'll call them. Thanks to The 506 for the broadcast info and BetUS for the numbers.

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THE PRELIM BOUTS

New Orleans Saints @ St. Louis Rams
1 p.m. ET, Fox. Chris Myers and Tim Ryan
Saints favored by 14, Over/Under of 48

It's Ivan and Nikita Koloff against the Mulkey Brothers, with A.J. Feeley once again playing the role of whichever Mulkey brother fancied himself in charge. Sam Bradford's been ruled out once again.

Cleveland Browns @ San Francisco 49ers
4 p.m. ET, CBS. Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts
49ers favored by 9½, Over/Under of 38½

Did you realize that the Cleveland Browns are a .500 team? I don't think I did. Of all the teams in the NFL that are the worst in their division, the Browns have the best record. Should they somehow beat the 49ers on Sunday (not likely) and the Steelers lose to the Patriots (more likely), the Browns can't be more than a game out of the division lead come Monday morning. The relevance of all this? There's not much. The Browns are probably going to lose.

Miami Dolphins @ New York Giants
1 p.m. ET, CBS. Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf.
Giants favored by 10½, Over/Under of 42½

Ten and a half? Is that the appropriate line for an 0-6 team, on which everyone says that everyone else sucks, playing on the road against a quality team that's coming off a bye? Just 10½? It seems like Miami's miniature mental meltdown this week should've pushed that to at least 13.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Seattle Seahawks
4 p.m. ET, CBS. Bill Macatee and Steve Tasker
Bengals favored by 3, Over/Under of 37.5

It feels like I have the Bengals among the prelim bouts every week, which absolutely is not fair to them, but I'm sorry, I just can't muster much interest in any game involving the Seahawks. In Week 14 or so, when the Bengals are still above .500 and very much alive in the AFC North, and Bengals fans are calling me terrible names because I didn't give them enough respect back in Week 8, I will take it and know that I deserve it.

THE SPECIAL PILLOW FIGHT

Indianapolis Colts @ Tennessee Titans
1 p.m. ET, CBS. Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots
Tennessee favored by 8½, Over/Under of 43½

I was watching ESPN's "Numbers Never* Lie" the other day, and they were talking about Chris Johnson's struggles and who deserved the blame. Someone mentioned that the Titans offensive line, according to Football Outsiders, was last in the league in Adjusted Line Yards, a metric that measures offensive line performance. I'm sorry I don't remember who said it, but no one else cared, either -- everyone pretty much ignored it and then went on to make arguments that had nothing to do with numbers. So no, maybe numbers don't lie, but that doesn't mean we can't ignore them.

THE MID-CARD BOUTS

Arizona Cardinals @ Baltimore Ravens
1 p.m. ET, Fox. Sam Rosen and Brian Billick
Ravens favored by 13, Over/Under of 43

A quote from Cardinals tight end Jeff King: "We're a team in search of 'it.' That's on all of us. It's no group in particular, it's no person in particular. It's us. Does it suck, losing? Well, yeah. Losing sucks, but you have to come back to work and work even harder at it." Great. So it's up to no one in particular to find something that can't be defined or quantified. Sounds promising for the rest of the Cardinals season.

San Diego Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs
(Monday) 8:35 p.m. ET, ESPN. Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski and Jon Gruden
Chargers favored by 4½, Over/Under of 43½

I feel like it's going to take some kind of colossal embarrassment to prod the Chargers into turning their season around. My hope is that that embarrassment came against the Jets, and isn't still upcoming against the Chiefs. By the way, remember in Week 2, when everyone thought Todd Haley was about to be fired? He deserves a little love for righting the ship and getting the Chiefs back to .500, doesn't he?

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Houston Texans
1 p.m. ET, CBS. Marv Albert and Rich Gannon
Houston favored by 9, Over/Under of 40½

Could any two teams in the league be more different in terms of the kind of football they inspire the Baltimore Ravens to play? The Texans got the best out of them. The Jaguars somehow turned them into little old ladies. It was like they invented the neutral zone trap of football.

Minnesota Vikings @ Carolina Panthers
1 p.m. ET, Fox. Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa
Panthers favored by 3, Over/Under of 46½

When this one's over, I don't know that you'll be able to look at it and say, "Hey, that was one really well-played game," but I do feel pretty confident that Cam Newton and Christian Ponder will entertain you. It seems like Ponder's got a little bit of Newton in him. It's not the same athleticism, but it's some athleticism, and he's capable of getting out of the pocket and making a game between teams with a combined record of 3-11 worth your while.

THE UPPER-CARD BOUTS

Detroit Lions @ Denver Broncos
4 p.m. ET, Fox. Dick Stockton and John Lynch
Lions favored by 4, Over/Under of 41½

It looks like Stafford's going to play on Sunday, which should be enough to get the Lions off of their two-game losing streak, but I still feel a little weird about this one. Detroit's allowed three 100-yard rushers in their last three games. In fact, the last time they didn't allow a 100-yard rusher was when they played the Cowboys and Felix Jones got most of the carries, and Felix Jones would find a way to bow out around the 60-yard mark if you entered him in a marathon.

Washington Redskins vs. Buffalo Bills
4 p.m. ET, Fox. Thom Brennaman and Troy Aikman
Bills favored by 6½, Over/Under of 45½

All right, I'll say it -- we're struggling to fill the upper portion of the fight card this week. This one's here because the Bills had a week off, it feels like it's been too long since I've seen them, and it's being played in Toronto, which, because I'm an idiot, makes it inexplicably more interesting to me. I feel like the Bills are about to get their first win in Canada. Why that means anything to me, I couldn't tell you.

Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles
8:30 p.m. ET, NBC. Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth
Eagles favored by 3, Over/Under of 49

For a Cowboys/Eagles game, it's been an eerily quiet week. The Eagles were on a bye last week, and the Cowboys played the Rams, which is kind of like a bye. If it wasn't for DeSean Jackson bringing up Rob Ryan's digs about the Eagles from two months ago, we'd have heard nary a word about this game. Sure, Asante Samuel's been moaning, but not about this game. Could it be that these two teams have embraced a business-like, just-go-do-your-job mentality? Just for a week, maybe?

THE MAIN EVENT

New England Patriots @ Pittsburgh Steelers
4 p.m. ET, CBS. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms
Patriots favored by 3, Over/Under of 52½

It's not often that we get a matchup of the top two seeds from the Absurdly Premature Playoff Picture. And I'm glad we'll see the Steelers tested, too. Sure, they've turned things around since their mudstomping at the hands of Baltimore and their 2-2 start. But those wins have come against Tennessee, Jacksonville and Arizona. After New England this week, they get Baltimore and Cincinnati. Whip out the measuring stick.

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