NFL Team Grades for Week 15

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistDecember 17, 2018

NFL Team Grades for Week 15

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    Joe Sargent/Getty Images

    It's been a wild 2018 NFL season to this point. Therefore, when we say that Week 15 might just have been the wackiest week of the year, it shouldn't be taken lightly.

    Things kicked off with the Los Angeles Chargers knocking off the Chiefs in Kansas City thanks to a gutsy two-point call near the end of regulation. The Cleveland Browns knocked yet another team out of playoff contention Saturday, and Sunday night, the Nick Foles-led Philadelphia Eagles upset the Los Angeles Rams.

    Oh, and the Pittsburgh Steelers managed to beat the New England Patriots for the first time since 2011. This means the Patriots have now lost back-to-back games in December, which either signals the start of the apocalypse or the beginning of the end of New England's dynasty.

    There were plenty of other intriguing outcomes sprinkled in during Week 15. How did your favorite team grade out? Let's take a look.


Arizona Cardinals

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    John Amis/Associated Press

    Week 15 Opponent: Atlanta Falcons

    Result: Lost 40-14

    The Arizona Cardinals haven't had a lot to play for this season, other than the future. Against the Atlanta Falcons, most of the Cardinals looked like they didn't want to play, and that spelled trouble for rookie quarterback Josh Rosen.

    Rosen was sacked six times and tossed two interceptions before head coach Steve Wilks decided to pull him in favor of Mike Glennon. An injury-hampered offensive line was part of the problem, but Rosen didn't play well either.

    "It was frustrating," Rosen said, via the team's official website. "A couple were my fault ... I've got to play better. We've all got to play better."

    With tough games against the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks left on the schedule, we're not likely to see Arizona play much better in 2018. It'll be a sign of progress if the Cardinals can avoid a total embarrassment like the one suffered on Sunday.

    Week 15 Grade: F

    Season Grade: F

Atlanta Falcons

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    Danny Karnik/Associated Press

    Week 15 Opponent: Arizona Cardinals

    Result: Won 40-14

    It took a matchup with the listless Cardinals to do it, but the Falcons finally reminded everyone of how dangerous they can be when everything is clicking.

    Matt Ryan threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns, Tevin Coleman rushed for 145 yards and a score, and the defense forced three turnovers and scored once. Arizona scored the first and final touchdowns of the game. Atlanta poured on 40 points in the time between them.

    This was as dominant a performance as we've seen from Atlanta since losing Super Bowl LI. While the Falcons have long been out of playoff contention, this is the kind of win that can give them some momentum to carry into the final two weeks and possibly next season.

    If Atlanta can manage to knock off the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it'll at least end this disappointing season on a high note.

    Week 15 Grade: A+

    Season Grade: D+

Baltimore Ravens

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Week 15 Opponent: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Result: Won 20-12

    The Baltimore Ravens may not be winning pretty with Lamar Jackson under center, but they're winning games exactly the way they want to. They're winning with defense, a lethal rushing attack and the occasional big-time throw from their rookie quarterback.

    Jackson finished his game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14-of-23 for 131 yards and a touchdown with an additional 95 yards on the ground. Gus Edwards and Kenneth Dixon chipped in another 152 rushing yards, while the Ravens defense limited Tampa to just 241 yards of offense.

    What Baltimore is doing right now runs counter to what the majority of the NFL is trying to do. That's kind of the point, though, as it keeps opponents who regularly face high-octane passing attacks off-balance. This is why the Ravens have won five in a row and why they'll be a dangerous team if they are able to get into the postseason.

    Week 15 Grade: A

    Season Grade: B

Buffalo Bills

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    Jeffrey T. Barnes/Associated Press

    Week 15 Opponent: Detroit Lions

    Result: Won 14-13

    Buffalo Bills rookie quarterback Josh Allen had another inconsistent game as a passer, but he still won with his arm against the Detroit Lions. He only rushed for 16 yards, but he threw for 204 and a touchdown. This was a sign of progress for Allen because he's already proved he can eviscerate defenses with his legs.

    Allen got some help from undrafted rookie Keith Ford, who rushed for 42 yards, and from emerging receiver Robert Foster. The speedy wideout, also an undrafted rookie, caught four passes for 108 yards and a touchdown.

    Buffalo's defense shut out the Lions in the second half, though it was helped by a missed field goal. This allowed the 42-yard connection between Allen and Foster—and the ensuing PAT—to be the winning points.

    This was in no way a decisive win, but it provided some glimpses of promise that Buffalo can build upon heading into 2019.

    Week 15 Grade: C+

    Season Grade: C-

Carolina Panthers

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    Week 15 Opponent: New Orleans Saints

    Result: Lost 12-9

    The Carolina Panthers fell to 6-8 and out of the playoff picture. With the way they've played in recent weeks, they don't deserve to be in the postseason race.

    Carolina has been blown out, beaten by an up-and-coming team and stymied by an inconsistent divisional foe. On Monday night, the Panthers had a chance to steal a win from a New Orleans Saints team far from the top of its game, and they fall flat.

    The Panthers defense played well enough to win and added two points on a point-after interception. However, the offense, and in particular, Cam Newton, couldn't hold up its end. Newton was off on several throws, including the fourth-down toss that sealed the defeat. Some of this can perhaps be blamed on his shoulder injury, but the simple truth is that Newton held his team back against New Orleans.

    Now, it's on to next season.

    Week 15 Grade: D

    Season Grade: D+

Chicago Bears

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Week 15 Opponent: Green Bay Packers

    Result: Won 24-17

    The Chicago Bears handled the Green Bay Packers to claim their first NFC North title since 2010, but it wasn't easy, as the two were tied heading into the fourth.

    What's encouraging is Chicago didn't win solely with defense.

    The defense did play well, particularly in the fourth quarter, when it forced three three-and-outs and grabbed an interception. But the Bears also got tremendous play out of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who finished 20-of-28 for 235 yards and two touchdowns.

    We've seen Trubisky be great at times this season, but we've also seen him play inconsistently. Ideally, this will be the start of a quality stretch the Bears can ride into the postseason.

    Trubisky outplayed Aaron Rodgers, and because of that, Chicago's postseason is guaranteed.

    Week 15 Grade: B+

    Season Grade: B+

Cincinnati Bengals

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    John Grieshop/Getty Images

    Week 15 Opponent: Oakland Raiders

    Result: Won 30-16

    The Cincinnati Bengals may not be a playoff team, but they're still showing plenty of fight. With Andy Dalton and A.J. Green both on injured reserve, it would be easy for Cincinnati to coast out the season. Instead, the Bengals dropped a strong performance on the Oakland Raiders.

    Joe Mixon ran over the defense for 129 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Jeff Driskel didn't have a stellar game—14-of-33 for 130 yards with a touchdown and an interception—but he kept the defense off-balance with his rushing ability (32 yards on seven carries).

    The Cincinnati defense also managed to keep Oakland under 300 yards.

    This wasn't a domination by any means, but Cincinnati was in control the whole way. The Bengals never trailed, never led by less than a touchdown after getting on the board, and controlled the clock for more than 33 minutes.

    Playing this way, Cincinnati will have a legitimate chance against the Browns and Steelers in the final two weeks.

    Week 15 Grade: B+

    Season Grade: C-

Cleveland Browns

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    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    Week 15 Opponent: Denver Broncos

    Result: Won 17-16

    The Browns aren't a playoff team, but they've been playing like one ever since jettisoning head coach Hue Jackson. Cleveland won in Denver, which isn't easy to do this time of year, with a rookie quarterback, an interim head coach and a first-time coordinator.

    Baker Mayfield, however, isn't playing like a typical rookie. He played far from a perfect game against Denver, but he never got rattled, and it never appeared that the game or the moment was too big for him. He did enough to pull the Browns ahead in the fourth quarter. The Cleveland defense made sure it stayed ahead.

    This was the second prime-time game Cleveland had this season. We're likely to see many more in 2019. The Browns are young, they're talented, and they're a lot of fun to watch. They're also learning something important: how to win.

    Week 15 Grade: C+

    Season Grade: C

Dallas Cowboys

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Week 15 Opponent: Indianapolis Colts

    Result: Lost 23-0

    During their five-game winning streak, the Dallas Cowboys won close in almost every one. Against the Indianapolis Colts, Dallas failed to even keep the game close.

    The Dallas defense, which has usually been the strength of the team, surrendered 178 yards rushing and 4.6 yards per run. It also failed to log a sack. The offense was able to move the ball well at times, but it couldn't finish drives.

    Dallas had a field goal blocked on its first possession. Ezekiel Elliott fumbled inside the Indianapolis 5-yard line on the second. The Cowboys punted from their own 49-yard line, punted twice in Colts territory and were stopped twice on downs in the fourth quarter.

    Hopefully, this performance will provide a lesson about finishing.

    "I think a loss like this was very much needed," Elliott said, per Jori Epstein of USA Today.

    Week 15 Grade: F

    Season Grade: B-

Denver Broncos

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    Week 15 Opponent: Cleveland Browns

    Result: Lost 17-16

    Broncos head coach Vance Joseph made the decision to put the game in the hands of his defense late on Saturday night. With less than five minutes remaining and down four, he decided to take the field goal on 4th-and-1 from the Cleveland 6-yard line.

    Plenty of people are going to question this decision, but ultimately, it was the Broncos defense that failed Joseph.

    Yes, Denver stopped Cleveland on 4th-and-1 and got the ball back with just under two minutes remaining. However, the Broncos did so from their own 10-yard line after allowing a long drive. Case Keenum and Co. were forced to cover a lot of ground to get into kicking range. They got to the 50 before a fourth-down sack ended Denver's drive, and ostensibly, its season.

    This was a sloppy game that the Broncos should have won at home. Because of key mistakes—like Keenum's red-zone interception—and questionable decisions, they didn't.

    Week 15 Grade: C-

    Season Grade: C-

Detroit Lions

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    Adrian Kraus/Associated Press

    Week 15 Opponent: Buffalo Bills

    Result: Lost 14-13

    Lions fans will likely blame kicking woes on Sunday's close loss. A botched extra point and a Matt Prater miss in the fourth quarter left four points on the board.

    Let's be clear, though. Those four points are not the only reason Detroit lost. Matt Patricia's defense couldn't stop uneven rookie Josh Allen from beating it with his arm. Patricia, who has plenty of familiarity with Buffalo from his time in the AFC East, couldn't devise a game plan to beat the Bills defense.

    On a positive note, Kenny Golladay continues to prove that he is a certifiable No. 1 receiver. He had another strong day, finishing with seven catches and 146 yards. The downside is that Matthew Stafford had just 62 yards passing to guys not named Golladay.

    The Lions should have won this game. Mistakes—like jumping offsides on Buffalo's final drive—cost them. That's been the story of Detroit's season. We'll see if the Lions can turn things around in the spoiler role next week against the Minnesota Vikings.

    Week 15 Grade: D

    Season Grade: C-

Green Bay Packers

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Week 15 Opponent: Chicago Bears

    Result: Lost 24-17

    Well, it doesn't appear the firing of head coach Mike McCarthy has fixed Green Bay's offensive woes. Against the Bears, the defense played an admirable game, allowing 329 yards and 24 points on the road. Aaron Rodgers and Co., though, couldn't hold up their end of the bargain.

    Rodgers seemed especially off, which isn't a new trend this season. He missed multiple open receivers, frequently failed to avoid pressure and threw a fourth-quarter interception in the red zone.

    It didn't help that the Packers were without two starting linemen or that running back Aaron Jones suffered a knee injury early and didn't return. A lot of this loss has to be placed on Rodgers, though, and his continued poor play leaves questions about his future and the future of the Packers.

    For now, we know that Green Bay is at least guaranteed a losing season.

    Week 15 Grade: D+

    Season Grade: D+

Houston Texans

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    Week 15 Opponent: New York Jets

    Result: Won 29-22

    The Houston Texans didn't roll the New York Jets the way some may have predicted. It was a struggle, but road games in December often will be.

    The Texans survived, and that's the important takeaway. They got some terrific play from Deshaun Watson late, and the defense shut the door on New York's final shot. However, this was in no way a comfortable win, and it raises some concerns moving forward.

    The biggest is pass protection. The Jets don't have a premier pass-rusher like J.J. Watt, but they were constantly able to pressure Watson. He was sacked six times, and if not for his elite mobility, he would have been taken down even more.

    This isn't a new problem, as Watson has now been sacked 52 times this season.

    The Houston offense can go toe to toe with anyone in the postseason, but only if Watson remains upright.

    Week 15 Grade: C+

    Season Grade: B

Indianapolis Colts

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    AJ Mast/Associated Press

    Week 15 Opponent: Dallas Cowboys

    Result: Won 23-0

    Whether or not the Colts are able to reach the postseason, they can know two things for certain: Andrew Luck is completely healthy, and Indianapolis hired the right coaching staff.

    Head coach Frank Reich had a perfect game plan to beat the Cowboys, playing keep-away by leaning on the run. This limited Dallas' opportunities and helped minimize the Cowboys' pass rush. As a team, the Colts rushed 39 times for 178 yards and two TDs. Luck wasn't sacked.

    Defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus has the Indianapolis defense playing with a sense of purpose. While rookie linebacker Darius Leonard is a rising star, there aren't a lot of big names on the defense. However, the group flies around the field, making impact plays like a squad of elite defenders. The Colts defense forced two turnovers, logged three sacks and, ultimately, pitched a shutout.

    If the Colts do slip into the playoffs, they'll have a chance to make a run.

    Week 15 Grade: A+

    Season Grade: B-

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Week 15 Opponent: Washington Redskins

    Result: Lost 16-13

    The Jacksonville Jaguars are a lost team. They don't have an answer at quarterback—Cody Kessler was awful as a passer Sunday—their defense isn't playing with any intensity, and there is zero sense of unity among players and the coaching staff.

    "I ain't worried about nobody but myself," cornerback Jalen Ramsey told reporters when asked about coach Doug Marrone's job security.

    Ramsey and the Jaguars defense failed to protect a touchdown lead in the fourth quarter. Newly crowned Washington Redskins starter Josh Johnson managed to engineer a 10-play, 68-yard touchdown drive to pull even. Washington then leaned on Adrian Peterson to get into field-goal range for the game-winner as time expired.

    That game-winning drive was made possible by an interception from Kessler. He finished with just nine completions and 57 yards.

    A team that went to the AFC title game last season should have been able to handle a Washington team playing its fourth quarterback on the road. The Jaguars couldn't.

    Week 15 Grade: F

    Season Grade: F

Kansas City Chiefs

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    Ed Zurga/Associated Press

    Week 15 Opponent: Los Angeles Chargers

    Result: Lost 29-28

    The Kansas City Chiefs still own the top spot in the AFC West and in the conference, but Thursday night's loss to the rival Los Angeles Chargers left them no room for error. There was little room for error on Thursday night as well. After controlling most of the game, Kansas City was doomed by a few key mistakes in the closing minutes.

    The defense, which has been a weakness for most of the season, played well early, picking off Philip Rivers twice and sacking him five times. However, it couldn't stop the Chargers on their final two possessions. Defensive-holding and pass-interference penalties helped extend both of L.A.'s fourth-quarter scoring drives.

    Miscommunication allowed the Chargers to convert a two-point attempt and take the lead just before the end of regulation.

    This game could have easily gone Kansas City's way, but it proves that as good as the Chiefs may be, they can't survive miscues against a playoff-caliber team. They'll face another one next week when they meet the Seattle Seahawks.

    Week 15 Grade: C-

    Season Grade: A-

Los Angeles Chargers

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Week 15 Opponent: Kansas City Chiefs

    Result: Won 29-28

    Just as the Chiefs easily could have won, the Chargers easily could have suffered a decisive loss Thursday night. They made more than a few early errors and found themselves down 14 points late in the fourth quarter.

    Make no mistake, the Chargers played a sloppy brand of football for most of the night.

    Perseverance and some clutch play down the stretch allowed Los Angeles to dig itself out of a hole, though, and that's something the Chargers have been able to do with regularity this season. It's something they didn't do last season.

    "This isn’t the same old Chargers," safety Derwin James said, per AP writer Joe Reedy. "We’re here to compete with anybody in this league, and we showed it tonight."

    The Chargers' ability to not get knocked out when they're down is what makes them so dangerous heading into the postseason.

    Week 15 Grade: C+

    Season Grade: B+

Los Angeles Rams

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    Week 15 Opponent: Philadelphia Eagles

    Result: Lost 30-23

    The Rams played a terrible game of football last week against Chicago, but it was easy to blame that on the blustery road conditions. On a warm night in Los Angeles, it was harder to find valid excuses for an equally big letdown.

    L.A. was inefficient and mistake-prone against the Eagles on Sunday night. Jared Goff looked a lot like the shaky rookie version, missing several open receivers and tossing a pair of interceptions. A muffed punt added to the turnover margin, and the defense couldn't stop Philadelphia when it needed to.

    A poor game plan may have been part of the problem, as it was against the Bears. Though he ran well, Todd Gurley only got 12 carries. Goff passed 54 times. While it may not have seemed necessary to grind out a game to limit Nick Foles' opportunities, that's what the Rams should have done.

    Instead, the Eagles were able to take complete control in the second half, opening up a 17-point lead.

    Week 15 Grade: F

    Season Grade: A-

Miami Dolphins

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    Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

    Week 15 Opponent: Minnesota Vikings

    Result: Lost 41-17

    The Miami Dolphins are still technically alive in the AFC playoff race, but their hopes took a major hit with Sunday's blowout loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

    Running back Kalen Ballage ripped off a 75-yard touchdown run and finished with 123 yards on the ground. That's the only positive the Dolphins can take away. Every other aspect of this game was a disaster.

    Nothing was more disastrous than Miami's pass protection. Ryan Tannehill was under pressure almost every time he dropped back. He was sacked nine times and lost 71 yards, and that left the Dolphins with just 193 yards of net offense.

    Miami's defense was nearly as bad. It grabbed one interception and forced three punts, but every other one of Minnesota's drives ended with either points or the end of the half.

    The Dolphins we saw Sunday have no business being in the playoff conversation.

    Week 15 Grade: F

    Season Grade: C

Minnesota Vikings

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    Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

    Week 15 Opponent: Miami Dolphins

    Result: Won 41-17

    Firing Mike McCarthy didn't help the Packers offense. Firing offensive coordinator John DeFilippo seems to have done wonders for the Vikings offense, though. In his first game as interim coordinator, Kevin Stefanski watched his unit rack up 41 points and 418 total yards.

    Minnesota did most of its damage on the ground—40 rushes for 220 yards and three TDs—with Kirk Cousins serving as more of a game manager. This was the formula the Vikings used with Case Keenum last season all the way up to the NFC title game.

    Dalvin Cook, who rushed for 136 yards and had a 27-yard reception, was particularly impressive. So was the Vikings defense, which racked up nine sacks and allowed under 200 yards of offense.

    At 7-6-1, the Vikings control their playoff destiny.

    Week 15 Grade: A+

    Season Grade: C+

New England Patriots

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    Week 15 Opponent: Pittsburgh Steelers

    Result: Lost 17-10

    Is this finally the beginning of the end for the New England Patriots? The death knell has been prematurely rung before. However, the Patriots we've seen over the last two weeks don't like the dynasty we're used to.

    New England lost last week because it failed to properly defend a last-second desperation play. Against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Patriots lost because they played uncharacteristically sloppy football. 

    Tom Brady missed several throws and tossed an ill-advised floater that was picked off right outside the end zone. The defense allowed nearly 400 yards, and the Patriots racked up a whopping 14 penalties. Fundamentals like sound tackling and not jumping pre-snap were lacking.

    The Steelers made their fair share of mistakes, which kept New England in the game, but this was a big loss and part of a trend. New England has been awful on the road this season, and after dropping to the No. 3 seed, the Patriots may well be playing most of the postseason away from Foxborough.

    Week 15 Grade: D-

    Season Grade: B-

New Orleans Saints

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Week 15 Opponent: Carolina Panthers

    Result: Won 12-9

    The Saints haven't looked like the same explosive offensive team over the last three weeks, but they've also been on the road for all three games. Three-game road trips are difficult, and the Saints escaped with a 2-1 record after knocking off the Panthers.

    Was it pretty? Nope. However, the Saints were the more physical team and imposed their will on a division rival. That also isn't easy to do. Quarterback Drew Brees missed a few throws, there were some major mistakes in the red zone—like an interception returned for a two-point conversion and a goal-line fumble—but the defense sealed the win.

    This is the mark of a good team. New Orleans can win in multiple ways, and that's what makes the Saints dangerous heading into the postseason.

    With one more win, New Orleans will also have home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

    Week 15 Grade: C+

    Season Grade: A

New York Giants

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    Week 15 Opponent: Tennessee Titans

    Result: Lost 17-0

    The New York Giants got pasted by the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. Unlike some of the blowout losses New York has suffered, this one cannot be blamed entirely on quarterback Eli Manning.

    Did Manning play great? No, he was pretty bad. However, the play of the offensive and defensive lines was far worse. Both units got pushed around for the full four quarters. Manning was under constant pressure, Saquon Barkley (2.2 yards per carry) couldn't find open running lanes, and the defense couldn't find an answer for the brutal running of Derrick Henry.

    Henry racked up 170 yards on the ground and two TDs. The Giants had just 90 yards of total offense more.

    This may have been the worst overall game New York has played since the first month of the season. The Giants had won four of their last five, but any momentum they generated during that stretch is dead. With games against the Colts and Cowboys remaining, New York's win total may be stuck at five.

    Week 15 Grade: F

    Season Grade: D+

New York Jets

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    Week 15 Opponent: Houston Texans

    Result: Lost 29-22

    The Jets didn't knock off the playoff-bound Texans on Saturday, and that doesn't come as a shock. New York nearly did, though, and a lot of the credit has to go to rookie quarterback Sam Darnold.

    He did just about everything one would expect of a franchise quarterback. He used his mobility to escape pressure, he made big-time throws under duress, and he even made some big plays with his legs.

    "He can scramble," Texans defensive end J.J. Watt said, per Mark Lane of Texans Wire. "He can make throws. He's a good player. And obviously, he's young and he's got a great future ahead of him."

    What Darnold didn't do is finish. He made a couple of terrible throws on New York's last possession before taking a sack and then not converting a fourth-down play. If Darnold can thrive at the end of games, the Jets really will have their franchise quarterback.

    Week 15 Grade: C

    Season Grade: D

Oakland Raiders

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Week 15 Opponent: Cincinnati Bengals

    Result: Lost 30-16

    The Raiders upset the likely playoff-bound Steelers in Week 14. So of course, they'd go and decisively lose to the injury-riddled Bengals.

    Now, making the cross-country trip to play an early-afternoon game is never easy. But that doesn't excuse a flat offensive performance against one of the worst statistical defenses in the league. The problem was one part execution—two lost fumbles hurt—and one part poor play-calling.

    Though he averaged a solid 4.3 yards per carry, Doug Martin got just nine of them. Despite having multiple injuries on the offensive line, Derek Carr was asked to throw 38 times. He was frequently under pressure and ended up being sacked five times.

    "It was a very difficult situation for us today offensively, with all the changes," coach Jon Gruden said, per AP sportswriter Joe Kay. "We've got to do better."

    Oakland will indeed need to be better if it hopes to beat the Broncos next Monday night.

    Week 15 Grade: D

    Season Grade: D-

Philadelphia Eagles

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Week 15 Opponent: Los Angeles Rams

    Result: Won 30-23

    Can the Eagles go on another playoff run with Nick Foles under center? It doesn't feel quite as likely as last season—Philadelphia was 10-2 when Carson Wentz went down for the season—but they're still alive at 7-7 thanks to Foles.

    He and the Eagles offense were on fire against the Rams, racking up 381 yards of offense. The defense, which allowed 413 yards, wasn't perfect, but it did get some key stops in the second half.

    Yes, the Rams made mistakes, and the Eagles got some breaks. However, Philadelphia still deserves credit for taking advantage and turning good fortune into a victory.

    If Philadelphia wins out, and the Vikings lose to either Detroit or Chicago, the Eagles will be in the tournament once again. Hopefully, this possibility doesn't cause fans to break out silly dog masks from last year.

    Week 15 Grade: B+

    Season Grade: C

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Week 15 Opponent: New England Patriots

    Result: Won 17-10

    The Steelers have been regularly owned by the Patriots in recent years. They came into Sunday's game against New England on a three-game losing streak in 2018. They also came in without starting running back James Conner.

    These are all reasons why this feels like such a big win.

    They stay atop the AFC North, ended their skid and got revenge over their biggest non-division rival. However, we shouldn't act like Pittsburgh resembled a championship team.

    New England shot itself in the foot repeatedly, and Pittsburgh did enough to capitalize. However, the Steelers made plenty of their own mistakes, including a pair of interceptions and yet another Chris Boswell miss.

    Pittsburgh cannot expect to play this type of game and survive in January.

    Week 15 Grade: C

    Season Grade: C+

San Francisco 49ers

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    Week 15 Opponent: Seattle Seahawks

    Result: Won 26-23 (OT)

    Division rivalry games can be unpredictable, and Sunday's overtime win by the San Francisco 49ers was proof of that.

    The last time San Francisco battled the rival Seattle Seahawks, they got blown out 43-16. This time around, San Francisco and Seattle traded punches until the end. The 49ers made a big defensive stop in overtime and then responded with a game-winning field-goal drive.

    While the defense deserves credit for getting some timely stops, undrafted free agent Nick Mullens, who finished with 275 yards and a touchdown, was the offensive hero.

    "I'd say he's playing like a top-half quarterback in this league," cornerback Richard Sherman said, per Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. "You have guys that are out there right now that are not playing better football than Nick Mullens."

    The 49ers believe they have their franchise quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo, but they now know they can win tough matchups with Mullens in the future if they have to.

    Week 15 Grade: B-

    Season Grade: C-

Seattle Seahawks

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Week 15 Opponent: Seattle Seahawks

    Result: Lost 26-23 (OT)

    Did the Seahawks overlook their division rivals? After blowing them out in the last meeting and with a pivotal game against Kansas City upcoming, it's possible. One thing is for sure, though: The Seahawks didn't outplay them.

    The Seahawks ran the ball well (168 yards, 4.8 yards per carry), and quarterback Russell Wilson was mostly efficient. However, the Seahawks also struggled with short drives and with the field-position battle.

    In overtime, Tyler Lockett muffed the kickoff and left the Seahawks stranded at their 14-yard line. Seattle went three-and-out, and a quick 49ers drive—aided by a pass interference call—led to a field goal and a Seahawks defeat.

    Seattle will be back at home next week, which will help. However, the Seahawks have to be better at extending drives and controlling the clock if they're going to beat the Chiefs.

    Week 15 Grade: C-

    Season Grade: B-

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Week 15 Opponent: Baltimore Ravens

    Result: Lost 20-12

    It's time to blow up the Buccaneers, and it seems Buccaneers ownership knows it. According to CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora, the Buccaneers have "begun gathering information" on potential replacements for coach Dirk Koetter.

    Tampa Bay doesn't have the pieces to contend right now. The defense, which allowed 242 rushing yards to the Ravens, has regularly been a liability. The running game has been a disappointment—so has second-round pick Ronald Jones—and the quarterback situation has been unstable, to say the least.

    Jameis Winston, who was reinserted as the team's starter a few weeks ago, accomplished little against the Ravens defense on Sunday. He was off on several throws and finished just 13-of-25 for 157 yards and an interception.

    As a team, the Buccaneers were flat against Baltimore, and they've been that way much of the season. There's a lot to figure out between now and the start of 2019.

    Week 15 Grade: D

    Season Grade: C-

Tennessee Titans

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    Week 15 Opponent: New York Giants

    Result: Won 17-0

    The Titans may not make it into the postseason, but if they do, other teams should worry. Head coach Mike Vrabel has had his team playing aggressive and inspired football all season, but Tennessee has looked like a different and dangerous team over the last two weeks.

    A lot of this has to do with the emergence of Derrick Henry. After topping 200 yards last week (with four TDs), he rushed for another 170 and two scores against the Giants. He needed 33 carries to get there, but that grinding approach wore down the Giants' front seven.

    With Dion Lewis chipping in 35 rushing yards, the Titans didn't need much help from quarterback Marcus Mariota. He made the occasional play to keep the defense honest and finished 12-of-20 for 88 yards.

    This brand of run-heavy, defensive football has proved to be effective in January.

    Week 15 Grade: A+

    Season Grade: B-

Washington Redskins

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    Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press

    Week 15 Opponent: Jacksonville Jaguars

    Result: Won 16-13

    Give the Redskins credit. They've watched a division lead slip away. They're playing with their fourth quarterback in Josh Johnson, who hadn't appeared in a game since 2013 before last week. They spent most of Sunday's game against Jacksonville wandering through an uninspired defensive struggle.

    However, Washington refused to give up. Instead, the team went on a long touchdown drive to tie the game in the fourth, picked off Cody Kessler near midfield, and then got into position to win the game on a last-second field goal.

    "It just shows how resilient this team is," linebacker Mason Foster said, per Jerry Brewer of the Washington Post.

    The Redskins didn't quit against Jacksonville, and because of it, they're still alive in the playoff race at 7-7. The path won't be an easy one, as the Redskins have the Titans and Eagles—two other teams battling for postseason life—remaining on the regular-season schedule.

    Week 15 Grade: B-

    Season Grade: C