Five observations on the eighth weekend of the 2017 NFL season:
1. The Philadelphia Eagles continued to look like the best team in the league as they beat the winless San Francisco 49ers, 33-10, to boost their record to 7-1 at the midway point.
If the Eagles match that in the second half, they’ll be 14-2 and have the top seed in the NFC.
2. After three consecutive losses, the Atlanta Falcons’ season could have spun out of control if they had lost a fourth consecutive game to the New York Jets. But they escaped with a 25-20 victory to get to 4-3 and keep them in the playoff hunt.
Still, the odds remain against them returning to the Super Bowl.
3. When Jack Del Rio was coaching in Jacksonville, his teams were noted for late season collapses. Twice, they were 7-5 and lost their last four and once they were 8-5 and lost their last three.
The fall has come faster this year. Del Rio’s Oakland Raiders lost their fifth game in the last six with a 33-14 setback to the surprising Buffalo Bills. They don’t have an interception all season and don’t look like a team that will return to the playoffs this year.
4. The Steelers aren’t trading Martavis Bryant, but Bryant’s complaints opened the door to JuJu Smith-Schuster to catch a 97-yard pass for a team record although Lions’ coach Jim Caldwell helped make it possible by not trying to kick a field goal at the Steeler one-yard line. Despite a season of controversy, Steelers are still 6-2 and a Super Bowl contender.
5. The Tampa Bay Bucs were optimistic that this was going to be a breakout season during filming of “Hard Knocks.” But they fell to 2-5 and are one of the most disappointing teams in the league after being held to a field goal in a 17-3 loss to the Carolina Panthers.
One major problem is that Jameis Winston’s shoulder injury limited his practice time the previous two weeks. Winston practiced more this week, but it may be too late to turn the Bucs’ season around.
Coach Dirk Koetter, a good guy who deserves better, may be on the hot seat.