NFL week eight preview: Buccaneers set for a thriller with Saints, while Seahawks can bounce back

Tom Brady will have to see off former Bucs QB Jameis Winston if he is to keep his side on track for the play-offs, while the Colts and Titans come face-to-face in their divisional clash.

As we approach the halfway point of the season, the major Super Bowl candidates are beginning to emerge. As are the teams already setting their sights on next season.

Of course, there are still plenty of teams battling for the playoffs, and it could well be a decisive week for a few of them. Particularly the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans, who face a must-win divisional clash, while the Patriots and Chargers face each other in LA.

The Seahawks are also in desperate need of a win in Seattle, and the defending champions face their toughest test to date as the Bucccaneers travel to New Orleans to play the Saints.

With the divisional standings starting to take shape, we take a look at four of the biggest clashes from week eight, including where to find value.

Tennessee Titans @ Indianapolis Colts

Derrick Henry, Running back, Tennessee Titans, NFL

If there is an answer to Derrick Henry out there, then nobody in the NFL has found it yet, and they've had almost three seasons now to figure out how to handle the double-defending rushing champion. Instead, he continues to bulldozer his way towards another title, and possibly even an MVP.

Henry is around a 20/1 shot to win the MVP this season - an award usually handed to a quarterback. But, after manaing to throw a touchdown pass of his own last week against the Chiefs, he's not giving up without a fight!

His usual day job involves chewing up yards on the ground, and he's just 131 yards short of a fourth consecutive 1,000-yard season. With 10 games left to play to achieve the feat, it shows just how extraordinary Henry has been this season.

The 27-year-old is also on pace to make history by recording back-to-back 2,000 rushing yard seasons for the first time ever in the NFL. He also finds himself chasing Eric Dickerson's single-season record of 2,105 yards - if he achieves both then surely an MVP will follow.

As for this game, Henry will play opposite the league's second-best running back so far with Indy's Jonathan Taylor impressing in the last four games with 408 yards, three 100-yard games and five touchdowns. In the one game he didn't reach triple digits on the ground he had 116 receiving yards and another score.

Both Henry and Taylor are likely to see a lot of action too, but there are also passing playmakers on both sides, with Colts QB Carson Wentz looking more like the star of old in recent weeks.

But in what is widely regarded as a coin toss of a divisional game, it's the Titans who get our nod for the win following their recent conquests over two top AFC sides - the Bills and Chiefs.

Best bet:

New England Patriots @ Los Angeles Chargers

Justin Herbert, Quarterback, LA Chargers, NFL

Much of this game points towards it being a crucial match for both sides, as they look to decide whether they'll be play-off contenders this season. For the Chargers, they'll be looking to overcome last season's 45-0 humiliation in this match-up when the sides meet on Sunday afternoon.

Bill Belichick bamboozled rookie QB Justin Herbert last year as the Pats won their sixth consecutive game against the Chargers, and ninth win in 10. But, LA have improved since then and will be keen to point out they're a different team under new coach Brandon Staley.

They are coming off their worst performance of the season however, having had a bye week to stew over the serious kicking they took in Baltimore, while the Patriots have started to take the training wheels off their rookie QB Mac Jones as they hammered the Jets 54-13 last week.

The 551 yards of offense was the seventh-most the team has ever managed and Jones is looking like the real deal, while Belichick has put his faith in Damien Harris at running-back, who's now looking for a third straight 100-yard game.

He should get it too against the league's worst run defence (162.5 yards per game), with the Chargers allowing more rushing yards over six games than they have since 1975. Back Harris to get his yards and find the end zone in the player props markets.

As for the match odds, the Chargers look good value at home after a bye week, but it'll no doubt be a tough game, with likely not too many touchdowns either.

Best bet:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints

Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints, Quarterback, NFL

There's surprisingly not as much noise about the Buccaneers as perhaps there should be given how they've been dealing with teams while suffering with injuries, and the improving Saints provide a decent yardstick for Tom Brady's men.

At 6-1, the Bucs are on track to challenge for the NFC top seed but no team would like to slow them down more than the Saints, and no player would love to do it more than Jameis Winston.

The former Bucs QB jettisoned by Tampa Bay hopes to stick one on his former team and with the Superdome crowd behind him he has every chance, if he can keep his emotions in check. He's got a great arm and has all the tools in his locker - he'll just need to cut out his lacklustre decision making.

Winston has thrown just three picks this season but the Bucs are one of four teams with double-digit interceptions and if emotions get the better of him they'll be ready to pounce.

Brady leads the league in passing yards and touchdowns but the Saints have the third-best scoring defence so this will be another big test for the GOAT - possibly his toughest of the season.

New Orleans rank last in pass attempts per game and Winston only averages 185.7 passing yards per outing. However, with Tampa struggling in the secondary this season, Saints coach Sean Payton may let the shackles off his QB a little more.

Whether it's enough to claim the win is too hard to call, but it's bound to be a thriller and is certainly a game of the week contender. With that in mind let's duck out of the result market and back the points!

Best bet:

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Seattle Seahawks

Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars, NFL,

If the Seahawks are to turn around their season, they're quickly running out of time. Having struggled without Russell Wilson, Geno Smith simply can't provide enough firepower to paper over the obvious cracks in Pete Carroll's side.

At 2-5 for the first time since 2011, they're probably out of the running for the play-offs anyway, but losing at home to the Jaguars would send out all the wrong signals about their future prospects. Usually one of the strongest home sides in the league, the Seahawks are 0-3 at home for the first time since 1992, going 0-4 is almost unthinkable.

The Jags have a chance though, they'll be full of confidence after finally snapping the NFL's second-longest losing streak in history and having had the bye week to formulate a plan of attack for Seattle. It doesn't take a genius however to figure out their best chance is with running the ball.

Jacksonville running back James Robinson has tallied 70 yards and a touchdown in four straight games and only two teams in the league allow as many rushing yards as the Seahawks - the route is obvious, but the execution is all-important. You can back him to score with relative comfort here.

Rookie Trevor Lawrence can make throws, but like Smith, he has a tendency to make odd choices, so a safety-first running approach looks likely. However, the Jaguars still look far from the pace, so a Seattle win seems the best pick.

Best bet:

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