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2013 NFL Week 8 Preview — 5 Intriguing Storylines to Watch

Colin Kaepernick
Getty Images

Teams are beginning to jockey for playoff position as the 2013 NFL season reaches its eighth week. Here are five storylines we’ll be watching this week:

Calvin Johnson vs. Dez Bryant

Ford Field, Detroit — Sun., Oct. 27, at 1 p.m. (ET)

Calvin Johnson Dez Bryant
Getty Images

While they obviously won’t face each other on the field, wide receivers Calvin Johnson and Dez Bryant are crucial to the success of the Lions (4-3) and Cowboys (4-3), respectively. The two pass-catchers are among the most physically gifted players at their position, and each is sure to create matchup headaches for the opposing defense in this week’s game between NFC playoff contenders. Quarterbacks Matthew Stafford of Detroit and Tony Romo of Dallas are the chief benefactors of Johnson’s and Bryant’s talents.

AFC Showdown: Jets-Bengals

Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati — Sun., Oct. 27, at 4:25 p.m. (ET)

Andy Dalton
Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals (5-2) host the New York Jets (4-3) in a battle of AFC playoff contenders? Yes. Why are you surprised? While the Bengals have beaten perennial powers like New England and Green Bay, the Jets have recorded all four of their wins in the fourth quarter or later thanks to the heroics of rookie quarterback Geno Smith. Cincinnati seems like the more talented team, but if Rex Ryan’s defense can cause problems for the Bengals’ Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, they could take another step toward an improbable playoff berth.

Kaepernick-ing Goes Global

Wembley Stadium, London, England — Sun,. Oct. 27, at 1 p.m. (ET)

Vernon Davis, Colin Kaepernick
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

When the San Francisco 49ers (5-2) landed in London this week, it marked the first time this season that the Brits were exposed to a winning NFL team on their own soil. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick is the most charismatic star in Sunday’s game between his 49ers and the pathetic Jacksonville Jaguars (0-7), who are well on their way to selecting first in the 2014 NFL Draft. Kaepernick—and his trademark touchdown celebration during which he “kisses” his bicep—is the NFL’s best hope of a memorable experience for the international audience. Of course, the Jags horrific two-toned helmets are reminiscent of the old World League and NFL Europe color schemes, so that could help too.

Will Peyton Manning Play?

Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver — Sun., Oct. 27, at 4:25 p.m. (ET)

Peyton Manning
Getty Images

After an ankle injury forced quarterback Peyton Manning to miss his first practice as a Bronco on Wednesday, his status for Sunday’s game against the Redskins is slightly in doubt. After Denver (6-1) suffered their first loss of the season to the Colts last Sunday night, Manning is probably desperate to start a new win streak, especially against a defense that is giving up an average of 30.7 points per game. If Manning does sit, backup Brock Osweiler is likely to get the nod. Robert Griffin III is expected to play for Washington (2-4).

The Rams Are a Mess

Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis — Mon., Oct. 28, at 8:40 p.m. (ET)

St. Louis Rams
Getty Images

When you are making phone calls to a retired grandfather asking him to play quarterback, your football team isn’t in great shape. The St. Louis Rams (3-4) called former NFL All-Pro quarterback Brett Favre, 44, and asked if he’d consider filling the vacancy left when Sam Bradford suffered a torn ACL last week. The desperation move shows how little confidence St. Louis has in backup Kellen Clemens. Favre’s resistance might indicate how dangerous the Seattle (6-1) defense is. This one could turn into a Monday-night laugher.

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