This topsy-turvy 1999-2000 season has hit the midway mark. The St. Louis Rams' offense seems unstoppable while the Minnesota Vikings are showing signs of life under quarterback Jeff George. The stretch for the playoffs begins now. Where will Week 8 take us?
To help you out CBS.com will be sitting down with CBS Sports announcers all season to give you their previews and opinions about current NFL news and each week's schedule.
CBS Sports' analyst Randy Cross is hear to kickoff the eighth week of the season.
CBS.com: Everyone is talking about the teams that are playing above their expectations this season - but a number of teams - like Denver and Minnesota - have played far below their expectations - what teams - if any - do you think will turn it around in the second half of the season.?
Randy Cross: Well, you brought up at least one or two good examples there. I think Denver still has the opportunity to be a .500 and above football team with the talent level that they have. Even with the people that they have lost. Which I think says something to a Pat Bowlen (owner) and a Mike Shanahan (coach) built in Denver.
I think Minnesota has gone through some terrible times, especially offensively. That you saw last week scoring 40 points, they have got a crack of doing something pretty good at Minnesota. And this game in Denver this week is going to be the step probably on their way to either a sort of mediocre year, or what could be a really pretty good year.
You look around the league, can the Niners come back out in the NFC West? I don't know about that. Can Tampa Bay do something in the NFC Central? Well, if you get out of your early-man offense, you might have a shot. So, you go on to the AFC and you look at some of the teams that disappointed there. The Jets are pretty much done for the year.
And there is other examples I think where you say, yeah but they can't do this or yeah but they can't do that. There are very few teams right now that aren't just about what the record indicates.
CBS.com: The St. Louis Rams continue to light up the scoreboard. What do you think Tennessee - or any team for that matter - should do to slow down this high-powere, undefeated team?
What defenses have to do, and this is a lot harder than it sounds, is you have to disrupt that timing. You have to disrupt that rhythm. You have to disrupt that execution, in order to take them out of their comfort zone. And once a player is out of its comfort zone that is when you really find out how good they are. So that is sort of the assignment around the league right now to going against the Rams, and the Titans, and the Jaguars and the some of these teams that are playing pretty well.
CBS.com: What key match-ups should we look out for in Week 8?
Randy Cross: Well, the best part of the match-ups this week is, you are going to have some good receiver, defensive back match-ups. Whether it is Denver, you have Carter and Crockett, going against Moss and Reed, and Cris Carter. Or out on the left (west) coast in the Miami vs. Oakland game. You have got Woodson and Allen - you have got Martin out there with the Miami Dolphins coming in there, and he has got two or three other teammates that can really light it up passing the ball.
You go down the schedule this week, and it is really amazing how many times you look for a key match-uand you say; well there is that guy, and there is this guy, and there is this guy, and there is that guy.
You know Champ Bailey. How about Champ Bailey and Rob Moore, in that, I'm sorry. How about Terry Glenn and Aeneas Williams. Or how about Rob Moore and Ty Law in that New England vs. Arizona game. So there are plenty of them out there.
CBS.com: The word rivalry is slowly becoming obsolete when discussing the NFL. What can teams, fans, or the league do to prevent the traditional rivalry from becoming extinct?
Randy Cross: Well the first thing you can do is not, sort of over legislate your realignment in a couple of years. And keep a lot of those rivalries together. And I think a lot of rivalries have to be constantly updated and constantly created between the two teams. Because one of the reason the rivalries has suffered so much, to be honest, is the players change so often. When you have guys changing teams every three or four years, how much tradition can you build up.
How many of these Washington Redskins really know what a rivalry they used to have with the Dallas Cowboys. I mean the 'Skins have lost three in a row now to the Cowboys. Or how many of the New York Giants know about the 'Skins rivalries. How many of the Rams know about the great rivalries that used to go on with the 49ers. Or even go to the Lions and the rivalry with the Packers, or the Vikings, or the Bears. It goes all the way around.
And I think the player movement has got to be changed a little bit. And it will be up to the league and the NFLPA to see if they can't quiet that down.
Produced by James Hutton and Larry Roth