Mike Freeman's NFL Grades: Pre-Week 6 Edition

Mike FreemanNFL National Lead WriterOctober 8, 2013

We are starting to run out of accolades for Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, aka Aaron Rodgers 2.0. There is little left to say except "look at these three statistics." They will cause you to be even more amazed.

First, Luck has won five straight games against the NFC, including beating the class of the conference in 2013, San Francisco and Seattle.

Second, Luck has guided the Colts to nine game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime. That's the most through 21 games by any quarterback that started his career since the 1970 merger.

Third, Luck is 15-6 as a starter in the regular season, which makes him the fastest quarterback drafted first overall to reach 15 wins since the merger.

He's winning against top competition.

He's winning when the game is on the line. He's the anti-Tony Romo.

And he's winning, in some ways, at a record pace.

Luck stars in this week's grades because he's a freaking star. Now, onto the good, the bad and the fail.


49ersAThis game showed why Frank Gore is one of my favorite players. He's not explosive, but he's tough and resilient. He gashed that Houston defensive line and moved the chains. Typical, steady Gore.
BearsC-The offense never got in sync, mainly because of the splendid New Orleans defense, but also because Jay Cutler was off target. The Bears defense was outsmarted by the Saints offense. On one play, Drew Brees used an aggressive audible late in the game with one yard to go. The Bears jumped offsides to give New Orleans a first down.
BengalsBThey won an ugly game, but that defense was unbelievably good. They went against below-average New England receivers, sure, but they made play after big play against Tom Brady. Not bad.
BillsC-The Bills have shown fight, but losing EJ Manuel, even for a few weeks, is a bad sign. The game against Cleveland shows both why this franchise has hope and why it's so frustrating. C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson both had long touchdown runs, but the offense slowed once Manuel was gone.
BroncosA+++Peyton Manning continues his historic season. So do the Broncos. The team has scored 230 points, which is the most by a team through the first five games of a season in league history. Right now, this team can do no wrong.
BrownsAMaybe the most inspirational story in football today. Management gives up on the season, no Trent Richardson, lose Brian Hoyer to torn knee ligaments, but the players fight on. Specials teams touchdowns, solid defense, good offensive line play.
Buccaneers Bye
CardinalsAI said entering this season that Arizona's defense had a chance to be the best in football. They're not so far off. They sacked Cam Newton seven times, once for a safety. They also intercepted him three times.
ChargersFA stank, confusing team that makes you want to kick your television. Key division game, and they turn the ball over five times. Philip Rivers tosses three picks; back to being the horrid Philip Rivers.
ChiefsAThe miracle season continues. We need Torchwood to investigate this franchise, because aliens are inhabiting these players. They continue to win games using defense, mostly error-free offense and guile.
ColtsA+++Andrew Luck is ridiculous. Just totally ridiculous with how good he's getting. That is all.
CowboysA-Tony Romo played beautifully. Romo also choked. Both things can be true. You don't have to pick one or the other. That would be socialism. Romo played a typical Romo game. He saved the team. He killed the team.
DolphinsC+Damn kickers. The Dolphins fought back only to see the kicker shank his 4-iron into the rough. Brutal loss.
EaglesBThe predictable happened. Mike Vick got hurt. When he grabbed that hammy, it was the least surprising thing in football possibly ever. The Eagles remain in the thick of the NFC East title hunt, though—whatever that's good for.
GiantsFThe temptation is to blame Eli Manning, and he has at times been awful; there were three picks on Sunday against Philadelphia. But the offensive mess isn't totally his fault. On one interception, Victor Cruz didn't fight for the football. The defense stinks. It's a total dumpster fire.
JaguarsFThis is what happens when doves cry. Prince wrote that, you know. Beautiful lyric. Applies perfectly.
JetsAOne of the gutsiest performances you'll see. No one expected that to happen. The assumption was they would get obliterated. This might be the game that sparks the growth of quarterback Geno Smith.
LionsCThey don't get a lower grade because they were without Megatron. He means that much to the offense. Ndamukong Suh attempted to trip Aaron Rodgers and was penalized for it. He just can't stop the dirty stuff.
PackersA-Green Bay found a running game. Eddie Lacy had 99 yards and was a beast. If this keeps up, the Packers will be hard to beat.
PanthersFThe offense is unraveling, and the countdown is on until Ron Rivera is fired.
PatriotsDTom Brady's last 12 passes against the Bengals: one completion, 11 incompletions (including one interception). The crappy receiving corps has caught up to New England. Finally. Brady is a magician, but even he can't microwave trash into treasure.
RaidersBTerrelle Pryor heard the rumors about Josh Freeman joining the team and responded with a solid performance. Charles Woodson got his 13th defensive touchdown, tying an NFL record. Pryor makes the Raiders...good?
RamsBThey beat the Jaguars. Whoop-de-damn-do.
RavensB+The most underrated part of their win was holding Miami's rushing game to 22 yards on 11 carries. Quarterback Joe Flacco also played well despite spending much of the game running for his life.
Redskins Bye
SaintsA+They aren't just winning with offense. Their defense is dominating as well. Is this the best team in football?
SeahawksBThey lost, on the road, to one of the hottest quarterbacks in football. But the loss is telling. The Seahawks are a different team on the road. They will need home-field advantage to reach the Super Bowl.
Steelers Bye
TexansFMatt Schaub will likely get one more game, maybe two, to correct his pick-six infection before he's benched. He looks lost, stunned, almost helpless.
TitansCRyan Fitzpatrick played well in the second half but opened the game with five straight three-and-outs.
Vikings Bye
Note: Stats and historical information via the NFL