NFL Instant Reactions: Week 8 Edition


Now that we have reached the mid-point of the NFL season, it’s time to evaluate where all the teams stand.  Much like last week’s article, I have separated the teams into four different categories: True Contenders, Playoff Bound Material, Mediocre at Best, and Dead in the Water.

True Contenders: Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans Saints, Minnesota Vikings, Buffalo Bills.

Philadelphia (7-1) still looks the team to beat in the entire NFL, and have clearly separated themselves from the rest of the pack. The Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2) were able to get a gritty win against Detroit (3-4) to maintain a two game lead in the AFC North. The Patriots (6-2) were able to stay on their course by shaking off the hot Los Angeles Chargers (3-5), halting their win streak at three games. The Saints (5-2) have now rallied off five straight wins, after starting their season 0-2. The two new additions to this category are well-deserved: Minnesota (6-2) and Buffalo (5-2). Both are coming off of another impressive victory, and look every bit of a contender moving forward.

Playoff Bound Material: Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks, Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans, Tennessee Titans, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Dallas Cowboys.

Kansas City (5-2) has now lost two games in a row, but maintain a game and a half lead in the AFC West. The Chiefs will do themselves a big favor by beating the Broncos (3-3) tonight to gain a strangle hold over their division. Seattle (5-2) had a thrilling victory over the Houston Texans (3-4), and I’m not ready to give up on either team yet based on their performances this past week. Atlanta (4-3) is doing just enough to scrape by and remain in playoff contention, while Dallas (4-3) got back on track by beating a banged up Washington (3-4) team at a rain-soaked FedEx Field.

Mediocre at Best:  NY Jets, Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens, Los Angeles Chargers, Detroit Lions, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, Washington Redskins.
The Washington Redskins are the new addition to this category after two straight divisional losses. If they can’t get their act together fast, their season will slowly slip away from them. Baltimore (4-4) absolutely demolished the Dolphins (4-3) on Thursday night, but may have lost their quarterback, Joe Flacco, to a serious concussion on an illegal hit. The Detroit Lions (3-4) have now lost three games in a row, all in dramatic fashion, and need to find a way to get back into contention.

Dead in the Water: Cleveland Browns, NY Giants, Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers, Arizona Cardinals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Oakland Raiders, Chicago Bears.

There seems to be a lot of familiar faces down in the basement of the NFL, except for a few major additions. The Green Bay Packers (4-3) benefited from a bye this week, but will have major quarterback concerns moving forward. Oakland (3-5) is as good as dead at this point in the season after a heartless performance against the Buffalo Bills. They need to get better at their protection schemes on the offensive line to give their star quarterback, Derek Carr, a chance to succeed once again. I’m also ready to give up on Chicago (3-5), as they seem to be more of a “project” with their young quarterback at the helm. Tampa Bay (2-5) looks very poor this season, and have now dropped four straight games.

Be sure to check back next week to see the movement in these categories, which teams should start to be taken seriously, and the others we wish would just get off our TV screens for good.

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