There are questions that must be answered coming out of every Sunday. We asked our experts for their opinions on the five Burning Questions coming out of Week 8. Also, we want to know what SportsNation thinks.
1. Are you surprised by Michael Vick's success passing the past two weeks?
Eric Allen: I'm very surprised by the success that Vick has had recently in the passing game. He's doing an excellent job of getting to the edge of the defense and not just looking to run, but sucking the safeties up to him so that he can throw the deep ball. That's the pass that has been lacking from his arsenal since he came into the league. He's had no problems throwing the deep ball in the past, but too often it was to a receiver who was getting double covered over the top. Now Vick understands what his team needs him to do and how his legs can help him even when he's not running the ball.
Mark Schlereth: I'm surprised at how far he's come in recent weeks because just a couple weeks ago I thought he was never going to get the hang of it in the passing game. But now he's out there making the proper reads and checking down when he's supposed to. This is why the Falcons drafted him a few years ago. They knew he was a special athlete, but it was his arm strength and what he would one day be able to do purely as a quarterback that made him such a highly-touted prospect. It's great to see him out there grasping his potential.
Joe Theismann: This is a testament to what offensive coordinator Greg Knapp has done in changing his offensive philosophy to fit his players. Too often we see coordinators try and fit a square peg into a round hole, but not this time. Knapp has perfectly integrated Vick's athletic abilities into this scheme and that's why the Falcons are the best team in the NFC South.
2. What's wrong with the Eagles?
Allen: The problem with the Eagles is simple: They don't stop the run and they can't run the football in a physical nature. This is a team that relies way too much on the big play to be successful. In perfect circumstances, that's OK, but not now with the weather getting worse. Those big plays are too reliant on good weather because you can't expect Donovan McNabb to complete the big pass. The Eagles have to find a way to stop the run or they will be run out of the playoff race.
Schlereth: The Eagles' biggest problem is they can't stop the run. They have to rely on getting ahead early so the blitz packages they bring out will be successful. Right now, with the absence of Jevon Kearse on the edge, this team's edge rushers are just too light to get it going against the run.
Theismann: They are simply too soft to be successful in the NFL. The running game is not physical enough. Teams in this league have to be able to pound the ball and this team can't. If it's third and short, they can't rely on the running game to get them that yard or two that they need. That will cost them down the stretch.
3. What's lacking in Cincinnati?
Allen: The Bengals have trouble protecting Carson Palmer and that's their biggest problem. I've watched this team on film and they are doing a terrible job of giving Palmer time to make plays downfield. Also, the loss of Chris Henry for three games hurt this team because they didn't have three viable receiving threats as they have in the past.
Schlereth: Protection, protection, protection. The Bengals can't protect Palmer and that's why we're seeing the inconsistent offensive results this year. They have to find a way to get Palmer more time even if that means going into max-protection schemes.
Theismann: The Bengals are still reeling from the off-field problems that plagued this team during the offseason and continued into the season. It's very easy for a young team to come untracked and I think that has happened to this team recently. They are too talented to be playing this poorly on offense at times. Coach Lewis has to find a way to get them going.
4. Who's the favorite now in the NFC South?
Allen: The Falcons have to be the favorite with the way Vick is throwing the football right now. He's giving this team the missing piece that it needs to be one of the elite football teams in the NFL. It's going to be interesting to see how they handle this success and if Vick is able to maintain his current numbers.
Theismann: Vick is doing a great job and that's all it takes in the topsy-turvy NFC South. The Falcons have some problems with the loss of John Abraham on the defensive line, but they should be good enough to overcome his loss.
Schlereth: I would've picked the Carolina Panthers, but after watching them get their butts beat last night by the Cowboys, I have to go with the Falcons. This team has every dimension working and they have the most dangerous quarterback in the league behind center right now.
5. What happened to the Cowboys?
Allen: Tony Romo didn't look like this was his first start yesterday and that's why they won. In fact he looked more poised than Drew Bledsoe did the past few weeks. Romo didn't make stupid mistakes and kept the Panthers off balance.
Schlereth: The Cowboys eliminated the silly turnovers that had plagued them over the past few weeks. Instead of throwing dumb interceptions in the red zone, they converted those opportunities into points. This is still a good football team and the presence of Romo could be what gets them into the playoffs.
Theismann: The Cowboys did a wonderful job of keeping Romo upright and that was the difference this week. The Cowboys made the decision to go with Romo because of the poor play of the offensive line. The line didn't give Bledsoe any time so the coaching staff felt that going with a more mobile quarterback would be the best move. This week, the line responded with one of its better performances. Now they just need to keep it up.