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Mike Freeman's NFL Grades: Pre-Week 15 Edition

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Mike FreemanNFL National Lead WriterDecember 14, 2016

This tweet from Cowboys legend Emmitt Smith, about Dallas' ugly defensive performance against Chicago in Monday night's 45-28 Bears win, said it all:

Yes, yes it is.  

The entire Cowboys defense is garbage. It's the worst in football, and the Bears flipped it on its belly and attacked the soft spots—which are everywhere.  

The loss to Chicago was humiliating in any number of ways, particularly since the next defensive stop Dallas gets will be its first. More disturbing is that the team played so small with so much on the line. Stop me if you've heard this before about the Cowboys.

Total choke job. They needed this game to hold off the surging Eagles. Instead, we get the same ol' Cowboys.

One of these days, Jerry Jones is going to coach this team. Could happen this week.

Now, on to the snowy grades.


49ersAThe return of Michael Crabtree doesn't just help Colin Kaepernick. Anquan Boldin had six catches for 93 yards. Last week, he had nine for 98.
BearsAOnly fitting that on a night when Mike Ditka was honored, the Bears punched the Dallas Cowboys in the mouth.
BengalsAAndy Dalton: 24-of-35 for 275 yards and three touchdowns with zero interceptions, plus a rushing touchdown. He's peaking at just the right time, as is this entire Cincy team.
BillsFAbout the only good thing the Bills did was intercept Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon twice. Other than that, total bowl of stinkified putridity.
BroncosAPeyton Manning on the narrative that he can't win a game in cold weather, just after winning a game in cold weather on Sunday: "Whoever wrote that narrative can shove it where the sun don't shine." Oh, stop crying, you big baby.
BrownsFThey shut out the Patriots in the first half. Jason Campbell picked apart that New England secondary. Then the Browns defense allowed the Patriots to come back. They allowed New England to score 13 points in 30 seconds. Total choke job. Massive choke job. Choke. Job. The Browns have lost seven of the last eight.
BuccaneersBGreg Schiano has won four of his last five games. Enough to save his job? Not yet. He might need to win one or two more, but he has the opportunity to have one of the more dramatic turnarounds of any coach this season.
CardinalsB+Interesting stat for the Cardinals: Wide receiver Michael Floyd has 21 straight catches for a first down or touchdown. This offense is better than you think.
ChargersA-Philip Rivers will likely be the best quarterback this year to not make the playoffs. He's on a roll. Burned the Giants for three touchdown passes.
ChiefsA+Total domination. Exactly what you're supposed to do with a deflated, beaten opponent. The Chiefs swept the NFC East 119-49.
ColtsC-Andrew Luck gets four passing touchdowns and more than 30 yards rushing and still loses big. It's because he has no weapons around him. He's throwing to a bunch of Stanleys. This is not an excuse; this is a fact. If you believe the Colts' drop-off is Luck's fault, you don't know football.
CowboysFChokers, and don't blame Tony Romo. Blame that empty shell of a defense.
DolphinsB+Ryan Tannehill had three touchdown passes. He has faults, that's for sure, but he's getting better and better. To go into Pittsburgh and beat them is impressive. I don't care how bad my dumbass Super Bowl pick Steelers have been this year.
EaglesA+++LeSean McCoy, in absolutely brutal conditions, had 217 yards and two touchdowns. Don't know how he did it. It was like playing football on roller skates, and McCoy was still graceful and fluid.
FalconsD-Figures the Falcons would be the first team to lose to the Packers since Aaron Rodgers went down. What the hell has happened to this team since last year?
GiantsFThey looked like they quit against the Chargers.
JaguarsB+Maybe the craziest factoid of the week: The Jaguars are tied for the longest winning streak in the AFC, at three games.
JetsBThis was good Geno Smith. He still threw some passes that make you shake your head and wonder what the hell he was looking at. But he threw a touchdown and ran the ball well. The Jets special teams and defense also stepped up. 
LionsDThe Lions held Philadelphia in check for the first half, then totally collapsed in the second. They gave up 34 points in the second—and 299 rushing yards for the game. No discipline. At all. Can't be trusted.
PackersBThat Green Bay defense, which has often been terrible, had a shutout in the second half.
PanthersCNew Orleans is a brutal place to play, and thus the loss—but one thing we see with Carolina is the Panthers are relying heavily on that defense. It's terrific, so that's smart, but when playing a great offense like the Saints', the offense will have to open up.
PatriotsA+++Yes, I'm going to kiss Tom Brady's ass. Another comeback for him. This time, the Patriots trailed 19-3 late in the third quarter. Brady does this all the time. Even when he loses a big weapon like Rob Gronkowski, he finds a way to win. 
RaidersCHigher score because few teams have been wrecked by injuries like Oakland. What I liked about the Raiders was that despite having a squad full of backups, the team never quit.
RamsFThe Rams offense in the second half: 25 plays for 88 total yards. That's just awful. And I'll say again: Jeff Fisher is living off his past.
RavensB+A wacky, weather-weary contest came down to one Joe Flacco game-winning drive. He took Baltimore 80 yards in five plays in a drive that lasted just 41 seconds. The game-winning catch came with four seconds left. Flacco catches heat, but he's good. Really good.  
RedskinsF-Unprepared, uncaring, unnerved, uninteresting. The ugliest performance of the day. Washington has allowed 17 sacks in its past three games.
SaintsAGreat rebound from an ugly loss to the Seahawks. Drew Brees at home is nasty.
SeahawksBA brutal loss to a physical 49ers team that can match right cross to right cross. What the Seahawks need to do in these cases is raise their level of offensive play. Russell Wilson can, but some of the other offensive players sometimes cannot.
SteelersDThere was almost a miracle play at the end to save the Steelers, but a toe was out of bounds. Scrub Dolphins players and backups shredded the Pittsburgh defense when it counted. The Steelers are technically alive for the playoffs, but they are done.
TexansF"With the first pick in the 2014 NFL draft, the Houston Texans select…"
TitansC-Another loss for the Titans that was like so many others for them. They hang, they make things interesting, and then they fade away late. This time, they fell off a cliff. It's only a matter of time before there are massive changes with the Titans, including a potential firing of the head coach.
VikingsB-Adrian Peterson had just 13 yards on seven carries before leaving the game with a sprained foot. I don't think the Vikings would have won had he not been injured. The Ravens had bottled Peterson up pretty well. 


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