NFL Team Grades for Week 8

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystOctober 30, 2017

NFL Team Grades for Week 8

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    Stephen Brashear/Associated Press

    We're eight weeks into the 2017 regular season—halfway home for many teams. 

    As it always does, a new week in the NFL brought madness and mayhem galore, whether it was a Baltimore beatdown Thursday night, a slew of soggy East Coast slopfests Sunday or the game of the year in the Pacific Northwest.

    There were things that surprised us, like the ease with which the Buffalo Bills dispatched the Oakland Raiders.

    There were also things that didn't, like the Cleveland Browns losing.

    At least they added a wrinkle by losing on a different continent.

    As is the case every week at Bleacher Report, the close of another week of NFL action means it's time to hand out weekly grades.

    Did your favorite team ace its Week 8 exam or flunk out in a big way?

    Please take your seats and we'll get started.

    And no talking, back there. I'm watching you.

Arizona Cardinals

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    Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

    Week 8 Opponent: Bye Week

    Score: N/A

    If the Arizona Cardinals didn't have bad luck, they wouldn't have any.

    It's not like the Cardinals were Super Bowl contenders entering 2017. But with talent on offense like quarterback Carson Palmer, tailback David Johnson and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, the Redbirds did have aspirations of making a run at a playoff berth.

    Those aspirations are now toast—because two-thirds of that offensive foundation is.

    The Cardinals lost Johnson to a dislocated wrist on the opening weekend of the season. Palmer suffered a broken arm last week against the Los Angeles Rams.

    There are a couple of harsh realities facing Arizona now. The first is that with Drew Stanton at quarterback, the Cardinals are just playing out the string. There will be no playoffs in 2017.

    The second is that with Palmer and Fitzgerald both nearing the end of their careers, the Cardinals are staring at the very real possibility of a rebuild in 2018.

    Week 8 Grade: N/A

    Season Grade: D+   

Atlanta Falcons

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    Week 8 Opponent: at New York Jets

    Score: Won 25-20

    The Atlanta Falcons desperately needed to stop their three-game skid Sunday in New York. And they accomplished that feat—in the driving rain, no less.

    That, as they say, is the bright side.

    And from just a casual glance at the stats, one might think the Falcons addressed many of their offensive woes against Gang Green. Matt Ryan tossed a pair of scoring passes and put up a passer rating of well over 100. Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman combined for 123 yards on the ground.

    But the Atlanta offense was still a far cry from the well-oiled machine we saw a year ago. The wet weather was a factor, to be sure, but Ryan lost a pair of fumbles and the Falcons converted just five of 14 third-down opportunities.

    At 4-3, the Falcons are in the mix in the NFC South, but this isn't last year's Super Bowl team. Not right now.

    And with a trip to Charlotte to face a solid Panthers defense up next, the Falcons are far from out of the woods.

    Week 8 Grade: B-

    Season Grade: C+   

Baltimore Ravens

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Week 8 Opponent: vs. Miami Dolphins

    Score: Won 40-0

    If only the Baltimore Ravens could play the Miami Dolphins every week.

    Last year, a red-hot Dolphins team in the midst of a 9-2 stretch that got them into the playoffs visited Baltimore and got pasted, 38-6.

    Thursday, a less-hot Dolphins team was back in town.

    And the beating was even worse.

    Despite losing quarterback Joe Flacco to a vicious hit from Miami linebacker Kiko Alonso in the second quarter, the Ravens rode a 113-yard effort from tailback Alex Collins and a dominant showing from the team's defense to a 40-0 whitewashing.

    It was the most lopsided shutout in the NFL since 2014.

    Given the size of the margin of victory that got the Ravens back to .500, it's tempting to say the team had fixed that which ailed it entering Week 8.

    However, outside of one long pass to Jeremy Maclin, Baltimore's aerial attack was still highly inconsistent. And it's hard to read too much into the defensive effort given how bad the Dolphins have been offensively this season.

    A win is a win. And this was a big one.

    But it doesn't suddenly make a flawed Ravens team a legitimate contender.

    Week 8 Grade: A

    Season Grade: C-   

Buffalo Bills

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    Adrian Kraus/Associated Press

    Week 8 Opponent: vs. Oakland Raiders

    Score: Won 34-14

    It's time to start taking the Buffalo Bills seriously.

    The Bills entered Week 8 at 4-2, coming off a thrilling fourth-quarter comeback against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers following their bye. And there were whispers that maybe this Buffalo team could end the NFL's longest playoff drought. But that's all they really were—whispers.

    The Bills were shouting Sunday.

    It's not just that Buffalo defeated an Oakland Raiders team many believed was a Super Bowl contender entering the 2017 season. The Bills flattened the Raiders.

    And they did it the Buffalo way. Tailback LeSean McCoy carried the ball 27 times for 151 yards and a touchdown. Tyrod Taylor passed for just 165 yards, but he was efficient, completing 20 of 27 throws and posting a passer rating over 100.

    And while the Bills gave up over 300 passing yards, they completely shut Oakland down on the ground, with the Raiders gaining just 54 rushing yards.

    It was the fourth win in as many tries for the Bills at home, and in advance of a trip to face the Jets in New York, it sent a message.

    The Bills are for real.

    Week 8 Grade: A-

    Season Grade: B+   

Carolina Panthers

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    Phelan Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Week 8 Opponent: at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Score: Won 17-3

    After back-to-back losses (including an ugly 17-3 setback in Chicago), Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers were in a bad mood in Week 8. Newton stormed out of an interview session earlier this week after being asked about the state of the Panthers offense.

    Sunday's 14-point win over the reeling Tampa Bay Buccaneers should improve their mood a bit.

    The question is whether it should. About the only good things that came from this game were the victory itself and the return of defensive starters Luke Kuechly and Kurt Coleman.

    The questions about the offense? All still there and looming as large as ever.

    Newton passed for just 154 yards on 18 of 32 attempts, with a touchdown and an interception. His passer rating was just 66.4.

    The ground game wasn't much better, averaging just 3.2 yards on 31 carries. Carolina's leading rusher was Newton, who carried the ball 11 times for 44 yards.

    At 5-3, the Panthers are just half a game back of the division-leading Saints, and their defense was once again rock-solid Sunday.

    But their offensive inconsistency could come back to bite them against better competition.

    Week 8 Grade: B-

    Season Grade: B-   

Chicago Bears

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    Week 8 Opponent: at New Orleans Saints

    Score: Lost 20-12

    The Chicago Bears are an ugly football team.

    OK, the Chicago Bears are an ugly football team on offense.

    OK, the Chicago Bears are an ugly football team on offense except for one guy.

    Defensively, the Bears played well in Sunday's loss in New Orleans. Chicago held Drew Brees to under 300 yards passing and kept him out of the end zone. The Saints gained just 3.4 yards a carry on the ground.

    But outside of Jordan Howard (who had 121 scrimmage yards), the Chicago offense was offensive—again. Rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky managed to complete more than four passes this week, but he hit on less than half of his attempts, tossed a pick and posted a passer rating south of 50.

    Yes, Trubisky's receivers leave plenty to be desired—especially with tight end Zach Miller suffering a dislocated knee on a touchdown catch that was overturned.

    So long as Chicago's offense continues to sputter, the defense will be placed in an untenable position.

    And the Bears will keep right on losing.

    Week 8 Grade: D

    Season Grade: D   

Cincinnati Bengals

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    Gary Landers/Associated Press

    Week 8 Opponent: vs. Indianapolis Colts

    Score: Won 24-23

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

    No NFL team knows that better than the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 8. Despite being outplayed for most of Sunday's meeting with the Indianapolis Colts, the Bengals eked out a one-point win thanks to defensive end Carlos Dunlap's pick-six in the fourth quarter.

    And make no mistake, the Bengals were outplayed by a Colts team that's won all of two games this year. They were out-gained, 331-276. The Bengals were a measly 4-of-11 on third down. And the Cincinnati defense had no answer for tight end Jack Doyle, who caught a career-high 12 passes for 121 yards and a touchdown.

    Had Dunlap not snatched a Jacoby Brissett pass out of the air and rumbled into the end zone late, the Bengals would have lost. At home. To a tomato can.

    A win is a win. And it's a victory the Bengals badly needed.

    But the hard truth is that the Bengals are a flawed team whose ceiling in 2017 is probably eight or nine wins.

    Week 8 Grade: C

    Season Grade: C-   

Cleveland Browns

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    Matt Dunham/Associated Press

    Week 8 Opponent: vs. Minnesota Vikings (London)

    Score: Lost 33-16

    What can you say about the 0-8 Cleveland Browns that hasn't already been said?

    Cleveland fans desperate for some shred of good news to hold on to might point to the fact the Browns led in the first quarter of their London tilt with the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. And the second quarter. And the third quarter.

    Or they might point out that Isaiah Crowell had his best game of the 2017 season against the Vikings, racking up 118 total yards and a touchdown.

    Cleveland quarterback DeShone Kizer even managed to go an entire game without throwing an interception. Of course, he didn't throw a touchdown pass, either, but hey—progress!

    But in the NFL, only one thing really matters—the final score. And just as they have in every game this season, the Browns came up short in that regard again.

    It wasn't Cleveland's worst performance of the year. But after taking a 16-15 lead in the second half, the Browns allowed 18 unanswered points en route to a 17-point loss

    If the NFL really wants to grow the game overseas, it might not want to subject fans in the UK to the Browns anymore.

    The folks in Cleveland can barely stand it—and they're used to it.

    Week 8 Grade: F

    Season Grade: F   

Dallas Cowboys

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    Alex Brandon/Associated Press

    Week 8 Opponent: at Washington Redskins

    Score: Won 33-19

    Sunday's NFC East showdown in the nation's capital was about as big as a Week 8 game gets. The winner would stay two back of the Philadelphia Eagles in the loss column.

    The loser would fall into a hole that would be very hard to dig out of.

    The Dallas Cowboys prevailed, in large part because they used the same strategy as in their Week 7 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

    Zeke, Zeke and more Zeke.

    Tailback Ezekiel Elliott carried the ball 33 times against the Redskins for 150 yards and two touchdowns. Over the last two games, Elliott has piled up a staggering 373 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns on 61 touches.

    However, with Elliott's suspension being upheld by a New York judge Monday, it appears that as the Cowboys enter a brutal three-week stretch (Kansas City, at Atlanta, Philadelphia), they'll be forced to do so without their star runner.

    In fact, barring a last-minute Hail Mary appeal, the Cowboys won't have Elliott back until Week 15.

    In some ways that makes it all the more important that in Week 8 they had him. And he had Washington's number.

    Week 8 Grade: B+

    Season Grade: B   

Denver Broncos

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    Ed Zurga/Associated Press

    Week 8 Opponent: at Kansas City Chiefs

    Score: Lost 29-19

    After a pair of losses in which the Denver offense looked dismal, there were calls in the Mile High City for Trevor Siemian to be benched. But head coach Vance Joseph told the Associated Press (via USA Today) that his young quarterback wasn't the only problem.

    "It doesn't matter who the quarterback is if he's not being protected or the run game is not effective," Joseph said.

    Well, the Broncos ran for 177 yards against the Kansas City Chiefs Monday night. The line wasn't great (or even good), but it wasn't horrible either.

    Siemian, on the other hand, absolutely was. He threw three ugly interceptions and posted a passer rating south of 50 in a 10-point loss that wasn't as close as the score.

    The Denver Broncos have one of the best defenses in the NFL. Against one of the more high-octane offenses in the league, the Broncos allowed just a single offensive touchdown to the Chiefs.

    But Denver's defense can't do it all themselves. That's exactly what they are being asked to do.

    And facing the NFL's toughest schedule, the Broncos are a team on the brink before they've even hit the halfway mark.

    Week 8 Grade: D+

    Season Grade: D+

Detroit Lions

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    Jose Juarez/Associated Press

    Week 8 Opponent: vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

    Score: Lost 20-15

    There is one play from the Detroit Lions' Week 8 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers that we may look back on as the moment their season started going down the drain.

    In the third quarter of a one-point game, Detroit head coach Jim Caldwell eschewed a short field goal that would have given the Lions the lead in favor of going for it on fourth down. Not only were the Lions unsuccessful, but a few plays later Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hit JuJu Smith-Schuster for a 97-yard touchdown that gave the Steelers some breathing room.

    It wasn't Detroit's only mistake. The Lions piled up almost 500 yards of total offense and didn't score a touchdown, and a fourth-quarter stop on third down after the two-minute warning was nullified by a Darius Slay pass interference call.

    The Steelers ran out the clock from there.

    But the game turned on that baffling call by Caldwell.

    And with Detroit now sitting at 3-4 after losing its third straight game, its season may have turned on it as well.

    Week 8 Grade: D

    Season Grade: C-

Green Bay Packers

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    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    Week 8 Opponent: Bye Week

    Score: N/A

    The bye week came at a good time for the Green Bay Packers.

    It's not that the week off gives injured players a chance to rest up. If only that one-week siesta would allow quarterback Aaron Rodgers to heal up and get back on the field. But after surgery to repair Rodgers' broken collarbone, it's unlikely we'll see No. 12 making any more discount double checks in 2017.

    No, the Packers need a week to try to get Brett Hundley ready to play at a level that at least resembles a competent NFL quarterback.

    In last week's loss to the New Orleans Saints, Hundley completed less than half of his passes for just 87 yards. But despite those struggles, Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy said on The Mike McCarthy Show that he has confidence in the third-year pro:

    "I believe in him wholeheartedly. He's committed. He's tough. He's a playmaker. Really good command and tempo in the huddle. This kid has it. He's a football player."

    If the Packers have any hope of staying in the race long enough to justify bringing Rodgers back at the end of the season, McCarthy is going to have to scheme to Hundley's strengths.

    Week 8 Grade: N/A

    Season Grade: C   

Houston Texans

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    Stephen Brashear/Associated Press

    Week 8 Opponent: at Seattle Seahawks

    Score: Lost 41-38

    Deshaun Watson is OK.

    He's a decent quarterback if you're into yardage. The rookie threw for 402 yards in Sunday's wacky loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

    Watson's a serviceable signal-caller if touchdowns are your thing. Watson tossed four in Week 8. That gives him 19 through his first seven games.

    That's more than any quarterback in the history of the National Football League.

    Yes, the youngster can be a bit careless with the football. He threw three interceptions against Seattle, one of which was returned for a touchdown. But Watson has a short memory and no conscience whatsoever—if he makes a mistake, he simply moves on and goes right back to attacking.

    Did I mention that he also rushed for 67 yards? He did.

    The Texans can't get an "A" grade in a game that they eventually lost. Or even a "B." And as well as Watson played, it doesn't change the fact that Houston's defense was shredded.

    But Watson went into the most hostile environment in the NFL and very nearly upset the Seahawks.

    He might be slightly better than "OK" after all.

    Week 8 Grade: C

    Season Grade: C+   

Indianapolis Colts

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    Frank Victores/Associated Press

    Week 8 Opponent: at Cincinnati Bengals

    Score: Lost 24-23

    It got dicey for the Indianapolis Colts in Week 8. They almost let one slip away.

    In the fourth quarter of a game where tight end Jack Doyle had a career day, veteran tailback Frank Gore had over 100 total yards and quarterback Jacoby Brissett threw for 233 yards and a pair of touchdowns, the Colts led by six points late in Cincinnati.

    They were perilously close to squandering valuable draft position by actually winning.

    Luckily, Brissett is a pro. The young quarterback dropped back in the fourth quarter and fired a seed to Cincinnati defensive end Carlos Dunlap, who returned the pick 16 yards for the deciding touchdown.

    The day was saved. Defeat had been snatched from the jaws of victory.

    Sarcasm aside, a strong argument can be made that things turned out for the best. The Colts are not a good team by any stretch of the imagination. The only way they're going to see a playoff game is on TV. Andrew Luck isn't coming back this year.

    Had they won, the Colts would have lost the only thing of value to them at the moment—draft position.

    Thanks, JB.

    Week 8 Grade: D

    Season Grade: D-   

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Week 8 Opponent: Bye Week

    Score: N/A

    The Jacksonville Jaguars didn't sit on their hands during the bye.

    As Lakisha Jackson reported for, the Jaguars acquired defensive tackle Marcell Dareus from the Buffalo Bills in exchange for a 2018 sixth-round draft pick, a move that was lauded by Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin.

    "Marcell Dareus is an experienced player who has been productive throughout his career," Coughlin said in a statement. "He will be a good fit with our team and our defense. We expect him to be stout against the run and to be able to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. This was a great opportunity to acquire a proven player who can come in and help us immediately."

    The Jaguars already had arguably the best defensive line in football. Adding a Pro Bowl talent like Dareus to the mix just makes them all the scarier.

    The Jaguars have an outstanding defense and a punishing ground game spearheaded by rookie Leonard Fournette. If they can get any kind of consistent play from quarterback Blake Bortles, this is a team we'll be talking about well into the month of December.

    And when's the last time that happened in Jacksonville?

    Week 8 Grade: N/A

    Season Grade: B-   

Kansas City Chiefs

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    Colin E. Braley/Associated Press

    Week 8 Opponent: vs. Denver Broncos

    Score: Won 29-19

    On one hand, the Kansas City Chiefs did what they set out to do Monday night against the Denver Broncos. They halted their two-game skid and moved to 6-2, tied for the best record in the AFC.

    They also have a stranglehold in the division as the only team in the AFC West above .500.

    Quarterback Alex Smith was decent, passing for 202 yards and tossing his 16th touchdown pass of the year. He's yet to throw an interception.

    Travis Kelce had a big night, reeling in seven passes for 133 yards and a touchdown. And cornerback Marcus Peters made another of the big plays he's so well-known for by returning a fumble for a touchdown.

    But it wasn't a flawless or dominant effort.

    Despite being afforded a short field on several occasions, that Kelce catch was Kansas City's only offensive touchdown of the game. Rookie tailback Kareem Hunt had his worst game of the year. He barely averaged two yards a carry.

    Smith misfired on more than half his passes and posted a passer rating of less than 80.

    And a Kansas City run defense that struggled mightily against the Pittsburgh Steelers was exposed again. It allowed over 175 yards on the ground.

    The Chiefs got a victory, but it wasn't an especially impressive one.

    And it only served to hammer home that there is no head-and-shoulders better-than-the-rest front-runner in the AFC in 2017.

    Week 8 Grade: B

    Season Grade: B+

Los Angeles Chargers

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    Steven Senne/Associated Press

    Week 8 Opponent: at New England Patriots

    Score: Lost 21-13

    The Los Angeles Chargers rolled into Gillette Stadium riding a wave of positive momentum. They had won three straight after dropping their first four games of the season.

    Unfortunately, Gillette Stadium is where the New England Patriots play, and the Chargers left there the same way most visitors do—on the heels of a loss.

    The team didn't really play badly in falling 21-13. Melvin Gordon rushed for over 130 yards—including a career-long 87-yard score. And the Los Angeles defense limited Tom Brady and Co. to just one offensive touchdown.

    The Chargers had chances to win this football game.

    But whether it was the offense failing to convert a key third down (they were 3-of-10) or the defense not notching a stop (New England was 9-of-19), the Chargers couldn't capitalize on the opportunities they had.

    That's the difference between good teams and average teams. Between contenders and pretenders.

    Good teams make plays when they have to.

    And the Chargers just aren't an especially good team.

    Week 8 Grade: C-

    Season Grade: C-   

Los Angeles Rams

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    Matt Dunham/Associated Press

    Week 8 Opponent: Bye Week

    Score: N/A

    In the Book of Revelations, it is foretold that there will be signs as the End Times approach. There will be earthquakes and plagues of locusts. Fire will rain from the sky.

    And the Los Angeles Rams will win five of their first seven games.

    Kidding aside, there hasn't been a more surprisingly impressive team in the NFL than the Rams. Fresh off a 33-0 blasting of the Arizona Cardinals in London, the Rams entered Week 8 as the NFL's highest-scoring team on a points-per-game basis. They were the only team in the NFL that averaged over 30 points a game over the first seven weeks.

    New head coach Sean McVay has worked wonders with quarterback Jared Goff. Goff looked lost last year as a rookie. In 2017, he looks like a Pro Bowler.

    When the Rams return next week, they'll face a beatable New York Giants team before playing two of three against teams that came into this week in at least a tie for first place in their division (Vikings and Saints). Sandwiched in between is an electric Texans squad that just took the Seahawks to the brink in a shootout at CenturyLink Field.

    Survive that test, and the Rams' Week 15 matchup in Seattle could wind up a bigger game than anyone dared think coming into this season.

    Week 8 Grade: N/A

    Season Grade: B+   

Miami Dolphins

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    Gail Burton/Associated Press

    Week 8 Opponent: At Baltimore Ravens

    Score: Lost 40-0

    So much for any inkling of a quarterback controversy in Miami.

    Entering Week 8, there was chatter that after leading the Dolphins to a comeback win over the New York Jets last week, Matt Moore could stake a claim to the starting job with another solid showing against the Baltimore Ravens.

    Um….yeah. About that.

    Moore was gawd-awful against the Ravens, passing for just 176 yards and throwing a pair of interceptions—both of which were returned for touchdowns.

    It wasn't just Moore who stunk up the joint at M&T Bank Stadium. Tailback Jay Ajayi picked up 21 yards on his first carry—and two yards on his next 12. Wide receiver Jarvis Landry had just 33 yards on five catches. And the Miami defense was gashed for over 170 yards on the ground.

    It was the worst shutout loss in the NFL since 2014. A miserable effort in every way that an effort can be miserable.

    And it exposed the Dolphins as a team that isn't nearly as good as their record indicates. A team that got waxed by a 3-4 Ravens squad with plenty of problems of its own.

    Week 8 Grade: F-

    Season Grade: C-   

Minnesota Vikings

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    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    Week 8 Opponent: at Cleveland Browns (London)

    Score: Won 33-16

    Any win against the Cleveland Browns carries with it a bit of an asterisk. It's the NFL equivalent of beating a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest.

    Still, it's hard not to be impressed with what the 6-2 Vikings have accomplished over the first half of the 2017 season.

    The team is on its third quarterback. But no worries—Case Keenum has been quietly steady for the most part, and he threw for 288 yards and a pair of scores against the Browns.

    The Vikings also lost rookie tailback Dalvin Cook to a knee injury. Once again, no worries—Jerick McKinnon has played well in an expanded role, and he peeled off 122 total yards and found the end zone in London.

    Add in a stifling defense that surrendered only 276 yards of offense and one touchdown against Cleveland, and you have the recipe for a workmanlike win by the best team in the NFC North.

    If the Vikings continue to play at this level, they're going to win that division with relative ease. 

    Week 8 Grade: B+

    Season Grade: B+

New England Patriots

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    Week 8 Opponent: vs. Los Angeles Chargers

    Score: Won 21-13

    With inclement weather drenching much of the East Coast on Sunday, many of the early games were on the sloppy side. Such was the case at Gillette Stadium, too.

    But despite scoring just one offensive touchdown and Stephen Gostkowski missing on a pair of field-goal attempts, the New England Patriots still found a way to get the win against the Los Angeles Chargers.

    For the second straight game, the Patriots defense played reasonably well. Yes, New England allowed an 87-yard touchdown to tailback Melvin Gordon, but it gave up just 70 yards on the Chargers' other 20 carries. The Pats also allowed fewer than 250 passing yards to Philip Rivers.

    With top linebacker Dont'a Hightower lost for the season to a torn pectoral, there was reason to worry about New England's defense regressing to the unit that couldn't stop anyone over the season's first month. But this week, that defense looked OK.

    Right on schedule, the Patriots are rounding into their usual form as the best team in the AFC.

    Week 8 Grade: B+

    Season Grade: B+

New Orleans Saints

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    Week 8 Opponent: vs. Chicago Bears

    Score: Won 20-12

    Before the season began, no one would have expected the NFC standings to look as they did heading into Week 8. The Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints all led their respective divisions after going a combined 26-38 in 2016.

    The Rams were on a bye in Week 8, but the Saints and the other two division leaders each took care of business against inferior opponents.

    That New Orleans downed the Chicago Bears 20-12 isn't overly impressive. The Bears are a 3-5 team that isn't as good as their record would otherwise indicate.

    But the fact the Saints did so without a touchdown pass from Drew Brees is. Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram combined for 103 rushing yards and two touchdowns, although Ingram lost a pair of fumbles that drew the ire of head coach Sean Payton.

    A fifth straight win by the Saints after two losses to open the season leaves them all by their lonesome atop the NFC South. The road gets a bit tougher from here, with trips to face surprisingly good Rams and Bills teams upcoming after the Saints host the reeling Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 9.

    Week 8 Grade: B-

    Season Grade: B

New York Giants

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    Week 8 Opponent: Bye Week

    Score: N/A

    If the New York Giants had their way, their bye week would be extended until next September or so.

    A 2017 season that began with Super Bowl hopes has devolved into a 1-6 nightmare. Given the injuries that have decimated the Giants receiving corps, things aren't likely to get better any time soon.

    Head coach Ben McAdoo finds himself squarely on the hot seat, with all sorts of names being floated about as potential replacements. There have even been calls for the Giants to bench Eli Manning and see what they have in rookie Davis Webb.

    McAdoo said such a move isn't likely, per John Healy of the New York Daily News.

    "It's a coaching decision, but it'd be something that if it ever would get to that point, I'd want to have a conversation with Jerry (Reese) and ownership," he said. "It's not at that point and I don't see that point coming."

    Then again, this whole miserable season has been filled with things that didn't seem likely in New York.

    Week 8 Grade: N/A

    Season Grade: F

New York Jets

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    Week 8 Opponent: vs. Atlanta Falcons

    Score: Lost 25-20

    The New York Jets appear to be turning back into a pumpkin.

    After a three-game winning streak earlier in the season, the Jets have now dropped three in a row. In each of those three games, the Jets were in it late only to come up short. Two of those losses came against last year's Super Bowl teams by a combined 12 points.

    Sunday's loss to Atlanta can't be blamed on Josh McCown. In terrible conditions, McCown went toe-to-toe with 2016 NFL MVP Matt Ryan. In fact, McCown threw for more yardage and had a higher passer rating.

    But he had no help. The run game was nonexistent, picking up just 43 yards on 22 carries. And while the defense played relatively well as a whole, its lapses came at the worst possible moments.

    Though the Jets aren't as easy of an out as anticipated this season, they also aren't a good football team. We've been reminded of that over the past few weeks.

    Week 8 Grade: C-

    Season Grade: C-

Oakland Raiders

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    Jeffrey T. Barnes/Associated Press

    Week 8 Opponent: at Buffalo Bills

    Score: Lost 34-14

    After the Oakland Raiders beat the Kansas City Chiefs in thrilling fashion last week, the Silver and Black appeared to be back.

    On Sunday in Buffalo, the Silver and Black was black and blue.

    In their 20-point loss to the Buffalo Bills, just about everything that could go wrong for the Raiders did. With Marshawn Lynch serving a one-game suspension, the Raiders managed only 54 rushing yards. That put tremendous pressure on quarterback Derek Carr, who tossed a pair of interceptions to go with his 313 passing yards and one touchdown.

    The Oakland defense had no answer for the Bills run game, with LeSean McCoy topping 150 yards and scoring on a 48-yard scamper that salted the game away.

    At the beginning of the season, the Raiders looked like a Super Bowl contender—perhaps the team with the best shot at dethroning the New England Patriots in the AFC.

    But at the halfway mark, the Raiders are a 3-5 team that will have to scramble just to make the playoffs.

    Week 8 Grade: F

    Season Grade: D+

Philadelphia Eagles

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    Michael Perez/Associated Press

    Week 8 Opponent: San Francisco 49ers

    Score: Won 33-10

    Since it's only Week 8, it's too early to start crowning anyone, in the immortal words of Dennis Green. Besides, beating the San Francisco 49ers isn't a momentous achievement. 

    However, the Philadelphia Eagles continue to look like the class of the NFC after flattening the 49ers in Philadelphia, 33-10.

    The game wasn't filled with gaudy offensive stats. Carson Wentz passed for just 211 yards. LeGarrette Blount averaged only three yards a carry. And Alshon Jeffery only caught two passes, one of which was a 53-yard touchdown.

    The Philly defense, on the other hand, was lights-out. The Eagles harassed C.J. Beathard all day, sacking him four times and amassing a dozen QB hits. The 49ers only had 238 total yards of offense and were 3-of-15 on third down.

    The NFL's best teams take care of business against inferior opponents, even when they aren't firing on all cylinders. The Eagles did just that in Week 8, and they remain the only one-loss team in the league.

    Week 8 Grade: A-

    Season Grade: A

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

    Week 8 Opponent: at Detroit Lions

    Score: Won 20-15

    Ugly wins were something of a theme in Week 8.

    Despite a less-than-impressive outing from their offense and an uncharacteristically leaky performance from their league-leading (entering the week) pass defense, the Pittsburgh Steelers found a way to escape Ford Field with a five-point win Sunday night.

    To their credit, the Pittsburgh defense bent but didn't break. The team allowed almost 500 yards of total offense, but held the Detroit Lions out of the end zone.

    They also got a huge performance from an unlikely source. A Pittsburgh pass-catcher erupted for 193 yards on seven catches, but it wasn't Antonio Brown. No, the gonzo stat line came courtesy of rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster, who single-handedly made sure that Martavis Bryant will have plenty to sulk about in the coming weeks.

    It wasn't a game in which a ton of style points were tallied (except by Sir JuJu the Speedy, who continues to add to his NFL record for the most touchdowns by a player before his 21st birthday), but the win lifts the Steelers to 6-2 and installs them as the overwhelming favorite to win the AFC North.

    Week 8 Grade: B+

    Season Grade: B+

San Francisco 49ers

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    Chris Szagola/Associated Press

    Week 8 Opponent: at Philadelphia Eagles

    Score: Lost 33-10

    After spending Weeks 2 through 6 losing heartbreaking games in just about every way imaginable, the San Francisco 49ers apparently decided on a new strategy.

    Rather than lose close games, they'll just get hammered every week.

    Over the last two weeks, the 49ers have played punching bag for the NFC East. A week ago, it was a 40-10 wax job at home courtesy of the Dallas Cowboys. On Sunday, it was a similarly lopsided 33-10 beatdown at the hands of the surging Philadelphia Eagles.

    Over those two weeks, not much has gone right. C.J. Beathard completed less than half of his passes against the Eagles—unless you count the two picks he threw, one of which Jalen Mills returned for a touchdown. Beathard was also the team's leading rusher, as Carlos Hyde picked up just over two yards a carry against a stout Eagles run defense.

    The 49ers aren't the worst team in the NFL, but they aren't far behind the Browns. It's going to be bizarrely fascinating moving forward to track two teams who look to be on a collision course with winless seasons.

    Week 8 Grade: F

    Season Grade: F

Seattle Seahawks

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    Stephen Brashear/Associated Press

    Week 8 Opponent: vs. Houston Texans

    Score: Won 41-38


    If you didn't enjoy Sunday afternoon's wild back-and-forth affair between the Houston Texans and Seattle Seahawks, you must not have a pulse. The game featured 79 points, 988 total yards, 46 first downs, 813 passing yards and six second-half lead changes.

    Long touchdowns? There were three of 59 yards or longer, including an Earl Thomas pick-six.

    It was admittedly strange to watch a rookie torch Thomas and the "Legion of Boom" for over 400 passing yards in Seattle. That lack of defense means the Seahawks can't receive an A.

    But Russell Wilson was otherworldly, passing for 452 yards and four scores, including the game-winner with less than a minute left.

    This is rapidly becoming a standard Seahawks season—they come out of the gate choppy, eliciting plenty of queries about what's wrong in Seattle. But by the first of November, they're in first place and we realize what's wrong with the Seahawks. They can't run the ball, and their offensive line is a mess.

    We also realize what's right with the Seahawks—they have an elite quarterback who can mask those deficiencies and make plays.

    After plays.

    After plays.

    Week 8 Grade: A-

    Season Grade: B+

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Week 8 Opponent: vs. Carolina Panthers

    Score: Lost 17-3

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in serious trouble.

    At the beginning of this season, the Bucs were a trendy playoff pick. They added offensive firepower in the offseason and were the subject of plenty of buzz after appearing on Hard Knocks.

    Hurricane Irma delayed the start of Tampa Bay's season, but after winning two of their first three, everything appeared to be going according to plan.

    The Buccaneers haven't won since.

    Sunday's defeat was a sloppy mess offensively, largely due to three Jameis Winston turnovers. After the game, he accepted much of the blame for the defeat.

    "Three turnovers by me, can't win like that especially against a team like them," Winston said. "They have a great defense, but you turn the ball over three times, you're not going to win. You score three points, you're not going to win."

    Winston's sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder may have played a part in his struggles, but whatever the reason, a season that began with promise in Tampa has now spiraled out of control.

    Week 8 Grade: D

    Season Grade: D

Tennessee Titans

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    Week 8 Opponent: Bye Week

    Score: N/A

    The good news is that the Tennessee Titans went into their bye week tied for first place in the AFC South after squeaking past the Cleveland Browns in overtime a week ago.

    The bad news is that the Titans needed to squeak by the Browns at all.

    The Titans' uneven play can be attributed in part to Marcus Mariota's balky hamstring, but even when Mariota was healthy, the team was all over the place.

    The same Titans team that handled the Seattle Seahawks in Nashville and handed the Jaguars their most lopsided loss of the season barely beat the Browns, lost to a bad Miami Dolphins team and got annihilated by the Houston Texans.

    If the Titans are going to emerge as a legitimate playoff threat, they need to spend their week off tightening up the ship. A pair of home games against flawed AFC North teams in Weeks 9 and 10 should offer a good opportunity to get the offense going.

    Week 8 Grade: N/A

    Season Grade: C

Washington Redskins

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    Patrick Semansky/Associated Press

    Week 8 Opponent: vs. Dallas Cowboys

    Score: Lost 33-19

    Given that they've only played seven games, some might think it premature to say the Washington Redskins are out of the NFC East race. But it's true.

    It isn't just that the Redskins fell by two touchdowns to the Dallas Cowboys at home Sunday. Or that they knew what they had to do to win the game (slow down Ezekiel Eliiott) and failed miserably at doing it.

    It's what else happened in the division.

    By virtue of Philly's win at home against the 49ers, the Eagles are now up 3.5 games on the Redskins in the division. The two teams have already played both of their head-to-head meetings already this season, and the Eagles won each.

    For all intents and purposes, this was a must-win game for Washington to have a real shot at a division title.

    The Redskins didn't come especially close.

    Week 8 Grade: D+

    Season Grade: C-


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