As the halfway point of the NFL season approaches, Week 8 is one that we are going to deem "Separation Sunday." This is where we start to see the best teams in the league move forward, while the pretenders and everyone else start to fizzle out.
Due to the nature of small sample sizes, especially in the NFL, teams are able to hang around in contention a lot longer than anyone figured they would. Eventually reality sets in, or the schedule gets tougher, and those teams start to play to their talent level.
About the time you hit the midway point of the season is when all the shuffling starts to even itself out. It doesn't always happen, though; some teams are just going to find a way to keep winning against all odds.
So with Separation Sunday upon us, here is a look at the schedule for all the FOX and CBS games, as well as a few other tidbits you need to know.
|Indianapolis at Tennessee||1:00 p.m.||CBS||Bill Macatee, Steve Tasker|
|San Diego at Cleveland||1:00 p.m.||CBS||Spero Dedes, Rich Gannon|
|New England at St. Louis||1:00 p.m.||CBS||Jim Nantz, Phil Simms|
|Miami at New York Jets||1:00 p.m.||CBS||Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts|
|Jacksonville at Green Bay||1:00 p.m.||CBS||Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf|
|Carolina at Chicago||1:00 p.m.||FOX||Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston|
|Seattle at Detroit||1:00 p.m.||FOX||Chris Myers, Tim Ryan|
|Atlanta at Philadelphia||1:00 p.m.||FOX||Dick Stockton, John Lynch|
|Washington at Pittsburgh||1:00 p.m.||FOX||Sam Rosen, Brian Billick|
|Oakland at Kansas City||4:05 p.m.||CBS||Kevin Harlan, Solomon Wilcots|
|New York Giants at Dallas||4:25 p.m.||FOX||Thom Brennaman, Troy Aikman|
All start times listed in ET
Matchup of the Week: Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles
While that other late game between two NFC East teams will command a lot of attention, the Eagles are one of the most fascinating teams in the NFL right now.
Sure, they are a pedestrian 3-3 after six games. Okay, they are 31st in the league with a minus-nine in giveaway/takeaway this season. Yet for all their faults, they always play close, exciting games.
The Falcons also have that heart-stopping gene in their DNA, though they are not nearly as generous with the turnovers, and they manage to win those close games.
The Eagles had a bye last week and decided to make changes to the defense, mainly by firing defensive coordinator Juan Castillo and promoting the defensive backs coach to Castillo's position.
When teams struggle, heads have to roll for the public to back off its constant criticism for at least one week. The Eagles are not a bad team. Michael Vick looks lost at times, but is still capable of making the big play.
I am still trying to figure out how good the Falcons really are. They have a really good quarterback, two really good wide receivers, a rejuvenated tight end, a decent secondary and no run defense.
The old saying is that you are what your record says you are, but I don't get the sense that the Falcons are the best team in the NFL despite being the only undefeated team in the league.
One of these two teams is going to make a statement in this game. You can make a legitimate case it will be the Falcons. You can make a legitimate case it will be the Eagles. That is why this matchup is so fascinating.
Under-the-Radar Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at Detroit Lions
Watching the Seahawks, you can see the foundation of a really good team in place already. The defense that Pete Carroll and his staff have built is big, fast and physical.
The offense still needs some work, though. Russell Wilson has had moments of brilliance coupled with some puzzling decisions, which is to be expected from a rookie quarterback. Marshawn Lynch might be the most physical runner in the league not named Adrian Peterson.
As things stand right now, they are a serious playoff contender, but they have to start winning games away from home to get there. They are 0-3 away from Seattle with two of the three losses coming to Arizona and Seattle.
The Lions are like Wile E. Coyote right now. They keep falling off a cliff and the Roadrunner watches them hit the ground before dropping an anvil right on their heads.
You can't point out one area that needs work for this team, either. The offense is stagnant, with Matthew Stafford looking like he has never thrown a football at times. The defense can look good at times, though they are just as likely to give up an 80-yard drive to lose as get a critical stop on 4th-and-short.
Then there are the Lions special teams. Jason Hanson is fine kicking field goals, but kick and punt coverage is a mess with no hope of rescue.
This sounds like a game the Seahawks should win, especially if they want to be thought of as postseason contenders, but we've seen how inept they look away from the friendly confines of CenturyLink Field.