NFL Week 8 takeaways: Seahawks surging toward wild card

The Eagles and Seahawks boosted their playoff chances with big wins on Sunday, and Pittsburgh and Cincinnati got big wins in a tight AFC North race.

All that and more in Week 8’s biggest takeaways from NFL Nation.

Philadelphia Eagles 24, Jacksonville Jaguars 18

Carson Wentz rebounded from a rough finish against the Panthers in Week 7 to lead the Eagles to a critical win over the Jaguars. He now has 13 touchdown passes and two interceptions on the season. Wentz’s performance gives the Eagles some reason for optimism as they enter the bye week at 4-4. — Tim McManus

Blake Bortles rebounded from his Week-7 benching — 286 passing yards, one touchdown and no turnovers — but the Jaguars couldn’t get anything going in the run game, and the defense couldn’t get of the field; the Eagles were 7-for-12 on third down. There were more injuries, with safety Barry Church the most notable, and now Jacksonville enters its bye at 3-5 with four straight losses. The Jags travel to Indianapolis in Week 10. — Michael DiRocco

Houston Texans 42, Miami Dolphins 23

The Texans offense finally got into a rhythm Thursday night, putting up a season-high 42 points on the way to a fifth-straight win. Deshaun Watson threw five touchdowns and looked like the quarterback who lit up the NFL before he tore his ACL last season. The offense suffered a huge blow, however, when wide receiver Will Fuller tore the ACL in his right knee midway through the fourth quarter. Houston (5-3) doesn’t have much depth on the roster to fill his production, and its next two games are on the road — at Denver and at Washington. — Sarah Barshop

The Dolphins have hinted toward notable change, particularly on the defensive side of the ball after laying another egg Thursday. Coach Adam Gase ruled out firing defensive coordinator Matt Burke, but a starter losing his job, significant scheme changes and a shake-up trade are all in the realm of possibilities. Miami has given up 436 rushing yards over the last two games. The 4-4 Dolphins aren’t going anywhere playing like that, no matter who the quarterback is. — Cameron Wolfe

Carolina Panthers 36, Baltimore Ravens 21

The Panthers are not to be overlooked as a contender in the NFC, maybe even the entire NFL. Cam Newton and company had their way with Baltimore’s top-ranked defense. The best defense on the field was that of Carolina, and there’s no doubt the Panthers had the best offense. They finally put everything together and played a complete game, and Newton should be considered an MVP candidate with his sixth consecutive game of throwing multiple touchdowns. That’s a career best and one off the team record with the 3-4 Bucs up next. — David Newton

The Ravens face the crossroads of their season after an embarrassing loss in Carolina. Baltimore falls to 4-4 and into third place in the AFC North. Players in the locker room consider the next two games — home against the Steelers and Bengals — as must-wins to end their three-year playoff drought. “We’re 4-4 and we’re an average team at this point,” safety Eric Weddle said. “But everything is right there for us to go get it.” — Jamison Hensley

Kansas City Chiefs 30, Denver Broncos 23

The defense isn’t going to be perfect, but the Chiefs can count on at least some help from that side of the ball each week. The Chiefs have received something of value — whether some key stops or a crucial turnover — to help the cause in seven of eight games this season. That should only continue with upcoming games against the Browns and the Cardinals. — Adam Teicher

The Broncos have lost five games to four different opponents — Sunday’s loss was the second of the season to Kansas City — but it’s universally known who the toughest opponent has been. “It’s us,” cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. Harris added he was “fed up” with the Broncos’ mistake-prone ways as they arrived to the midway point at 3-5. Denver has lost three games combined to the Chiefs and Rams this season by a combined 13 points, but “it doesn’t mean s—,” defensive end Derek Wolfe said. Things don’t get any easier for the Broncos next week against the AFC South-leading Texans. — Jeff Legwold

Seattle Seahawks 28, Detroit Lions 14

The Seahawks’ win over the Lions was the latest evidence that they’re more than just a team in transition. They’ve looked like a legitimate playoff contender, winning four of their last five following an 0-2 start. Los Angeles may be too tough to catch in the NFC West, and Seattle’s schedule has tough matchups over the next month starting next week against the Chargers, but there’s a lot working in the Seahawks’ favor. They’re healthy, they’re at home for six of their final nine games and, as they showed again in Detroit, they’re rolling. — Brady Henderson

Detroit was outplayed in every facet. The same-old issues popped up again (poor run defense, offensive drives stalling, special teams gaffes aplenty), and that’s really troubling for the Lions, who now have five consecutive games against teams with winning records, starting with the Vikings next week. — Michael Rothstein

Pittsburgh Steelers 33, Cleveland Browns 18

James Conner is much more than a fill-in. He’s a catalyst and a Browns killer, with 404 total yards in two games against Cleveland this season. The Steelers need to give Conner a healthy number of carries each week. When he gets going, they are tough to stop because of their passing weapons. “He plays with a passion that’s out of this world,” guard Ramon Foster said. The big question for this week: Will Le’Veon Bell finally report to the team? — Jeremy Fowler

The Browns are staggering after a one-sided loss in Pittsburgh, their third in a row. With Kansas City and Atlanta ahead, there isn’t much room for the struggling team to get its legs. And now the Browns must navigate what seems to be a tenuous relationship between offensive coordinator Todd Haley and coach Hue Jackson. — Pat McManamon

Chicago Bears 24, New York Jets 10

The Bears’ defense is good enough to beat mediocre teams like the Jets without Khalil Mack. Chicago gave up only 207 total net yards and held New York to under 2.5 yards per rushing attempt. Perhaps the Bears are better off sitting Mack for next week’s winnable game at Buffalo, too. They need Mack healthy when they play five division games over the final eight weeks of the regular season. — Jeff Dickerson

Predictably, the Jets were abysmal on offense, managing only one trip to the red zone. You’ve got problems when Deontay Burnett, an undrafted rookie previously cut by a team, is your leading receiver. Without his top two receivers, Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson, QB Sam Darnold had no chance. The Jets (3-5) are on the verge of losing their season. — Rich Cimini

Cincinnati Bengals 37, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 34

The defense may have had four interceptions, but it’s in serious trouble. The Bengals gave up 576 yards of total offense, including several long touchdowns. They also lost pass-rushing specialist Carl Lawson, who suffered a torn ACL and will miss the rest of the season, according to Adam Schefter. The bye week couldn’t have come at a better time considering how many starters are currently out with injuries. With the Saints’ offense up next, they’ll need all hands on deck. — Katherine Terrell

Jameis Winston threw four interceptions — including a pick-six — and was benched in the third quarter in favor of Ryan Fitzpatrick, who threw two touchdowns and had a successful two-point conversion to tie the game with 1:10 remaining. Winston turned the ball over three times last week and now has 11 through four games and three starts. When Dirk Koetter was asked if he’d be making a change at quarterback next week in Carolina, he said, “Today is not the day I have to decide that. I don’t have any problems making decisions and I’ll make it when the time is right.” — Jenna Laine

Washington Redskins 20, New York Giants 13

The Redskins have won three consecutive games and are 2-0 in NFC East games. They have a defense that has dominated vs. the run, holding Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliott and Saquon Barkley to a combined 92 yards. Their offense runs well with Adrian Peterson, who now has 687 yards this season. But Washington will be in trouble at some point if it doesn’t develop a passing attack, and it will be tested when facing more high-powered offenses over the next two weeks (Atlanta and Tampa Bay). However, what the Redskins are doing might be good enough in the NFC East. — John Keim

The Giants (1-7) enter their bye week with the worst record in the NFL. They shouldn’t look any further than their offense, which managed one touchdown in the final seconds on Sunday. The latest setback only increases the focus on the Giants rebuild. Who will be gone by Tuesday’s trade deadline? Will they bench Eli Manning? Manning said afterwards, “I want to stay here,” and he has a no-trade clause in his contract. Odell Beckham Jr. said, “I don’t think I’m going anywhere.” This is what happens when you have team that already started unloading players last week. — Jordan Raanan

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