There are plenty of questions still left unanswered in the NFL. Here are five more of them:
Is Philip Rivers Really Back?
If the season finished today, the San Diego Chargers would have a half-game edge on the New York Jets for the second wild-card spot, despite two teams in the Chargers' division going a collective 15-1.
A lot of that has to do with the play of quarterback Philip Rivers, whose current NFL passer efficiency rating of 111.1 would be the best of his career if it holds. That's impressive, considering his career average is 95.6—and especially considering his last two seasons have checked in at 88.6 and 88.7.
Does Tom Coughlin Deserve to Come Back in 2014?
After the first six weeks of the season, this wasn't even a question; the winless Giants were imploding in spectacular fashion.
After two straight wins, though, the Giants are just two behind the Dallas Cowboys for the NFC East lead. The Cowboys currently have the head-to-head tiebreaker, but even that's still up for grabs with the return match unplayed.
If the Giants can get rolling, they could even sneak into the playoffs—and save Coughlin's job.
Is Terrelle Pryor Actually the Raiders' Future at QB?
After a Week 8 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, when Pryor got his Raiders off to an impressive start and successfully closed it out, I thought he proved he's the future of the Raiders.
Pryor's still got learning and polishing to do—but he made the big play that got the Raiders rolling, and his two bad-break interceptions didn't get in the way of a victory. He was a born game-changer, and he's learning to be a game manager, too.
Can Alex Smith Step Up When Necessary?
Alex Smith deserves all the praise he's gotten for keeping the Kansas City Chiefs offense on schedule during their stunning 8-0 run.
With that terrifying defense on the other side of the field, though, the offense's to-do list hasn't exactly been packed.
Can Smith step up and lead touchdown drives when (not if) the Chiefs get caught in a shootout? Say, against the division-rival Denver Broncos, whom the Chiefs still have to play twice?
If so, we haven't seen it yet.
Is It Finally Safe to Trust Cam Newton?
As a staunch Cam Newton defender, I'd be quick to answer this question "yes." Even the harshest skeptic, though, has to admit that Newton's following his half-season "Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde" pattern; either starting hot and finishing cold, or starting cold and finishing hot.
Newton couldn't have started much colder, but he's on fire now. Backed by the NFL's second-best scoring defense, and pushing the offense toward the top 10 in scoring (No. 12, averaging 24.3 points per game), Newton is poised for a big second half even if tailback Jonathan Stewart, who said he's "ready," per Steve Reed of the Associated Press, doesn't return in Week 9 against the Atlanta Falcons.