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15 NFL Players Who Need To Have Big Games in Week 8

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15 NFL Players Who Must Step Up in Week 8

USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

Week eight of the NFL season brings about the midway point for many teams. The point of no return is here for those squads that haven't been able to get it together. While you can't say for sure that teams with five or six losses are done at this juncture, after week eight, it's pretty clear that those teams have no chance of resurrecting their playoff hopes.

This week may not have as many high-profile matchups as weeks' past, but you know that the action on the field won't disappoint. There's just too much talent across the league these days to jump to conclusions on most games.

The big theme this weekend is divisional games. There are a total of five interdivisional matchups and there's a lot on the line in each of them. Maybe not for both teams, but there certainly aren't any divisional games on the slate that are pointless. There are no doubt some mismatches, but at least one team stands to gain a lot by coming out with a victory.

The Chiefs are the only unbeaten team left, while the Bucs and Jaguars will try to notch their first wins of the year. However, I don't like the Jags chances because they have a date with the 49ers across the pond in London.

So while football is the ultimate team sport, there are always players that need to step up. Here are 15 that need to have big games in week eight:

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Ryan Tannehill

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USA Today Sports

Tannehill and the Dolphins have fallen off after a hot start this season. Miami now sits at 3-3 with a big game looming against the Patriots. If the Dolphins have any chance of pulling off the upset on the road, Tannehill must be on his A-game.

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Brandon Carr

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USA Today Sports

Carr has been tremendous as of late for the Cowboys. However, he'll have his toughest challenge of the season this Sunday against Calvin Johnson. If Carr can limit Megatron, the Cowboys have a great chance of moving to 5-3.

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Rob Gronkowski

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USA Today Sports

Gronk is finally back after weeks and weeks of speculation, but the Patriots need him to produce in a big way this Sunday. Tom Brady has failed to throw a touchdown pass in two of his last three games, so look for the QB to target Gronk in the red zone this Sunday against the Dolphins.

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Alex Smith

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USA Today Sports

Smith has been good for the Chiefs this season, but he certainly hasn't been great. KC has been relying heavily on its defense all year, so it's time for Smith to step up and give his D some more cushion. It won't be easy as he'll be going up against an underrated Browns' defense.

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Zac Stacy

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USA Today Sports

With Sam Bradford lost for the season, the Rams will lean heavily on their ground game this Monday against the Seahawks. Stacy figures to get plenty of carries and he'll need to have a monster game if the Rams are going to have any chance of upsetting the Seahawks.

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Reggie Bush

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USA Today Sports

Bush has played well as of late, but he hasn't had one of his monster games. He's only found the end zone one time in the last three games. It's safe to assume that the Lions will need to put up a lot of points to beat the Cowboys this Sunday, so the Bush from week one would really help the Lions' cause.

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Mike Jenkins

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USA Today Sports

The Steelers will bring their 12th rated passing offense to Oakland this Sunday. Jenkins will likely be matched up with Antonio Brown frequently and the Raiders will be counting on the corner to shut him down.

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Mike Glennon

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USA Today Sports

The Bucs need a spark in the worst way. This will be Glennon's fourth start and he'll have the home crowd behind him Thursday night. This is a game that he needs to play well in for the Bucs to have any chance at victory.

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Bacarri Rambo/Trenton Robinson

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USA Today Sports

With the suspension of Brandon Meriweather, an already weak Washington secondary has taken a big hit. It will now be up to rookie Bacarri Rambo and/or Trenton Robinson to step up and make some plays for the Redskins over the next two weeks.

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Xavier Rhodes

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USA Today Sports

The Vikings have a date with Aaron Rodgers on Sunday night. Even though he's down multiple receivers, he's going still going to be deadly. Xavier Rhodes has had a solid rookie season so far, but the Vikings will need a big game from him if they're going to have any shot of pulling off the upset on SNF. Somebody in the Minnesota secondary has to start making big plays and Rhodes is an ideal candidate.

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Larry Fitzgerald

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USA Today Sports

Fitzgerald has had a tough year so far in 2013. The WR has been dealing with hamstring issues and still hasn't returned to his form from a few years back. He's been better with Carson Palmer tossing him the pigskin, but he's only had one breakout game. The Cardinals can stay legitimate in this year's NFC with win over the Falcons and a big game from Fitzgerald will certainly help their chances.

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Antonio Cromartie

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USA Today Sports

Cromartie has a date with AJ Green this Sunday. Locking down the talented WR will be a huge part of the game plan for the Jets and that starts and ends with No. 31.

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Von Miller

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USA Today Sports

The Broncos have given up an average of 35 points per game over their last three contests. Miller is finally back from his lengthy suspension and now he needs to reassert himself in a big way. If the LB can ramp things up a notch this Sunday, it could be a turning point for the Denver-D in 2013.

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Michael Vick

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USA Today Sports

Vick, Foles, Barkley and now back to Vick. The veteran QB is expected to make his return this Sunday as the Eagles get set to take on the Giants. If Philly is going to pull out a divisional win, they'll need a big, turnover-free day from No. 7.

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Josh Freeman and/or Christian Ponder

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USA Today Sports

It's unclear at this moment who will be under center for the Vikings this Sunday night, but whoever it ends up being will need to turn in a top-notch performance. Freeman is apparently dealing with a concussion, so Ponder will likely be the guy once again in Minneapolis. If he comes through, the Vikings will have an all-time oddball QB controversy on their hands.