Week 8 of the 2021 NFL season is officially in the books. The Titans edged the Colts to stay ahead in the AFC South, the Chiefs barely beat the Giants in prime time, the Cowboys won their sixth straight despite Dak Prescott sitting ... and that was just a fraction of the action near the midway point of the first-ever 17-game season.
What did we learn about each of the 32 teams after another week of matchups? We're so glad you asked. As Week 9 draws near, we take a look below at one thing we took away from each team:
They can't rest on their laurels. Not that they have to this point, but after losing to Green Bay and then watching the Rams improve to 7-1, it's no longer a lock they'll take the West.
They'd be wise to explore offensive line help before the trade deadline. The Bengals, Browns and especially Steelers all boast scary pieces up front, and this division is still tight at the midway point.
After emerging for a second-half showcase against the Dolphins, Josh Allen might be the MVP favorite. He's shining on the ground and through the air, all while keeping Buffalo in the hunt for the AFC's No. 1 seed.
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Justin Fields is progressing. Ironically, his best game as a pro -- in a close Sunday showdown with the 49ers -- came without Matt Nagy. But he looked really good using both his arm and his legs.
Maybe their defense isn't ready for the big stage. One game doesn't erase the progress, but allowing Mike White and the Jets to do what they did? Not great. Joe Burrow and the offense should be just fine.
The AFC North looks increasingly out of reach. At 4-4, they're not out of it. But they're also at the bottom of the division, and each week, different vets -- Baker Mayfield, Jarvis Landry, etc. -- take turns undermining their chances.
Destiny just might be on their side. Crazy, right? With Cooper Rush starting for Dak Prescott in prime time on the road, they still got the "W." The NFC East is theirs, no questions asked.
It's time to sell Melvin Gordon. Not just because he fumbled to nearly lose the game against Washington, but because Von Miller's departure signals the rebuild is on. Javonte Williams is ready anyway.
They might go 0-17. No, seriously. Dan Campbell got plenty of credit despite their 0-7 start, but they were utterly lifeless against the Eagles, bowing down on both sides of the ball.
Carson Wentz is struggling with back-breaking turnovers. Sound familiar? In truth, he's had a solid 2021. But he's picking the worst times to make his worst decisions. His two late picks against Tennessee may have sealed a Titans' division crown.
Urban Meyer is still overmatched. Two weeks to prepare for the porous Seattle defense, and they stumbled all over themselves.
Their offense still isn't right. A 20-17 down-to-the-wire win against ... the Giants? Patrick Mahomes seems like he's trying so hard to make the routine plays now, and it's still an off-script mess. K.C. isn't bad, but it's working way too hard to get out of a funk right now.
Their playoff chances are even better. Just look at the division: The Chargers are struggling more than anticipated, as are the Chiefs. And the Broncos, despite a Week 8 win, are careening toward a rebuild.
They're all in for the title run. The trade for Von Miller confirms it, but so did their rout of the Texans -- yet another piece of proof they know how to take care of business, even in games they could overlook.
The offense is still a problem. They kept things close with Buffalo for a while, and Brian Flores' defense looked better, but there's a reason the QB rumors keep swirling. They need help.
Mike Zimmer's seat is actually hot. Or should be, probably. Losing to Cooper Rush at home? Playing it safe against a vulnerable Dallas "D"? Things could get really ugly over the next few weeks.
Their resilience is real. The vets could've easily thrown in the towel early, with a rookie QB under center and a defense in transition. But they've now walloped the Jets and stunned the Chargers in crunch time in successive weeks.
The pressure is on Sean Payton. Jameis Winston is unfortunately done for the year after a promising start as Drew Brees' successor. Now it's on Payton to keep the offense rolling, whether with Trevor Siemian, Taysom Hill or someone else.
Daniel Jones deserves better. He wasn't perfect Monday against a bad Chiefs defense, but man, where was the O-line? Or the smart coaching? Or bold play-calling? New York should've upset K.C. and refused to do it.
Mike White should stay at QB. Why not, right? We don't necessarily mean in place of Zach Wilson in a few weeks, but we don't necessarily not mean that, either. He definitely deserves a go at it in Week 9.
They need to run in order to win with Jalen Hurts. Most of the time, at least. Sound obvious? It wasn't to Nick Sirianni through the first seven weeks. Dominating the Lions was nice, but Hurts has still looked limited as a thrower.
They're on track to be 6-3 in a few weeks. The Bears and Lions are up next. Pittsburgh isn't guaranteed to win, but with the defense playing like it is and Ben Roethlisberger keeping things afloat, they're still alive in the North.
Tyler Lockett needs to be involved. It's no coincidence Geno Smith had one of his best days in a long time during a game in which Lockett caught 12 passes. The Jags never stood a chance with No. 16 targeted often.
The Saints are still in Tom Brady's head. Yes, TB12 threw four scores, but he also turned it over three times in a crucial divisional showdown. The Bucs will be fine, but the Saints are their regular-season Kryptonite.
It's time for Ryan Tannehill to step up. Adrian Peterson should fill in solidly for Derrick Henry, but the Titans need their QB to keep A.J. Brown -- and, eventually, Julio Jones -- in rhythm while leading the race in the South.
Washington Football Team
They need to be sellers at the deadline. If it wasn't already clear, it's time they stock up for 2022 and beyond, specifically at QB, where they have zero long-term answers.
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