NFL Sunday: Five things to watch

Let’s talk Week 8 Sunday football in the NFL. Breakdowns, matchups, plus some Xs and Os. Here are five things I am looking at heading into tomorrow’s schedule…

1. Romo vs. the Eagles’ secondary: After the Week 7 production from RB DeMarco Murray, I do expect the Cowboys’ to give him multiple opportunities vs. the Philly front-seven, but don’t forget about Romo and his options in the passing game. I talked about a possible Asomugha-Bryant matchup earlier this week, and I would also keep an eye on TE Jason Witten vs. the Eagles’ safeties. That is a matchup that should favor the Cowboys—especially in the red zone. Look for the TE “shake route” (double-move), 7 (corner) and inside vertical seam whe the ball crosses the 20-yard line.

Troy Polamalu ICONPolamalu and the Steelers' secondary will have to play big vs. Brady and the Pats.

2. The Steelers’ pressure schemes: If you want to disrupt the Patriots’ offense, you have to get to Brady, put hits on him and challenge WRs/TEs at the line of scrimmage. Exactly what we saw from Rob Ryan and the Cowboys in Week 6 before Brady closed them out on the final drive. Look for the Steelers to use their zone pressure schemes (think overload pressure) and roll their coverages in the secondary. Need impact plays from Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark at the safety position.

3. More production from Tebow: Move the ball on offense. Sounds simple for an NFL QB, but that is what John Fox has to see from Tebow vs. the Lions. The comeback win vs. the Dolphins in Week 7 was big for the QB, however, Denver needs more production on a consistent basis within the game plan. Tebow can’t take sacks vs. this Detroit front-four and must improve on third downs for the Broncos to stay in this game.

4. Bills’ Fitzpatrick: Get the ball quick out and run the game plan vs. Jim Haslett’s defense from Washington. This Redskins’ defense was beat up by Cam Newton and the Panthers last Sunday, but I still like what they can do from a pressure/coverage aspect. No question that Fred Jackson will once again be a key to the Bills’ game plan under Chan Gailey, but reading the pressure, throwing the 3-step game and protecting the ball will be on Fitzpatrick. There will be opportunities for Fitzpatrick to pick up explosive plays vs. a pressure based scheme tomorrow.

5. Ravens’ offensive game plan: What we saw from Cam Cameron’s offense on Monday night in the loss to the Jags isn’t going to cut it from a play calling perspective. Baltimore needs to dramatically increase the amount of touches for Ray Rice, use WR Anquan Boldin inside of the numbers and then take their deep shots down the field to rookie Torrey Smith vs. the Cardinals. Score points and protect the football. Basic plan when you have Ray Lewis and the production of the Ravens' defense to close out games.

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