NFL Team Grades for Week 14

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystDecember 11, 2017

NFL Team Grades for Week 14

0 of 32

    Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

    Shake-ups defined Week 14 of the 2017 NFL season. 

    They started early. In fact, they began Thursday night, when the Atlanta Falcons made things a bit more interesting in the NFC South by downing the New Orleans Saints.

    Things kept right on rolling Sunday. The Carolina Panthers knocked off the NFC's top seed entering Week 14, the Minnesota Vikings.

    And Monday featured the biggest surprise of them all, a Miami Dolphins upset win over the New England Patriots. 

    Elsewhere, the Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions, Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers kept their lagging playoff hopes alive. And the Philadelphia Eagles won and lost at the same time—while they beat the Los Angeles Rams to clinch the NFC East, star quarterback Carson Wentz suffered a knee injury that threatens to wreck their season.

    As is the case every week here at Bleacher Report, it's time to assign grades to the week's action, whether it's a dominant showing by the Los Angeles Chargers or whatever it was the Cincinnati Bengals called what they did against the Chicago Bears.

    So from Arizona to Washington and all parts between, here's a look at the best and worst of Week 14.

Arizona Cardinals

1 of 32

    Ralph Freso/Associated Press

    Week 14 Opponent: vs. Tennessee Titans

    Score: Won 12-7

    Had someone told you before Sunday's meeting with the Tennessee Titans that the Arizona Cardinals would fail to score a touchdown, you would have penciled in the first-place Titans for a win.

    Good thing pencils have erasers.

    This game was an exercise in either offensive futility or defensive dominance, depending on how you look at it. Neither team managed 300 yards of total offense or 150 passing yards. Both teams struggled in a big way on third down, combining to go 7-of-26.

    The Redbirds made it into the red zone four times and came away with just a field goal on all four occasions. But the Cardinals were able to force a pair of turnovers and surprisingly gash a stout Titans run defense for 136 yards and 4.7 yards per carry despite the absence of Adrian Peterson.

    Arizona isn't going to sniff the playoffs in a season where injuries have gutted the offense. But credit where it's due—the 6-7 Cardinals also haven't folded up shop.

    They keep fighting, much to the chagrin of the Titans.

    Week 14 Grade: C+

    Season Grade: C-

Atlanta Falcons

2 of 32

    Danny Karnik/Associated Press

    Week 14 Opponent: vs. New Orleans Saints

    Score: Won 20-17

    Some days, it's better to be lucky than good.

    That's what the Falcons had to be telling themselves after a three-point win that made the race for the NFC South title far more interesting.

    The Falcons beat the Saints not because of their best effort, but in spite of it. Matt Ryan completed just 15 of 27 passes for 221 yards and a touchdown with three interceptions. Late in the game, head coach Dan Quinn bizarrely declined a penalty that would have given the Saints a 3rd-and-11.

    New Orleans went for it on 4th-and-1 and converted.

    Had Drew Brees not out-Ryan'd Ryan by throwing a crippling interception in the end zone, this game may well have gone the other way—dealing Atlanta's chances of repeating as division champions a crushing blow. It didn't, though.

    Now, for all of Atlanta's ups and downs this season, it controls its own destiny. If the Falcons win out, the NFC South is theirs.

    It won't be easy, though. After next week's trip to Tampa, the Falcons finish the season with a Big Easy rematch with the Saints and a home tilt with the Carolina Panthers.

    Week 14 Grade: B-

    Season Grade: B-

Baltimore Ravens

3 of 32

    Don Wright/Associated Press

    Week 14 Opponent: at Pittsburgh Steelers

    Score: Lost 39-38

    For most of the 2017 season, the Baltimore Ravens have been carried by a defense that covered for the offense and kept the team in games. In 12 games, the Baltimore defense hadn't allowed a 300-yard passer.

    They have now. And then some.

    On a night where the Baltimore offense posted over 400 yards of total offense and scored 38 points, the defense was absolutely eviscerated by Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense. Big Ben threw for a jaw-dropping 506 yards, and the Steelers amassed nearly 550 yards of total offense.

    That's almost 240 yards more than the Ravens have surrendered on average in 2017.

    After going down 14-0 the Ravens peeled off a 31-6 burst that left the team with an 11-point lead in the second half in a game they badly needed to avoid falling into a logjam for the AFC's No.6 seed.

    But a gassed Ravens defense collapsed, and now at 7-6 there's very little margin for error in what appears a relatively easy (at Cleveland, Indianapolis, Cincinnati) three-game stretch to close the year.

    Week 14 Grade: C-

    Season Grade: C+

Buffalo Bills

4 of 32

    Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

    Week 14 Opponent: vs. Indianapolis Colts

    Score: Won 13-7 (OT)

    Oh, the weather outside is frightful.

    But football in a blizzard is delightful.

    Nobody was able to throw.

    In Week 14 in Buff-a-lo.

    It's tough to assign grades for Sunday's snowy game in Buffalo. With white stuff pouring down throughout the game and the wind howling for most of it, the Bills and Colts combined for 156 passing yards.

    Despite losing backup Nathan Peterman to a head injury in the second half, the Bills were able to grind out a win in overtime thanks to 156 rushing yards and a touchdown on 32 carries by tailback LeSean McCoy.

    Yes, Shady gained as many yards by himself as both teams combined for through the air.

    At 7-6, the Bills' slim chances of ending the league's longest playoff drought remain intact. But if Buffalo has to roll out Joe Webb at quarterback next week against Miami, that may not be true for long.

    Unless, of course, it can dial up another blizzard.

    Week 14 Grade: B

    Season Grade: C

Carolina Panthers

5 of 32

    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    Week 14 Opponent: vs. Minnesota Vikings

    Score: Won 31-24

    By virtue of the Saints' loss to Atlanta on Thursday, the Carolina Panthers had an opportunity to climb back into a virtual tie atop the NFC South with a win in Week 14. All the Panthers had to do was beat a red-hot Minnesota Vikings team that entered the weekend as the NFC's No. 1 seed.

    No problemo.

    In reality, there were more than a few problemos. Cam Newton threw for just 137 yards. The team squandered an 11-point lead in the span of a few minutes in the final quarter.

    But Newton also peeled off a 62-yard run that set up the game-winning score, running back Jonathan Stewart topped 100 yards and scored three times and the Carolina defense turned over the Vikings an equal number of times.

    After falling last week at New Orleans, the Panthers badly needed to rebound quickly ahead of a home game next week that could feature Aaron Rodgers' return to the Green Bay Packers.

    They got that rebound, and they'll now face the Packers with a nice head of steam.

    Week 14 Grade: A-

    Season Grade: B+

Chicago Bears

6 of 32

    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Week 14 Opponent: at Cincinnati Bengals

    Score: Won 33-7

    No, that isn't a typo. The Bears won 33-7. On the road, even.

    It's hard to read too much into a game that says more about how bad the Bengals are than it does how good the Bears are. But getting an emphatic win had to feel good for the 4-9 Bears, who had some clear positives to build on.

    Tailback Jordan Howard had a big game, rolling for 147 yards and two scores on 23 carries while crossing the 1,000-yard threshold for the second straight season.

    But the biggest positive had to be the play of rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. For only the second time in his career, Trubisky passed for more than 250 yards. His passer rating of 112.2 ranks second only to his 117.2 rating a week ago against the 49ers—a game in which Trubisky threw for just 102 yards.

    This game isn't going to save Chicago's season. Or John Fox's job. But for one game at least, Trubisky looked like an NFL quarterback.

    And that's something.

    Week 14 Grade: A

    Season Grade: D-

Cincinnati Bengals

7 of 32

    John Grieshop/Getty Images

    Week 14 Opponent: vs. Chicago Bears

    Score: Lost 33-7

    Sunday may have marked the beginning of the end of Marvin Lewis' time as head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals.

    Six days after dropping a heartbreaker to the hated Pittsburgh Steelers, the Bengals were humiliated on their own field by a Bears team that came into Week 14 with a 3-9 record.

    There isn't a facet of the game where the Bengals weren't embarrassed.

    Cincinnati's AFC-worst offense was pathetic, managing just 234 total yards. The defense was somehow worse, giving up 482 yards to a Chicago club that came into the week as the only offense in the NFL gaining fewer yards per contest than Cincy.

    The Bears had more than twice as many total yards as the Bengals. More than twice as many first downs. Chicago held the ball for over 38 minutes. And the Bengals were minus-two on turnovers.

    It was one of the most pathetic showings by any NFL team in any game this season.

    And if that isn't enough to get Lewis the ax once the Bengals miss the playoffs for the second straight year, nothing will be.

    Week 14 Grade: F (and then some)

    Season Grade: D

Cleveland Browns

8 of 32

    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Week 14 Opponent: vs. Green Bay Packers

    Score: Lost 27-21 (OT)

    At the outset of the fourth quarter of Sunday's game between the Browns and Packers, Cleveland held a 14-point lead.

    Then the Browns remembered they were the Browns.

    The defense stopped defending, allowing three unanswered touchdowns. And after playing arguably his best game as a pro, DeShone Kizer threw a jaw-droppingly bad interception in overtime that set Green Bay up on Cleveland's 42-yard line.

    There's little doubt desperate Browns fans will cling to positives from this game, such as Kizer's improvement (for a while, anyway), Isaiah Crowell's 121-yard game or Josh Gordon's first touchdown since 2013.

    But that frantic search for moral victories belies just how awful this season has been in Cleveland. At 0-13, this team is in the midst of the worst 30-game stretch in NFL history.

    The Browns had a chance to win their first Sunday game in two years against the Packers. And they blew it.

    Browns gotta Brown.

    Week 14 Grade: D

    Season Grade: Mega Super EconoSize Z- (with a side of choke)

Dallas Cowboys

9 of 32

    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Week 14 Opponent: at New York Giants

    Score: Won 30-10

    The Dallas Cowboys came into Week 14 as one of a number of teams with no margin for error the rest of the way. Given how things have progressed to date, the Cowboys' next loss will effectively crush their chances of making the postseason in 2017.

    Dallas played like a desperate team in New York.

    For much of Sunday's game, the Cowboys and Giants were neck and neck. But a fourth-quarter touchdown catch by tight end Jason Witten opened the floodgates, and tailback Rod Smith quickly poured on two scores to turn a close game into a blowout.

    Quarterback Dak Prescott was nearly perfect, topping 300 passing yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions to finish with a passer rating north of 130.

    Dallas also got linebacker Sean Lee back, whose presence was readily apparent. Lee paced the team with an eye-popping 18 tackles, and the Cowboys had their best defensive outing as a team in weeks.

    The Cowboys have what appears to another winnable game next week at Oakland before two brutal contests (Seattle, at Philadelphia) to close out the season.

    But for now, Dallas will live to fight another day.

    Week 14 Grade: A

    Season Grade: C+

Denver Broncos

10 of 32

    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    Week 14 Opponent: vs. New York Jets

    Score: Won 23-0

    No team in the NFL has been mired in a bigger or longer free fall than the Denver Broncos. They had lost their last eight games, which was Denver's longest losing streak since before the AFL-NFL merger.

    Meanwhile, the New York Jets had been a tough out on a weekly basis. Just last week, the Jets shocked the Kansas City Chiefs at MetLife Stadium.

    Naturally, Denver waxed New York on Sunday.

    The Broncos didn't play a great game offensively, posting just 273 yards in total. But the defense—well, it looked like the defense was sick of talking heads blabbering about how it had fallen off as of late.

    The Jets only mustered 100 yards of total offense for the game. New York amassed all of six first downs. Josh McCown passed for a whopping 46 yards before leaving with a broken hand.

    Bryce Petty had 14.

    For the first time in two months, the Broncos showed up.

    Week 14 Grade: A-

    Season Grade: D-

Detroit Lions

11 of 32

    Jason Behnken/Associated Press

    Week 14 Opponent: at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Score: Won 24-21

    From a quick look at box score, it wouldn't be unreasonable to surmise that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

    Yes, Matthew Stafford racked up 381 passing yards, but he also tossed only one touchdown against two picks, and the Lions turned the ball over three times.

    Detroit rushed for only 53 yards on 18 carries. The Buccaneers had the ball longer than the Lions, and they converted an even 50 percent of their third downs.

    But while Theo Riddick ran for just 29 yards on 10 totes, two of those carries went for scores. And while Lions hardly played mistake-free football, they were brutally efficient compared to the gaffe-prone Buccaneers.

    Much like the aforementioned Cowboys, the Lions entered this week with their backs against the wall. At 6-6, Detroit needs to win out and hope 10-6 is good enough to earn a wild card in the meat grinder that is the NFC in 2017.

    They didn't notch many style points in the process, but just like Dallas, the Lions accomplished their most immediate goal: staying alive.

    Week 14 Grade: B-

    Season Grade: C

Green Bay Packers

12 of 32

    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Week 14 Opponent: at Cleveland Browns

    Score: Won 27-21 (OT)

    Don't look now, but the Green Bay Packers are lurking as possible playoff contenders.

    With speculation flying that Aaron Rodgers could make a return to the Packers next week in Carolina, the edict was clear in Week 14—beat the winless Browns and give Rodgers something to come back to.

    It was dicey most of the afternoon. The Packers spotted Cleveland a 21-7 lead thanks to a sputtering offense and a sleepwalking defense.

    But in the final 15 minutes, both units came alive. By game's end, Brett Hundley had thrown for 265 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner to Davante Adams in extra time. That score was set up by an interception—one of two Green Bay takeaways on the day.

    By no means did Hundley and the Packers play a flawless game. But they made plays when they needed to and avoided the sort of mistakes that wound up costing the Browns in the end.

    With the win, Hundley moved to 2-4 as Green Bay's starter. While that record doesn't merit a standing ovation, Hundley has done what he needed to.

    He kept Green Bay's season from falling into complete disrepair.

    Week 14 Grade: B-

    Season Grade: C+

Houston Texans

13 of 32

    Tim Warner/Getty Images

    Week 14 Opponent: vs. San Francisco 49ers

    Score: Lost 26-16

    After losing Deshaun Watson to a torn ACL and having to turn back to Tom Savage, the Houston Texans likely thought things couldn't get any worse at quarterback.

    Then Savage suffered a concussion in the second quarter against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

    One could argue that after Savage went down, Houston's quarterback play improved. Third-stringer T.J. Yates was surprisingly effective, connecting on 14 of 26 passes for 175 yards and two scores without an interception.

    Those numbers didn't make much difference on the scoreboard.

    The loss of Watson isn't the only injury the Texans have suffered this season, and the defensive attrition has taken a toll.

    Heading into this week, the 49ers were averaging just over 327 yards of total offense per game. San Fran piled up 416 on Sunday—over 100 more than the Texans.

    Assuming that Watson, J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus are all back and healthy for the Texans in 2018, there's hope for the future.

    But the present is a mess.

    Week 14 Grade: D

    Season Grade: D

Indianapolis Colts

14 of 32

    Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

    Week 14 Opponent: at Buffalo Bills

    Score: Lost 13-7 (OT)

    The Colts almost had this game won—twice.

    Despite playing in conditions more suited to making snow angels than playing football, the Colts had taken an 8-7 lead on a two-point conversion pass with just over a minute left.

    But Indy was whistled for offensive pass interference, so the Colts had to settle for a 43-yard Adam Vinatieri knuckleball of an extra point.

    Then, after the Colts picked off Buffalo's third-string quarterback, Vinatieri had a chance to win the game in regulation with another 43-yarder.

    The odds of kicking two in a row from that distance in a snowstorm are about as good as you'd expect.

    I'm not going to blast the Colts for losing this one. They are an indoor team that played a game where at least half a foot of snow fell and the winds howled for much of it.

    But that the Colts came so close only to watch LeSean McCoy put it away late in extra time just about sums up 2017 for them.

    Week 14 Grade: D+

    Season Grade: F

Jacksonville Jaguars

15 of 32

    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Week 14 Opponent: vs. Seattle Seahawks

    Score: Won 30-24

    The Jacksonville Jaguars are for real.

    We already knew that. After all, this is a team with blowout wins over the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, the latter of which in Pittsburgh.

    But there has still been a sense around the Jags that they have something to prove—that their limited passing game left them a tier below the AFC's big dogs.

    After they hung 30 on the Seahawks, it's time to reconsider that assessment.

    That bruiser Leonard Fournette had a 100-yard day isn't a stunner. But Blake Bortles may have been even better, passing for 268 yards and two touchdowns and posting a passer rating of 123.7.

    Jacksonville's elite defense had a few lapses on deep passes that let Seattle back in the game, but it stiffened when it needed to and picked Russell Wilson off three times.

    The Jaguars may have lost to the Titans back in Week 2, but right now, the Jaguars clearly seem to be the class of the AFC South. They also seem like much more than just the best team in their division.

    Jacksonville looks like a team the Steelers and Patriots want no part of early in the postseason.

    Week 14 Grade: B+

    Season Grade: B+

Kansas City Chiefs

16 of 32

    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Week 14 Opponent: vs. Oakland Raiders

    Score: Won 26-15

    The Kansas City Chiefs have been all over the place in 2017. They won their first five games and then dropped six of the next seven. Fresh off a loss to the New York Jets, a Chiefs team that once looked to be running away with the AFC West entered Week 14 in danger of falling out of first place altogether.

    Apparently, the Chiefs like living dangerously.

    Their beatdown of the Raiders is a great example of a game that wasn't as close as the final score. The Chiefs dominated the first three quarters on both sides of the ball, racing to a 26-0 lead before Oakland put together a pair of garbage-time scores.

    It isn't hard to find a reason why Kansas City's offense got back in a rhythm in Week 14. In fact, it doesn't take much Hunt-ing at all.

    Get where I'm going with this?

    After he spent the last month-plus on a milk carton, the Chiefs finally got rookie tailback Kareem Hunt involved again. And Hunt responded, gaining 138 total yards and scoring a touchdown on 28 touches.

    If the Chiefs are going to seal the deal and win the division, they need to continue to follow that formula.

    Week 14 Grade: B+

    Season Grade: C+

Los Angeles Chargers

17 of 32

    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Week 14 Opponent: vs. Washington Redskins

    Score: Won 30-13

    After the first month of the 2017 season, the Los Angeles Chargers looked like one of the worst teams in the entire NFL.

    Now, the Bolts appear to be the best team in the AFC West.

    The smoking-hot Chargers continued their surge Sunday afternoon against the Redskins, winning their fourth straight and seventh of nine convincingly.

    The Chargers dominated this contest in every conceivable fashion, more than doubling up Washington on the scoreboard, in total yardage and in first downs while almost tripling the Redskins' output on the ground.

    All of a sudden, next week's trip to Kansas City takes on immense significance. It's a chance for the Bolts to put the emphatic finishing touch on one of the more remarkable NFL turnarounds in recent memory.

    And given how the two teams have played over the last month and how the Chargers are performing both offensively and defensively, I wouldn't bet against Silky Phil and the Rivers-es.

    Week 14 Grade: A

    Season Grade: B-

Los Angeles Rams

18 of 32

    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Week 14 Opponent: vs. Philadelphia Eagles

    Score: Lost 43-35

    The Los Angeles Rams are in the midst of an outstanding season in Sean McVay's first season as head coach. No team in the league has exceeded expectations by a larger margin.

    But while the Rams remain in first place in the NFC West in spite of coming up short against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, it's fair to question how seriously we can take them as a Super Bowl contender in the NFC.

    Yes, the Rams have home wins over a pair of 9-4 teams in the Jacksonville Jaguars and New Orleans Saints. But Sunday's tilt against the Eagles continued the Rams' tour of the conference's top teams.

    And the Saints are the only of those teams the Rams have been able to beat.

    It wasn't the offense's fault Sunday. Jared Goff didn't post gaudy yardage numbers, but he was efficient and didn't make mistakes. Running back Todd Gurley racked up 135 total yards and two touchdowns.

    But whether it was Carson Wentz or Nick Foles at quarterback, the Rams couldn't get Philly off the field. The Eagles rolled for 455 total yards and converted eight third downs and two fourth downs.

    The Rams are good. Really good, even. But they may not be great—at least not yet.

    Week 14 Grade: C-

    Season Grade: B+

Miami Dolphins

19 of 32

    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    Week 14 Opponent: vs. New England Patriots

    Score: Won 27-20

    The Miami Dolphins are an impossible team to figure out.

    Heading into the final game of Week 14, the Dolphins had trailed for 60 percent of their time on the field this year. Per ESPN’s telecast, only two teams in the NFL have played in a hole more.

    Three times the Dolphins have played after dark this year. Miami lost all three games in convincing fashion.

    And the Dolphins guests were the red-hot New England Patriots, winners of eight straight games.

    So of course, the Dolphins handled New England with relative ease in a game that wasn’t as close as the score, because nothing makes sense in the world anymore.

    This was a game in which Jay Cutler outplayed Tom Brady, passing for 263 yards and three touchdowns without an interception.

    Young tailback Kenyan Drake cemented his hold on the starter’s job in the backfield for Miami, scorching an injury-ravaged Pats defense for almost 200 total yards.

    And the Dolphins defense put the clamps on the NFL’s most potent offense, intercepting Brady twice and forcing the Patriots to go 0-of-11 on third down.

    That last number is just staggering.

    The Dolphins are the longest of long shots to make the playoffs for a second straight year, but the team still has a postseason pulse.

    Week 14 Grade: A-

    Season Grade: C-

Minnesota Vikings

20 of 32

    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Week 14 Opponent: at Carolina Panthers

    Score: Lost 31-24

    Heading into Week 14, no team in the NFL was hotter than the Vikings. With a victory over the Carolina Panthers, Minnesota could notch a ninth straight win and cement its status as the top dog in the NFC.

    Or not.

    There were a lot of similarities between the Panthers and Vikings on Sunday. The two teams gained a nearly identical amount of total yardage. Both teams held the ball for about half the game. And the Vikings had six more first downs and more than twice as many passing yards.

    But there was one category where the Vikings wish they hadn't led: turnovers.

    Vikings quarterback Case Keenum turned the ball over three times, tossing a pair of interceptions and losing a fumble. Between those turnovers and Minnesota uncharacteristically allowing a whopping 216 yards on the ground, the Panthers emerged with a huge home victory.

    It bears watching whether the Vikings simply shake this loss off or if we start hearing more talk of Teddy Bridgewater taking over for Keenum under center.

    Week 14 Grade: C-

    Season Grade: A-

New England Patriots

21 of 32

    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Week 14 Opponent: at Miami Dolphins

    Score: Lost 27-20

    The New England Patriots came into Week 14 winners of eight straight games. The Pats had won 14 road games in a row—the second-longest such streak in NFL history. New England had a seven-game winning streak against the AFC East, and with a win they would have locked up a ninth straight AFC East title.

    Foregone conclusion, right?

    The Patriots were beaten with surprising ease Monday night in a game that revealed a number of red flags in advance of next week’s huge matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    New England’s injury-ravaged defense made Jay Cutler look like Joe Montana and tailback Kenyan Drake look like Marshall Faulk, allowing 362 total yards to one of the league’s most inept offenses.

    Without Rob Gronkowski on the field, the Patriots offense fell apart. Tom Brady threw two interceptions, New England’s wide receivers didn’t have a catch in the first half, and of New England’s 11 third downs the Pats converted exactly none of them.

    Zero. The big doughnut.

    Given all the success the Brady/Belichick Patriots have had, the team tends to get the benefit of the doubt when problems arise and injuries strike. With good reason, too—nobody circles the wagons like Darth Hoodie and the Golden Boy.

    They’d better get to circling—quickly.

    Because the big bad Patriots looked like crud in Miami.

    Week 14 Grade: D

    Season Grade: A-

New Orleans Saints

22 of 32

    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Week 14 Opponent: at Atlanta Falcons

    Score: Lost 20-17

    In Week 14, the New Orleans Saints had an opportunity to strengthen their hold on the NFC South and deal a devastating blow to Atlanta's playoff hopes.

    They blew it.

    There was no shortage of excuse-making after the game. Drew Brees blamed Thursday Night Football for the rash of injuries the team suffered in the game. Head coach Sean Payton blamed poor officiating for the 11 first downs the Falcons had via penalty.

    But the day of the week had little to do with the interception Brees threw in the fourth quarter with the Saints on the cusp of either tying the game or taking the lead.

    There might have been a few iffy calls—OK, there definitely were a couple of bad calls—but there wasn't 11. The Saints shot themselves in the foot multiple times.

    Payton's meltdown at the end, which gave Atlanta the first down it needed to run out the clock, was just the icing on that cake.

    If the Saints truly want to assign blame for this setback, they need only to look in a mirror.

    Week 14 Grade: D

    Season Grade: B+

New York GIants

23 of 32

    Elsa/Getty Images

    Week 14 Opponent: vs. Dallas Cowboys

    Score: Lost 30-10

    At the outset of Sunday's NFC East tilt with the Dallas Cowboys, fans at MetLife Stadium cheered loudly when quarterback Eli Manning took the field for the New York Giants.

    It was one of the only things they had to cheer in Week 14.

    The Giants led the game at one point, 10-3. But Dez Bryant's 50-yard touchdown in the second quarter was a harbinger of things to come. Jason Witten broke the tie with a touchdown reception in the fourth quarter, and then Cowboys tailback Rod Smith peeled off a pair of quick touchdowns that blew the game open.

    Sunday's game was a microcosm of New York's season. Manning struggled, tossing a pair of interceptions. And a Giants defense that was among the league's best a year ago fell apart yet again, allowing 454 yards of total offense.

    This isn't exactly breaking news, but the Giants are terrible.  

    Week 14 Grade: F

    Season Grade: F

New York Jets

24 of 32

    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    Week 14 Opponent: at Denver Broncos

    Score: Lost 23-0

    The New York Jets crashed back to earth with a resounding "splat!" in Week 14.

    It's not just that the Jets were blown out by a Denver Broncos team that had lost eight games in a row. It's actually worse than that.

    The Jets posted just 100 yards of total offense for the entire game. New York averaged 2.6 yards a carry and had less than 50 yards through the air. Josh McCown and Bryce Petty combined to average 2.9 yards per pass attempt.

    That's so far beyond terrible that there isn't a word for it.

    New York held the ball for just 22 minutes, turned it over twice and went 3-of-13 on third down.

    Granted, much of that can be attributed, per NFL.com, to the broken hand McCown suffered in the game. But at this point, the "why" doesn't matter.

    If Sunday was any indication, the scrappy Jets who went 5-7 are gone for good. And the team that replaced them is a dumpster fire offensively.

    Week 14 Grade: F

    Season Grade: D

Oakland Raiders

25 of 32

    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Week 14 Opponent: at Kansas City Chiefs

    Score: Lost 26-15

    Despite a disappointing 2017 season, the underperforming Oakland Raiders had a chance to claim first place in the AFC West if they could beat the reeling Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday for the second time this year.

    The Raiders not only didn't win, but were it not for some meaningless garbage-time production, they would have been blown out.

    Simply put, the Raiders got whacked in Week 14. Offensively, they managed just 268 total yards, threw for less than 200 yards against a Kansas City secondary that had struggled much of the season and turned the ball over three times.

    Defensively, the Raiders allowed 408 total yards, including 165 on the ground. That inability to stop the run killed Oakland's time of possession—the Chiefs had the ball for over 36 minutes and piled up 23 first downs.

    In the preseason, the Raiders were a trendy pick as a Super Bowl contender in the AFC. But Sunday's loss was emblematic of the entire season. The offense was inconsistent. The defense was nonexistent.  

    And while Oakland may not officially be toast yet, the smell of burning bread is wafting through the air.

    Week 14 Grade: D-

    Season Grade: C-

Philadelphia Eagles

26 of 32

    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Week 14 Opponent: at Los Angeles Rams

    Score: Won 43-35

    The Philadelphia Eagles won the battle and lost the war.

    The Eagles got a huge win over the Los Angeles Rams that clinched the NFC East. If the season ended today, the Eagles would be the NFC's No. 1 seed.

    And yet the mood surrounding the team is one of abject despair.

    Because for all intents and purposes, Philly's season did end Sunday.

    As Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk reported, the Eagles confirmed Monday that the knee injury suffered by Carson Wentz against the Rams is a torn ACL. Wentz's season is over.

    So are Philadelphia's chances of playing in the Super Bowl.

    Nick Foles played well in relief of Wentz, guiding the Eagles to victory in this one game. But we're talking about a young quarterback who earlier in this very game had set a franchise record for touchdown passes in a season. One of the front-runners to be named NFL MVP.

    Foles may be OK, but he's no Carson Wentz.

    The impact of this injury cannot be overstated.

    It's a season-killer.

    Week 14 Grade: B+

    Season Grade: A-

Pittsburgh Steelers

27 of 32

    Joe Sargent/Getty Images

    Week 14 Opponent: vs. Baltimore Ravens

    Score: Won 39-38

    The Pittsburgh Steelers welcomed in their most heated rivals Sunday night fresh off a slugfest with the Cincinnati Bengals and without their best defensive player on the field.

    And make no mistake, the absence of linebacker Ryan Shazier was most assuredly felt by the Pittsburgh defense. The Steelers allowed 152 rushing yards to the Ravens—over 50 yards higher than their season average.

    And yet, the Steelers found a way to win the game.

    Sunday night, it was with offense—loads and loads of offense. Ben Roethlisberger attempted a career-high 66 passes, topping 500 yards. Tailback Le'Veon Bell posted 125 total yards and scored three times. And wide receiver Antonio Brown erupted for 11 catches for 213 yards.

    Pittsburgh's newfound defensive issues are cause for concern, especially with the New England Patriots coming to town next week for a game that could decide the AFC's top seed.

    But a win is a win. Especially when that victory propels a team to 11-2 and hands it a division title.

    The Pittsburgh Steelers are AFC North champions.

    Week 14 Grade: B

    Season Grade: A-

San Francisco 49ers

28 of 32

    Tim Warner/Getty Images

    Week 14 Opponent: at Houston Texans

    Score: Won 26-16

    You cannot stop Jimmy "The Juggernaut" Garoppolo.

    You can only hope to contain him.

    The Houston Texans didn't have a ton of luck stopping Garoppolo on Sunday at Reliant Stadium. In his second start for the 49ers, Garoppolo completed 20 of 33 passes for 334 yards, a touchdown and an interception for back-to-back 300-yard performances since taking over for C.J. Beathard.

    It was Garoppolo's second win in as many starts with the Niners. In fact, Garoppolo has yet to lose a start in the NFL.

    Now, at this point a little roll-slowing is in order. Garoppolo's wins the last two weeks have come against a pair of tomato-can teams in Chicago and Houston. Even with those wins, San Francisco is a sizzling 3-10.

    Feel the excitement.

    But consecutive victories are consecutive victories—especially when that hasn't happened in San Francisco since November 2014.

    It's still early. But it appears the 49ers may have found their quarterback.

    Now all they have to do is pay him. A lot.

    Week 14 Grade: D+

    Season Grade: F

Seattle Seahawks

29 of 32

    Logan Bowles/Getty Images

    Week 14 Opponent: at Jacksonville Jaguars

    Score: Lost 30-24

    It's just one loss.

    Don't overreact.

    The Seahawks have been here before. They'll figure it out.

    Fans of the Seahawks are probably telling themselves at least one of those after Sunday's loss. Maybe all of them.

    It's not like Seattle's injury-ravaged defense allowed 30 points. Or that the Seahawks' leaky O-line left Russell Wilson running for his life much of the game. Or that the offense's complete reliance on Wilson led him to force three long passes that were all intercepted. Or that the team completely lost its cool at the end—actions that could result in suspensions for Michael Bennett and Sheldon Richardson.

    With the Rams up next, that potential discipline could loom large in Week 15.

    The Seahawks are a good team. A team that will probably make the playoffs as a wild card if not NFC West champions. They can beat anyone—especially if they're playing at home.

    But the Seahawks are also a flawed team on both sides of the ball—a team with weaknesses that can be exploited.

    Week 14 Grade: D

    Season Grade: B-

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

30 of 32

    Matt Ludtke/Associated Press

    Week 14 Opponent: vs. Detroit Lions

    Score: Lost 24-21

    There is one thing above all others in the NFL that will cause you to be beaten every single time. One mistake you just cannot make and hope to win games.

    Turnovers are the kiss of death.

    Unfortunately, they've also become far too common for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    In 42 career games in Tampa, Jameis Winston has 54 turnovers. And he was at the center of another gaggle of giveaways in Week 14.

    The Buccaneers turned the ball over a staggering five times against the Lions—a pair of Jameis Winston interceptions and three lost fumbles. And even with 400 yards of total offense, it's almost impossible to win (especially against good teams) after committing that many unforced errors.

    The Buccaneers came into 2017 fresh off a Hard Knocks appearance amid more than a little playoff buzz. They haven't come close to meeting those expectations, and NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that Winston and head coach Dirk Koetter are butting heads.

    Given all the eggs like this one the Bucs have laid in 2017, the latter isn't apt to be in town much longer anyway.

    Week 14 Grade: D

    Season Grade: D-

Tennesee Titans

31 of 32

    Ralph Freso/Associated Press

    Week 14 Opponent: at Arizona Cardinals

    Score: Lost 12-7

    The Tennessee Titans have spent much of the 2017 season turning winning ugly into an art form.

    Sunday in Arizona, the Titans kept the ugly and ditched the winning.

    Despite holding the Cardinals to 261 yards of total offense and 125 passing yards and keeping Arizona out of the end zone, the Titans found themselves on the wrong side of a 12-7 score.

    Because Marcus Mariota and the Titans offense was pathetic.

    Tennessee posted all of 204 yards total. Just 65 yards on the ground. Only 139 through the air. Mariota barely completed half of his passes and turned the ball over twice.

    The loss (coupled with Jacksonville's impressive win over the Seahawks) dropped the Titans from first place in the AFC South, but at 8-5 all is most assuredly not lost.

    It will be if the Titans keep playing like this, though. If all Tennessee can muster is seven points against a mediocre Cardinals team, it's hard to imagine it being able to give the Patriots or Steelers any kind of problems.

    You know, the same Steelers who blasted Tennessee, 40-17, a few weeks ago.

    Week 14 Grade: D-

    Season Grade: C+

Washington Redskins

32 of 32

    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Week 14 Opponent: at Los Angeles Chargers

    Score: Lost 30-13

    Accusing an NFL player or team of quitting is a perilous situation. These are highly paid athletes who are all extremely competitive.

    But Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins sure looked the part of a team mailing it in in Week 14.

    Until Sunday, I never knew that the StubHub Center had a woodshed. But the Chargers took Washington behind it, jumping out to a 23-6 halftime lead before stepping on Washington's collective neck in the third quarter.

    Cousins didn't much look like a $20 million-a-year quarterback in this game, managing just 151 passing yards for the day. Samaje Perine averaged just 2.6 yards a carry. And the Washington defense got well and truly smoked, allowing almost 500 total yards of offense and big games to, well, everyone.

    Over the last five weeks, the Redskins have faced four teams that presently sport winning records.

    Not only are they 0-4 against those teams, but Washington's been outscored 68-27 over the last two—losses to Dallas and L.A. that have ended any chance the Redskins may have had at a playoff run.

    Week 14 Grade: F

    Season Grade: D