Mike Freeman's NFL Grades: Pre-Week 16 Edition

Mike FreemanNFL National Lead WriterDecember 17, 2013

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One day soon, Jason Garrett's phone will ring. The conversation will go something like this...  

"Jason, this is Jerry."

"Uh, hi, Mr. Jones. This call is a pleasant surprise. Usually you're here by now running the morning practice."

"Jason, can you stop by my office? And bring your playbook while you're at it."

"My playbook?"

"And your iPad." 


"And your office key card. And your pass to the weight room."

"I was just going to work out…"

"You'll have plenty of time to work out after we meet. Also, bring Monte Kiffin with you. No need for his playbook. He can burn it."


"Oh, and do you have a phone number for Nick Saban?"

This is how bad it was: The Cowboys blew a 23-point lead. Against a backup quarterback and a wounded team. In a game they had to win.

Tony Romo choked. Because that is what Romo does. Two fourth-quarter picks. Choke.

Then, to make matters worse, Garrett throws Romo under the bus by disclosing that Romo changed a running play into a passing one. Coaches are supposed to take the bullet for their players. Garrett went the coward route.

This all translates into Garrett getting fired. It's only a matter of time.

Then Jones needs to fire the GM. We all know who that is.

Now, on to the grades.


49ersAWhat the 49ers do best: beat the dregs of their schedule. After beating the Bucs, they are now 7-0 against teams that currently have losing records.
BearsBI say when a quarterback throws a pick-six that that's not good. But the sycophants for Jay Cutler seem to have his back no matter what he does. The Bears are going to regret trusting Cutler and not keeping him on the bench.
BengalsD-Huge division game against reeling opponent, and they put up that stinker. A Bengals win would have meant good chance at first-round bye and a home playoff game. But noooooooo.
BillsBOne week after throwing four picks, EJ Manuel scores three touchdowns. Yeah, it was against the Jaguars, but so what. This is the kind of rebound you want to see with a young pass-thrower.
BroncosDThis was your classic game where Denver simply didn't give a crap, and the Chargers gave everything. San Diego was hungry, and the Broncos had one eye on the playoffs. Denver had its late-season mulligan. Won't happen again.
BrownsB-The defense did its part. It picked off Cutler twice and scored a touchdown. The offense was 3-of-9 on third downs, was intercepted twice and had just 93 yards rushing.
BuccaneersFThey got blown out by a more talented, more physical and hungrier opponent. No shame in getting your doors blown off by the 49ers. Has happened to many teams.
CardinalsBOne of the more underrated players on this team is kicker Jay Feely, whose 41-yard field goal in overtime gave Arizona its ninth win. Feely has been consistently good for some time, and this season is no different.
ChargersA+Philip Rivers, on the field only, is a jerk and a punk and a loudmouth. He's impossible to root for. But he's playing the position extremely well. Fullback Le'Ron McClain told me that the players love Rivers and want to play hard for him. They did just that in beating the Broncos.
ChiefsAJamaal Charles scored five touchdowns against Oakland. Five. He's not the league MVP, but it's close, and he sure is making a case. He has a chance to become the first player in NFL history with 10 TDs rushing and 10 receiving in the same season.
ColtsBOffensive coordinator Pep Hamilton opened up the playbook, using the shotgun more and varying his overall play-calling. It helped cover up numerous injury problems and allowed Andrew Luck to utilize his numerous attributes.
Cowboys:(The dreaded sad face—haven't seen this since the loser days of the Jaguars earlier this season. Sad face is the epitome is loser-ness. Sadly, I don't think this will be the last of the Cowboys sad face.  
DolphinsAHere is the thing about this team. They played the Patriots. Removing the quarterbacks, which roster would you rather have? It's easily Miami's. More talent up and down that team. And, again, Ryan Tannehill is making his move toward the upper echelon of passers.
EaglesFThird-biggest choke job of the day. Losing to the Vikings and their terrible quarterback and ninth-string running back is typical Philly.
FalconsBFive rookies start on defense, and they generate seven turnovers. Not a bad day's work for the young fellas.
GiantsF---Eli Manning threw five more picks Sunday and now has 25 for the season—a staggering number. Do his Super Bowl trophies give him a temporary pass? I don't know. I'm just stuck on that number. Twenty. Five.
JaguarsC-Chad Henne, late in the game, tossed two horrible throws. One of them was intercepted with about three minutes left. If Jacksonville has a quarterback, it wins. Period.
JetsC-Geno Smith throws another interception. Another pick-six. Another loss. 
LionsFThis was one of the most Lions-y losses in a long history of Lions-y losses. Typical Detroit to lose on 61-yard field goal.
PackersAI think Mike McCarthy deserves strong consideration for Coach of the Year. This game is a big reason why. No Aaron Rodgers, and they don't quit against the Cowboys.
PanthersB+Beat up a terrible opponent before a huge division game against New Orleans. Exactly what you're supposed to do.
PatriotsCNot a lot of weapons on either side of the ball. Tom Brady is keeping them in games—each of the team's past five games have been decided by four points or less—but he can't do everything. Yet.
RaidersFGave up the most points in a game in franchise history. Is that bad?
RamsAThe defense has talent, as they demonstrated by picking off Drew Brees twice on the opening two series. The Rams then turned those picks into TDs. Why can't St. Louis play like this all the time?
RavensAA-grade on the 61-yard field goal alone. Incredible. The Ravens showed heart and guts in the final minutes of the game.
RedskinsDThe one saving grace: Kirk Cousins can play. He's good. No Matt Flynn. Cousins will look great in a Jets uniform.
SaintsFThe second-biggest choke job of the day. Inexplicable, really.
SeahawksARichard Sherman had two first-half interceptions. He now has six on the season. I think he's the Defensive Player of the Year.
SteelersAWhere in the hell was this team all along?
TexansFDumpster fire wrapped around a car wreck. 
TitansB-Lost their fifth consecutive home game. Massive firings coming.
VikingsAThey destroyed the Eagles with no Adrian Peterson. Excellent coaching job by the staff.


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