The waters have parted.
It’s only Week 8 of the N.F.L. schedule, and already some teams have separated themselves from the pack, both in the leaders and among the bottom feeders.
Barring a wave of injuries, fans in New England, Wisconsin, Colorado, Cincinnati and Charlotte, N.C., can begin budgeting for playoff tickets. And barring a total turnaround in performance, fans in Tennessee, Houston, Detroit and Baltimore can start thinking about the No. 1 overall draft selection.
It is difficult, even before the halfway point of the season, to project any outsiders forcing their way past the Patriots or the Bengals in the A.F.C., or the Packers in the N.F.C.
Yes, the Seahawks could find that magic formula again, as they did in 2014 after a 3-3 start, and the Panthers have shown the resilience…