NFL Report Cards: Team-by-Team Grades for Week 2

Mike Tanier@@miketanierNFL National Lead WriterSeptember 22, 2015

NFL Report Cards: Team-by-Team Grades for Week 2

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    Week 2 was chock-full of stealth blowouts, games for which the final score paints a distorted picture of how lopsided the contest really was.

    The Cowboys may have only beaten the Eagles 20-10, but the Eagles weren’t going to score 10 more points if you gave them all night to do it. The Vikings beat the Lions 26-16, but the game was over the moment the Lions decided not to run the ball, a moment that occurred sometime early Friday evening. A 28-14 final doesn’t sound like a blowout, but the Browns’ win over the Titans sure felt like one after they took a 21-0 lead. Ditto the Redskins’ 24-10 win over the Rams: It looks like just another game, but it was really a case of whistle-to-gun control of both lines of scrimmage by the Redskins.

    And of course, the Patriots may have only beaten the Bills by eight points mathematically, but they did a lot more damage symbolically.

    These are the weekly report cards, not the power rankings. Every week is a clean slate: Play well and you get a good grade, though teams with the same grade are sorted by reputation/perception. The grades are based on breakdowns of the game tape and stats, not just the final score.

    Keep clicking to the end to check out the season-long report card. For now, it just puts this week’s grades into context with last week’s. Over time, it will balance the stealth blowouts, close games, upsets and runaways into a true picture of how each team shapes up.

New England Patriots: A

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    Bill Wippert/Associated Press

    This Week’s Result: Patriots 40, Bills 32

    Offense: Tom Brady (466 yards, three touchdowns) was outstanding by even his own standards. The usual suspects were supported by Aaron Dobson (seven catches) and Dion Lewis (138 scrimmage yards, one touchdown). The offensive line, despite two rookie starters and the mid-game disappearance of Sebastian Vollmer (finger injury), held a defense that was extra-motivated to pummel Brady to just two sacks. A.

    Defense: Battered and baffled Tyrod Taylor for most of the afternoon. Let up a little too soon in the second half and used a safe lead, not-sure tackling, to control the Bills' running game. B.

    Special Teams/Coaching: Another hide-the-Gronk and punish-the-blitz masterpiece on offense. The defense took everything away from the Bills but short dump-offs in the middle of the field for three quarters. Stephen Gostkowski delivered four field goals and mostly unreturnable kickoffs. A-plus.

    Looking Ahead: The Jaguars, a bye, then the Brandon Weeden experience. The Patriots can throttle down and still go 4-0. The Patriots don’t throttle down.

Green Bay Packers: A-

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    This Week’s Result: Packers 27, Seahawks 17

    Offense: Some of Aaron Rodgers’ best games are the ones that look ordinary on the stat sheet. Facing a tough defense without his top receiver or top running back, Rodgers rolled out of the pocket and manufactured completions after the Seahawks defense lost containment. James Starks rushed for 95 yards in relief of Eddie Lacy. The offensive line made it all possible by battling the Seahawks line to a stalemate. B-plus.

    Defense: Delivered big plays early and late. Stopped Marshawn Lynch, took Jimmy Graham out of the game plan and forced Russell Wilson to try to win with his legs and the likes of Luke Willson. A-minus.

    Special Teams/Coaching: The Packers didn’t let emotions get the better of them in a game with lots of storylines and juju. Mike McCarthy stuck with the balanced attack after Lacy’s injury. In a conference where contenders are dropping like flies, the Packers suddenly look like the smartest, healthiest guys in the room. A.

    Looking Ahead: The Chiefs come to Lambeau looking to avenge Super Bowl I. That doesn’t quite have the urgency of Fail Mary or Fail Onside Kick, does it?

Pittsburgh Steelers: A-

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    Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

    This Week’s Result: Steelers 43, 49ers 18

    Offense: Ben Roethlisberger (369 yards, three touchdowns) and Antonio Brown (nine catches, 195 yards, one touchdown) did whatever they wanted. Darrius Heyward-Bey, DeAngelo Williams and others pitched in whenever Brown needed a breather. The raw stats would look even better if the Steelers didn’t have such great field position and quick scoring drives all afternoon. A.

    Defense: Faced an offense so primitive that the game plan was written on the wall of a cave, and the unit made the most of it, though the second-half defense got a little too slack, too soon. Antwon Blake still has no business starting at cornerback for a playoff team. B-plus.

    Special Teams/Coaching: Josh Scobee is a kicker catastrophe waiting to happen. Otherwise, Mike Tomlin and Todd Haley did a fine job answering for the season-opening loss and making sure a weaker opponent didn’t surprise the Steelers at home. B.

    Looking Ahead: More NFC West ground-‘n’-pound football against the Rams, plus the return of Le’Veon Bell.

Arizona Cardinals: B+

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    This Week’s Result: Cardinals 48, Bears 23

    Offense: A kickoff-return touchdown, a pick-six and two deep pass-interference penalties put the Cardinals in a position to do whatever they wanted offensively. Larry Fitzgerald and Carson Palmer then partied like senior citizens on bingo night, but this wasn’t the offensive explosion the score suggests. B.

    Defense: A few early lapses became irrelevant after Tony Jefferson delivered a pick-six and Jimmy Clausen started dispensing sacks, interceptions and telegraphed screen passes to nowhere. B-plus.

    Special Teams/Coaching: David Johnson is turning into a big-play machine. Bruce Arians and James Bettcher are using sleight of hand to beat second-tier opponents: The ball rarely goes where you think it will on offense, and the blitz always comes from an unsuspected direction on defense. A-minus.

    Looking Ahead: The 49ers look to go Cro-Magnon on the Cardinals, who are bound to face a really good opponent one of these days.

Cincinnati Bengals: B+

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    This Week’s Result: Bengals 24, Chargers 19

    Offense: Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill rushed for 162 combined yards. Andy Dalton spread the ball around to everyone from A.J. Green (three catches, a tone-setting opening touchdown) to rookie tackle Jake Fisher (who sneaked away from defenders for a 31-yard catch from a six-lineman formation). The offensive line play was rock solid. A pair of Hill fumbles lowers the grade. B-minus.

    Defense: Pestered Philip Rivers repeatedly (four sacks) and forced a good Chargers offense to keep settling for field goals. B.

    Special Teams/Coaching: The offensive game plan was creatively conservative. The Bengals didn’t gamble much, but they kept the Chargers guessing with misdirection and a variety of personnel packages. Marv Lewis’ staff has the Bengals playing like the veteran playoff team they are on both sides of the ball. The Bengals can’t win playoff games in September, but they can play smart football, get the whole roster involved and secure some tiebreaker advantages that could help them down the line. A-minus.

    Looking Ahead: The Bengals have a chance to step on the Ravens’ necks. It’s not a chance they have taken advantage of much in the past.

New York Jets: B+

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    This Week’s Result: Jets 20, Colts 7

    Offense: Chris Ivory and the running game plodded for three quarters then made a few key late runs. Ryan Fitzpatrick played down to his limitations at times but mixed just enough connections to Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker with some wily veteran stuff, like quick snaps against a not-quite-set defense. C-plus.

    Defense: Darrelle Revis, Marcus Gilchrist and Calvin Pryor intercepted Andrew Luck, who rarely had any place to go with the football until the fourth quarter. The Jets line generally got pressure with or without blitzing. A.

    Special Teams/Coaching: The Jets' game plan got a little too conservative with a 10-point lead in the second half, but Chan Gailey opened things up for a late drive. Todd Bowles isn’t a “prevent defense” kind of guy, and it showed when the Jets forced late turnovers instead of standing back and waiting for Luck to figure things out. B-plus.

    Looking Ahead: The Jets are red-hot; the Eagles ice-cold. First 3-0 start since 2009? It suddenly looks like a sure thing.

Washington Redskins: B+

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    Matt Hazlett/Getty Images

    This Week’s Result: Redskins 24, Rams 10

    Offense: The offensive line was outstanding, opening up holes for Matt Jones and Alfred Morris (182 combined rushing yards, two touchdowns) against one of the toughest front sevens in the NFL. Kirk Cousins distributed the ball and, just as importantly, took care of it. B-plus.

    Defense: The Rams' defensive front was supposed to dominate the line-of-scrimmage battle. The Redskins' front seven flipped the script. The Rams resorted to end-arounds to generate a running game, while Nick Foles faced both consistent pressure and lots of 3rd-and-long situations. B-plus.

    Special Teams/Coaching: Offensive line coach Bill Callahan’s fingerprints can be seen in the Redskins' game plan. The Redskins used three tight ends regularly, giving them the ability to block the Rams line eight-on-four if they wanted to and confounding the Rams’ gap and pass-rush responsibilities. It was a week of straightforward, fundamentally sound football for the Redskins after weeks and weeks of nonsense. A-minus.

    Looking Ahead: A winnable Thursday night game against the Giants in a division that suddenly has a power vacuum at the top.

Denver Broncos: B

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    Ed Zurga/Associated Press

    This Week’s Result: Broncos 31, Chiefs 24

    Offense: Peyton Manning looks like a slightly out-of-sync version of himself while running his familiar offense and a senior citizen driving a station wagon with wood paneling while running Gary Kubiak’s offense. Manning isn’t getting any younger watching running backs average 2.8 yards per carry. C.

    Defense: Roughness fouls are bound to happen when three defenders get to the quarterback at the same time on play after play. Wade Phillips will live with a 15-yard penalty now and then in exchange for one or two return touchdowns per week. A-plus.

    Special Teams/Coaching: Brandon McManus’ 50-plus-yard field goals are easing the Broncos’ transition into the Rocky Mountain Ravens. Phillips is holding up his end of the coaching bargain. Kubiak and Manning are either coming to terms or loggerheads over the shape of the offense. A-minus.

    Looking Ahead: Our weekly meditation on decaying excellence and the ravages of age travels to Detroit, which is as appropriate a venue as any.

Minnesota Vikings: B

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    Tom Dahlin/Getty Images

    This Week’s Result: Vikings 26, Lions 16

    Offense: Peterson, Peterson and more Peterson. Maybe too much Adrian Peterson, who rushed for 134 yards but turned into a fumble machine near the red zone. Teddy Bridgewater now wears a little name tag that reads “Game Manager.” B.

    Defense: Made the most of an inexplicable Lions game plan, forced three turnovers and beat the Lions the way smart teams always beat the Lions: They kept Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate in relative check (16 catches, 163 yards, one touchdown combined, but on 27 passes) while clamping down hard on everyone else. B.

    Special Teams/Coaching: The conservative game plan had just enough fins and spoilers (a Bridgewater bootleg, a designed Jarius Wright run) to punish the Lions for overpursuing Peterson. Mike Zimmer got the Vikings to play smart, physical and composed football coming off an embarrassing loss and a short week of preparation. B.

    Looking Ahead: The Chargers travel to Minnesota for the first time since 2007. Peterson ran for 296 yards and three touchdowns in that game. He’ll be lucky to get half of that this time.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: B

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    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    This Week’s Result: Buccaneers 26, Saints 19

    Offense: Jameis Winston threw for 207 yards and a touchdown, adding 23 rushing yards and another touchdown. Winston delivered just enough third-down completions (and successful runs) to keep the chains moving, set up a few big plays and win the field-position battle. Winston and Doug Martin (78 rushing yards) also fumbled late in the game, forcing the Buccaneers to rely on their defense, and Saints tomfoolery, to seal a win. C-plus.

    Defense: Jacquies Smith recorded three sacks. Usual suspects Lavonte David (eight total tackles, two pass breakups) and Gerald McCoy (one sack) kept the Saints from establishing anything consistent on offense. A-minus.

    Special Teams/Coaching: William Gholston’s blocked extra point took the air out of a Saints comeback. Lovie Smith may not be the most dynamic game-planner in the NFL, but his boiling-chip demeanor may prove ideal for smoothing out the highs and lows of life with Winston. B-plus.

    Looking Ahead: The Texans defense licks its chops for Winston. The Buccaneers defense licks its chops for whoever.

Oakland Raiders: B

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    This Week’s Result: Raiders 37, Ravens 33

    Offense: Vertical offense. That’s how it’s done, baby. A-minus.

    Defense: Curtis Lofton and Malcolm Smith make a lot of tackles (seven solo tackles each on Sunday) but also miss a lot (three each, according to Pro Football Focus). The Raiders are still waiting for their first sack, and the young secondary isn’t up to chasing the likes of Steve Smith all over the field while the quarterback weighs his options. C.

    Special Teams/Coaching: The offensive game plan was excellent. The Raiders were unfazed by Derek Carr’s injury or the Ravens’ defensive reputation: They attacked downfield, luring the Ravens into the least likely shootout of the year so far. B-plus.

    Looking Ahead: Raiders-Browns will be exciting for the first time since about 1985.

Cleveland Browns: B

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    This Week’s Result: Browns 28, Titans 14

    Offense: The Browns controlled the line of scrimmage, allowing Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson (115 combined rushing yards) to grind away and play field-position football. Johnny Manziel didn’t do much besides what you saw on the highlight montage, but life is much easier when you complete two long bombs and let your defense handle the details. C-plus.

    Defense: The Browns played a disciplined game at all three levels. The secondary gave Marcus Mariota no place to go with the ball, while the front seven recoded seven sacks, contained the run and stymied the option/screen/misdirection game. B-plus.

    Special Teams/Coaching: Travis Benjamin's punt return touchdown broke the game open, and other fine returns helped the Browns start their drives around the 30-yard line. Andy Lee (53.2 gross yards per punt) did his part to keep the field tilted the Browns’ way. The Manziel game plan was in the Goldilocks Zone of complexity: not too conservative or gimmick-heavy but not exactly a Tom Brady system, either. A-minus.

    Looking Ahead: The suddenly interesting Browns face the suddenly interesting Raiders in a suddenly interesting game.

Carolina Panthers: B

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    This Week’s Result: Panthers 24, Texans 17

    Offense: This is what the Panthers offense is now: thudding runs, Cam Newton improvisations and draw plays, long stretches where Newton’s targeting computer malfunctions, that weird “crouch option” where Newton looks like he is battling appendicitis while play-faking. It’s hard to watch a triple-option with Jerricho Cotchery as the pitch man without feeling a little sad. Still, the Panthers manufacture just enough big plays and third-down conversions to generate a few points. C.

    Defense: Thomas Davis and A.J. Klein came up big in Luke Kuechly’s absence. Charles Tillman, Josh Norman and Bene’ Benwikere kept Ryan Mallett from connecting with DeAndre Hopkins and the other Texans receivers very often, though Mallett would have missed half of those throws during uncovered pregame drills. B.

    Special Teams/Coaching: Graham Gano’s line-drive 53-yard field goal was easily blocked; the pressure is on Gano to provide every possible point this season. Ron Rivera and Mike Shula once again let Cam be Cam, which is wise when the only alternative is letting the other Panthers “playmakers” be themselves. B.

    Looking Ahead: The Saints defense could get totally fooled by a Cotchery triple-option.

Atlanta Falcons: B

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    This Week’s Results: Falcons 24, Giants 20

    Offense: There’s Julio Jones, and there’s all the things that happen because the defense is worried about Jones. B-minus.

    Defense: Just like last week, the Falcons played about two quarters of good defensive football, one bad quarter (the second) and one OK quarter. That’s a massive upgrade over last season, and as long as one of the good quarters is the fourth one, the Falcons are going to win a lot of games. C-plus.

    Special Teams/Coaching: Another sound game plan and energetic performance for a team that doesn’t have the talent on the offensive line or defense to compensate for any mistakes. B-plus.

    Looking Ahead: The NFC East road rises up to meet the Falcons as they face what’s left of the Cowboys.

Dallas Cowboys: B-

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    This Week’s Result: Cowboys 20, Eagles 10

    Offense: The much-ballyhooed offensive line (and yes, I do much of the ballyhoo-ing) got its quarterback broken and could only help the running backs average 3.3 yards per carry against a defense that looked like it had just marched across Russia by the second quarter. Brandon Weeden was a perfect 7-of-7 in relief of the injured Tony Romo, which is a mixed blessing: You don’t want to waste seven good Weeden plays on a game that should have been decided earlier. C.

    Defense: Sean Lee (14 tackles, two tackles for losses, an end-zone interception) reminded the Cowboys of what they missed last year. Anthony Hitchens and others took turns knifing into the Eagles backfield and tackling DeMarco Murray while he was still running sideways. A.

    Special Teams/Coaching: The team kept things simple against the no-huddle, allowing its defenders to stay at home and out-execute the frenetic Eagles. The adjustment to Romo’s injury was excellent; the adjustment to Dez Bryant’s absence was so-so. Blocked punts are great; 18 penalties are horrific. And here’s a thought for the running game: Maybe, just maybe, Lance Dunbar can handle more than one carry every two weeks. C-plus.

    Looking Ahead: Marvel at the World’s Oldest Young Quarterback as Weeden faces the scourge of the NFC East: the Atlanta Falcons.

Jacksonville Jaguars: B-

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    Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press

    This Week’s Result: Jaguars 23, Dolphins 20

    Offense: Blake Bortles (273 yards, two touchdowns) had the best game of his NFL career. Allen Robinson (six catches, 155 yards, two touchdowns) picked on Brice McCain and Walt Aikens for big plays. T.J. Yeldon ran better than his 2.8 yards per carry would suggest. Backup left tackle Sam Young filled in for Luke Joeckel and did not get creamed, which means he really didn’t fill in for Joeckel if you think about it. B-plus.

    Defense: The secondary struggled, but the run defense forced the Dolphins to become unbalanced early (the Dolphins were all too willing to go along with it) and kept stopping the Dolphins just outside the red zone. C-plus.

    Special Teams/Coaching: Neither team knew how to win this game in the fourth quarter; the Jaguars seemed to be content waiting around for a Dolphins mistake to put them in field-goal range. Actually, that’s a pretty good strategy for beating the Dolphins in the fourth quarter. B-minus.

    Looking Ahead: The Jaguars head to Foxborough, Massachusetts, looking for an upset against the Patriots in the way a toddler looks for pirate treasure in a sandbox.

Seattle Seahawks: C

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    Mike Roemer/Associated Press

    This Week’s Result: Packers 27, Seahawks 17

    Offense: More like the 2013-14 offense than the Week 1 offense, but not really like the 2013-14 offense. It was all good back when 17 points equaled a win and everyone pretended that 78 Russell Wilson rushing yards meant the Seahawks offensive line was hunky-dory. C-plus.

    Defense: Not enough like the 2013-14 defense. James Starks rushed for 95 yards because the Seahawks defensive line was too often blocked-up and moving backward. Aaron Rodgers can beat most defenses when he breaks containment, but the Seahawks aren’t supposed to suffer from so many downfield-coverage lapses. B-minus.

    Special Teams/Coaching: Steve Hauschka provided a 54-yard field goal. Pete Carroll, Darrell Bevell and the staff provided another game plan that necessitated 54-yard field goals. C.

    Looking Ahead: The Bears are already surrendering. The Seahawks could use a fifth preseason game.

Baltimore Ravens: C

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    This Week’s Result: Raiders 37, Ravens 33

    Offense: Steve Smith (10 catches, 150 yards) had a signature game on offense. Tight end Crockett Gillmore (five catches, 88 yards, two touchdowns) climbed onto some fantasy rosters. The blocking and running games were sound, and Joe Flacco engineered some long drives. But the Ravens cannot keep settling for field goals inside the 5-yard line. B.

    Defense: Losing Terrell Suggs may have been the tipping point for a defense that has successfully played “next man up” for years. The Ravens had no pass rush, and their secondary paid the price. D.

    Special Teams/Coaching: Justin Tucker is the third-hardest-working man in Baltimore as usual (the person who attaches the Under Armour labels is second, the Crab Cake Commissioner technician is first). Smith is now stuck with punt-return duties, and he let a punt roll 70 yards to stick the Ravens with bad field position. The Ravens played poor situational football in the red zone (2-of-6 touchdown opportunities) and on third-down defense (the Raiders were 9-of-14). C-minus.

    Looking Ahead: Home, home again/The Ravens like to be there when they can/And when they come home cold and tired/It’s good to see the Bengals beside the fire.

San Diego Chargers: C-

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    Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

    This Week’s Result: Bengals 24, Chargers 19

    Offense: The running game notched 131 yards and 5.2 yards per carry, and Philip Rivers delivered a pair of touchdowns. But an injury-riddled offensive line allowed four sacks, while Rivers settled for too many short throws to Danny Woodhead and others on 3rd-and-long. C-plus.

    Defense: The Chargers could not stop the run or pressure Andy Dalton. Sloppy penalties and missed assignments made things too easy for the Bengals. C-minus.

    Special Teams/Coaching: Keenan Allen muffed a punt. Josh Lambo missed an important, makable field goal. An unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty on a kickoff forced the Chargers to start from their own 10-yard line at a time when they desperately needed field position. Mike McCoy’s team looked flat overall; when the Bengals led by 11, it felt like they led by 22. D.

    Looking Ahead: The Chargers head to Minnesota. More early-afternoon road games against unfamiliar opponents. Hooray.

Detroit Lions: C-

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    Tom Dahlin/Getty Images

    This Week’s Result: Vikings 26, Lions 16

    Offense: The Lions scrapped the run during the team breakfast, with predictable results: Matthew Stafford threw 53 passes, Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate put up solid numbers, and the Lions offense lurched or turned the ball over whenever someone else needed to make a play. C-minus.

    Defense: The Dolphins and Lions both had great run defenses when Ndamukong Suh was on the Lions. Now that Suh is on the Dolphins, neither team can stop the run worth a lick. C.

    Special Teams/Coaching: So, Jim Caldwell watched the 49ers run iso, power and belly plays down the Vikings’ throat Monday night. His conclusion? Let’s test the Vikings secondary. D.

    Looking Ahead: If Stafford tries to throw 53 passes against the Broncos defense, the result will be 33 passes and 20 sacks.

Kansas City Chiefs: C-

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    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    This Week’s Result: Broncos 31, Chiefs 24

    Offense: Not getting any touchdowns from the wide receivers is a small problem. Not getting any big plays whatsoever from the wide receivers, allowing the opponent to open up its entire blitz package and forcing you to hand off instead of throwing downfield in late-and-close situations...that’s a massive problem. D.

    Defense: We’ve reached the point in human history when it is hard to evaluate a defense that allows 24 offensive points to Peyton Manning’s team. Is that still good? Is that bad now? Let’s be conservative and say that’s still good. B-plus.

    Special Teams/Coaching: Andy Reid has been beating opponents for 13 minutes and 30 seconds then beating himself for the last 90 seconds of each half since the dawn of the millennium. D-minus.

    Looking Ahead: The Packers comb hours of regular-season and preseason game tape, plus hundreds of media articles, in a hopeless effort to figure out who the Chiefs’ No. 2 wide receiver is.

Buffalo Bills: C-

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    Bill Wippert/Associated Press

    This Week’s Result: Patriots 40, Bills 32

    Offense: Tyrod Taylor, LeSean McCoy and Co. delivered a textbook opening drive, then played like they thought football games were six minutes long. Taylor looked like a squirrel trapped on a screen porch for much of the game, though he regained a little composure in the fourth quarter. C-minus.

    Defense: Got stuck defending a short field on early touchdown drives, then blew an opportunity to make a statement in the second half by letting the Patriots march on several long drives to render the offense’s comeback efforts moot. The pass rush missed an opportunity to exploit the interior Patriots line during their annual September rookie tryout period. C-minus.

    Special Teams/Coaching: Rex Ryan’s defense should not be surprised by hide-the-Gronk strategies or wheel routes to running backs; this is what the Patriots have done for years, yet the Bills still had linebackers covering Rob Gronkowski up the seam and defenders waltzing right into pick plays. Greg Roman’s offensive game plan featured no options, one measly Percy Harvin end-around (a second one on a two-point conversion is best forgotten) and no subterfuge or misdirection. Brady got to toss the ball to receivers on jet sweeps now and then, but Taylor almost seemed stuck in the pocket to prove a point. Fourteen more penalties is a troubling sign for a Ryan team: The Bills may have been too busy talking tough to sweat the details. D-minus.

    Looking Ahead: The race for second place is on when the Bills travel to Miami.

New York Giants: C-

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    Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

    This Week’s Result: Falcons 24, Giants 20

    Offense: Odell Beckham Jr. highlights, red-zone blunders and late-game miscues, plus the requisite critical injury (Ereck Flowers). Shane Vereen (eight receptions) played well, and the line might have gotten a little better after Flowers left, but otherwise this is the same Giants offense that moves well between the 20s for three quarters. C.

    Defense: Played well for three quarters then collapsed late: the Giants' new motto. The run defense was solid and the pass rush adequate, but there’s no way the Giants secondary can contain Julio Jones for four quarters when the offense keeps settling for three points. B-minus.

    Special Teams/Coaching: There was a point in the fourth quarter when Vic Beasley stripped the ball from Eli Manning’s hand on third down, but the fumble bounced forward and into Larry Donnell’s hands. The recovery resulted in a first down and kept the clock moving when the Giants still had the lead. It’s telling that one of the most successful offensive plays the Giants have executed in the last two weeks was a fumble. D.

    Looking Ahead: The Giants play a night game against the Redskins. They have enough late-game problems without once again staying up past their bedtime.

Houston Texans: D+

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    Grant Halverson/Getty Images

    This Week’s Result: Panthers 24, Texans 17

    Offense: Ryan Mallett can make all the throws: over the receiver, behind the receiver, bouncing up to the receiver, so-hard-it-might-go-through the receiver. The Texans' quarterback situation is the new Redskins quarterback situation. D-plus.

    Defense: The typical solid defense cracking after being forced to play too perfectly for too long. Quarterback draws and misdirection caused problems for the Texans defense, which will always happen when a team is being overaggressive to compensate for the offense. B-minus.

    Special Teams/Coaching: Mallett threw 58 passes, about a dozen of which were really good. (He completed 27, but there were lots of screens and the leaping one-handed catches). That’s not an offensive game plan; it’s an attempt to justify a decision. Coach Bill O’Brien, we’re ready for Tom Savage. Heck, we’re ready for Fred Savage. D.

    Looking Ahead: The Buccaneers provide J.J. Watt an opportunity to win a game single-handedly, which is starting to look like the only way the Texans will win games this year.

San Francisco 49ers: D+

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    This Week’s Result: Steelers 43, 49ers 18

    Offense: The running-and-option attack was moderately effective until the Steelers disappeared over the horizon, then the limits of the old Hugh McElhenny game plan reared their heads. The 49ers went backward and sideways too often in the red zone while the game was still competitive. A late Torrey Smith 75-yard touchdown offers hope that the 49ers won’t be turtles on their backs all season as soon as an opponent gets the lead. D-plus.

    Defense: The Steelers found all the weaknesses the Vikings were too sleepy to find on Monday night. Defenders like Kenneth Acker and Michael Wilhoite don’t look ready for the roles they are asked to play. D.

    Special Teams/Coaching: It’s time to have the talk about the fact that your quarterback and both receivers have Super Bowl experience and can be trusted to connect on some downfield passes before the opponent has a three-touchdown lead. C.

    Looking Ahead: The 49ers are a rock. The Cardinals are paper. (The Seahawks are a rusty pair of scissors. The Rams are a Jeff Fisher-coached football team).

St. Louis Rams: D+

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    Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

    This Week’s Result: Redskins 24, Rams 10

    Offense: The line was awful. Tre Mason was barely a factor. The Rams were 2-of-12 on third-down conversions. In a troubling development, Nick Foles no longer waits to get hit before he fumbles. D.

    Defense: The Redskins’ multi-tight end formations caused confusion for the Rams' front seven, which made some big plays but played much of the game like it was taking an afternoon off after beating the Seahawks in the opener. C.

    Special Teams/Coaching: Greg Zuerlein nailed a long field goal, and Johnny Hekker worked overtime booming eight punts (at one point, he had to punt three times in a row because of multiple penalties. Each kick was a little longer). Game plans on both sides of the ball demonstrated no creativity or adaptability. C-minus.

    Looking Ahead: The Rams look to upset the Steelers. That typically requires more than 10 points.

Miami Dolphins: D+

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    This Week’s Result: Jaguars 23, Dolphins 20

    Offense: Ryan Tannehill threw for 359 yards, and you wonder where they went. Lamar Miller went nowhere (10 carries, 14 yards) and Joe Philbin happily abandoned the run in the fourth quarter, opting to keep punting until the Jaguars figured out a way to win. C-minus.

    Defense: The Dolphins' front four won the locker room 50-50 drawing: They are the ones who get to coast on reputation this year. The Dolphins secondary is half good (Brent Grimes, Reshad Jones) and half bad (Brice McCain, Walt Aikens), which is a little like having a roof that is half sound and half leaky. Also, McCain is a mess at cornerback. C.

    Special Teams/Coaching: Andrew Franks missed a short field goal, but really, a Dolphins-Jaguars game shouldn’t come down to a short field goal. This was just another example of the Dolphins starting too slowly, coming on just strong enough to make things interesting then failing to finish. D.

    Looking Ahead: The Bills and Dolphins square off in a battle of Too Motivated versus Not Motivated Enough.

Tennessee Titans: D+

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    This Week’s Result: Browns 28, Titans 14

    Offense: Dexter McCluster (124 scrimmage yards, one fumble recovery) is about the only person who can hold his head high in the film room. Marcus Mariota fumbled and bumbled, and he got little help from running backs (besides McCluster) who got stuffed and coughed up the football, a line that offered spotty protection and teammates who committed numerous dumb penalties to keep him in 3rd-and-19 situations for the whole first half. D.

    Defense: Coty Sensabaugh and Blidi Wreh-Wilson each got burned by Travis Benjamin. In fairness, a little pass rush would have helped. C.

    Special Teams/Coaching: The Titans allowed a Benjamin punt-return touchdown and had trouble covering other returns. An unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty on a return gave the Browns great field position; an illegal block negated a good McCluster return. Beyond the special teams gaffes, the Titans' game plans weren’t the problem, but the penalties and lapses resulted in a missed opportunity to notch a win against a very beatable foe. D.

    Looking Ahead: The Titans host the Colts, a team they haven’t beaten since 2011.

Indianapolis Colts: D

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    This Week’s Result: Jets 20, Colts 7

    Offense: Five turnovers. Bad blocking. Receivers who cannot get separation. A quarterback who cannot connect with those receivers when they do get separation and needs to scramble to spark the offense. If this weren’t the Colts slide, I would swear that I was writing about the 2014 Panthers. D.

    Defense: Kept the running game under control and stopped a drive with an interception near the end zone but came up small when the Colts needed a fourth-quarter stop. The Colts defense is built to supplement a high-powered offense, not take over games. If a 20-point performance from the defense isn’t good enough, the Colts are in real trouble. B.

    Special Teams/Coaching: Pep Hamilton is coordinating the offense as if he thinks opponents will spend the whole game in four-deep zone, terrified of his receiving corps even though he faced back-to-back opponents with daring blitz packages and great secondaries. D.

    Looking Ahead: If the Colts can’t move the ball against the Titans, Chuck Pagano is going to be less popular than Chip Kelly.

Chicago Bears: D

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    Jon Durr/Getty Images

    This Week’s Result: Cardinals 48, Bears 23

    Offense: The early game plan was effective. Jay Cutler was 8-of-8 before the interception (and hamstring injury) that knocked him out of the game. Once Jimmy Clausen took the field, however, the Bears offense couldn’t wait to get off it. D-plus.

    Defense: Minimal pass rush, loose coverage, too many deep pass-interference penalties (one was ticky-tack, but these guys can’t expect to get calls) and some truly bad defensive concepts. When Lamarr Houston is chasing Larry Fitzgerald on a deep route, something has gone terribly wrong. D.

    Special Teams/Coaching: David Johnson’s game-opening kickoff-return touchdown set the tone. When the Bears answered with a touchdown a few drives later, Robbie Gould kicked off short in terror of the legendary Johnson, setting up a short, easy Cardinals drive. The Bears are scared of their backup quarterback, scared of their secondary and scared of their special teams. They shouldn’t make it so obvious. D.

    Looking Ahead: The Seahawks are coming, and they are mad. Where are you going, Bears? Get back here!

New Orleans Saints: D

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    Bill Haber/Associated Press

    This Week’s Result: Buccaneers 26, Saints 19

    Offense: Monday’s news of a Drew Brees shoulder ailment explains why Brees sometimes looked like his old self and sometimes looked like a knuckleballer in a stiff wind. Brees got little help from a porous offensive line, and Mark Ingram and Willie Snead mixed big plays with costly fumbles. C.

    Defense: The image of Delvin Breaux with his arms raised in confusion, running away from his receiver and searching the Superdome ceiling for a football that has already been caught should be the cover of the team’s media guide. D.

    Special Teams/Coaching: Zach Hocker missed a field goal and had an extra point blocked. The defense gave Jameis Winston all day to throw. The Saints had multiple opportunities to regain control of the game when the Buccaneers started turning the ball over in the fourth quarter, but they responded with mistakes of their own. D-minus.

    Looking Ahead: The Panthers are next. But if Brees is sidelined, does it really matter?

Philadelphia Eagles: F

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    Rich Schultz/Getty Images

    This Week’s Result: Cowboys 20, Eagles 10

    Offense: First down: unproductive Sam Bradford pass into the flat. Second down: DeMarco Murray tackled from behind on outside stretch play. Third down: screen pass to Darren Sproles called back by a holding penalty. Repeat until declared an offensive genius. F.

    Defense: Adequate until it collapsed from exhaustion. The Eagles defense was on the field for 23 minutes and nine seconds in the first half. The Cowboys’ 15-play end-of-half field-goal drive, which was really just a bunch of Eagles penalties with a Dan Bailey field goal at the end, was the direct result of exhausted defenders clutching and making mental errors because they desperately needed a Gatorade. C-plus.

    Special Teams/Coaching: The Eagles used to block punts. Now they give up blocked punts. Chip Kelly needs to search the Acme catalog full of rocket skates and roadrunner food for a second running play. F.

    Looking Ahead: The Eagles face the Jets in New York while the pope arrives in Philadelphia and determines whether all four Philly sports teams need exorcisms or excommunication.

Year-to-Date GPAs

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    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    You know how GPAs work: A 4.0 is a perfect A; a 3.0 is a B and so on down to Bluto Blutarsky and his perfect 0.0.

    There's a modest curve in the numbers to make recent weeks worth a little more than past weeks. But you will barely notice that curve this early in the season.

    • New England Patriots: 3.87
    • Cincinnati Bengals: 3.60
    • Green Bay Packers: 3.40
    • New York Jets: 3.30
    • Arizona Cardinals: 3.17
    • Carolina Panthers: 3.04
    • Atlanta Falcons: 3.00
    • Denver Broncos: 2.87
    • Dallas Cowboys: 2.83
    • Pittsburgh Steelers 2.67
    • Washington Redskins: 2.61
    • Minnesota Vikings: 2.44
    • San Diego Chargers: 2.39
    • Kansas City Chiefs: 2.39
    • Buffalo Bills: 2.39
    • Tennessee Titans: 2.33
    • Cleveland Browns: 2.27
    • Oakland Raiders: 2.14
    • St. Louis Rams: 2.03
    • San Francisco 49ers: 2.03
    • Seattle Seahawks: 2.00
    • Baltimore Ravens: 2.00
    • Jacksonville Jaguars: 1.97
    • Miami Dolphins: 1.90
    • New York Giants: 1.83
    • Detroit Lions: 1.83
    • Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 1.71
    • Houston Texans: 1.60
    • New Orleans Saints: 1.43
    • Chicago Bears: 1.43
    • Indianapolis Colts: 1.00
    • Philadelphia Eagles: 0.73