NFL

Eagles look to continue 100 per cent start, Packers hope to improve record against Bills

By Sports Desk October 28, 2022

The big boys are back in Week 8 as the NFL season edges its way closer to the playoffs.

The Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo Bills and Minnesota Vikings all return after a bye week, as do the defending champion Los Angeles Rams, who will look to increase the pressure on the San Francisco 49ers.

The Eagles are aiming to maintain their 100 per cent record when the Pittsburgh Steelers come to town, while the Bills host Aaron Rodgers and his wobbling Green Bay Packers.

Stats Perform has taken a look at the numbers ahead of Sunday's games, starting in the city of brotherly love.

Pittsburgh Steelers (2-5) @ Philadelphia Eagles (6-0)

It promises to be a tricky trip for Pittsburgh, as the Eagles own a nine-game winning streak at home against them, a streak that started in 1966 (Pittsburgh's last win there was Week 6, 1965). It is the Eagles' longest home winning streak against a single opponent in franchise history.

The Steelers lost 16-10 at the Miami Dolphins last week, and are averaging just 15.3 points per game, the second fewest in the NFL (Denver Broncos, 14.3). The last time they finished in the bottom two of the NFL in scoring was 1969 (15.6 points per game, second worst).

The Eagles have held a lead of at least 14 points in each of their six games this season. The last team to do so in seven straight games to begin the season was the 2007 Patriots (eight straight).

Philadelphia have won Jalen Hurts' last nine starts, tied for the longest quarterback win streak in franchise history with Carson Wentz (2017), Donovan McNabb (2003) and Norm Van Brocklin (1960). The Eagles were 6-10 in Hurts' first 16 career starts in the NFL.

San Francisco 49ers (3-4) @ Los Angeles Rams (3-3)

Including a 24-9 home win in Week 4, the 49ers have won seven straight regular-season games against Los Angeles, their second-longest streak against the Rams all-time (17 straight from December 1990 to December 1998). However, the Rams beat the 49ers in last season's NFC Championship Game at SoFi Stadium.

San Francisco lost to the Kansas City Chiefs, 44-23, at home last week. It was the first time they have lost back-to-back games by at least 14 points since Weeks 9-10 in 2020. They followed those games up with a 23-20 win against the Rams in Los Angeles.

Last week, Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 303 yards, the 11th game in his career with at least 300 yards. The 49ers won the first seven of those games but are just 1-3 in the last four. The only win in that span came on the road against the Rams in Week 18 last season.

Rams QB Matthew Stafford is 1-6 in his regular season career against the 49ers, his worst record against any NFC opponent. He has thrown four touchdown passes and five interceptions in his three games against them since joining the Rams, losing each one.

Green Bay Packers (3-4) @ Buffalo Bills (5-1)

The Packers have won their last four home games against the Bills, but are 0-6 all-time in Buffalo, most recently losing a 21-13 game there in Week 15, 2014. The Bills are the only active franchise the Packers have never beaten on the road.

Green Bay lost 23-21 to the Washington Commanders last week, and have lost three straight games for the first time since Weeks 11-13 in 2018. They have not lost four straight since Weeks 8-11 in 2016. The last time they lost four of their first seven games was in 2006 (also 3-4).

The Bills are coming off their bye week following a 24-20 win in Kansas City in Week 6. Since the Bills' last Super Bowl appearance in 1993, they have begun a season 5-1 four times – 1995, 2008, 2019, and this year.

Buffalo's offense has faced a blitz on 35.3 per cent of its passing plays this season, the fourth highest in the league. The Packers have faced a blitz just 20.2 per cent of the time, second lowest in the league (Miami, 18.2). The Bills have blitzed opponents just 12.9 per cent of the time, the lowest in the league.

Elsewhere…

Dak Prescott should face the Chicago Bears (3-4) after making his return in the Dallas Cowboys' (5-2) win over the Detroit Lions last week, moving his career record as a starter to 54-33 (.621). Since 2016. The Cowboys are 9-8 when Prescott does not start (.530) while averaging almost 60 total yards fewer per game when he is not the starter (382.3 with, 322.9 without).

The New York Jets (5-2) enter their clash with the New England Patriots (3-4) with a chance to break their current 12-game losing streak against them, which dates back to the 2016 season. With a loss, the streak would match Denver's 13-game losing streak to Kansas City as the longest active one in the NFL.

Saquon Barkley (110 rushing yards) and Daniel Jones (107) each ran for over 100 yards last week, the third time a New York Giants (6-1) duo has eclipsed that mark. Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw did so in Week 14, 2010 and Week 16, 2007. The only other team with such a duo this season was the New Orleans Saints in Week 5 against the Giants' opponents for Week 8, the Seattle Seahawks (4-3).

The Tennessee Titans (4-2) own a four-game win streak after a 19-10 win at home against the Indianapolis Colts. This is the Titans' sixth-straight season with a winning streak of at least four games, and it could go to five with a win at the Houston Texans (1-4-1).

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    Mykhailo Mudryk is "the most talented and unique player in the world", and patient work on the training ground will see Chelsea get the best out of the winger.

    That is the view of Serhiy Palkin, Shakhtar Donetsk's chief executive who struck the £89million deal which took Mudryk from Ukraine to Stamford Bridge last January.

    Like many of the big-money recruits of the Todd Boehly era, Mudryk has struggled for consistency since arriving in west London, after emerging as one of Europe's hottest prospects at Shakhtar.

    Between the start of 2021-22 and his move to the Premier League, Mudryk averaged a goal involvement every 70 minutes in the Ukrainian top flight, scoring nine goals and adding 13 assists in just 23 appearances during that spell.

    However, Mudryk has just three goals and four assists to his name in 34 Premier League appearances, and he attracted more criticism for an ineffective substitute appearance in Sunday's EFL Cup final defeat to Liverpool.

    Palkin, however, remains convinced of the 23-year-old's talent and feels he simply needs close attention from Mauricio Pochettino and his backroom staff. 

    "I can tell you that for me, Mudryk is the most talented and unique player in the world," Palkin told Stats Perform.

    "I believe that in order to get from Mudryk the maximum, as they anticipate, you need to invest in him. These investments are not money. 

    "It's time for the coaching staff to communicate with him and to work closely with him. He is a young boy, he changed from the Ukrainian Championship to the Premier League. 

    "It's a completely different world, with completely different levels, completely different football. 

    "Therefore, I believe that if the coaching staff dedicates him some time, he will return three, four, or five times more."

    One former Shakhtar man who made a far more immediate impact in the Premier League is Roberto De Zerbi, who led Brighton and Hove Albion to Europa League qualification last term while implementing a daring style of play. 

    The Seagulls are in the hunt for European qualification again this season, and they rank second in the Premier League for average passes per sequence (5.01), third for build-up attacks (127) and joint-first for high turnovers resulting in goals (seven).

    After overseeing Brighton's dramatic rise, De Zerbi has been tipped to move on to pastures new, with both Barcelona and Liverpool suggested as possible landing spots for the Italian.

    Palkin has no doubt De Zerbi is destined for the top, saying: "I can tell you that he did a lot for Brighton, he did brilliant work for Brighton. 

    "I believe 100 per cent that he can jump into a top club tomorrow, even today, 100 per cent. The most important thing is he must accept the proposition.

    "I believe he has a lot of propositions, including in Italian football and English football. Therefore, everything, everything, everything depends on him."

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    Wembanyama became just the second NBA rookie, after Jamaal Tinsley in 2001, to post at least five points, five rebounds, five assists, five steals and five blocks in a single game. He is just the second player to have five blocks and as many steals in successive games, after the great Jordan.

    However, his efforts proved fruitless for the San Antonio Spurs, who lost 113-108 to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday.

    Wembanyama finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, five steals and five blocks. He is just the 15th player in the NBA to record a 5x5.

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    "To me, it's secondary," Wembanyama said. "Hopefully in the future, and think this is a good performance, but as of today, I can't be satisfied with a loss."

    LeBron James returned from injury to score 30 points for the Lakers, while Anthony Davis had 28 points and 13 rebounds.

    "Of course it was challenging [going against] one of the best duos in the league," Wembanyama said of facing two of the NBA's star players.

    "But still, I think it's a lot of teams we beat if we play this way.

    "But I think it came down to maturity at the end because each and every one of us was making a mistake each of the times.

    "Little mistakes, missing a layup, turning the ball over. We went down, we went back to down four, down seven multiple times and that's when we did mistakes. So yeah, it's maturity."

    Even though the Spurs have lost 10 of their last 11 games, James believes the sky truly is the limit for Wembanyama.

    "He doesn't have a ceiling," James said.

    "He can do whatever he wants to do with his career. It seems like he enjoys the game. It seems like he puts in the work. Just from the outside looking in, I'm not with him on a day-to-day basis, but I said a long time ago how special he was, and it's literally that simple.

    "There are guys in our league that you have to account for any time you get around the rim or around the perimeter in our league history, and he sits right at the top of it, [if not] around the top, with all the greats.

    "He's one of them to have like a stellar rookie season. Guys that have come in and [dominated]. But, it's, can you sustain it? We've had guys that have come in and [have] just been really damn [good]."

    The Lakers returned to winning ways following their loss to the Golden State Warriors, but coach Darvin Ham was not entirely satisfied with the performance.

    "You want your team to constantly look within and try to make plays and force the other team to put you in uncomfortable positions," Ham said.

    "Not you put yourself in those uncomfortable positions, whether it's not sprinting back in transition or allowing teams to get two or three offensive rebounds. Or, you know, fouling because we're not in position because we're not doing our work early. And then going down the other end and not trusting the execution.

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    Javi Munoz hit the woodwork for the visitors early on, but Diego Simeone's men soon assumed full control when Llorente scored twice in a five-minute span to put them two goals up inside 20 minutes.

    Atletico ensured they warmed up for Tuesday's Champions League last-16 first leg against Inter in style when Correa struck 73 seconds into the second half, before doubling his tally from the penalty spot just after the hour mark. Substitute Memphis Depay then put the icing on the cake with a late long-range strike.

    The hosts were beaten by Sevilla in their last league match and had suffered an away loss to Las Palmas in November's reverse fixture, but they have now won four in a row at home and sit five points clear of fifth-placed Athletic Bilbao and level with Barcelona, who face Celta Vigo later on Saturday.

    Data Debrief: Home dominance continues

    Atletico are unbeaten at home in La Liga this season, with 12 wins and one draw from their 13 league matches in front of their own fans. Looking further back, they have now gone 24 such games without defeat dating back to January 2023.

    Llorente's double was his first since scoring twice in a match against Eibar in April 2021, while Correa – who also registered an assist – had not scored in more than two months prior to this fixture. Atleti were worthy winners, accumulating 2.29 xG to Las Palmas' 0.59.

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