HomeSportsNFL Week 18 grades from across the league

NFL Week 18 grades from across the league

The Jaguars’ upset win over the Colts opened the door to one of many wildest season-ending weeks in trendy NFL historical past. The Raiders and Chargers accomplished an odd basic that had the Steelers on the point of a traditionally uncommon playoff omission. This adopted a 49ers comeback conquest in Los Angeles, which set the desk within the NFC. Listed below are the grades from the NFL’s last regular-season Sunday.

 

Instability around Justin Herbert resurfaces in huge spot

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports activities

Whereas Herbert’s surge absolutely had NFL execs grinning maniacally, because the league’s first Week 18 since 1994 ended with the sport of the yr, the Chargers’ foundational cracks undermined their famous person QB. Herbert’s last two drives have been pure mastery, terrifying Raiders and Steelers followers alike. However the Bolts’ points defending him, stopping the run, and, maybe centrally, with situational soccer will maintain a scary staff out of the playoffs. Brandon Staley‘s Madden-on-tilt fourth-down name inside his personal 20 and scrutinized OT timeout completed off an odd yr for the younger chief, and the Bolts’ season-long apathy towards run protection proved pricey. This is without doubt one of the AFC’s seven most proficient groups; the Chargers (9-8) once more failed to maximise stated expertise.

CHARGERS GRADE: C-plus

 

Raiders D-line answers call to save season

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports activities

For all of the Jon Gruden-Mike Mayock regime’s draft misses, the duo made some affect Day 3 selections. Chief amongst them: Maxx Crosby, who made Chargers proper deal with Storm Norton a turnstile. Crosby harassed Herbert always, posting two sacks and three batted passes. Ex-Charger Darius Philon stopping Staley’s fourth-down magnum opus additionally helped the Raiders (10-7) end off their unbelievable climb. Las Vegas went 4-0 in additional time and rallied again from 6-7 to achieve the playoffs for the primary time in 5 years. The Bolts have extra pure expertise, however the Raiders deserved to topple them. Sunday’s Steelers-terrifying ending ought to double because the defining Raiders-in-Vegas sequence for some time. 

RAIDERS GRADE: B-plus | NEXT: at Bengals (Sat.)

 

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Seventh-round choose comes by means of to raise 49ers

Seventh-round pick comes through to elevate 49ers

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports activities

Deebo Samuel reworked the 49ers’ season-saving drive, ending off a marketing campaign through which he’s a lock for the All-Professional staff’s flex place. However the 49ers (10-7) noticed Jauan Jennings ship his largest recreation in a monumental spot. A Spherical 7 choose in 2020, Jennings didn’t play as a rookie and topped out at 46 yards in a recreation going into Week 18. San Francisco’s WR3 supplied Jimmy Garoppolo unlikely safety, changing three third downs — together with an OT chunk play to arrange the 49ers’ game-winner — throughout his 94-yard, two-TD day. The 49ers beat the Rams for a sixth straight time, doing so with out Trent Williams, and characterize the NFC’s hardest wild-card draw.

49ERS GRADE: A | NEXT: at Cowboys (Solar.)

 

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Star-stacked Rams go protection folds

Star-stacked Rams pass defense folds

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports activities

Matthew Stafford led the Rams to a 17-0 lead, and Cooper Kupp’s triple crown-cementing day concerned a go-ahead fourth-quarter TD. With the 49ers inside their very own 15 with no timeouts, that ought to have been sufficient. However the Rams’ Aaron Donald-, Jalen Ramsey– and Von Miller-fronted protection seemed unhealthy on each the 49ers’ game-tying drive and their go-ahead OT march. Jennings streaking large open for the tying rating is unacceptable for a wholesome Rams protection given the investments right here. Like a couple of groups on this playoff subject, the Rams (12-5) current a Tremendous Bowl ceiling. It additionally wouldn’t shock to see this proficient however unreliable squad bounced in Spherical 1.

RAMS GRADE: C | NEXT: vs. Cardinals (Mon.)

 

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Steelers experience T.J. Watt, protection to inch into playoffs

Steelers ride T.J. Watt, defense to inch into playoffs

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports activities

It took till Monday morning Japanese Time for Pittsburghers to calm down, however this flawed squad superior as a result of the Raiders eschewed a tie to keep away from the Steelers taking one of many worst unhealthy beats in sports activities historical past. Watt tied Michael Strahan‘s file of twenty-two.5 sacks and can win his coveted Defensive Participant of the Yr award. The Steelers (9-7-1) got here dangerously near a two-tie season, however their go protection continues to be bankable. Pittsburgh’s two INTs on Tyler Huntley dragged this mucky recreation to OT, and it’ll prolong Ben Roethlisberger’s profession. Whereas a Dan Marino-in-Jacksonville-type ending is in play, the Steelers protection needs to be higher ready for Patrick Mahomes this time.

STEELERS GRADE: B-minus | NEXT: at Chiefs (Solar.)

 

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Depleted Ravens predictably go down swinging

Depleted Ravens predictably go down swinging

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports activities

Barring Bengals involvement, John Harbaugh‘s injury-plagued staff may usually be counted on to point out combat. It did so once more Sunday, taking the Steelers to additional time and practically additional muddying the AFC playoff image by handing their rivals a second tie. Cam Sutton’s finish zone INT helped doom the Ravens (8-9), who misplaced their last six. A key season on Baltimore’s timeline combusted, due to accidents throughout the lineup. Calais Campbell is predicted to think about retirement, and interior-line staples Kevin Zeitler and Brandon Williams are into their 30s. Most significantly, the Ravens’ future formulation is poised to incorporate a monster Lamar Jackson contract. That may take a look at the staff in a brand new method.

RAVENS GRADE: C-plus 

 

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A collapse for the ages

A collapse for the ages

Bob Self/Florida Instances-Union / USA TODAY NETWORK

Spoiler efforts start yearly, however this can reside on the highest tier of final-week letdowns. The Colts (8-9) not solely prolonged their weird Jacksonville dropping streak to seven; they have been outplayed in all phases. The Jags surprisingly bettered the Colts’ Professional Bowler-laden O-line, with the Josh Allen-Eric Fisher matchup going poorly for the guests, and Indianapolis’ protection couldn’t cease an offense that has been dreadful all season. Carson Wentz will take deserved blame right here. The unvaccinated QB’s COVID-19 case supplied a transparent demarcation line for the Colts, whose offense hit a wall in Week 17. Wentz wants extra weapons, however this end defines his season.

COLTS GRADE: F 

 

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Jaguars win on a number of fronts

Jaguars win on multiple fronts

Bob Self/Florida Instances-Union/USA TODAY NETWORK

The Jaguars performed their greatest recreation since at the very least September 2018 and maintain the No. 1 general choose regardless of the Lions going in opposition to the Packers. Allen got here by means of for 2 sacks, and Roy Robertson-Harris logged seven pressures. The Jags (3-14) stopped Jonathan Taylor on a fourth-and-goal and restricted the speeding champ to 77 yards, angering sure maniacs whose fantasy seasons prolong to Week 18. Jacksonville’s protection threw the AFC playoffs into chaos. Two of the convention’s high seven groups are out, and the Jags — 14-point underdogs — are leaving a depressing season with momentum and one other No. 1 choose. A banner day for a franchise that submitted the worst 2021 season.

JAGUARS GRADE: A-plus 

 

Ryan Tannehill's escape sets up Titan playoff reignition

George Walker IV/Tennessean.com/USA TODAY NETWORK

In a sequence that reminded of the Week 17 through which Kevin Harlan referred to as two video games and the Chiefs secured an unlikely bye, the Texans practically erased a 21-0 Titans lead. Ryan Tannehill stopped the underdog’s onslaught by escaping a Jacob Martin sack and finding Nick Westbrook-Ikhine for a 37-yard third-down strike. That stalled a Houston rally that would have undone Tennessee’s plans. Tannehill’s four-TD day made positive the Titans remained the No. 1 seed and the Chiefs stayed at 2. However the Titans (12-5) will look completely different quickly, with Derrick Henry again. Tannehill retaining this leaky ship going with out playmakers made this actuality doable. This is without doubt one of the most unusual No. 1 seeds in NFL historical past.

TITANS GRADE: B | NEXT: bye

 

Danny Amendola eruption nearly shakes up playoffs

George Walker IV/Tennessean.com/USA TODAY NETWORK

If that is Amendola’s experience into the sundown, he made it rely. The NFL’s oldest large receiver acquired previous Titans defenders twice for touchdowns, being the unlikely menace that just about ruined Tennessee’s hopes at its first No. 1 seed in 13 years. Amendola, 36, totaled seven catches for 113 yards. The ex-Patriot-turned-journeyman signed with the Texans days earlier than Week 1 however endured two accidents that restricted him to eight video games this season. If nobody picks Amendola up at 37, this can be a good bow on a productive wideout’s profession. He performed a component in Davis Mills‘ late-season growth, simply crucial a part of Houston’s 4-13 season.

TEXANS GRADE: B 

 

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Payments sequence to outline Mac Jones‘ rookie yr

Bills series to define Mac Jones' rookie year

Rhona Sensible-USA TODAY Sports activities

Invoice Belichick cuffing Jones within the Patriots’ first Payments outing inserted extra doubt about his standing, and Buffalo besting him within the rematch led to Ja’Marr Chase zooming again into his Offensive Rookie of the Yr rear-view. Chase overtook Jones, who struggled in Miami. The Pats have now misplaced seven of their previous 9 video games in Miami, and Jones’ pick-six and ensuing fumbled snap price the guests in what turned out to be a significant recreation. Las Vegas’ win dropped New England (10-7) to the No. 6 seed, which represents a worse draw. Aside from a Jaguars rout, Jones has not dazzled since earlier than that three-pass Buffalo recreation. This rubber match will outline Jones’ rookie season.

PATRIOTS GRADE: C-minus | NEXT: at Payments (Sat.)

 

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Dolphins make gorgeous Black Monday choice

Dolphins make stunning Black Monday decision

Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports activities

Brian Flores‘ replacement-level Dolphins staff saved the 2019 Patriots from a playoff bye, and his subsequent two groups mixed to go 3-1 in opposition to his ex-mentor. Flores improved to 4-2 in opposition to Belichick on Sunday. His reward? A pink slip. Beautiful fallout for a rising coach. The Dolphins (9-8) did wind up with Tua Tagovailoa and never Joe Burrow due to Flores’ surprising late-season success in 2019, however that’s not precisely on the coach. The defensive-minded chief additionally helmed an undermanned staff on the playoff precipice final yr earlier than profitable seven straight this season. The GM that drafted Tua ( Chris Grier) is staying. All of a sudden, the oft-discussed Dolphins rebuild is off-axis. And a Deshaun Watson path could also be narrowing.

DOLPHINS GRADE: A-minus

 

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Robert Saleh’s protection bombs in season 1

Robert Saleh's defense bombs in season 1

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports activities

A 2020 Jets staff that began 0-14 and sported a minus-214 level differential featured a greater protection than what Saleh oversaw this yr. After the Payments pulled away within the second half, the Jets’ protection wrapped a season through which it completed final in each factors and yards allowed. Accidents occurred, sure, primarily Carl Lawson‘s summer time Achilles tear. However a defensive coach coming in and ending a season on this place is a foul signal for the franchise with the league’s longest playoff drought. The Jets (4-13), who largely ignored their cornerback want final yr, should purchase reinforcements on all three ranges.

JETS GRADE: D 

 

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Sack binge ensures Payments will host Patriots

Sack binge ensures Bills will host Patriots

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports activities

Zach Wilson took some pointless sacks, however the Payments hounded him all through the sport’s last three quarters. Buffalo collected all 9 of its sacks after the primary interval, dropping the rookie QB on protection sacks, blitzes, and one-on-one wreckage. Former first-round D-tackle Ed Oliver performed a component within the latter selection, dropping Wilson for 1.5 sacks and posting 5 pressures on simply 18 pass-rush snaps. Security Jordan Poyer and veteran D-end Mario Addison added two sacks apiece. The Payments (11-6) lack an affect go rusher however do have a number of choices right here. That depth will probably be wanted because the staff navigates a playoff subject sans Tre’Davious White for the primary time.

BILLS GRADE: B-plus | NEXT: vs. Patriots

 

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Rocky Wilson-Seahawks relationship needs to be salvageable

Rocky Wilson-Seahawks relationship should be salvageable

Michael Chow/USA TODAY NETWORK

Extra headlines centering round Russell Wilson’s prospects of exiting Seattle will floor, however the staff placing collectively two explosive offensive outings to shut its season ought to matter a bit within the grand scheme. Wilson seemed like his Professional Bowl-level self Sunday, scampering for a landing and throwing three extra. The Seattle icon completed his down season with seven TD passes over his last two video games. The Seahawks (7-10) will not be in nice form, missing a first-round choose and seeing their offense underperform underneath new OC Shane Waldron. However Wilson each reminded of his significance to the staff and upped his commerce worth in Week 18.

SEAHAWKS GRADE: A 

 

Rashaad Penny razes Cardinals defense

Michael Chow/USA TODAY NETWORK

Along with powering many fantasy GMs to championships, Penny injected extra doubt in regards to the Cardinals’ prospects of profitable a playoff recreation. The injury-prone Seahawks again exploded for a career-high 190 speeding yards, retaining the Playing cards from capitalizing on the 49ers’ upset and forcing a Los Angeles journey. Giving up 38 factors and a season-most 431 yards to the Seahawks serves as one other reminder this isn’t the identical Playing cards staff that bullied the Rams in October. Its upset win in Dallas however, Kliff Kingsbury’s staff has regressed since its 9-1 begin. J.J. Watt‘s potential return would assist, however many Cardinal detractors will reveal themselves this week.

CARDINALS GRADE: D-plus | NEXT: at Rams (Mon.)

 

Matt Rhule stock craters in Year 2

Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports activities

The City Meyer catastrophe overshadowed Rhule’s troubles, however this was a tricky yr for the coaches making an attempt the college-to-pro leap. Rhule’s mismanagement of the Panthers’ quarterback put up and his news-dump firing of offensive coordinator Joe Brady — he of a number of head-coaching interviews final yr — pushes the ex-Temple and Baylor rebuilder to the brink. The Panthers (5-12) are actually 10-23 underneath Rhule, with each groups sinking after shocking begins. Rhule being a Jay Gruden or Invoice O’Brien OC rent away from dropping his job says loads in regards to the state of the Panthers, who will go all-out for a QB quickly.

PANTHERS GRADE: D-minus 

 

Rob Gronkowski back to center stage

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports activities

Antonio Brown‘s newest bridge-napalming effort featured a jab at Gronkowski, however the latter All-Decade-teamer will beat Brown to the Corridor of Fame. Gronk confirmed why Sunday, constantly breaking free for Tom Brady throughout a seven-catch, 137-yard recreation. Brady discovered Gronk sufficient for the tight-end GOAT so as to add a $500,000 incentive. This was Gronk’s highest yardage output since 2017 and his second straight 100-yard day. With Brown and Chris Godwin gone, the unretired tight finish — who missed a piece of time this season as a consequence of one other harm — will probably be extra necessary to Tampa Bay’s trigger in these playoffs than he was final yr.

BUCCANEERS GRADE: A | NEXT: vs. Eagles (Solar.)

 

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Packers puzzle reforming forward of playoffs

Packers puzzle reforming ahead of playoffs

Jorge Lemus/NurPhoto through Getty Pictures

The Packers staff that landed the NFC’s No. 1 seed needs to be inferior to the one which reveals up within the divisional spherical. Two of the Tremendous Bowl favourite’s many lacking items resurfaced Sunday, with All-Professional left deal with David Bakhtiari and second-round rookie middle Josh Myers again in uniform. The Detroit outcome didn’t matter, however these two blockers returning positive did. Bakhtiari had not performed since struggling an ACL tear, one which required two surgical procedures, on New Yr’s Eve 2020. The Pack could have survived the Bucs’ go rush with him final yr. With Randall Cobb and Professional Bowlers Jaire Alexander and Za’Darius Smith additionally on their method again, that is going to be a tricky staff to oust.

PACKERS GRADE: C-minus | NEXT: bye

 

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Trick performs lead Lions off No. 1 choose perch

Trick plays lead Lions off No. 1 pick perch

Junfu Han/USA TODAY NETWORK

Faux punts and tackle-eligible lobs performed a component in Dan Campbell‘s rookie season, and the favored coach dialed up two reverse-pass TDs Sunday, going stride-for-stride with a half-interested Packers staff. Kalif Raymond and Brock Wright’s TDs ended a surprisingly enjoyable Lions season at 3-13-1. Hopefully, Detroit — one of many groups with a clear-cut rebuild design this season — will probably be effective with profitable this recreation come draft time. There’s not a Trevor Lawrence-level prospect on this draft, organising the Lions to take the second-best defensive finish expertise. Shedding this simply losable recreation would have helped, however it’s enjoyable to see a playbook embody this many gadget designs.

LIONS GRADE: A-minus 

 

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NFC North matchup closes e-book on two regimes

NFC North matchup closes book on two regimes

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports activities

The Bears gave Matt Nagy a worse hand than the Vikings dealt Mike Zimmer, and the staff solely accomplished one sub-.500 slate — this yr’s 6-11 ending. Nagy’s long-expected firing nonetheless went down Monday, and the Bears additionally axed GM Ryan Tempo. The latter transfer makes extra sense, given Tempo’s era-defining Mitchell Trubisky trade-up. Nagy guided the Bears to a 12-4 file with Trubisky on the helm however couldn’t maintain him afloat within the ensuing seasons. Nagy figures to be an attention-grabbing offensive coordinator candidate, although the ex-Chiefs OC will have to be pickier about the place he lands. The architects of the Justin Fields trade-up are out, leaving the QB within the arms of a regime not tied to him.

BEARS GRADE: C-minus 

 

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Wholesale change in Minnesota

Wholesale change in Minnesota

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports activities

Following the Vikings’ win over the Bears, it’s transferring day within the Twin Cities. Along with the Zimmer firing, the Vikings (8-9) moved on from the Sixteenth-year decision-maker Rick Spielman. In energy since earlier than the Brett Favre acquisition, the GM constructed the Vikings right into a contender — with a number of nuclei — and did so regardless of QB instability. In Spielman’s tenure, Tarvaris Jackson, Favre, Christian Ponder, Teddy Bridgewater, Case Keenum, and Kirk Cousins took the Vikes to the playoffs, with none doing so greater than as soon as. The Cousins’ transfer catalyzed this regime’s downfall. Sunday finalized the staff’s third non-playoff season within the well-paid passer’s 4 years. 

VIKINGS GRADE: B 

 

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Zac Taylor rests starters, probably video games AFC bracket

Zac Taylor rests starters, potentially games AFC bracket

Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports activities

Maybe extra intrigued by a second-round recreation in Tennessee than in Kansas Metropolis, Taylor sat nearly all his starters in Week 18. Whereas the Bengals wouldn’t be locked right into a Titans tilt with a first-round win, Nashville could be their almost definitely vacation spot. Settling for the AFC’s No. 4 seed, the Bengals (10-7) will goal to snap the NFL’s longest playoff-win drought. Bo Jackson‘s hip harm occurred per week after Cincinnati’s most up-to-date postseason victory (1990, over the Oilers). The Bengals additionally will face a Raiders staff they dealt with in Las Vegas lower than two months in the past. That is breaking proper for a staff nobody anticipated to be right here. 

BENGALS GRADE: C | NEXT: vs. Raiders (Sat.)

 

Jadeveon Clowney survives Browns' ugly season

Jeff Lange/USA TODAY NETWORK

When nearly every thing else went improper in Cleveland, a participant identified for letdowns made it out unscathed. Clowney registered two extra sacks Sunday, certainly one of them being among the many most entertaining sack-strip scenes this season. Though Clowney pouted after not recovering the fumble his violent shove on Brandon Allen induced, he completed a season wholesome and tallied 9 sacks. Already constrained by the fifth-year choice and franchise tag in Houston, the ex-No. 1 choose noticed accidents stop multiyear contracts. Taking part in reverse Myles Garrett benefited him, and the Browns (8-9) should take into account retaining the free-agent-to-be. 

BROWNS GRADE: B 

 

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Saints dealing with QB, WR selections

Saints facing QB, WR decisions

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports activities

Additional evidenced in Atlanta, the Saints deployed a protection able to threatening favored playoff opposition. However Sean Payton‘s staff provided predictable inconsistency on the opposite aspect of the ball. This got here after Drew Brees provided essentially the most dependable 15-year stretch any staff’s QB ever has. Taysom Hill’s Lisfranc harm additional complicates his future. By no means afraid to carry out wage cap gymnastics, the Saints (9-8) have to be within the combine for one of many many QBs who may very well be out there. This season additionally underscored the necessity for a number of new wideouts. With a Michael Thomas divorce seemingly, how the Saints proceed right here needs to be receiving extra nationwide consideration.

SAINTS GRADE: A 

 

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Falcons future additionally consists of RB choice

Falcons future also includes RB decision

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports activities

This was a tough yr for Mike Davis. Shortly supplanted by a profession kick returner, the would-be Falcons high working again ended the yr with two misplaced fumbles. These miscues led to 10 Saints factors in a one-sided rivalry loss, one which didn’t characteristic a lot of Hill. The Falcons have Cordarrelle Patterson as an uncommon free agent, being a profession returner/receiver and headed for his age-31 season and no certainly one of word within the RB1 pipeline. The Rams getting out of the Jared Goff contract ought to remind that groups can skirt cap hassle to unload unhealthy QB offers, placing Matt Ryan’s future in query. Past Kyle Pitts, not a lot is thought about Atlanta’s chain-movers going ahead.

FALCONS GRADE: D 

 

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Bobby McCain helps embattled protection shut robust

Bobby McCain helps embattled defense close strong

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports activities

The five-day span when the Eagles and Cowboys offenses chewed up Washington’s protection in island video games ended the defending NFC East champs’ reasonable playoff hopes. The WFT, within the franchise’s last act as such, exited the season on a greater word. Bobby McCain’s pick-six set the tone for a one-sided win. The ex-Dolphin added one other choose on Jake Fromm within the last seconds. Inside Matt Ioannidis strain additionally led to a Fromm fumble late. Washington (7-10) additionally watched because the Giants ran back-to-back QB sneaks from inside their very own 5-yard line. Quarterback would be the featured goal, however some items are in place right here.

WASHINGTON GRADE: B-plus 

 

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Giants haven’t any selection

Giants have no choice

Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com/USA TODAY NETWORK

Since Daniel Jones went down with a neck harm, the Giants misplaced their last six video games by a mixed 163-56 margin. No staff completed the season in worse form. Contemplating the Giants (4-13) weren’t precisely thriving with Jones, who fell off after a considerably promising rookie season with Pat Shurmur, possession in all probability wants to tug the set off right here and hearth Joe Choose. The ex-special groups coach doesn’t name performs, limiting his worth, and the hard-edged chief clearly didn’t win over the locker room. The ex-Patriots staffer shouldn’t be profitable energy struggles or choosing the following GM. Even when it means a 3rd straight two-and-done coach, It’s time for Huge Blue to get out earlier than it’s too late.

GIANTS GRADE: D-minus 

 

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Eagles-Bucs rematch will look completely different

Eagles-Bucs rematch will look different

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports activities

The Buccaneers-Eagles matchup in Week 6 concerned a Philly version that had but to kind its identification and a Bucs staff with higher weaponry. The Bucs received 28-22, in a recreation not fairly as shut because the rating signifies. Whereas Tampa Bay was lacking a number of corners and Rob Gronkowski, the champs had all their receivers. Solely Mike Evans will present for the rematch, and it’s not a lock linebackers Shaq Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Lavonte David are again. The Eagles had but to begin their historic streak of 175-yard speeding video games at this level. Technically, this can be a rematch, however extra like a boxing rematch years after the primary encounter.

EAGLES GRADE: F | at Buccaneers (Solar.)

 

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Cowboys draw quick straw in wild-card spherical

Cowboys draw short straw in wild-card round

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports activities

Walloping a backup-flooded Eagles lineup issues little for the Cowboys, who wrapped up a No. 1 regular-season DVOA rating. However the 49ers (sixth in DVOA) confirmed Sunday they’re the perfect of the three NFC wild-card groups. Whereas the No. 4-seeded Rams will catch the Cardinals at a very good time, the No. 3-slotted Cowboys will face a 49ers staff that may roll out this matchup’s greatest O-lineman (Trent Williams), go rusher ( Nick Bosa), and weapon (Deebo Samuel). Dallas’ prior accidents make its No. 16 run-defense rating much less related, however San Francisco’s No. 7-ranked floor assault is in the identical boat. It is a powerful draw and a fantastic get for Nickelodeon.

COWBOYS GRADE: A | vs. 49ers (Solar.)

 

Another Melvin Ingram Steelers revenge spot

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports activities

Sixth-round compensation modified the Chiefs’ fortunes. Their scuffling protection, which featured the misguided Chris Jones-at-end experiment, landed Ingram after a low-level commerce with the Steelers. Stats don’t reveal Ingram’s affect, with the ex-Charger Professional Bowler ending the common season with one sack as a Chief in 9 video games. However he allowed Jones to maneuver inside and supplied an skilled Frank Clark complement. This formulation bit the Broncos, who noticed Ingram win a Melvin collision by stripping Melvin Gordon to arrange Nick Bolton’s fumble-six. The Steelers didn’t want Ingram, however they could pay for that commerce Sunday.

CHIEFS GRADE: B-minus | NEXT: vs. Steelers (Solar.)

 

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New Broncos GM should break unhealthy streak

New Broncos GM must break bad streak

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports activities

John Elway made a whole lot of robust selections to arrange the Broncos’ dominance within the first half of the 2010s. Sadly for the Broncos, his Vance Joseph-over-Kyle Shanahan choice in 2017 lingers. Vic Fangio bumped into worse luck than Joseph. His poor game-management expertise, on show through his choice to kick a subject objective down seven inside 5 minutes to play Saturday, undercut his defensive chops. New GM George Paton assembled a top quality 2021 draft however now should determine a brand new head coach, new OC, and QB. The Broncos (7-10) are certainly shut, however their subsequent play-caller — which in all probability will probably be their subsequent HC — will decide how shortly they’ll escape this now-lengthy skid.

BRONCOS GRADE: B-minus 

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