NFL Team Grades for Week 5

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistOctober 8, 2018

NFL Team Grades for Week 5

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    The NFL provides an unpredictable landscape, and that's part of the allure of the sport. We can never be exactly sure of what to expect from week to week and game to game. Yet, we're still quick to jump on overreactions and premature hot takes.

    Just look at the first month of the 2018 season, during which it was easy to believe the New England Patriots offense had serious issues, that Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown weren't on the same page and that we'd finally waved goodbye to problematic Blake Bortles.

    Naturally, the Patriots dominated, Big Ben and Brown played pitch-and-catch and Bortles played like trash in Week 5.

    New England and Pittsburgh get high grades for the week, while Bortles and his Jacksonville Jaguars didn't fare so well. How did your favorite team grade out? Let's dig in.


Arizona Cardinals

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    Week 5 Opponent: San Francisco 49ers

    Result: Won 28-18

    Arizona Cardinals rookie quarterback Josh Rosen got his second career start Sunday, and he helped lift his team to its first win of the season. He had his struggles (just 10-of-25 passing), but he also made a couple of big plays, like his 75-yard strike to fellow rookie Christian Kirk.

    The real credit for Arizona's first win has to go to the defense, which allowed plenty of yardage but also made timely takeaways.

    The Cardinals forced five turnovers in all, including two interceptions of CJ Beathard and a fumble that Josh Bynes returned 23 yards for a touchdown. The Cardinals followed that fourth-quarter score with a David Johnson touchdown and a late 16-point lead.

    Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy continues to underutilize Johnson in the passing game—he had just three targets against San Francisco—and that's a serious misstep for a team with a rookie quarterback and a lack of downfield receiving threats.

    The Cardinals got an important divisional win, but if they want to get more, they need to start playing to their strengths.

    Week 5 Grade: C+

    Season Grade: D+

Atlanta Falcons

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    Week 5 Opponent: Pittsburgh Steelers

    Result: Lost 41-17

    Technically, the Atlanta Falcons are still in contention for a playoff spot at 1-4. As a practical matter, though, the Falcons look to be done.

    The issue for Atlanta is that the defense is a complete liability in its current state. That defense is playing without Keanu Neal, Deion Jones and Ricardo Allen, so some of the criticism is unfair. However, the guys who are on the field are consistently failing to execute.

    Against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Falcons defense allowed the opposition to move the ball at will—and it had absolutely no answer for running back James Conner.

    Conner finished the game with 110 rushing yards, 75 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

    Atlanta came into Week 5 allowing an average of 5.0 yards per carry, and that inability to stop the run is a major issue. The Falcons are potent enough on offense to engage in shootouts with confidence, but when opponents control the game on the ground, the chances of winning drop dramatically.

    Game Grade: D

    Season Grade: D+

Baltiore Ravens

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    Week 5 Opponent: Cleveland Browns

    Result: Lost 12-9

    The Baltimore Ravens came into Week 5 looking like perhaps the most complete team in the AFC. Their defense had been stonewalling people, especially in the second half—just seven touchdowns allowed all season, zero after halftime. Their offense was as explosive as it had been in recent memory.

    Baltimore should have had little trouble with the Cleveland Browns and rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield. It did, though, and it cost the team a share of first place in the AFC North.

    Baltimore's defense largely did what it had been doing. The Browns scored just nine points in regulation and a mere field goal after halftime. However, Joe Flacco and Co. couldn't find an answer for Cleveland's defense, and it took a fourth-quarter Justin Tucker field goal with 52 seconds left to send the game to overtime.

    In the extra period, Baltimore allowed the Browns to find just enough offense to kick a game-winner with just two seconds remaining.

    Don't be fooled by Mayfield's 342 yards passing. The Ravens defense didn't make things easy on him. They didn't make things easy on themselves either, though, as miscues and inefficiency—Baltimore had two turnovers and was just 4-of-16 on third down—resulted in a divisional loss.

    Game Grade: C-

    Season Grade: B-

Buffalo Bills

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    Week 5 Oponent: Tennessee Titans

    Result: Won 13-12

    This win was much uglier than the one the Buffalo Bills got against the Minnesota Vikings a couple of weeks ago, but it was still a win and a good reminder that Buffalo was a playoff team just last year.

    Rookie quarterback Josh Allen (10-of-19 for 82 yards and an interception) had another rough outing, and that's no surprise. He's a raw player with a bad offensive line and poor receiving talent around him. The Bills shouldn't expect to lean on him.

    Buffalo can, however, lean on its defense, much like it did during last year's push to the postseason. It was the defense that kept Buffalo in the game long enough to get the last-second field goal and the second win of the season.

    The Tennessee Titans totaled just 221 yards of offense. Marcus Mariota was under constant pressure and failed to push the ball downfield for Tennessee. Corey Davis, who had 161 yards last week, was held to just four catches and 49 yards.

    By the way, Buffalo's Tre'Davious White is emerging as one of the most underrated young cornerbacks in the league. He's consistently shadowed the opposition's top receiver, and he did the same with Davis.

    Allen has a long way to go before becoming a legitimate franchise quarterback, and the Bills have a long way to go before returning to the postseason. However, Buffalo isn't going to be an easy out for anyone when the defense plays well.

    Week 5 Grade: B

    Season Grade: C-

Carolina Panthers

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    Week 5 Opponent: New York Giants

    Result: Won 33-31

    The Carolina Panthers won a wild game with an incredible last-second 63-yard field goal from kicker Graham Gano. It was an exciting way to finish, and the Panthers desperately needed the win to keep pace with the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South, but this was a game that raised some concerns.

    The biggest issue was that good defense only made sporadic appearances against a New York Giants offense that was inconsistent throughout the first month of the season. 

    Eli Manning threw for 326 yards, Odell Beckham Jr. threw and caught a touchdown pass and the Giants managed to rack up 15 fourth-quarter points to take a late lead. The Panthers were left with just over a minute to drive down and set up Gano's long game-winner.

    The other issue is that the running game wasn't firing on all cylinders—Christian McCaffrey averaged just 3.4 yards per carry—and it put a lot of pressure on quarterback Cam Newton. Newton ended up tossing a pair of picks, and the Panthers were lucky to escape with a win over an inferior opponent.

    Game 5 Grade: C

    Season Grade: C+

Chicago Bears

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    Week 5 Bye

    The Chicago Bears spent Week 5 on bye and looking to build off their best game of the season, a 48-10 drubbing of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

    Chicago's defense, which has allowed just 16.2 points per game, is the real deal. If second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky can continue playing like he did against Tampa (354 yards, six touchdowns), the Bears are going to be difficult to stop.

    They are still sitting atop the NFC North standings, but they'll want to get off to a fast start coming out of the bye. Both the Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings closed the gap with wins Sunday.

    Season Grade: B

Cincinnati Bengals

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    Week 5 Opponent: Miami Dolphins

    Result: Won 27-17

    If you're going to hop on the bandwagon, do it now. The Cincinnati Bengals have quietly emerged as one of the most dangerous teams in the AFC. Whenever you think they're beaten, they go full Undertaker and pull themselves back up.

    Against the Miami Dolphins, the Bengals engineered their second straight fourth-quarter comeback. This one was huge, as Cincinnati entered the final period down 14 and emerged with a 10-point victory.

    What's really impressive about this Bengals team is it keeps finding ways to win without some top playmakers. Joe Mixon made his return this week, and his return was huge for the rushing attack (he had 93 yards), but the Bengals were without Giovani Bernard and Tyler Eifert.

    Eifert is done for the year with a broken ankle.

    Cincinnati got linebacker Vontaze Burfict back from suspension but then watched tight end Tyler Kroft go down with a foot injury.

    The Bengals can't keep losing players and expect to be legitimate title contenders, but the resiliency they've shown is going to make them a real threat come November and December.

    Week 5 Grade: B+

    Season Grade: B+

Cleveland Browns

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    Week 5 Opponent: Baltimore Ravens

    Result: Won 12-9

    The Browns are quickly becoming the NFL's most exciting team. They've now lost two games by a field goal, taken three games to overtime and have two wins with a rookie quarterback under center. Win or lose, Cleveland is going to deliver an exciting finish.

    Against the Ravens, the Browns delivered the first Sunday win of the Hue Jackson era, and it came due in large part to the clutch play of Mayfield. While the rookie was far from perfect, he delivered with a touchdown in the two-minute drill just before halftime and a beautiful throw under pressure on the game-winning drive in overtime.

    The Ravens came into the game 15-5 against rookie quarterbacks under coach John Harbaugh.

    Mayfield is looking like the true franchise quarterback the Browns have been waiting for. Yes, he had another interception, but he also gave his team energy, made big-time plays with his arm and his legs and avoided serious mistakes down the stretch.

    Cleveland's other first-round rookie, Denzel Ward, also shined with a red-zone interception and a blocked field goal. The Browns don't get this win without him.

    Special teams continues to be a major issue for the Browns, and you'd like to see them put teams away in regulation when they have the lead. However, this was still a big-time win for a franchise that has long been irrelevant in the AFC North.

    Week 5 Grade: B+

    Season Grade: C+

Dallas Cowboys

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    Week 5 Opponent: Houston Texans

    Result: Lost 19-16

    The Dallas Cowboys defense may not be elite, but it's largely been carrying the team this season. Coming into Week 5, it had allowed just 19.2 points per game, sixth-fewest in the NFL.

    This type of efficient defense is a perfect complement to the run-oriented offense. The problem is that when opposing teams are able to stifle running back Ezekiel Elliott, there often isn't enough of a passing game to keep pace on the scoreboard.

    When your defense allows just 16 points in regulation, as Dallas' did Sunday night, you should be able to win. However, the Houston Texans held Elliott to just 2.7 yards per carry, and Dak Prescott couldn't lead the offense the rest of the way.

    Prescott did do a nice job of avoiding pressure, and he passed for 208 yards and a touchdown. However, he also struggled to take advantage of a suspect Texans secondary—one that allowed 288 passing yards per game coming in.

    Coach Jason Garrett's decision to punt on 4th-and-1 from the Houston 42 in the middle of overtime set up the Texans with a chance to drive down and score the game-winning kick, which they did.

    This was a winnable game that Dallas lost because of poor planning, coaching and execution.

    Week 5 Grade: D+

    Season Grade: C-

Denver Broncos

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    Week 4 Opponent: New York Jets

    Result: Lost 34-16

    Perhaps this was an emotional letdown we should have seen coming. After narrowly losing a hard-fought game against the rival Kansas City Chiefs last week, the Denver Broncos laid an absolute egg against the New York Jets on Sunday.

    Denver's vaunted defense was nowhere to be found, especially against the run. Isaiah Crowell racked up 219 yards on the ground by himself, on a mere 15 carries. Bilal Powell added 99 rushing yards, and the Jets averaged 8.5 yards per carry as a team.

    Denver simply had no way of controlling the tempo or the momentum of this game because the defense allowed the Jets to do exactly that. At the same time, the Broncos offense struggled to finish drives.

    Case Keenum threw for 377 yards and two touchdowns, but that wasn't enough to match points with a Jets team that seemed to score at will.

    The Broncos had better hope they can get their defense back up to form in a hurry. They'll host the Los Angeles Rams and their explosive offense next week.

    Week 5 Grade: F

    Season Grade: C-

Detroit Lions

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    Week 5 Opponent: Green Bay Packers

    Result: Won 31-23

    The Detroit Lions were terrible in their season opener against the New York Jets, and they stumbled again against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 2. During that two-week stretch, the Detroit defense was a mess, and it seemed fair to wonder if the hiring of head coach Matt Patricia was a mistake.

    Since then, though, the Lions have had a close loss to the Cowboys sandwiched by big wins over the Patriots and the rival Green Bay Packers. Sunday's win over Green Bay was especially huge, as it was a total team effort against a divisional opponent.

    Matthew Stafford wasn't spectacular, but he was efficient enough (101.9 passer rating) while Kerryon Johnson ran the ball well (5.8 yards per carry) and the defense regularly stiffened when it needed to.

    The Packers had success moving the ball between the 20s—Aaron Rodgers racked up 442 yards passing alone—but the Lions defense consistently forced Green Bay to settle for field-goal attempts. With Mason Crosby missing four of them, that was more than enough to come away with the win.

    Detroit is just 2-3, but it is heading into the bye week with a ton of momentum.

    Week 5 Grade: B

    Season Grade: C

Green Bay Packers

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    Week 5 Opponent: Detroit Lions

    Result: Lost 31-23

    Kicker Mason Crosby is going to get a lot of blame from fans for Green Bay's loss to the rival Lions. After he missed four field-goal attempts and an extra point, it isn't unwarranted. However, Crosby isn't the only reason for the disappointing loss.

    One could argue that poor Packers defense deserves even more criticism. The Lions were able to jump out to a fast 14-0 lead because of it, and that lead grew to 24-0 by halftime. At that point, the Packers offense was essentially forced to abandon any sense of balance.

    It's a shame, too, because Aaron Jones (5.7 yards per carry) and Jamaal Williams (5.5) were both running well.

    Rodgers wasn't perfect—and I'm still unconvinced he's 100 percent healthy—but he certainly played well enough to win. Unfortunately, he and the Packers offense too often failed to punch the ball into the end zone. When you only make one field goal in five tries and have a massive hole to climb out of, the end result is going to be a loss more often than not.

    Week 5 Grade: C-

    Season Grade: C

Houston Texans

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    Week 5 Opponent: Dallas Cowboys

    Result: Won 19-16

    Texans fans have seen it all over the last couple of weeks, but Sunday night, a national audience received the news that Deshaun Watson is all the way back. The second-year quarterback showed no lingering effects from last season's ACL tear while leading Houston to an overtime victory.

    Watson frequently avoided pressure, planted firmly on the throw and moved well both inside and outside the pocket. Aside from a panicked throw late in the fourth quarter that resulted in an interception, he made good decisions.

    Watson finished 33-of-44 for 375 yards with a touchdown and 40 yards rushing.

    There's no question the Texans have their franchise quarterback; however, he isn't the only reason they won. Their stout defensive front held Ezekiel Elliott in check for most of the game and forced Dak Prescott to beat the defense through the air, which he couldn't consistently do.

    The Texans now sit just a game back in the AFC South.

    Week 5 Grade: B-

    Season Grade: C

Indianapolis Colts

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    Week 5 Opponent: New England Patriots

    Result: Lost 38-24

    The good news for the Indianapolis Colts is that Andrew Luck does appear to be back to 100 percent. The bad news is that he isn't surrounded by top-tier—or for that matter, healthy—talent. Marlon Mack, T.Y. Hilton and Jack Doyle were all inactive against the New England Patriots.

    Indianapolis' leading wideout was Chester Rogers.

    What's alarming is the Colts are relying almost exclusively on Luck's surgically repaired throwing shoulder to carry the team. They rushed for just 84 yards against the Patriots, and with the exception of two interceptions, the defense was largely absent. Luck, meanwhile, had 59 pass attempts and has 121 in his last two games.

    The Colts cannot expect Luck to carry them all season, at least not to this extent.

    "It's killing me to have to throw this much," head coach Frank Reich said, per Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio. "I know you can't sustain this."

    At 1-4, the Colts are in rebuild mode and should be thinking about how to preserve Luck for the future.

    Week 5 Grade: C-

    Season Grade: C-

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Week 5 Opponent: Kansas City Chiefs

    Result: Lost 30-14

    Defense wins championships, and in a big postseason matchup, I'm going to trust an elite defense over an elite offense more often than not. On Sunday, however, the superb defense of the Jacksonville Jaguars looked pedestrian against the high-flying Kansas City Chiefs.

    Kansas City racked up 424 total yards of offense.

    Still, it was offensive mistakes that doomed Jacksonville in this game, not a lack of defense. Yes, the Chiefs are tremendous on offense, but their defense is terrible, and the Jaguars had plenty of chances to pull ahead on the scoreboard.

    Unfortunately, bad-game Bortles showed his face and wasted the opportunity to take advantage of a defense that often appears to be playing with 10 guys. Bortles passed for 430 yards, but he also tossed four picks, one of which was returned for a touchdown. He also fumbled the ball away once.

    That's five turnovers by Bortles, with one directly leading to seven Kansas City points.

    Jacksonville's defense could have played better, to be sure, but it did limit the Chiefs to 23 offensive points. Thanks to Bortles' bumbling, Jacksonville never really got the chances needed to match them.

    Week 5 Grade: D

    Season Grade: C+

Kansas City Chiefs

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    Week 5 Opponent: Jacksonville Jaguars

    Result: Won 30-14

    Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes finally had an off game, yet he was still good enough to get a win. He tossed a pair of interceptions and posted a passer rating of just 62.7, but he also racked up 313 yards against a very good Jaguars defense.

    Mahomes is still looking like a high-end franchise quarterback. That hasn't changed. What also hasn't changed is the fact the Chiefs defense is a liability.

    Yes, Kansas City nabbed five turnovers, and kudos to the opportunistic players who took advantage. However, the Chiefs aren't going to play the mistake-machine version of Blake Bortles every week, and without those turnovers, this would have been a very different game.

    Just consider the fact that the Jaguars were missing Leonard Fournette and still managed to produce 502 yards of total offense. The Chiefs cannot expect to give up that kind of yardage to Tom Brady and the Patriots next Sunday night and escape with an unblemished record.

    Still, this was a big win over a potential playoff team, and the Chiefs remain undefeated for now.

    Week 5 Grade: B-

    Season Grade: B+

Los Angeles Chargers

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    Week 4 Opponent: Oakland Raiders

    Result: Won 26-10

    Don't look now, but the Los Angeles Chargers have won their second game in a row and at 3-2 are in a much better position than they were at the start of last season (1-4). The Chargers are also playing without star pass-rusher Joey Bosa, which makes L.A.'s dominant defensive performance against the Oakland Raiders all the more impressive.

    The Raiders finished with just 289 yards of offense and 10 points, a week after dropping 45 to beat the Browns in overtime.

    The Chargers didn't win solely on defense, of course. Philip Rivers (339 yards, two touchdowns) had another strong game, and he got a big assist from running back Melvin Gordon, who had 110 combined rushing and receiving yards.

    Los Angeles was a complete team in 2017, which is why it was dangerous down the stretch. If the Chargers can get healthy and improve like they did last year, this 3-2 start will have them set up for a playoff run.

    Next up for L.A. is a clash with the Browns, which may or may not end up in overtime.

    Week 5 Grade: A

    Season Grade: B-

Los Angeles Rams

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    Week 5 Opponent: Seattle Seahawks

    Result: Won 33-31

    The Los Angeles Rams offense is unbelievable when it is clicking. However, the defense is susceptible to having off days, especially against the run. This was the case last season, and it was the case Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.

    Seattle rushed for 190 yards and 5.9 yards per carry, which helped keep the Rams offense off the field and gave the Seahawks a shot at pulling off the upset.

    Losing wide receivers Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp to concussions certainly upped the difficulty level for the Rams.

    L.A. leaned on its offense in the fourth quarter, and Jared Goff led a go-ahead field-goal drive with just over six minutes remaining. The offense put the game away with a three-minute drive to end regulation.

    Thanks primarily to the offense, which racked up 468 total yards against Seattle, the Rams sit at 5-0 and in control of the NFC West. Hopefully for them, that offense can get fully healthy in time for next week's matchup with the Broncos.

    Week 5 Grade: B-

    Season Grade: A-

Miami Dolphins

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    Week 5 Opponent: Cincinnati Bengals

    Result: Lost 27-17

    These last two weeks have represented a major drop-off for the Dolphins. A week after getting blown out by the rival Patriots, Miami had a total collapse in the fourth quarter against the Bengals—and this now feels nothing like the 3-0 team we once saw.

    There are two big takeaways from this loss. The first is that the Dolphins don't know how to put away quality opponents. Good teams—the kind of teams the Dolphins want to be—don't take a two-touchdown lead into halftime and then allow a 24-0 run.

    The other is that Bad Ryan Tannehill has officially returned.

    Tannehill had just 100 yards passing against the Patriots and followed that up with a 20-of-35, 185-yard performance against Cincinnati. He and the Dolphins offense were just 4-of-13 on third down. Tannehill threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter, and miscues led to two Cincinnati defensive scores in the final period.

    Miami is still tied for first place in the AFC East, but the Dolphins have to start limiting mistakes and learning how to overcome them against good teams if they're going to challenge for the division crown at season's end.

    Week 5 Grade: D

    Season Grade: C

Minnesota Vikings

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    Week 5 Opponent: Philadelphia Eagles

    Result: Won 23-21

    The Minnesota Vikings came into their Week 5 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles without starting running back Dalvin Cook and off back-to-back losses. However, the Vikings were able to deliver a victory with a total team effort.

    You can credit a precision passing attack led by Kirk Cousins that controlled the tempo. Minnesota held the ball for more than 32 minutes despite only rushing 23 times. You can credit wideout Adam Thielen, who had his fifth 100-yard game of the season (116, to be exact) and who recovered Philadelphia's late onside-kick attempt.

    You can also credit a defense that sacked Carson Wentz three times and recovered two fumbles. One of those, Linval Joseph returned 64 yards for a touchdown.

    This win doesn't make up for the embarrassing loss to Buffalo or the shootout loss to the Rams, but it does put the Vikings back in the playoff picture and give them momentum heading into next week's game against Arizona.

    Week 5 Grade: B+

    Season Grade: C+

New England Patriots

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    Week 5 Opponent: Indianapolis Colts

    Result: Won 38-24

    The New England Patriots seem to have found their groove on offense. Of course, the return of Julian Edelman, the emergence of Josh Gordon and the presence of a subpar Colts defense across the line of scrimmage all contributed Thursday night.

    Still, the fact New England is settling into an offensive identity is noteworthy. This is looking like an offense that will rely heavily on the backfield—with Sony Michel's running and James White's receiving—as Edelman and Rob Gronkowski work the second level and Gordon occasionally stretches the field.

    Once Tom Brady starts getting comfortable with the offensive identity, the New England offense gets dangerous for the opposition.

    Brady, by the way, threw his 500th touchdown pass Thursday.

    New England's defense, however, continues to be a weakness. It allowed an undermanned Colts offense to rack up 439 yards and 24 points. The Patriots still look like the class of the AFC East, but they don't look like a legitimate title contender right now.

    Week 5 Grade: B+

    Season Grade: C+

New Orleans Saints

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    Week 5 Opponent: Washington Redskins

    Result: Won 43-19

    Monday was a nearly perfect night for New Orleans Saints fans. Drew Brees became the NFL's all-time passing leader with a 62-yard touchdown pass to Tre'Quan Smith before halftime, and the Saints rolled to a blowout win at home.

    Aside from a lost Cameron Meredith fumble just before the intermission, there weren't many negatives for New Orleans. The defense, though imperfect, did enough to ensure the Washington Redskins never had much of a chance.

    New Orleans led just 26-13 at the half, but the game felt over by that point.

    Yet, head coach Sean Payton kept on the gas in the second half, building up a 40-13 lead before coasting into the final quarter. It was a remarkable performance by one of the most dynamic offenses in the league and one of the greatest signal-callers to ever play.

    If this is the Saints team we see in December and January, the rest of the NFC could be in trouble.

    Week 5 Grade: A+

    Season Grade: B

New York Giants

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    Week 5 Opponent: Carolina Panthers

    Result: Lost 33-31

    Over the first month of the season, the Giants offense failed to click. Despite boasting explosive players like Odell Beckham Jr., Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard, the Giants came into Week 5 averaging just 314.3 yards (25th in the NFL) and 18.3 points (29th) per game.

    The inability of the offense to function at a high level led to some discord among players.

    "I haven't been in the place where I felt like I could really go out and do everything that I'm capable of doing," Beckham told ESPN's Josina Anderson. "I don't get 20 targets like some other receivers, you know."

    Beckham wasn't targeted 20 times against the Panthers, but he was targeted 14 and finished with eight receptions, 131 yards and a touchdown. He also threw a 57-yard touchdown pass to Barkley, as the Giants opened up the playbook and the offense against Carolina.

    Dropping 31 points should have been enough to beat the Panthers, but it was New York's defense that failed to put the game away. Maybe this is a sign of what the offense can be—it produced 432 total yards—and the Giants can match it with some better defensive play to start stringing together wins.

    Week 5 Grade: C

    Season Grade: D+

New York Jets

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    Week 5 Opponent: Denver Broncos

    Result: Won 34-16

    Jets head coach Todd Bowles may have felt his seat getting a little warm over the last few weeks, but he may have cooled it with his game plan against the Broncos. When your rookie quarterback is struggling, it's always a good idea to lean on the ground game. It may not have taken a genius to recognize that as a good strategy against Von Miller and Co., but at least Bowles was smart enough to do so.

    Bowles called for 38 rushing attempts while allowing Sam Darnold to throw just 22 times.

    Darnold was mostly good with his smaller workload. While he only completed 45.5 percent of his passes, he threw for 198 yards with three touchdowns and just one interception.

    This run-focused game plan wasn't just about limiting Darnold's exposure, though. It was about relying on what was working. New York dominated at the point of attack and consistently chewed up yards on the ground.

    With the offense controlling the tempo with the run, New York's defense was able to successfully play the bend-but-don't break style for which it is well-suited. The end result was a win that was even more impressive than the one the Jets earned over the Lions in the opener.

    The Jets may not be a playoff team, but they performed like one against Denver.

    Week 5 Grade: A+

    Season Grade: C

Oakland Raiders

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    Week 5 Opponent: Los Angeles Chargers

    Result: Lost 26-10

    There was no defensive collapse on the other side of the field this week. There were no questionable calls to bail out the Raiders and no shot at overtime and redemption for earlier mistakes. Against the Chargers, the Raiders got into an early hole and simply dug themselves deeper.

    You can blame a lack of defensive talent if you want, but the players on the field have to execute at least some of the time.

    "We got what we got, so we have to do the best job with what we got right now," defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said, per Paul Gutierrez of"

    Teams can still win with a terrible defense, as Oakland showed last week. You're not going to win, though, when your defense is a joke and your offense is also making game-changing mistakes—like the interception Derek Carr threw from the Chargers' 1-yard line.

    You're definitely not going to win when you ignore your playmakers. Marshawn Lynch had just nine carries, and he didn't get a carry from the 1-yard line before that Carr pick. Amari Cooper was targeted once.

    This game makes last week's win over Cleveland look like a total fluke and makes the Raiders look like the worst team in football.

    Week 5 Grade: F

    Season Grade: D

Philadelphia Eagles

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    Week 5 Opponent: Minnesota Vikings

    Result: Lost 23-21

    The Eagles have quarterback Carson Wentz back and close to 100 percent. What they don't have is the same dominance and confidence they had during last year's Super Bowl run. You can call it a Super Bowl hangover if you want, but whatever you call it, this isn't the same Eagles team.

    "Right now, we are playing like we suck," defensive end Chris Long said, per NFL Media's Judy Battista. "That's the reality. We can say we're better than this all we want. But unless we play better, we're not."

    Philadelphia hasn't been nearly as strong in the trenches. The defense hasn't been making as many impact plays. Wentz hasn't looked as sharp or as sure of himself. And while he did lead a late surge, it was too little, too late.

    The Eagles were bland while falling into a 20-3 hole. It's a must that they avoid a slow start Thursday night against the Giants, as it seems New York is finally finding its offensive groove.

    Week 5 Grade: C-

    Season Grade: C

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Week 5 Opponent: Atlanta Falcons

    Result: Won 41-17

    For the first time all season, the Pittsburgh Steelers looked like a legitimate playoff contender against the Falcons. The offense was clicking as well as it has this year, the running game finally got going and the defense didn't fall apart like a pair of $10 sneakers.

    The Falcons came into the game averaging 29.0 points per contest. Yet, their drives consistently stalled outside of scoring range thanks to a bend-but-don't-break style of defense played by Pittsburgh. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan still had 285 yards passing, but he didn't have receivers running open deep like he has for much of the season.

    A lot of credit for this defensive turnaround has to go to Pittsburgh's dedication to the running game and the performance of James Conner (110 yards rushing). The Steelers had the kind of ground control they've been lacking since Week 1 against the Browns, and it prevented the defense from having to pull its weight in a shootout.

    When Ben Roethlisberger and the offense don't completely stall like they did in the second half last week against the Ravens, all the defense needs to do is not be terrible to beat most teams.

    Week 5 Grade: A

    Season Grade: C+

San Francisco 49ers

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    Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

    Week 5 Opponent: Arizona Cardinals

    Result: Lost 28-18

    Would the 49ers have won this game with Jimmy Garoppolo under center? CJ Beathard was responsible for four turnovers, but the pressure that led to his mistakes, specifically the lost fumbles, was a product of the players around him.

    Garoppolo had three picks and four fumbles in his two-plus games as a starter this season.

    The reality is that San Francisco is a rebuilding team that is going to have rebuilding-team struggles. It was always going to be this way in 2018, even if Garoppolo-mania gave the false impression that the 49ers were playoff-ready.

    The Beathard-led 49ers amassed 447 yards of offense and 33 first downs, and they held the ball for more than 40 minutes. San Francisco dominated the game, but the team made too many mistakes.

    San Francisco may have had fewer mistakes with Garoppolo under center, but the Niners likely would have still made enough to blow this one.

    Week 5 Grade: D

    Season Grade: C-

Seattle Seahawks

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Week 5 Opponent: Los Angeles Rams

    Result: Lost 33-31

    Perhaps the death knell for the Seahawks was rung prematurely. Yes, the Legion of Boom is gone. Yes, Seattle just lost to a division rival and sits at 2-3. However, it feels like the Seahawks are beginning to forge a new identity—and that could make them dangerous moving forward.

    The defense and the offensive line remain works in progress. However, Seattle has finally found a rushing attack behind Chris Carson (116 yards against the Rams) and Mike Davis (68 yards). With Russell Wilson still capable of making magic in the passing game, this gives the Seahawks a dangerous offensive combination.

    The Rams came into Week 5 as the league's hottest team and off a long week, but Seattle traded blows with them for the full four quarters and nearly came out on top.

    Almost only counts in horseshoes and cornhole (or something like that), but this close loss is one the Seahawks can build off heading into next week's matchup with the Raiders.

    Week 5 Grade: C

    Season Grade: C

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Week 5 Bye

    The bye week couldn't have come at a better time for the Buccaneers. This is a team with a questionable quarterback situation coming off a blowout loss and heading into a tough divisional matchup.

    Is returning to Jameis Winston at quarterback the right move? It's clear coach Dirk Koetter and his staff don't believe in Ryan Fitzpatrick.

    Another question is whether Tampa's defense can play at even a functional level against a team like the Falcons, who await in Week 6. If it can't, the Buccaneers have no chance in the NFC South.

    Season Grade: C-

Tennessee Titans

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    Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

    Week 4 Opponent: Buffalo Bills

    Result: Lost 13-12

    Over the last three weeks, we've watched the Titans play close, sloppy games while winning with physicality and by making key plays late. Sunday's game against Buffalo looked like it would have a similar outcome, but it was the Bills, not Tennessee, that found a way to win when they had to.

    It's a disappointing result for a Titans team that was rolling as much as anyone in the league.

    "We had been on a good roll, winning close games," defensive lineman Jurrell Casey said, via the team's official website. "To let something like this go into the L column, knowing that we had the game in our hands, it definitely sucks."

    Tennessee has just seemed to find ways to win this season. It looked like the Titans had done so again when they picked off Josh Allen and responded with a go-ahead field goal in the fourth quarter. However, the Bills took over with 4:43 remaining and calmly drove down the field for their own go-ahead kick as time expired.

    The Titans are still in control of the AFC South for now, but losing a winnable game because the defense couldn't get one last key stop is going to sting for the next seven days.

    Week 5 Grade: C-

    Season Grade: B-

Washington Redskins

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Week 5 Opponent: New Orleans Saints

    Result: Lost 43-19

    Because of the energy surrounding Brees' awaiting record, it always felt like it was going to be the Saints' night. However, it didn't feel like Washington was going to be completely out of it until Brees set his record with a marvelous 62-yarder. It was 26-6 then, and the lead seemed insurmountable.

    It was a shame to see the Redskins defense getting torched like it did because the unit had been playing well. It came into Monday night allowing just 278 yards per game, fewest in the NFL.

    Washington deserves credit for continuing to fight in the second half, but there aren't many positives to take out of this game. The defense looked nonexistent. The Redskins couldn't control the tempo with the ground game—Chris Thompson led the team with just 17 yards rushing. And no one stepped up as a big-play receiver to counter what the Saints were doing.

    All Washington can do is go home, regroup and hope next week's game against the Panthers is a little closer.

    Week 5 Grade: F

    Season Grade: C


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