Final NFL Regular-Season Team Grades

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystJanuary 1, 2018

Final NFL Regular-Season Team Grades

0 of 32

    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    The 2017 NFL regular season is in the books. Every game, from the season opener in New England to the biggest Sunday slate of the year has been played. 

    There was a lot on the line in Week 17. The NFC South championship was "won" in a loss. The conference's Wild Cards were decided, with both coincidentally coming from that same division.

    In the AFC, the bye weeks were locked up by exactly who we expected. But a wild finish in Baltimore opened the door for something of a surprise Wild Card...

    And the end of the longest playoff drought in the NFL.

    As has been the case every week this season, it's time to offer up grades for all this week's action, from the big showdowns in Tampa, Atlanta and Seattle to the meaningless games in Indianapolis and Detroit.

    It's also time for the final regular-season grades of 2017 for each of the NFL's teams, from the best in Beantown to the worst on the shores of Lake Erie.

    So, let's kick off 2018 with one last look back at the 2017 that was.

Arizona Cardinals (8-8)

1 of 32

    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Week 17 Opponent: at Seattle Seahawks

    Score: Won 26-24

    Playing against a desperate Seattle Seahawks team on the road with their backup quarterback, not many people gave the Arizona Cardinals much of a chance in Week 17.

    But as has been the case for much of this season, the Cardinals had other ideas. They stunned the Seahawks and ended any hopes Seattle had of making the playoffs.

    It's the Cardinals in a nutshell. This is a team that lost star tailback David Johnson to a broken wrist in Week 1, lost quarterback Carson Palmer to a broken arm and acquired Adrian Peterson from the New Orleans Saints only to see him get hurt too.

    But the Redbirds never gave up. They kept fighting. And while an 8-8 mark and missing the playoffs aren't what the team had in mind at the beginning of September, it's still something of an accomplishment given all that happened.

    Per ESPN.com, head coach Bruce Arians may be on the way out. Palmer may well follow.

    It's too bad they can't keep the band together one more year. If this team could just stay healthy, it would be a contender.

    Week 17 Grade: B

    Final Season Grade: C

Atlanta Falcons (10-6)

2 of 32

    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Week 17 Opponent: vs. Carolina Panthers

    Score: Won 22-10

    There wasn't a team in the NFL under more pressure in Week 17 than the Atlanta Falcons.

    The defending NFC champions needed a win over the Carolina Panthers to avoid becoming the latest Super Bowl loser to miss the postseason altogether the following year. And while Seattle's loss at home meant the Falcons were in regardless of the outcome, the Falcons didn't leave anything to chance.

    On a day when Atlanta's running game went nowhere, Matt Ryan turned back the clock to last year's MVP season by dialing up 317 passing yards and a passer rating of 90.7.

    The defense stepped up as well by holding the Panthers under 250 yards of total offense and just five third-down conversions in 15 tries.

    This Atlanta team, despite having the same personnel as last year, has been neither as successful or as consistent. But this is still the same squad that was up 28-3 on the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

    Of the four wild cards in 2017, the Falcons are easily the most dangerous, six seed or not.

    Week 17 Grade: A-

    Final Season Grade: B-

Baltimore Ravens (9-7)

3 of 32

    Gail Burton/Associated Press

    Week 17 Opponent: vs. Cincinnati Bengals

    Score: Lost 31-27

    The Baltimore Ravens choked.

    Baltimore's path to its first playoff trip since 2014 was easy: beat a banged-up Cincinnati Bengals team at home and the Ravens were in.

    Instead, they twice spotted the Bengals a 14-point lead, with Joe Flacco's pick-six early in the second half putting Cincy up 24-10.

    Then, after the Ravens came roaring back with 17 unanswered points, all Baltimore had to do was make a stop on 4th-and-12 with under a minute left.

    Instead, the Ravens allowed a 49-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd—and just like that, Baltimore's season was over.

    It was a stunning collapse from a supposedly battle-tested team. It also marks the third straight year that the Ravens have missed the playoffs—the team's longest streak since its first four seasons in Baltimore.

    The Ravens are supposed to be perennial contenders. They looked more like pretenders against the Bengals.

    Week 17 Grade: F

    Final Season Grade: C+

Buffalo Bills (9-7)

4 of 32

    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Week 17 Opponent: at Miami Dolphins

    Score: Won 22-16

    Stop the presses!

    Listen up!

    Something incredible has happened!

    The Buffalo Bills, for the first time in the 21st century, will be playing in the postseason.

    It all happened in a very Buffalo fashion. After staking themselves to a 22-3 lead, the Bills let the Miami Dolphins come almost all the way back. Even after the Bills held on for the win, it didn't appear it would matter, as the Ravens had taken the lead over the Cincinnati Bengals and looked ready to take the AFC's final wild-card spot.

    Then the Bengals stunned Baltimore, and just like that, the NFL's longest playoff drought was over.

    The news is somewhat bittersweet, though. When the Bills travel to Jacksonville next week, it will likely be without their offensive centerpiece, as tailback LeSean McCoy left the field on a cart in the first half with an ankle injury.

    The odds of a Shady-less Bills team making any postseason noise are approximately zero, but that's a worry for another day.

    On Sunday, a long-suffering fan base can rejoice. The Bills hung around. And hung on.

    Week 17 Grade: B-

    Final Season Grade: C+

Carolina Panthers (11-5)

5 of 32

    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Week 17 Opponent: at Atlanta Falcons

    Score: Lost 22-10

    If the Carolina Panthers could combine a win over the Atlanta Falcons with a loss by the New Orleans Saints, the Panthers would win the NFC South and earn the right to host a playoff game.

    Only one of those things happened.

    The Panthers performed in Week 17 like an also-ran playing out the string, not a playoff team trying to build momentum. Carolina was outgained by the Falcons to the tune of 123 total yards. Cam Newton was absolutely horrendous. He completed only 14 of his 34 pass attempts.

    OK, 17—if you count the three interceptions.

    This type of flat performance is exactly why I don't see the Panthers as a legitimate Super Bowl threat. Yes, this is the same team that won 11 games and beat the Vikings back in Week 14.

    But it's also a Panthers team that had a similarly uninspired showing in a pair of defeats at the hands of the Saints.

    The same Saints who the Panthers now have to play next week in New Orleans.

    Week 17 Grade: D

    Final Season Grade: B-

Chicago Bears (5-11)

6 of 32

    Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

    Week 17 Opponent: at Minnesota Vikings

    Score: Lost 23-10

    The Chicago Bears' Week 17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings is an excellent metaphor for the team's struggles in 2017.

    The defense tried to keep the Bears in the game, holding Case Keenum under 200 passing yards. But that Chicago defense was also on the field for nearly 36 minutes. It wore down.

    Largely because the offense did nothing—again.

    Facing one of the NFL's best defenses, second-year tailback Jordan Howard was shut down, managing just nine yards on nine carries. And the NFC's worst passing "attack" entering the final weekend of action looked the part, with rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky averaging less than five yards an attempt.

    Trubisky will be back under center in 2018. Who he will taking orders from is uncertain, as John Fox's time as head coach in Chicago is almost surely over.

    But no matter who the next head coach and/or general manager is, the plan for the offseason isn't hard to pinpoint.

    Get Trubisky some help on offense.

    Lots and lots of help.

    Week 17 Grade: F

    Final Season Grade: D-

Cincinnati Bengals (7-9)

7 of 32

    Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

    Week 17 Opponent: at Baltimore Ravens

    Score: Won 31-27

    As Jeremy Bergman reported for NFL.com, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis indicated Sunday that despite rampant speculation that he won't be back in 2018, he would like to remain in Cincinnati.

    The Bengals' efforts the past two weeks might make that possible.

    One week after ending the postseason aspirations of the Detroit Lions, the Bengals did the same thing in Week 17 for the division-rival Ravens—in Baltimore.

    The win, secured by a Tyler Boyd touchdown on 4th-and-12 with under a minute left, was a hard-fought one—especially given the injuries that have chewed the defense up at linebacker.

    But the back-to-back solid performances also beg a question: Where the heck was this team in Weeks 14 and 15, when the Bengals were outscored 67-14 by the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears.

    Frankly, Lewis needs to go. He has zero playoff wins in 15 seasons with the franchise. The team has stalled out under his leadership—too good to be bad, but too bad to be good.

    That means the team will probably keep him—because Bengals.

    Week 17 Grade: B

    Final Season Grade: D+

Cleveland Browns (0-16)

8 of 32

    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    Week 17 Opponent: at Pittsburgh Steelers

    Score: Lost 28-24

    All the Cleveland Browns needed to do to avoid joining the 2008 Detroit Lions in NFL infamy was beat a Pittsburgh Steelers team with Landry Jones at quarterback and no Le'Veon Bell or Antonio Brown.

    They didn't. Because the Browns are terrible on such a staggering level that it makes my head hurt to think about.

    DeShone Kizer piled up 375 total yards of offense and threw a pair of touchdowns passes. But he also threw interception No. 22 and only completed 53.3 percent of his passes in an up-and-down performance.

    The Browns will have a pair of top-five picks in the 2018 NFL draft, including the first pick for a second straight year. The team is flush with cap space. New general manager John Dorsey has a lot to work with and a track record of success.

    But Dorsey also has his work cut out for him. He just took over what may be the worst team in the history of the NFL. The Browns' record proves it.

    Week 17 Grade: F

    Final Season Grade: Super Double Omega Jumbo Z-

Dallas Cowboys (9-7)

9 of 32

    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    Week 17 Opponent: at Philadelphia Eagles

    Score: Won 6-0

    The Dallas Cowboys may have finished this season with a shutout victory, but that win over the Eagles does little to alleviate the disappointment after the Cowboys missed the playoffs in 2017.

    It's easy to point to the six-game suspension of tailback Ezekiel Elliott as the primary reason for Dallas' offensive woes in 2017, but the fact is that even when Elliott was on the field, the Cowboys looked little like the team that went 13-3 a year ago.

    Quarterback Dak Prescott's numbers were down across the board this year. Well, except for the interceptions—after throwing just four as a rookie, Prescott tossed 13 in 2017.

    Wide receiver Dez Bryant had arguably the worst full season of his career. His three grabs for 24 yards against the Eagles gave him 838 receiving yards for the season—the lowest total of his career in a year in which Bryant played all 16 games.

    Even the vaunted Cowboys offensive line wasn't as dominant as the year before.

    There's going to be a lot of work to do for the Cowboys in the offseason. Because a team that enters each season with Super Bowl aspirations didn't come close in 2017.

    Week 17 Grade: B-

    Final Season Grade: C

Denver Broncos (5-11)

10 of 32

    Joe Mahoney/Associated Press

    Week 17 Opponent: vs. Kansas City Chiefs

    Score: Lost 27-24

    With noting to play for in Week 17 as a mess of a season came to a close, the Denver Broncos decided to roll out second-year quarterback Paxton Lynch one more time in an effort to see if be might be the long-term solution at a position where the Broncos desperately need help.

    He's not.

    Granted, Lynch played better than he did in a disastrous start back in Week 12 by passing for 254 yards and two touchdowns. But Lynch also turned the ball over three times and absorbed five sacks.

    Most importantly, the Broncos lost. Again. To the Chiefs JV squad.

    The Broncos are a better team than their record—with one glaring exception: The situation under center is as dire as any in the NFL. And whether it's via free agency or the draft, John Elway and the Broncos must attack that need with a fury in 2018.

    Kirk Cousins, please pick up the orange and blue courtesy phone.

    Week 17 Grade: D+

    Final Season Grade: D-

Detroit Lions (9-7)

11 of 32

    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Week 17 Opponent: vs. Green Bay Packers

    Score: Won 35-11

    The Lions posted one of their best efforts of the season in Week 17, blasting an undermanned and overmatched Green Bay Packers team at Ford Field to finish the year 9-7.

    Sadly, it was too little, too late—which is the tagline for the 2017 Lions.

    Detroit isn't a bad team. It's the only team in the league to beat the Vikings in Minnesota this year. But after that big win in Week 4, the Lions proceeded to drop three straight.

    And that's the rub. The Lions have been wildly inconsistent this season. The team that blasted Green Bay is the same one that was eliminated from the playoffs last week in Cincinnati by a bad Bengals squad.

    Detroit's run game has been pathetic in 2017, and it managed just 51 yards on 23 carries against the Packers. The Lions have also been notoriously slow starters this season—and the fourth-quarter comebacks that were Matthew Stafford's staple a year ago haven't been there.

    Add it all together and you have a disappointing season that (per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com) probably cost head coach Jim Caldwell his job.

    Week 17 Grade: A

    Final Season Grade: C

Green Bay Packers (7-9)

12 of 32

    Duane Burleson/Associated Press

    Week 17 Opponent: at Detroit Lions

    Score: Lost 35-11

    The best that can be said about the Green Bay Packers 2017 season is this: After getting waxed on the road by the Detroit Lions in Week 17, it's over.

    With no Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson or Davante Adams in Week 17, the Packers had no chance. They generated 100 fewer total yards than Detroit despite having the ball longer.

    That's been the story ever since Aaron Rodgers went down with a broken collarbone. After starting the season with four wins in five games, the Packers managed just three wins over the final 11.

    If there were any question just how valuable Rodgers is to the team, it was answered in 2017 in the most depressing way imaginable.

    Rodgers will be back next season, and the Packers have already started the offseason's work by locking up Adams with a fat contract extension.

    But for the first time since 2008, the Green and Gold will be watching the playoffs from home.

    And that makes winter time in Titletown that much darker and colder.

    Week 17 Grade: F

    Final Season Grade: D

Houston Texans (4-12)

13 of 32

    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    Week 17 Opponent: at Indianapolis Colts

    Score: Lost 22-13

    The 2017 season has been an injury-filled disaster for the Houston Texans. Playing with third-string quarterback T.J. Yates against the Indianapolis Colts Sunday, the Texans managed just 209 total yards and fell to 4-12 for the season.

    It's easily the worst mark of Bill O'Brien's tenure as head coach.

    The regular season itself may have been anticlimactic in Houston (at least after Deshaun Watson tore his ACL), but the drama's heating up in Houston. Per Alex Marvez of the Sporting News, O'Brien and general manager Rick Smith are headed toward a meeting with owner Bob McNair.

    Only one of them is expected to come out of that meeting with a job.

    Given how electrifying Watson was as a rookie before getting hurt, there's optimism for Houston's future. The team also has over $59 million in cap space in 2018, per Spotrac.

    What it doesn't have is draft picks. Houston's first two in 2018 belong to the Cleveland Browns.

    Week 17 Grade: D-

    Final Season Grade: F

Indianapolis Colts (4-12)

14 of 32

    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    Week 17 Opponent: vs. Houston Texans

    Score: Won 22-13

    The good news is that courtesy of a 22-13 victory over the Houston Texans in Week 17, the Indianapolis Colts closed out a miserable 2017 season with a win. In what may be his last game in Indianapolis, veteran tailback Frank Gore racked up 111 total yards—including 100 on the ground.

    The bad news is that it wasn't enough to save head coach Chuck Pagano. According to ESPN.com's Mike Wells, the Colts didn't wait for Black Monday. The team fired Pagano after the game.

    The move was hardly a surprise, but the blame for Indy's 4-12 face-plant isn't solely Pagano's.

    It wasn't the coach's fault that Andrew Luck wound up missing the entire season after shoulder surgery.

    It wasn't Pagano's fault that a supposedly re-tooled defense and offensive line looked a lot like the old ones.

    That is not a compliment.

    It wasn't that long ago that it appeared inevitable Pagano and Luck would take the Colts to the Super Bowl.

    But now this team's future is as cloudy as it gets.

    Week 17 Grade: D-

    Final Season Grade: F

Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6)

15 of 32

    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    Week 17 Opponent: at Tennessee Titans

    Score: Lost 15-10

    The Jacksonville Jaguars had a good 2017 season. They won 10 games and the AFC South—their first-ever title in the division. For the first time since 2007, the Jaguars will be playing after the regular season.

    But there's trouble afoot in J-ville, as the Jaguars prepare to host a playoff game.

    They played their starters in Week 17, despite their seed for the wild-card Round being set. It's not hard to see why. After falling at San Francisco the week before, the Jaguars wanted to avoid a two-game skid.

    That skid's exactly what they got.

    The defense, as it has been all season, was lights-out against the Titans. It allowed just 232 yards of total offense.

    But Blake Bortles and the Jaguars could muster just 229 yards of their own offense.

    Bortles was putrid. He completed 44.1 percent of his passes with a pair of interceptions. He's thrown five picks over the last two games.

    At the worst possible time, Blake Bortles looks like...Blake Bortles.

    Week 17 Grade: D

    Final Season Grade: B-

Kansas City Chiefs (10-6)

16 of 32

    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    Week 17 Opponent: at Denver Broncos

    Score: Won 27-24

    This is another Week 17 game that meant a fat bag of nothing. Sure, it's nice that the Chiefs notched win No. 10 in the first career start for Patrick Mahomes, but with Kansas City locked in as the No. 4 seed in the AFC, the Chiefs sat Alex Smith, Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill Sunday.

    The key to a deep playoff run will be making sure they show back up next week against the Tennessee Titans.

    When the Chiefs are firing on all cylinders, they can beat anyone. Hunt is already one of the NFL's most dangerous tailbacks, and he opens up the passing game for Smith, Hill and tight end Travis Kelce.

    But the Chiefs also lost six of seven after peeling off five straight wins to open the season. The defense remains a liability, so if the offense starts to sputter, the Chiefs could be in trouble.

    Kansas City might not need its A game to power past the Titans, but the Chiefs will need to ramp up quickly if they're going to get past the AFC's big dogs in the divisional round.

    Week 17 Grade: B-

    Final Season Grade: B

Los Angeles Chargers (9-7)

17 of 32

    Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press

    Week 17 Opponent: vs. Oakland Raiders

    Score: Won 30-10

    If only the Los Angeles Chargers could get a do-over on the month of September.

    After walloping the Oakland Raiders in Week 17, the Chargers moved to 9-3 over their last 12 games. With a top-five scoring defense and a potentially explosive offense, the Bolts had spoiler written all over them.

    This is the type of team no one wants to face in the wild-card round.

    The problem is that Los Angeles won't be playing in it. Tennessee's win over the Jaguars eliminated the Chargers from playoff consideration.

    Mostly because the Chargers lost four straight games to start the season, and only one team has ever overcome that bad of a start to make the playoffs.

    If you're an optimist, you'll look at the Chargers as they were in Week 17 and wonder just how good this team could be in 2018, assuming a successful offseason.

    If you're a pessimist, you'll look at that losing streak or backbreaker against the Chiefs in Week 15 and posit that these Chargers can't win when it really counts.

    If you're a realist, you'll understand that the truth probably lies somewhere in between.

    Week 17 Grade: A

    Final Season Grade: C+

Los Angeles Rams (11-5)

18 of 32

    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Week 17 Opponent: vs. San Francisco 49ers

    Score: Lost 34-13

    Sunday's blowout loss by the Rams matters not. With players like Jared Goff, Todd Gurley and Aaron Donald all sitting out, what happened to Rams Lite has no bearing on the team's future.

    The regular season ended with half a thud, but the Rams exceeded expectations on a level few would ever dare to dream. Gurley bounced back from a miserable 2016 to top 2,000 total yards and stake a legitimate claim to the MVP award. Goff went from a lost rookie to a young quarterback who looks the part of a No. 1 overall pick.

    And if Sean McVay isn't Coach of the Year, then I must not understand what that phrase means.

    Picked to finish last in the NFC West by many pundits, the Rams instead won 11 games and captured a division title, compliments of an explosive offense and aggressive defense. The Rams will host the Atlanta Falcons in next week's wild-card Round.

    Take a bow, Los Angeles. You've earned it

    Week 17 Grade: D

    Final Season Grade: B+

Miami Dolphins (6-10)

19 of 32

    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Week 17 Opponent: vs. Buffalo Bills

    Score: Lost 22-16

    Sunday was a sad day in South Florida. The end of an era. The Jay Cutler year in Miami came to an end.

    In the season finale against the Buffalo Bills, the Dolphins decided to take an extended look at youngster David Fales. And to his credit, while much of it came in catch-up mode, Fales' stat line of 29-of-42 passing for 265 yards and a touchdown with an interception wasn't terrible.

    It's the same thing that was said about the Dolphins for most of this season. They weren't terrible. But they weren't good either.

    Outside of a Monday night beatdown of the Patriots that may rank as the weirdest game of the entire season, the Dolphins were mediocrity personified in 2017. The offense was offensive more often than not. And while the defense showed flashes, it was also prone to letdowns.

    The return of Ryan Tannehill next year should help the offense, and there are some pieces in place defensively.

    But the Dolphins need a flawless offseason to look like anything more than an also-ran in 2018.

    Week 17 Grade: D

    Final Season Grade: D

Minnesota Vikings (13-3)

20 of 32

    Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

    Week 17 Opponent: vs. Chicago Bears

    Score: Won 23-10

    In the history of the National Football League, no team has ever played a Super Bowl in its home stadium.

    In Week 17, the Minnesota Vikings inched one step closer to becoming the first.

    By virtue of their decisive win over the Bears Sunday, the Vikings secured the No. 2 seed in the NFC and a first-round playoff bye. And with the Philadelphia Eagles suddenly reeling offensively, the Vikings stand an excellent chance at playing all their postseason games at US Bank Stadium.

    That's bad news for the rest of the NFC. The Vikings have lost just once at home this year—to the Lions back in Week 4. Minnesota has wins over both the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams in that building in 2017.

    The Vikings are built for postseason success. A defense that entered Week 17 best in the NFL in points allowed gave up just 201 yards of offense to the Bears. Case Keenum continued his career season against Chicago by missing on just eight of 29 attempts and posting a passer rating of 101.1.

    The Vikings know who they are, they play within themselves and they are going to be a tough out in the postseason.

    Week 17 Grade: A-

    Final Season Grade: A

New England Patriots (13-3)

21 of 32

    Steven Senne/Associated Press

    Week 17 Opponent: vs. New York Jets

    Score: Won 26-6

    The New England Patriots entered Week 17 with something to play for: A win over the New York Jets would give the Pats home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

    With a 16-3 home record at Gillette Stadium in the postseason, that's rather a big deal.

    The Patriots played like a team with something on the line in Week 17 by dismantling an overmatched Jets team to lock up the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

    The win caps another wildly successful regular season for Brady and the boys. It was a year that got off to something of a bumpy start, when the Pats were blown out at home in the season opener and lost two of their first three games at home.

    But as they usually do, the Patriots figured it out. They shored up a leaky defense and rolled into the season's final week leading the league in both total offense and passing offense.

    Now, it's time for a well-deserved week of rest before the Patriots begin yet another march toward the Super Bowl.

    It wouldn't be wise to bet against them.

    Week 17 Grade: A

    Final Season Grade: A

New Orleans Saints (11-5)

22 of 32

    Brian Blanco/Getty Images

    Week 17 Opponent: at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Score: Lost 31-24

    The New Orleans Saints knew leading into Sunday's season finale that they were playoff-bound. It was simply a matter of whether they would be going as a wild card or NFC South champions.

    It turned out to be the latter—but not because New Orleans took care of business.

    The Saints didn't exactly lay an egg in Tampa, but they didn't establish positive momentum heading into the postseason, either. The run game was held way below its season average. The Saints were gashed for 455 yards of total offense.

    And there's the matter of the last-second touchdown that could have cost the Saints a division title.

    The Carolina Panthers bailed the Saints out by losing in Atlanta, setting up a third meeting between the Saints and Panthers next week in the Big Easy.

    The Saints won the first two meetings in fairly convincing fashion, but Sunday's defensive performance is cause for some concern heading into the second season.

    Week 17 Grade: D+

    Final Season Grade: B

New York Giants (3-13)

23 of 32

    Abbie Parr/Getty Images

    Week 17 Opponent: vs. Washington Redskins

    Score: Won 18-10

    If Sunday's contest against Washington ends up being Eli Manning's last game as a New York Giant, he went out a winner.

    He also went out with a resounding thud. The Giants won in spite of Manning. For the game, he completed just 10 of 28 passes for 132 yards. His passer rating was 48.5.

    That's pretty similar to Big Blue's grade for the 2017 season.

    Calling this a disastrous year for the Giants is offensive—to disasters. Sunday's win was New York's third this year. Manning was benched by now-fired head coach Ben McAdoo. Numerous members of the secondary have been suspended and a defense that was among the NFL's best during New York's playoff run in 2016 completely melted down.

    The Giants were supposed to contend for the NFC East title and a trip to Super Bowl LII in 2017. Instead, they spent most of the year contending for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft.

    Week 17 Grade: C+

    Final Season Grade: F

New York Jets

24 of 32

    Steven Senne/Associated Press

    Week 17 Opponent: at New England Patriots

    Score: Lost 26-6

    The New York Jets were slaughtered in Week 17 by the New England Patriots. For the season, Gang Green went 5-11.

    And yet, an argument can be made that the Jets overperformed in 2017 by a sizable margin.

    This was not a team that was supposed to win five games. More than one pundit predicted before the season that the Jets wouldn't win any games.

    I was among them. I was wrong.

    Things fell apart after veteran quarterback Josh McCown broke his hand, but for much of the season, the Jets were a tough out. Seven of the team's 11 losses were by single digits. The Jets have wins over a pair of division champions (Jacksonville in Week 4 and Kansas City a month ago).

    The seemingly never-ending search for a franchise quarterback will dominate the headlines surrounding the Jets soon enough.

    And in a league where all that really matters is results, I can't give the Jets anything higher than a D for the season.

    But given what was (or wasn't) expected of them in 2017, it's the most impressive D in the NFL.

    Week 17 Grade: F

    Final Season Grade: D

Oakland Raiders (6-10)

25 of 32

    Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press

    Week 17 Opponent: at Los Angeles Chargers

    Score: Lost 30-10

    The Oakland Raiders were supposed to be contenders in the AFC in 2017. They were expected to legitimately threaten the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots.

    Instead, Sunday's thumping at the hands of the Los Angeles Chargers was a fitting end to a rotten season in which the Raiders fell flat in just about every way.

    As it has all season, Oakland's supposedly high-octane offense sputtered when it counted. The Raiders converted just four of 11 third-down attempts and went 0-for-2 in the red zone.

    The defense was worse. The Raiders allowed 495 total yards, 380 passing yards to Phillip Rivers, 124 total yards to Melvin Gordon and 133 receiving yards to Keenan Allen.

    Other than that, though, it played OK.

    The game was the finale for more just the 2017 Raiders. As the team's website reported not long after the game, Oakland announced the firing of head coach Jack Del Rio.

    The same Jack Del Rio who was given a contract extension under a year ago.

    Because knee-jerk reactions to frustration always work out well...

    Week 17 Grade: F

    Final Season Grade: D

Philadelphia Eagles (13-3)

26 of 32

    Michael Perez/Associated Press

    Week 17 Opponent: at Philadelphia Eagles

    Score: Lost 6-0

    It may sound a bit odd to say this about a team that just won the NFC East and secured the No. 1 seed in the NFC, but the Philadelphia Eagles are in trouble.

    Serious trouble.

    When the Eagles lost Carson Wentz to a season-ending torn ACL, the hope was that Nick Foles would be able to keep a potent Eagles offense humming. When Foles threw four touchdown passes in his first start against the New York Giants, fans in Philly breathed a sigh of relief.

    They may have jumped the gun a little there.

    Foles didn't play the entirety of Sunday's shutout loss to the Cowboys, but when he was on the field—just like last week against the Oakland Raiders—the Eagles offense looked awful.

    Heading into Week 16, the Eagles were the NFL's No. 1 team on third down. Over the last two games, Philadelphia is a combined 3-for-25 in that regard.

    A month ago, the Eagles looked like the NFC's best team. Now, they look like a team headed for a quick exit from the postseason tournament.

    Week 17 Grade: D

    Final Season Grade: B+

Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3)

27 of 32

    Don Wright/Associated Press

    Week 17 Opponent: vs. Cleveland Browns

    Score: Won 28-24

    The Pittsburgh Steelers rested some starters despite theoretically having a chance at the No. 1 seed in the AFC on Sunday.

    It was the right call. The Patriots destroyed the Jets, and as it turned out, the Steelers second-stringers were good enough to defeat the hapless Cleveland Browns.

    Rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster had a monster game against the Browns. He caught nine passes for 143 yards and a touchdown, and he scored again on a 96-yard kickoff return.

    It's a performance that bodes well for the Steelers moving forward. With star wideout Antonio Brown's status for the playoffs in doubt due to a partially torn calf muscle, the Steelers need another pass-catcher to step up.

    Smith-Schuster appears to be the guy. And if he is, the Steelers have to be viewed as the biggest threat to the Patriots in the AFC.

    Week 17 Grade: B

    Final Season Grade: A-

San Francisco 49ers (6-10)

28 of 32

    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Week 17 Opponent: at Los Angeles Rams

    Score: Won 34-13

    The San Francisco 49ers blow-out win over the Los Angeles Rams comes with something of an asterisk, given that the Rams sat many of their stars.

    But it continued a hot streak for the Niners that most assuredly has no asterisk.

    After losing their first nine games, the 49ers closed out 2017 with six wins in seven games—a streak that gives a Niners team flush with cap space and draft picks something real to build on in the offseason.

    San Francisco appears to have already solved any rebuilding team's biggest problem.

    In acquiring quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo from the Patriots, 49ers general manager John Lynch pulled off the personnel coup of the season. All Garoppolo has done since taking the reins is win all five of his starts, including victories over the AFC South and NFC West champions the last two weeks.

    There are some big decisions facing the 49ers, including the pending free agency of players like Garoppolo and tailback Carlos Hyde. But after a massive infusion of hope at the end of the year, those decisions don't look nearly as imposing now.

    Week 17 Grade: A

    Final Season Grade: D+

Seattle Seahawks (9-7)

29 of 32

    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Week 17 Opponent: vs. Arizona Cardinals

    Score: Lost 26-24

    We just didn't want to believe it.

    It was right there in front of our faces, but we didn't want to believe it.

    We saw the terrible line play, lack of a run game and the offensive inconsistency. But this was Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks. The NFC's most consistently successful team over the last five seasons. Surely, they would figure out a way to get back to the playoffs.

    Um…nope.

    Atlanta's victory over the Carolina Panthers made it a moot point, but even had the Panthers pulled it out the Seahawks still would have been cooked—because they couldn't beat the Drew Stanton-led Cardinals at home in a game where the Seahawks had 24 net yards of offense in the first half.

    It's the first time since Wilson entered the NFL in 2012 that Seattle won't be playing in January. It's also a fitting end to a flawed season in the Emerald City.

    A flawed season that begs the question of as to whether Seattle's championship window closed while we all weren't seeing the team's problems.

    Week 17 Grade: D

    Final Season Grade: C

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-11)

30 of 32

    Brian Blanco/Getty Images

    Week 17 Opponent: vs. New Orleans Saints

    Score: Won 31-24

    This writer will confess that he doesn't completely understand why the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have decided to retain head coach Dirk Koetter for 2018. The Buccaneers were one of the biggest underperformers this season.

    But in Week 17 at least, they came to play. They notched a last-second win over the NFC South champion Saints that at least gives them something to build on.

    Even in victory, some of the problems that have dogged the Bucs this year were evident. Jameis Winston topped 350 passing yards, but he also threw three interceptions.

    Tampa's defense helped the team overcome those turnovers by holding a potent Saints offense to 323 total yards. Winston and the offense kept the chains moving by converting 13 of 18 third-down opportunities.

    The game wound up having little meaning. Carolina's loss in Atlanta handed the division to the Saints anyway.

    But we at least saw a glimpse of the Buccaneers team many thought would contend for a playoff spot this year before things fell apart.

    Week 17 Grade: B

    Final Season Grade: D-

Tennessee Titans (9-7)

31 of 32

    Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

    Week 17 Opponent: vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

    Score: Won 15-10

    Not many style points were earned in doing it, but the Tennessee Titans' Week 17 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars puts the Titans in the postseason for the first time since 2008.

    They were carried to the win and the playoff spot by quarterback Marcus Mariota. On a day when tailback Derrick Henry was completely bottled up, Mariota provided the majority of Tennessee's production on the ground. He also threw for 134 yards and a score.

    Mariota regressed this season, so it was a pleasant sight on Sunday. With DeMarco Murray unlikely to be available for the wild-card round and Henry struggling against the Jaguars, it's going to fall to Mariota to carry the day in next week's trip to Kansas City.

    The hard truth is that the Titans might reach the divisional round, but they aren't getting any farther. This team isn't winning in Pittsburgh or Boston.

    But after almost a decade away from the postseason, the Titans have an extra reason to celebrate on New Year's Eve.

    Week 17 Grade: B

    Final Season Grade: C+

Washington Redskins (7-9)

32 of 32

    Ed Mulholland/Getty Images

    Week 17 Opponent: at New York Giants

    Score: Lost 18-10

    The dominant storyline in the nation's capital this offseason will no doubt be the future of quarterback Kirk Cousins.

    Cousins had played pretty well heading into Sunday's finale. He had passed for 3,935 yards and 27 touchdowns with a passer rating approaching 100, despite an injury-wracked and underperforming receiving corps.

    But that Kirk Cousins apparently decided to get a head start on his vacation, because the dude who played quarterback for Washington on Sunday in New York was terrible.

    Cousins' woeful three-interception clunker against the Giants isn't going to depress his asking price. It's not every day that a 29-year-old franchise signal-caller becomes available.

    But it might just affect how much coin the Redskins are willing to invest in Cousins. Because in three seasons with Cousins as the starter, Washington has barely been a .500 football team.

    And the 2017 season was the worst of the lot.

    Week 17 Grade: D-

    Final Season Grade: D+