The Big Story for every NFL team

Fitzpatrick says owner, GM and coach stopped believing in him (0:24)

Ryan Fitzpatrick claims owner Woody Johnson, GM Mike Maccagnan and coach Todd Bowles stopped believing in him, and says he should be starting every week for the Jets. (0:24)

NFL Nation reporters detail the biggest storylines for every team coming out of Week 7 and what they mean going forward. Answers for the Seahawks and Cardinals, who play Sunday night, will be added when their game ends.

AFC East | AFC North| AFC South | AFC West
NFC East | NFC North | NFC South | NFC West


Buffalo Bills (4-3)

The Bills should take some heat for their decision to allow running back LeSean McCoy to play on an injured hamstring in Sunday's loss to the Dolphins. McCoy, who sat out most of the second half after experiencing "a little pain," was largely ineffective. Now the question is whether he'll be ready to play next Sunday in an enormous game against the Patriots. McCoy said "I should be fine," but added, "We'll see what happens." -- Mike Rodak

Week 8: vs. New England, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

Miami Dolphins (3-4)

Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi is no longer a one-hit wonder after rushing for 214 yards Sunday against the Bills, which beat his previous career-high of 204 rushing yards that he set last week. Ajayi is one of the hottest players in the NFL and has led Miami to two straight wins. He has also suffered some wear and tear after getting 54 carries the past two weeks. Ajayi took himself out the game Sunday in the fourth quarter due to cramps, and the Dolphins' bye week comes at a good time. -- James Walker

Week 8: Bye

New England Patriots (6-1)

Bill Belichick put his support behind kicker Stephen Gostkowski, who after missing an extra point for the second week in a row said, "Right now, I stink." Belichick didn't sound like a coach who was looking to replace the 2015 AFC Pro Bowler, saying, "Nobody works harder than Steve. He is a very talented player. He is mentally tough. We'll work through it." While Belichick acknowledged that "we gotta make them," he also seemed to give Gostkowski some slack by noting that Heinz Field is a challenging venue in which to kick. -- Mike Reiss

Week 8: at Buffalo, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

New York Jets (2-5)

Another week, another quarterback decision: This time it's more complicated because of Geno Smith's knee injury. It doesn't appear serious, but he's having an MRI on Monday. Does coach Todd Bowles go back to Ryan Fitzpatrick if Smith is limited this week in practice? Smith didn't do anything to lose the job before getting hurt. Your call, coach. -- Rich Cimini

Week 8: at Cleveland, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET


Baltimore Ravens (3-4)

The Ravens are playing their worst football in coach John Harbaugh's nine seasons, but they're heading into the bye only one game behind first-place Pittsburgh. There's plenty of work to be done after losing four straight games. The offense can't find the end zone. The defense can't stop big plays. The Ravens' reason for optimism is that all five injured Pro Bowl players have a good chance of returning after the week off. -- Jamison Hensley

Week 8: Bye

Cincinnati Bengals (3-4)

Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green tends to make fools out of secondaries that have any weak spots. He did it against the Browns, and he just might do it against the Redskins, too. With Josh Norman, the Redskins' best cornerback, in the concussion protocol, that will be a key matchup to watch in Week 8. The Bengals have a short week of practice at their facility before leaving on Sunday for London and a matchup against Washington. -- Katherine Terrell

Week 8: vs. Washington, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

Cleveland Browns (0-7)

The Browns need a win in the worst way, and one of their best chances comes next week against the Jets. Coach Hue Jackson, however, enters the practice week facing the real possibility that rookie Kevin Hogan may start at quarterback after Cody Kessler left Sunday's loss in Cincinnati with a concussion. In seven games, the Browns have used six different quarterbacks. -- Pat McManamon

Week 8: vs. New York Jets, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3)

The Steelers must answer this question with clarity during the bye week: If Big Ben is out for a while, how can they find ways to win games assuming the offense is putting up less than 20 points? Because this is the second straight week the Steelers' players were lamenting sub-par rushing defense. Landry Jones played respectably and the offense still managed 16 points in a loss to the Patriots. "We've got to stop these guys (rushing on us)," said defensive tackle Stephon Tuitt, whose defense has given up four rushing touchdowns the last two weeks. "We can't lose at home. We can't." The bye week comes at a crucial time for the Steelers, who enter a crucial stretch against the Ravens and Cowboys. -- Jeremy Fowler

Week 8: Bye


Houston Texans (4-2)

The story for the Texans Monday night against the Broncos -- and the rest of the season -- will be which Brock Osweiler shows up. The quarterback struggled through three quarters last week against the Colts, then led Houston to a comeback victory in the fourth quarter and overtime. The Broncos have an excellent defense, and outside linebacker Von Miller said this week that there's a little bit of "extra sauce" going against his former teammate. -- Sarah Barshop

Week 8: vs. Detroit, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

Indianapolis Colts (3-4)

The Colts will be keeping a close eye on Houston's game against Denver on Monday. A Texans' loss will move the Colts to within a game of first place in the AFC South. The Colts got back on the right side of things when they beat Tennessee on Sunday. They want to be able to "string together" some victories so that they can keep the pressure on the rest of the teams in the division. "We're tired of the ups and downs," defensive lineman Kendall Langford said. "We have to learn to stack these wins." -- Mike Wells

Week 8: vs. Kansas City, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-4)

There's clearly something wrong with quarterback Blake Bortles. Nobody, including Bortles, seems to know exactly what. He just doesn't look like the same quarterback that he did in 2015. He's pressing, playing tight, and seems to have regressed mechanically. Six games into his third season, it's time to start wondering if he can be the franchise quarterback around which the Jaguars can build the franchise. It's a quick turnaround this week with a game at Tennessee on Thursday. Maybe that will be good for Bortles. He won't have much time to dwell on another disappointing performance. -- Mike DiRocco

Week 8: at Tennessee, Thursday, 8:25 p.m. ET

Tennessee Titans (3-4)

While the Titans have made some significant gains, none of them so far have come in the weak AFC South. After blowing Sunday's game against the Colts, they are now 0-2 as they also lost Week 3 at Houston. Now the Jaguars come to Nissan Stadium on Thursday night. If the Titans can't get their first division win against Jacksonville, one big problem will remain completely unsolved halfway through the AFC South schedule. -- Paul Kuharsky

Week 8: vs. Jacksonville, Thursday, 8:25 p.m. ET


Denver Broncos (4-2)

If the Broncos' offense is going to be what the team wants -- and needs -- it to be, it has to find a way to construct a run game. The best parts of the Broncos' playbook won't be on display until the Broncos can find a way to run the ball far better than they have. That's why rookie running back Devontae Booker is going to get additional work. Defenses have largely played the Broncos in two- and three-deep zones of late, because they think they can defend the Broncos run game with six- and seven-man fronts and leave more defenders deep in coverage. As a result the Broncos haven't reached 90 yards rushing in any of their last four games, and they have had just two pass completions longer than 20 yards in the last three games combined. -- Jeff Legwold

Week 8: vs. San Diego, Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET

Kansas City Chiefs (4-2)

Andy Reid's time as coach has been notable for some long winning streaks. The Chiefs reeled off nine straight victories in 2013, his first season in Kansas City, and 11 straight last season. The Chiefs could well be in the early stages of another such run. On Sunday against the Saints, Kansas City collected its second straight convincing victory, and nothing about either of those wins was fluky. The Chiefs don't play another team that looks like it will make the playoffs until Nov. 27, when they face the Broncos in Denver. -- Adam Teicher

Week 8: at Indianapolis, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

Oakland Raiders (5-2)

Coach Jack Del Rio downplayed his homecoming to Jacksonville after the Raiders' victory, but he and Oakland should marinate in this as they stay in Florida this week for next Sunday's game at Tampa Bay. Del Rio is 3-0 as a head coach in games played in Jacksonville between the Jags and Raiders. Also, while the Jaguars are an NFL-worst 18-57 since firing Del Rio after Week 12 of the 2011 season, the Raiders are 5-2 and on top of the AFC West, 4-0 on the road for the first time since 2000. He should have swam a victory lap, or two, in either, or both, of the swimming pools at EverBank Field and taken a lazy river celebratory ride all the way down to Tampa. -- Paul Gutierrez

Week 8: at Tampa Bay, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

San Diego Chargers (3-4)

Don't look now, but the Chargers are on a winning streak -- the team's first two-game winning streak since the 2014 season. A big part of San Diego's success the past two weeks has been the play of the Chargers' defense. San Diego held the defending champs to 13 points in a win over the Broncos last week. And in San Diego's surprising overtime victory over the Falcons on Sunday, it held Atlanta's high-powered offense to just three points in the second half and overtime. -- Eric D. Williams

Week 8: at Denver, Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET


Dallas Cowboys (5-1)

The Cowboys don't have to answer the quarterback question -- Tony Romo or Dak Prescott? -- yet. They do need to see if they can continue the momentum of a five-game winning streak after four days off thanks to the bye. The Cowboys are 2-3 after the bye with Jason Garrett as coach, but this will be the first time they have played a home game after the bye. The Cowboys have won their last two games at AT&T Stadium after losing the season opener but have not had a three-game home winning streak since early in the 2014 season. -- Todd Archer

Week 8: vs. Philadelphia, Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET

New York Giants (4-3)

The Giants head into their bye with a winning record after a victory over the Rams in London. It was desperately needed in an NFC East which, all of a sudden, has four teams above .500. Despite being hurt, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. made the biggest offensive play of the game Sunday. Beckham (hip/abdominal) needs to heal up, because the Giants have to get ready for a key division matchup against the Eagles when they return. First order of business before returning to work: Handling the Josh Brown situation. The kicker is on the exempt list, and the team needs to make a decision and statement on his future. -- Jordan Raanan

Week 8: Bye

Philadelphia Eagles (4-2)

The Eagles are cooking again on defense. Jim Schwartz's unit outplayed the top D in the league in a win over the Vikings. Following a two-game skid, this unit bounced back in a big way, registering 12 quarterback hits and six sacks on former Eagles signal-caller Sam Bradford. Safety Malcolm Jenkins said afterward that the players feel they have the best defense in the NFL. Now it's a matter of trying to prove that week after week, starting in Dallas next weekend. -- Tim McManus

Week 8: at Dallas, Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET

Washington Redskins (4-3)

Playing the Bengals this week might have gotten a lot tougher thanks to two more key injuries. Left tackle Trent Williams will undergo an MRI on Monday to determine the severity of his injured left knee. He said after the game it was hyperextended, and he walked with a bad limp. Then there's cornerback Josh Norman, who will now be in the concussion protocol, a tough time to enter it given that the Redskins will leave for London on Thursday night to play Cincinnati. Considering the Bengals have receiver A.J. Green, it would be a tough game for Norman to miss. Meanwhile, there's no guarantee tight end Jordan Reed, who also has a concussion, will return this week. The Redskins haven't ruled him out, but it wasn't a good sign that he was able to practice Wednesday (albeit limited) and not the rest of the week. -- John Keim

Week 8: at Cincinnati, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET


Chicago Bears (1-6)

The Bears need a quarterback for next week's game against the Vikings. Brian Hoyer's fractured left forearm opens the door for Jay Cutler to return. Cutler has missed five games with a right thumb injury, but he is close to being cleared by the doctors. "When he's cleared medically, we'll have him out there," Bears coach John Fox said. The only other option is Matt Barkley, who went 5-of-16 for 81 yards and two interceptions (18.3 quarterback rating) in place of Hoyer last Thursday night in Green Bay. -- Jeff Dickerson

Week 8: vs. Minnesota, Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET

Detroit Lions (4-3)

Quarterback Matthew Stafford is playing like a potential MVP, but the big concern has to be on the Lions' defense. Detroit showed some progress Sunday in a win over Washington, but it's not clear how long cornerback Darius Slay might be out. If the Lions lose Slay for any period of time, that'll be real trouble for a secondary that needs playmakers. It's a potentially bigger problem next weekend as Detroit faces Houston with a strong receiving duo in DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller. It'll force defensive coordinator Teryl Austin to go to another schematic plan to try and get the Lions' fourth straight win. -- Michael Rothstein

Week 8: at Houston, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

Green Bay Packers (4-2)

The Lambeau Field fun is over for a while; it's time for the Packers to hit the road. Sunday's game at Atlanta starts a stretch of four out of five on the road. They will play only one home game between now and Dec. 3. At least they got a little break coming off the Thursday night win over the Bears; coach Mike McCarthy gave the players off until Tuesday. -- Rob Demovsky

Week 8: at Atlanta, Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET

Minnesota Vikings (5-1)

The Vikings' offensive line has been an issue for the better part of two years, and the team's attempts to fix it have not been for lack of effort. The Vikings signed two starters in free agency this offseason, hired a new line coach and promised a new attitude up front this season. But with injuries and ineffective performances, they'll need to fix a familiar problem after a loss in which the Vikings gave up six sacks and coach Mike Zimmer called the offensive line "soft." Until the Vikings prove they can shed that label, they'll get plenty of teams ready to test their pass protection with the kinds of blitzes the Eagles used Sunday. -- Ben Goessling

Week 8: at Chicago, Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET


Atlanta Falcons (4-3)

The Falcons had a variety of problems in a overtime loss to the Chargers, and one of the biggest was giving up too many big plays on defense. The Falcons surrendered eight plays of 16 yards or more, including five plays of 20 yards or more. They allowed Philip Rivers to pass for 371 yards and gave up 140 receiving yards to Tyrell Williams. It's an issue that needs to be resolved quickly, particularly with quarterbacks such as Aaron Rodgers of the Packers and Carson Palmer of the Cardinals coming up next on the schedule. -- Vaughn McClure

Week 8: vs. Green Bay, Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET

Carolina Panthers (1-5)

The Panthers should be healthier coming off the bye week with left tackle Michael Oher (concussion), defensive tackle Vernon Butler (ankle), cornerback James Bradberry (toe), cornerback Robert McClain (hamstring) and cornerback Leonard Johnson (Achilles) on track to return. But what the Panthers really need is to get healthy in the win column as they attempt to become only the second team since 1990 to overcome a 1-5 start to make the playoffs. It starts with a rematch of the NFC Championship against Arizona. -- David Newton

Week 8: vs. Carolina, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

New Orleans Saints (2-4)

The Saints said all the right things about how unforgivable their performance was at Kansas City. But a few of them did manage to put a positive spin on it, saying they couldn't possibly shoot themselves in the foot any more than they did -- and they still had a chance to win at the end. "We got what we deserved," Drew Brees said, but he added, "We know that we can compete with anybody, anywhere." That will be put to the test when the Saints host one of the toughest teams on their schedule next week -- the Seahawks. Although that puts the Saints in danger of a 2-5 start, the optimist would call it a huge potential confidence-booster. -- Mike Triplett

Week 8: vs. Seattle, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-3)

After being down 14-0 in the first quarter to the 49ers, the Bucs scored 34 points and surrendered just a field goal in quarters 2-4. The Bucs gashed the Niners for 249 yards on the ground. Jacquizz Rodgers, their third-string running back, rushed for his second-straight 100-yard game after never reaching that mark in his previous five seasons. Quarterback Jameis Winston threw three touchdown passes. It's a good sign for the Bucs, who are now at .500 after starting the season 1-3. -- Jenna Laine

Week 8: vs. Oakland, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET


Los Angeles Rams (3-4)

Quarterback Case Keenum threw four interceptions in a defeat to the Giants in London, giving the Rams three straight losses to put them at 3-4 as they head into their bye week. Despite all that, coach Jeff Fisher said he's sticking with Keenum at quarterback and is not ready to hand the job to No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff. Stay tuned, though. Fisher has changed his mind on these matters before, and a lot of factors -- Keenum's overall production, and a soft schedule coming out of the bye -- point in Goff's direction. -- Alden Gonzalez

Week 8: Bye

San Francisco 49ers (1-6)

The 49ers suffered their sixth consecutive loss Sunday, this time a defeat to the Buccaneers after blowing an early 14-0 lead for the second time this season. As they head to their bye week, the Niners have a defense that can't stop anyone, an offense that can't move the ball consistently and a team that looks like it's headed toward rock bottom. They won't be able to fix all that ails them in one week or even the majority of it. But now seems like an opportune time for the franchise's chief decision-makers to take a long look at what's going on and start formulating a long-term plan so a real rebuilding project can begin. -- Nick Wagoner

Week 8: Bye