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Sunday playbook: Cowboys can take command in NFC East

Displays of disrespect for the national anthem, bad teams, bad officiating, bad matchups of bad teams, bad officiating in the bad matchups of the bad teams, the presidential campaigns, poor handling of domestic violence ...
Many reasons have been suggested as the cause of television ratings decline for National Football League games. There should be no excuses in Week Eight, because the NFL schedule presents the most interesting slate of games in 2016 -- not including the New York Jets at Cleveland.
 All the first-place teams other than idle Pittsburgh -- New England, Houston, Oakland, Dallas, Minnesota, Atlanta and Seattle -- face challenging games. The Patriots, Raiders, Vikings and Seahawks are on the road.
 Also, it's probably do-or-die week for reigning NFL MVP Cam Newton's defending NFC champion Carolina Panthers against Arizona.
A capsule look at the Week Eight games:
Game of the day
Eagles (4-2) at Cowboys (5-1)
TV: NBC, 8:30 p.m.
The line: Cowboys (-4 1/2).
The scoop: Dallas has won its last five since one-point opening loss to the Giants, longest streak going in league. Cowboys threatening to run away with NFC East if they win this one although road games at Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Giants and Philadelphia (Week 17) lie ahead. ... Dallas stands third in the league in offense (401.5) led by its two spectacular rookies -- QB Dak Prescott (103.9 rating, 7 TDs, 1 INT) and RB Ezekiel Elliott, who leads lead in rushing with 703 yards and has 5.1 average and five TDs. Also Dallas expects to get impact WR Dez Bryant (foot) back for this one. ... Eagles rookie QB Carson Wentz still effective with 92.7 rating, 8 TDS, 3 INTs.
Outlook: Dallas coming off bye which helps against opponent which had tough home win over Vikings. Dallas, 27-20.
Top attractions
Patriots (6-2) at Bills (4-3)
TV: CBS, 1 p.m.
The line: Patriots (-7).
The scoop: Tom Brady's statistics (132.6 rating, 8 TDs with no INTs) are amazing, so is his 25-3 career record against Bills. A win Sunday and he will tie Brett Favre's record for most wins (26) against an opponent. Favre did it against Detroit. ... LeGarrette Blount should pound poor-tackling Bills the way that Miami's Jay Ajayi did last week. Bills made Ajayi look like second coming of Jim Brown or Earl Campbell. ... Bills RB LeSean McCoy still has more rushing yards (598) than six NFL teams despite unproductive game last week in Miami.
Outlook: Patriots offense has too much diversity for Bills to handle. If Buffalo loads up to stop short passing game to Julian Edelman and tight-end tandem of Rob Gronkowski and Marcellus Bennett, Blount will gash them on the ground. New England, 33-20.
Redskins (4-3) vs. Bengals (3-4) (London)
TV: Fox, 9:30 a.m.
The line: Bengals (-3)
The scoop: Second and final game of season from London's Wembley Stadium. ... Cincinnati got win No. 3 last week after struggling with Browns until Jeremy Hill broke away for 74 yards. ... A.J. Green of Bengals leads league in receptions with 50 for 775 yards, 15.5 average and 3 TDs. He goes against Washington CB Josh Norman.
Outlook: Both sides need win to stay in contact in division races. Redskins with few super stars may be most underrated team in league. Washington, 20-17.
Cardinals (3-3-1) at Panthers (1-5)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Panthers (-2 1/2).
The scoop: Didn't Arizona coach Bruce Arians do a nice job of icing his own kicker, Chandler Catanzaro, before 24-yard field goal miss in OT vs. Seattle? Cards deserved to lose despite outplaying Seattle by wide margin at home but got a tie. ... Both teams in a tough situation. Arizona could fall 2 1/2 behind Seattle in NFC West with a loss. Defending NFC champion Panthers barely hanging on with only long-shot chance of winning NFC South again. ... Arizona, with No. 2 ranked defense (289.6), controlled clock against Seattle last week with league's No. 2 rusher David Johnson (681 yards, 4.7 average). He leads league with 146 rushing attempts and 174 touches altogether.
Outlook: With a bye week to reorganize, Panthers begin drive to save season. Carolina, 20-17.
Chargers (3-4) at Broncos (5-2)
Kickoff: 4:05 p.m.
The line: Broncos (-6).
The scoop: Like Bills-Patriots, this is among first of return games with divisions. Chargers won first meeting in San Diego, ending Denver run of five wins in AFC West rivalry. Chargers haven't won in Denver since 2011. ... Chargers RB Melvin Gordon leads league with 10 rushing TDs. ... Denver is third in league in defense 291.6
Outlook: One thing Chargers do well is stop the run and Broncos will be without C.J. Anderson. Denver, 28-24.
Packers (4-2) at Falcons (4-3)
TV: Fox, 4:25 p.m.
The line: Falcons (-3).
The scoop: Key NFC game between two division contenders. Packers trail Vikings by a game in NFC North, Atlanta is only a half-game in front of Tampa Bay in NFC South after losing at home to Chargers last week. ... Matt Ryan of Falcons having huge season, leading league in passing yards (2,348). WR Julio Jones is also tops with 830 receiving yards. He averages 20.8 for 40 catches. ... With Eddie Lacy out, QB Aaron Rodgers leads team in rushing with 96 yards. Honest.
Outlook: NFL's leading offense (433.6) carries the day. Atlanta, 33-27.
Best of the rest
Lions (4-3) at Texans (4-3)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Texans (-2 1/2).
The scoop: Six of Detroit games have been won or lost by four points of less, with QB Matt Stafford leading late TD drives in the four wins. Stafford has 27,890 yards in first 100 career games, most in league history for that many. ... After comeback win over Colts, Texans were ineffective on offense in last week's loss at Denver.
Outlook: Stafford leads resourceful Lions to another close win, 23-21.
Chiefs (4-2) at Colts (3-4)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Chiefs (-2 1/2).
The scoop: Kansas City ranks in bottom half league in both offense and defense, but finds ways to win. Plus-7 turnover margin helps. So does surprising downfield passing of Alex Smith, with 46- and 38-yard TD strikes last week. Andrew Luck of Colts has passed for 2,075 yards, third in league, and has 14-4 TD-INT ratio.
Outlook: Chiefs playing too well now for Colts to handle. Kansas City, 20-16.
Seahawks (4-1-1) at Saints (2-4)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Seahawks (2 1/2).
The scoop: Interesting match between Seahawks, who have scored only 111 points (tied for last in league), and Saints, who give up 403.8 yards per game. ... Seattle counting more and more on passing of Russell Wilson, who is hobbled with injuries. ... Drew Brees of Saints has passed for 17 TDS and average of 403 yards in last five home games.
Outlook: Have to go with Saints as home underdog. New Orleans, 19-16.
Raiders (5-2) at Buccaneers (3-3)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Pick'em.
The scoop: Raiders are plus-8 in turnovers and lead league in fewest sacks allowed per pass play. ... Oakland has 4-0 record on road and will be playing fifth game east of Mississippi but get next four at home. Raiders stayed in Florida to practice after win at Jacksonville last week. ... Bucs have won two in a row, both on road, but one was against Newton-less Panthers and other against 49ers.
Outlook: Raiders give up gobs of yards, but find ways. Oakland 35-28.
Vikings (5-1) at Bears (1-6)
TV: ESPN, Monday, 8:30 p.m.
The line: Vikings (-6).
The scoop: Hometown Cubs should be World Series champions or looking ahead to Game Six in Cleveland when this is played. NFC rivalry game may produce a big yawn in Chicago. ... Jay Cutler back at QB for Bears with injury to Brian Hoyer. .... Minnesota first in league in defense (279.5) and turnover ratio (plus-11) but last in rushing offense (446, 74.3 ypg).
Outlook: Look for typical Soldier Field Black-and-Blue Division struggle. Vikings, 10-7.
Dog of the day
Jets (2-5) at Browns (0-7)
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
The line: Jets (-3).
The scoop: Browns have lost seven in a row this season, 10 overall, but only last three at home. Last win 24-13 over 49ers at home last Dec. 13. ...Ryan Fitzpatrick back at QB for Jets after Geno Smith injury last week. Kevin Hogan was last week's guest quarterback for Browns. Josh McCown is back from injury to start this one.
Outlook: Somehow Hue Jackson has managed to keep Browns somewhat competitive. Cleveland 20-17.
Last week's results: 7-6-1 straight up; 7-7 versus spread.
Season's record: 61-38-1 straight up; 49-47-4 versus spread.
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