<span> <span style="text-decoration: underline;">THREE UNBEATENS ENTERING WEEK 8 ARE MOST SINCE MERGER; FAVRE RETURNS TO LAMBEAU</span>
Week 8 is here and three teams – Denver (6-0), Indianapolis (6-0) and New Orleans (6-0) – remain undefeated – the first time since the 1970 merger that the league has had three undefeated teams through the first seven weeks.
The Saints improved to 6-0 last week by overcoming a 24-3 deficit to defeat the Miami Dolphins 46-34.
"It was the first chance for us to play from a deficit," says New Orleans head coach SEAN PAYTON, "and I was encouraged with how we responded. I'm proud of this football team."
It was the largest comeback victory (21-point deficit) in league history for a team attempting to preserve a perfect record of at least 5-0. And that's the beauty of the never-say-die NFL.
"There was no doubt on our sidelines that we would come back and win," says Saints quarterback DREW BREES.
Colts rookie head coach JIM CALDWELL improved to 6-0 with a 42-6 victory at St. Louis as Indianapolis notched its franchise-record 15th consecutive regular-season win. Caldwell and Denver's JOSH MC DANIELS, whose club had a bye in Week 7, are the first pair of rookie head coaches to each start a season 6-0 since the 1970 merger.
"This team is going to get better as time goes on," says Caldwell of the Colts. "The effort and execution are both improving every single week. The thing I'm really pleased about, overall, is that we just keep getting better every week. Any time you get a win in this league, it's big."
All three unbeatens will look for that "big" win this weekend. Denver will visit 3-3 Baltimore. Indianapolis will host 3-3 San Francisco. And New Orleans will welcome 4-2 Atlanta to the Louisiana Superdome on Monday night.
Week 8 will also feature both rematches of last year's NFC Divisional Playoffs. Carolina will look to exact revenge against Arizona, winners of three in a row, and the New York Giants (5-2) will visit Philadelphia to face the Eagles (4-2) in a key NFC East divisional matchup. And those are just some of the exciting games on tap in Week 8. Some of the others:
MINNESOTA VIKINGS (6-1) at GREEN BAY PACKERS (4-2) (Sunday, FOX, 4:15 PM ET)
"This is Brett's homecoming, let's be real about it," says Green Bay safety ATARI BIGBY. "It's going to be special. Everybody wants to see this. Everybody's going to tune in to this game."
Brett, of course, is Minnesota quarterback BRETT FAVRE, who set numerous Packers records including most games (255), wins (160), attempts (8,754), completions (5,377), yards (61,655), touchdowns (442) and passer rating (85.8) and returns to Green Bay as a Viking for the first time.
"My career with Green Bay speaks for itself," says Favre about his return to Lambeau Field. "That won't change. For three hours, I'll be on the other side. Do I know what that feels like? I have no idea."
In Week 4, the Vikings defeated the Packers 30-23 behind Favre's 271 yards and three touchdown passes. However, Green Bay enters this week's contest coming off back-to-back wins, outscoring opponents 57-3 in those two games. The offense has been led by quarterback AARON RODGERS, who ranks second in the NFL with a 110.8 passer rating.
"Our confidence is high," says Packers head coach MIKE MC CARTHY. "We're growing as a football team. We feel like we're building each week, getting better and growing. We feel very, very good about ourselves as a football team."
DENVER BRONCOS (6-0) at BALTIMORE RAVENS (3-3) (Sunday, CBS, 1:00 PM ET)
Two AFC contenders coming off bye weeks will meet this Sunday in Baltimore.
The Broncos, one of three undefeated teams in the NFL, will put their perfect record on the line against the Ravens. Denver ranks first in the NFL allowing just 11.0 points per game, while Baltimore is fifth in the league averaging 28.2 points per game.
"Even though we're 3-3, this team believes in itself and in each other," says Ravens center MATT BIRK. "I'm not happy about being 3-3 but we still feel good about what we're doing and how we're doing it."
Denver quarterback KYLE ORTON, who leads the NFL with a nine-to-one touchdown-to-interception ratio (9 TDs, 1 INT), has won his first six starts with the Broncos and can join DIETER BROCK (Los Angeles Rams, 1985) as the only QBs since 1970 to win seven consecutive games to start a season in their first year with a team. To get win number seven, however, he'll have to perform against a tough Ravens defense.
"Baltimore's a physical team," says Broncos head coach JOSH MC DANIELS. "That's their style in all three phases. If you're not ready for that style of play, you can get embarrassed by a team like this on the road."
MIAMI DOLPHINS (2-4) at NEW YORK JETS (4-3) (Sunday, CBS, 1:00 PM ET)
Three weeks after a classic Monday Night Football showdown, these two AFC East rivals meet again.
In Week 5, the Dolphins defeated the Jets 31-27 as running back RONNIE BROWN scored on a two-yard touchdown run with six seconds left. It marked the sixth time in the team's 44-year rivalry that Miami beat New York in the final minute of the fourth quarter. The Dolphins outscored the Jets 21-14 in the final quarter as the teams combined for 35 points, the highest-scoring fourth quarter in an NFL game in which no points were scored in the third quarter since 1982.
"You always dream as a kid of endings like that," says Miami quarterback CHAD HENNE, who led fourth-quarter drives of 64, 84 and 70 yards against the Jets. "I watched JOE MONTANA. Comeback Joe. It's great to be part of something like that."
The Jets are coming off a 38-0 victory at Oakland. New York rushed for 316 yards – led by running backs THOMAS JONES (121 yards) and rookie SHONN GREENE (144) – and, following a 318-yard rushing performance in Week 6, are the first team in 75 years to rush for at least 316 yards in consecutive games (1934 Detroit Lions).
"I was really impressed with our team," says Jets head coach REX RYAN about the team's win in Oakland. "I thought our offensive line created a lot of running lanes and our backs did a great job of hitting it and our guys did a nice job of blocking down the field. Any time you can rush for 300 plus yards, you know it's going well for you."
This week, the Jets will look to continue to successfully run the ball and stop Miami's Wildcat formation on defense.
"That Wildcat is something else," says Ryan of Miami's offense. "That's an excellent scheme and they're really good at it. They have two Pro Bowl running backs that they can put back there. It isn't going to be easy to stop them."
ATLANTA FALCONS (4-2) at NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (6-0) (Monday, ESPN, 8:30 PM ET)
Down 24-3 at Miami last week, the Saints, who had not trailed in a game all season, used a strong team effort to come back and defeat the Dolphins 46-34 to remain the NFC's only unbeaten team.
"That was a huge win," says New Orleans linebacker SCOTT SHANLE. "It can be a season-changing win. When you look back over the course of a season, a win like that can be huge. It says a lot about the character of this team. This was a test we hadn't faced yet, and we came back and responded."
The Saints have scored at least 45 points in four of their first six games, the first team in NFL history to accomplish the feat. New Orleans is averaging 39.7 points per game (238 points), the highest mark in the league, and the club will put its perfect record on the line in a divisional battle on Monday night against the Atlanta Falcons.
Atlanta, a playoff team last year, brings a 4-2 mark into the contest. Quarterback MATT RYAN has won four of his five career starts in November, including a victory over the Saints last year (November 9), and has posted a 113.9 passer rating in two meetings with the Saints.
"He plays with a lot of poise and confidence," New Orleans head coach SEAN PAYTON says of Ryan. "He's accurate and he's tough. He's a quarterback that always gives his team a chance, just like DREW BREES does for us. Those are guys who give you a chance to win every time you play."