The halfway point of the 2020 NFL season has now officially been reached. Eight weeks have come and gone Week 8 gave fans some more takeaways. With the extra playoff team added to each conference this season, there will be plenty of teams looking to forge ahead despite their records hovering around, or even being under, .500 on the season. Without further ado, below is a look at the takeaways from Week 8 of the NFL season.
NFL Week 8 Takeaways
Tampa Bay Stays Hot
The one thing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lacked last season under Jameis Winston was a quarterback who put their team in a position to win each week. Obviously, the resume between Winston and Tom Brady isn’t fair, but this Tampa Bay team is starting to put the NFC on notice. On Monday night they secured their third-straight win in a close game against the New York Giants. With that win the Bucs proved two things: That their defense may bend but it will not break, and they are capable of beating teams a number of ways.
The Brady and Rob Gronkowski connection is starting to become as dangerous as it was in their New England Patriots days and, while the offense hasn’t been 100 percent healthy, it still features a number of playmakers in Ronald Jones and Mike Evans who can help a team win constantly. The Giants gave the Bucs a scare at the end of the game, but their defense shut the door and they now sit as the number two seed in the NFC.
Lack of Defense in Seattle Is No Issue
Russell Wilson continues to make a case for league MVP in 2020 after another fantastic performance (281 yards, four touchdowns, 128.3 passer rating) against rival San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. The obvious reason the Seattle Seahawks won’t win the Super Bowl this season is because their defense can’t stop anyone. But the counter to that argument is to just let Wilson cook. And cook he has been.
When a team knows their defense can’t contain anyone, it becomes clear that the quarterback of the said team must put his team on their back. Wilson has done that in spades this season and features an offense that has carved up defenses with the likes of Wilson, D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. The Seahawks can’t stop anyone, so they are going out and putting up 30+ points on a weekly basis. That has worked so far in Seattle.
Dalvin Cook Runs Wild
Cook has been one of the lone bright spots for Minnesota this year with an offense that has been struggling through the air. The Vikings took on the Green Bay Packers on Sunday and the Packers run defense has been non-existent. Cook’s talent and productivity, along with Green Bay’s lack of a run defense was a recipe for Cook to put up big numbers.
Cook torched Green Bay on Sunday for four touchdowns and 163 rushing yards to earn Minnesota their second win of the season. Minnesota wasn’t exactly shy about hiding their game plan on Sunday with the way Cook was running, but it still worked.
If the Vikings are going to contend for a Wild Card spot this season, they’ll have to rely heavily on Cook.
It’s Tua Time
The Miami Dolphins decision to bench veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick in favor of Tua Tagovailoa paid off on Sunday when the Dolphins knocked off the Los Angeles Rams convincingly. Although that may have been in large part due to Miami’s defense having a field day against Jared Goff, who fumbled once (Miami returned it for a touchdown) and threw two interceptions on the day.
Still, Miami got a glimpse of the former Alabama star and the toolset he’ll bring for years to come under center. Again, with the added playoff team this season, it is possible that the Dolphins qualify for the postseason this year. Miami has playmakers on both sides of the ball and should Tagovailoa falter at all, then Miami can go back to Fitzpatrick, assuming they don’t trade him before the deadline passes.
The big test for Tagovailoa will be staying healthy as that was a major concern coming into the 2020 NFL draft and throughout his college career.
Pittsburgh Remains Undefeated
The Pittsburgh Steelers are the lone undefeated team at the halfway mark of the season. Ben Roethlisberger, since returning from injury, has never looked better with about as complete a team as he has had in years. The Steelers are loaded with studs on offense with JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool, and James Conner. They also have many playmakers on defense with T.J. Watt, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Cameron Heyward.
For the first time in their careers, Roethlisberger and Lamar Jackson went to war in a battle of AFC North opponents that is always a physical battle. Sunday’s matchup was a close game throughout and it saw both teams exchanging leads, but it was Pittsburgh who got a timely stop against Jackson and company that kept their hopes for an undefeated season alive at 7-0.
Pittsburgh was always going to be competitive in 2020 with a healthy roster but now that they’ve gone this far without suffering a loss, the sky is the limit.
Week 8 of the NFL season provided some intriguing takeaways at the halfway mark and now fans will see which teams continue to build momentum in Week 9 and beyond.