Mike Freeman's NFL Grades: Pre-Week 14 Edition

Mike FreemanNFL National Lead WriterDecember 3, 2013

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The biggest, fattest "F" this week can only go to one place. Only one. There is no other candidate.

Human beings make mistakes. There are many, many different kinds of people-y mistakes. In football, there are mistakes. Coaches and players make them. Game officials, too. Yet there are bad mistakes, really bad mistakes, and what Jeff Triplette's crew did during Sunday night's game at Washington.

Getting the down correct is one of the most basic—and important—duties of an officiating crew. It's the officiating equivalent of taking a breath. Can't get that right, shouldn't be a ref.

Triplette's crew didn't just get that wrong; they got it hilariously wrong. It was inexcusable.

Whether or not it had an impact on the game is irrelevant. The point is, it could have. The larger point is, NFL refs shouldn't be making those types of mistakes.

Triplette, to me, is one of the worst refs in all of sports. If not the worst. That's my opinion based on watching him officiate for years. What happened in Washington wasn't a fluke for Triplette and his crew.

Those are the kinds of mistakes that can cost jobs. 

Now, on to the grades, and remember what down it is as you peruse.

49ersB+Colin Kaepernick threw for 275 yards, and it's Kaepernick who has refueled the 49ers' recent rise. He is becoming unsolvable again, particularly as he gets his weapons back.
BearsC-This once-proud defense gave up almost 500 total yards of offense. Adrian Peterson had 211. Unbelievably, the Bears still had a chance to win. Coach Marc Trestman made an incredibly insane call to attempt a long field goal on second down.
BengalsBForced three turnovers against San Diego and cooled a hot Chargers offense. 
BillsC-Back-and-forth game, but Buffalo's turnovers on each of its last two possessions were the key in the loss to the Falcons.
BroncosAThe kind of rebound win, post-Patriots loss, that was remarkably impressive. Peyton Manning had a few offensive components either missing or hurt and still threw five TDs. On the road. Against a nasty division opponent in the Chiefs. Great win.
BrownsFGot beat, at home, by Chad Freaking Henne. Worse, Henne drove the Jags 75 yards in nine plays for decisive score on that allegedly good Browns defense.
BuccaneersDTurned the ball over twice, and quarterback Mike Glennon was sacked five times. The Panthers will do that to a lot of teams, but the Buccaneers still reverted back to Yuccaneer form.
CardinalsCCarson Palmer threw two picks and lost a fumble. Is the Bad Carson rearing his ugly head?
ChargersDFourth loss in five games destroys their playoff chances.
ChiefsBDefense has been shredded in recent weeks. That's the bad news. The good news is that the offense is finally opening up. Alex Smith almost went toe-to-toe with Manning. That bodes well for the Chiefs.
ColtsB+Andrew Luck is almost weaponless, and still the Colts will probably win the division. Indianapolis would not have won that game Sunday had it not been for Luck.
CowboysB+Running back DeMarco Murray had three touchdowns against Oakland, and if the Cowboys can continue this type of balance, they will be legit threats in the playoffs. Tony Romo played well despite fighting an illness. He really is having an MVP-type season.
DolphinsBRyan Tannehill threw for 331 yards and two scores against the Jets. I'm back on the Tannehill bandwagon.
EaglesANick Foles is doing something we've rarely seen before, and while I was a skeptic, along with others, no one can be now. If it comes down to Eagles-Cowboys in the playoffs, well, I don't know any longer. The Eagles are a scary team.
FalconsC+Total disaster of a season. Takes monumental effort to beat the damn Bills. How the mighty have fallen.
GiantsBTeam focused on stopping Washington's running game instead of Robert Griffin III. Tactic worked. Also, Eli Manning looked pretty good. 
JaguarsAMaurice Jones-Drew threw a TD pass in the win at Cleveland. He now has as many TD passes in the past seven games as Geno Smith.
JetsFIt really doesn't get any worse than this. It was a level of quarterbacking ineptitude rarely seen, even for the Jets, who have seen a tremendous amount of quarterbacking ineptitude in the past several decades. Smith will start this week.
LionsATotal domination over Green Bay. Detroit linebacker DeAndre Levy got his league-leading sixth interception. The Lions still get in their own way. Two of the first four drives led to lost fumbles. Do that in the playoffs, you lose. 
PackersFThe Packers are one of the best examples ever of the importance of the QB position. With Aaron Rodgers, playoff contenders. Since Rodgers has been out, 0-4-1.
PanthersADuring Carolina's eight-game winning streak, Cam Newton has 13 touchdown passes and five rushing scores. The Panthers outgained the Bucs 426 total yards to 206. Ass whoopin'.
PatriotsBWhat former coach Tony Dungy said about New England on NBC is perfect: "This team reminds me so much of our 2006 Super Bowl team in Indy. They’re decimated on defense, but they’ve got a great quarterback who’s making plays and keeping them in every game. Tom Brady is the reason they’re winning." Yep.
RaidersCGood start, and then a fizzle. Not enough firepower to hang with Romo and couldn't stop the Cowboys' run game. The Raiders are still, well, the Raiders.
RamsFJust when you want to believe in the Rams, they launch one of these stinkers. The Rams had 73 total yards in the first half against San Francisco. Kellen Clemens was the quarterback. Might as well have been Kellen Winslow. 
RavensBWon a close one against a stubborn division foe. The hero against Pittsburgh was actually Ravens kicker Justin Tucker. He kicked five field goals, three of them over 40 yards.
RedskinsDClearest indication that RGIII isn't totally right: Teams are stacking the line to stop the running game, and RGIII can't take advantage because he is no longer fast enough to beat teams around the corner. His receivers are also flotsam.
SaintsFNever once were a threat Monday night. Unless you count the coin toss. One of the few times you will see Sean Payton totally outcoached.
SeahawksA+++Total domination before a crazy crowd in a huge game against Saints. Seahawks are now favorites to win the NFC.
SteelersB-The focus is on Tomlin's sideline antics, but what's been lost is that the Steelers were a dropped two-point conversion away from tying the game. Came damn close to winning it.
TexansC-Good try, good effort.
TitansB-Took Colts to the brink. Played hard, smart. Could have easily won.
VikingsAImagine if Adrian Peterson had a real quarterback. Even just a decent quarterback. Even just a quarterback that could throw a spiral. Half-spiral. Semi-accurately. In the near vicinity of a receiver. Kinda near, even. Maybe within 10 yards, even. Fifteen max.


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