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Jason Behnken/Associated Press

The NFL is football’s highest pinnacle. The absolute apex of the sport.

Allegedly, anyway.

If there was a theme to Week 5 (at least early), it was one word.


Sloppy works too.

Whether it was in Miami or New York, Pittsburgh or Tampa, to say that Week 5’s games were not crisply played is an understatement—including a Faustian nightmare of a contest in Cleveland that may have set the sport back 20 years.

There were exceptions, to be sure, whether it was an impressive performance at home by the Philadelphia Eagles or an even more impressive showing by the Carolina Panthers on the road. And teams like the New England Patriots will take an ugly win over a well-played defeat any day.

But for the most part the style points were few and far between in Week 5.

With another week of NFL action in the books it’s time to hand out grades, both for this week and the season to date.

We’ll see how much that lack of sizzle across the league affects them.


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Michael Perez/Associated Press

Week 5 Opponent: at Philadelphia Eagles

Score: Lost 34-7

It’s safe to say the Arizona Cardinals wish they had never gotten on the plane to fly to Pennsylvania after getting waxed by the Eagles on Sunday.

The game was, in many respects, a microcosm of the problems facing the 2-3 Redbirds this year. Without David Johnson in the backfield, the Cardinals offense has become one-dimensional. Opponents know Arizona can’t run the ball, so they are pinning their ears back and coming after Carson Palmer.

That Palmer was only sacked twice by the Eagles is actually an improvement given that no quarterback has spent more time on his back this season. But as with every game this year, Palmer was under duress for much of the contest.

If there was a surprise in this one, it was the ease with which Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz and Philly tailback LeGarrette Blount carved up a defense that entered Week 5 ranked seventh in the NFL.

The Arizona defense has tried to overcome the team’s offensive issues—tried to keep it in games.

The defense just couldn’t hold against the Eagles. And if there was any doubt before, it’s been put to rest.

The Cardinals are in trouble.


Week 5 Grade: D

Season Grade: C-

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Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Week 5 Opponent: Bye Week

Score: N/A

Generally, NFL teams like for the bye week to come later than Week 5. But for the Atlanta Falcons, the timing couldn’t have been better.

The Falcons suffered their first loss of 2017 last week, falling to the Buffalo Bills 23-17. Injury was added to insult in the game, as Atlanta lost its top two receivers in the defeat.

It appears Mohamed Sanu will be sidelined for a few weeks by his hamstring pull, but, per James Parks of 247Sports, Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn indicated that Julio Jones should be able to play through his hip injury after the bye.

Over the first three weeks of the 2017 season, the defending NFC champions looked to be the class of the conference yet again.

Last week’s loss served as an object lesson in just how fragile success can be in the NFL, but assuming Jones returns in Week 6, the Falcons should be able to get back on track at home against the Miami Dolphins.


Week 5 Grade: N/A

Season Grade: B+

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Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

Week 5 Opponent: at Oakland Raiders

Score: Won 30-17

Week 5 may seem a little early in the season to call a team “desperate,” but after getting blasted two weeks in a row a reeling Baltimore Ravens team badly needed a win.

Sunday afternoon in Oakland, it was the Ravens who did the blasting.

The Ravens raced to a 21-3 lead over the Oakland Raiders and backup quarterback EJ Manuel before holding on for a 13-point win, and in doing so the team righted (at least temporarily) many of the wrongs that had dogged them the last two games.

After managing just 16 points combined, Joe Flacco and the Baltimore offense threw 23 on the board in the Black Hole. The Ravens got their ground game going, topping 140 rushing yards. And the Baltimore defense played their best game in weeks, notching three sacks and returning a fumble for a score.

The win lifted the Ravens to 3-2, and with rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and the Chicago Bears coming to town next week the Ravens have gone from flailing to tied for first place in the span of 60 minutes.


Week 5 Grade: B

Season Grade: C+

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Gary Landers/Associated Press

Week 5 Opponent: at Cincinnati Bengals

Score: Lost 20-16

Over the season’s first month, the Buffalo Bills were one of the NFL’s more pleasant surprises—a 3-1 squad in first place after a huge win over the Atlanta Falcons.

Billserella turned back into a pumpkin Sunday in Cincinnati.

Against a Bengals team whose only win on the season was over the hapless Cleveland Browns, the Bills offense looked flat and listless in a four-point loss. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor managed just 166 passing yards and posted a passer rating of less than 63.6. Tailback LeSean McCoy was held to just 3.3 yards a carry. And the team lost tight end Charles Clay to a potentially serious knee injury.

Yes, the Bills defense played relatively well. And any supporter of the Bills who wouldn’t be happy with a 3-2 start wasn’t being realistic.

But in the Super Bowl era, over 70 percent of the teams that started a season 4-1 have gone on to make the playoffs—something the Bills haven’t done this century.

So it’s hard not to see this as something of a squandered opportunity ahead of Buffalo’s bye week.


Week 5 Grade: C-

Season Grade: B-

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Jose Juarez/Associated Press

Week 5 Opponent: at Detroit Lions

Score: Won 27-24

It isn’t necessarily reflected in the score, but a strong argument can be made that the best performance of Week 5 belongs to Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers.

Rather than answering questions about their big win over the New England Patriots in Week 4, the Panthers spent the past week embroiled in a controversy from Newton’s ill-advised quip early in the week to a female beat writer.

Early in Sunday’s meeting with the Lions in Motown, the Panthers looked out of sync. The team found itself in an early hole, thanks in large part to a litany of boneheaded penalties.

But rather than fall apart, Newton and the Panthers rallied, and by game’s end the Panthers rode another big passing day from the 2015 NFL MVP (355 passing yards) to a three-point victory over a good Lions team.

It marked the second 300-yard passing effort in a row from Newton, who appears to be rounding into form after offseason shoulder surgery and a choppy start to the 2017 season.

Don’t look now, but the Panthers are a bad home loss to the New Orleans Saints away from a 5-0 start—and getting better by the week.

The Atlanta Falcons have some company atop the NFC South.


Week 5 Grade: A-

Season Grade: A-

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Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Week 5 Opponent: vs, Minnesota Vikings (MNF)

Score: N/A

The future is now in the Windy City. Mitchell Trubisky, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft, will make the first start of his career Monday night when the Bears welcome in their NFC North rivals from Minnesota.

The Bears will be graded after that contest.

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Gary Landers/Associated Press

Week 5 Opponent: vs. Buffalo Bills

Score: Won 20-16

After they lost their first three games (including two where they failed to find the end zone), the Cincinnati Bengals were through. Finished. Kaput.

As it turns out, reports of their demise may have been exaggerated.

After downing the Bills at a rainy Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday, the Bengals have now won two games in a row. And compliments of Pittsburgh’s face-plant at home against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cincinnati is just one game out of first place.

And that’s with the Steelers next up after the Bengals’ Week 6 bye.

Was it a flawless win? Not even close. Two passes intended for A.J. Green were intercepted, and the star wideout fumbled another.

But since making a change at offensive coordinator, the Bengals are 2-1—with the one loss a near-upset of the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field—and have kept their season from going totally off the rails.

There’s positive momentum heading into the bye week for a team written off not too long ago.


Week 5 Grade: B-

Season Grade: C+

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David Richard/Associated Press

Week 5 Opponent: vs. New York Jets

Score: Lost 17-14

In his first game action of 2017, Myles Garrett looked the part of a No. 1 overall pick, racking up two sacks for the Cleveland Browns.

That’s the good news for the team.

All of it.

OK, that’s not technically true. There was a short window in the third quarter when the Browns led against the New York Jets. It was the first time all season the Browns played with a lead.

It didn’t last.

The Browns are terrible on a level that inspires a migraine. The team had opportunity after opportunity to score points in the first half and repeatedly came up empty. Before getting benched, DeShone Kizer turned the ball over twice inside the Jets’ 5-yard line.

If there was any question about which NFL team is the worst, the Browns answered it emphatically on Sunday.

When it comes to being terrible, nobody out-does the Browns.

This looks like a team that wants to finish what it started a year ago—by going 0-16.


Week 5 Grade: F-

Season Grade: F

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Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Week 5 Opponent: vs. Green Bay Packers

Score: Lost 35-31

The Dallas Cowboys are a talented team that lost just three games in 2016 en route to an NFC East championship.

The Dallas Cowboys are also a team that’s already lost three games this year that just squandered a double-digit second-half lead for the second week in a row.

The issue isn’t Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys offense. They’re moving up and down the field almost at will.

The problem is, so are their opponents. Part of that is no doubt the absence of leading tackler Sean Lee the past couple of games, but the Cowboys just haven’t been able to seal the deal, either against the Los Angeles Rams last week or the Packers on Sunday.

The Cowboys have their bye week in Week 6, which will hopefully allow Lee’s hamstring to heal. If not, they might be able to hold on in Week 7 without him against the winless 49ers.

After that, though, comes a brutal four-game stretch (at Washington, Kansas City, at Atlanta, Philadelphia), and if the Cowboys don’t get the defense squared away PDQ, a playoff repeat could go right down the tubes.


Week 5 Grade: C+

Season Grade: C+

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Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Week 5 Opponent: Bye Week

Score: N/A

There’s good news and bad news for the Denver Broncos in their bye week.

The good news is that the first month of the season turned out pretty well, all things considered. The team sits at 3-1 after last week’s 16-10 win over the Oakland Raiders. The defense has been its usually stout self, ranking first in the NFL at 260.8 yards allowed per game entering Week 5.

The offense has been better than expected as well. Trevor Siemian has thrown for nearly 900 yards and posted a passer rating of 90. Tailback C.J. Anderson is on pace to rush for over 1,300 yards.

The bad news is that the schedule tightens up considerably after the bye. After hosting the New York Giants in Week 6, the Broncos play three straight on the road, including a trip to Arrowhead to face the undefeated Chiefs. Then comes a home date with the Super Bowl champion Patriots.

By the halfway point of the season, we’ll know for sure whether Denver is for real.


Week 5 Grade: N/A

Season Grade: B

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Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Week 5 Opponent: vs. Carolina Panthers

Score: Lost 27-24

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford may need a juju recharge. A mojo transfusion.

Because for the second time in three weeks, Captain Comeback’s last-second comeback bid over an NFC South team came up short at Ford Field.

The glass-half-full crowd will point to Detroit’s two close losses and say the team is a couple of plays here and a controversial call there away from being undefeated.

But there are some distressing trends developing.

The Lions’ three wins this season all came against teams that currently sit at .500 or worse. They’ve beaten injury-ravaged Vikings and Cardinals teams and a winless New York Giants squad that’s been ravaged by everything this side of a plague of frogs.

Against the Atlanta Falcons and Panthers, though, it was a different story. The Lions have struggled mightily running the football, fallen behind and then tried (and failed) to mount the sort of fourth-quarter comebacks that propelled them to the playoffs in 2016.

This isn’t to say that the Lions are a bad team. But there’s been little to indicate that they are an especially good one, either.


Week 5 Grade: C+

Season Grade: C+

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Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Week 5 Opponent: at Dallas Cowboys

Score: Won 35-31

The Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys single-handedly made up for the slopfest of Sunday’s early slate, staging another instant classic in Texas.

During that game, we discovered that when Aaron Rodgers hangs them up, the Packers quarterback could pursue a career in cardiology.

He seems to be really good at cutting hearts out.

Rodgers’ last-minute, game-winning drive had everything we’ve come to expect from No. 12. Late heroics. Precision passes. And a long scramble to set up a game-winning touchdown pass two plays later.

The 13th-year veteran now has a league-leading 13 scoring strikes, and in the second half of games he’s tossed nine touchdown passes without an interception.

Rodgers wasn’t the only hero of the win—rookie tailback Aaron Jones impressed, and wideout Davante Adams shined just 10 days after being hospitalized with a concussion—but when Dallas scored with just over a minute to go to take the lead, no one was thinking about those players.

Many people were thinking about Rodgers—and wondering if Dallas had left him too much time.

As it turns out, um….yup.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.


Week 5 Grade: A

Season Grade: A-

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Bob Levey/Getty Images

Week 5 Opponent: vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Score: Lost 42-34

It would be great to say there are positive takeaways from Houston’s loss to the Chiefs on Sunday.

Rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson tied an NFL record for first-year players with five touchdown passes. Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins continued making his fantasy owners positively giddy, reeling in three of those scores.

And to their credit, Watson and the Texans fought until the final gun.

But there’s just one takeaway from this game for Houston—disaster.

As Jeremy Bergman reported for, star defensive end J.J. Watt left the game in the first quarter with what’s been diagnosed as a tibial plateau fracture—a season-ending injury (again) for the three-time Defensive Player of the Year.

That came after outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus suffered a chest injury. Without their two best pass-rushers on the field, the Texans were powerless to stop the Chiefs from doing as they pleased offensively.

Now it looks like a Texans team that rode its defense to a division crown a year ago (without Watt) will go as far as its new quarterback takes them.

Sunday, it wasn’t far enough.


Week 5 Grade: C+

Season Grade: B-

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AJ Mast/Associated Press

Week 5 Opponent: vs. San Francisco 49ers

Score: Won 26-23 (OT)

OK, let’s just get this out of the way.

The Jacoby Brissett era in Indianapolis isn’t going to make anyone forget about Andrew Luck, who will hopefully return to the field in a few weeks.

But to his credit, given that Brissett has only been with the team for about six weeks, the youngster also hasn’t been horrible.

Against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Brissett made a few plays with his legs, rushing for a score. He also had another big day throwing to T.Y. Hilton, who piled up 177 receiving yards in the Colts’ overtime victory.

Sure, Brissett’s two wins have come against teams that have exactly zero wins in 10 tries this year. But the Colts didn’t make this schedule any more than they asked for Luck to get hurt. And had you told Chuck Pagano that Brissett would split his four starts, there’s no doubt Pagano would have taken it.

The Colts may not be a playoff contender, but they aren’t out of the mix—especially in the worst division in the NFL.

Credit to Brissett for that at least.


Week 5 Grade: C

Season Grade: C-

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Don Wright/Associated Press

Week 5 Opponent: at Pittsburgh Steelers

Score: Won 30-9

The Jacksonville Jaguars should petition the NFL for a move to the AFC North.

Two weeks after blowing the doors off the Baltimore Ravens in London, the Jaguars once again blasted a team from the north, riding a career day from rookie tailback Leonard Fournette and a huge performance from their defense to a 30-9 win in Pittsburgh.

At this point, it’s safe to say Jacksonville’s defense is legit. It entered Week 5 allowing a league-low 147 passing yards a game, and while Ben Roethlisberger had 312 passing yards, he also threw a handful of interceptions.

And I do mean a handful—as in five. Two of them were returned for touchdowns.

As to whether the Jaguars as a team are a playoff contender, that’s less certain. Blake Bortles attempted just 14 passes for less than 100 yards with a pick. And sandwiched in between those impressive wins over the Ravens and Steelers was an overtime loss to the New York Jets.

Are the Jaguars good? Maybe. Are they better? Absolutely.


Week 5 Grade: A

Season Grade: B

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Tim Warner/Getty Images

Week 5 Opponent: at Houston Texans

Score: Won 42-34

The Kansas City Chiefs are, as Week 5 draws to a close, the best team in the National Football League. They showed that yet again in handling the Houston Texans on Sunday night in a game that wasn’t as close as the score.

The offense is as dangerous as any in the NFL. Hold rookie Kareem Hunt in check (as the Texans did for the most part until the game was out of hand), and Alex Smith will pick you to pieces. Even without star tight end Travis Kelce on the field (Kelce is in the concussion protocol), the Chiefs were unstoppable, as role players like De’Anthony Thomas and Charcandrick West found the end zone.

Smith now has 11 touchdown passes without an interception, and the Chiefs haven’t turned the ball over since the first series of their season opener.

The Texans just had no answer. The Chiefs were an impressive 9-of-16 on third down and possessed the ball for over 38 minutes.

But wait, there’s more!

Once teams fall behind (and this year they all do), outside linebacker Justin Houston can pin his ears back and make quarterbacks miserable. Houston added another 1.5 sacks to his rapidly growing total of 5.5, and he’s now reached the passer in every game but one.

Over the next month, the Chiefs face a daunting slate of games—Pittsburgh, at Oakland, Denver and at Dallas.

Don’t bet against them against any of those opponents.


Week 5 Grade: A-

Season Grade: A

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Seth Wenig/Associated Press

Week 5 Opponent: at New York Giants

Score: Won 27-22

There were some positives for the Los Angeles Chargers at MetLife Stadium on Sunday—not the least of which was leaving the ranks of the winless with a come-from-behind victory over the Giants.

Tailback Melvin Gordon had easily his best of the season, amassing over 150 total yards and reeling in two of Philip Rivers’ three touchdown passes.

Defensive ends Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram continued staking their claim to the mantle of the NFL’s best duo at the position, piling up four sacks. It was Ingram’s strip-sack late that set up the Bolts for the game-winning touchdown.

However, there’s also some harsh realities that take some of the shine off the win.

For starters, their run defense remains horrible. They entered Week 5 allowing 163.5 yards per game. On Sunday, they gave up 152 to a Giants team that had been averaging all of 59.3 yards on the ground.

They were able to beat an injury-ravaged New York team for their first win. The Chargers might even be able to get past the Derek Carr-less Oakland Raiders next week given how EJ Manuel looked against the Baltimore Ravens (assuming Carr is sidelined again).

But after that comes a home game with the Denver Broncos and a trip to New England.

And a 2-6 record (at best) at the halfway point.


Week 5 Grade: C+

Season Grade: D

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Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Week 5 Opponent: vs. Seattle Seahawks

Score: Lost 16-10

This is one of the harder grades of the week.

On one hand, the Los Angeles Rams didn’t look good in their loss to the Seattle Seahawks. The NFL’s most prolific offense was completely stymied. Quarterback Jared Goff failed to throw a touchdown pass, tossed two picks and lost a fumble. So did tailback Todd Gurley, who barely managed three yards a carry.

In all the Rams turned it over five times—the kiss of death for any NFL team.

However, it’s also worth noting that we’re talking about a young Rams team off to a better start than anyone could have reasonably expected who was going up against the 14-time defending NFC West champions.

That number is an approximation.

Just as it would be an overreaction to have crowned the Rams a playoff team had they knocked off the Seattle Seahawks, it would be equally so to call them a fraud because they lost to a team everyone would have expected them to a month ago.

Let’s go with a young team that looked the part in Week 5—and reserve further judgment until they face a similarly overperforming Jacksonville Jaguars team a week from now.


Week 5 Grade: C

Season Grade: B

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Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

Week 5 Opponent: vs. Tennessee Titans

Score: Won 16-10

The Miami Dolphins won their second game of 2017 on Sunday, downing the Matt Cassel-led Tennessee Titans 16-10.

But if ever there was a game that qualified as an ugly win, it’s this one.

As a matter of fact, it was hideous.

It was slightly less enjoyable than watching your own arm hair grow. The Miami offense, as it has been essentially the entire season, was terrible. Jay Cutler completed fewer than half of his passes for under 100 yards—and those numbers don’t tell the story of just how badly he played.

What exactly is it that Cutler offers the Miami offense that Matt Moore doesn’t? I’ll wait while you figure that one out.

A win’s a win. They all count the same. Insert cliche here.

But this is a deeply flawed offensive team that’s now averaging a whopping 10.25 points scored per game. A Dolphins squad that has to go to Atlanta next week to play the defending NFC champions.

Adam Gase might well be a great offensive coach. But unless he’s part superhero and part miracle worker, Miami is going to get smoked in Week 6 in Atlanta.

So enjoy this “win” while it lasts.


Week 5 Grade: C

Season Grade: D

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Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Week 5 Opponent: at Chicago Bears (MNF)

Score: N/A

The Minnesota Vikings got some good news ahead of their NFC North matchup in Chicago Monday night. Per ESPN, head coach Mike Zimmer indicated that starting quarterback Sam Bradford is expected to play for the first time since Week 1.

The Vikings will be graded after the game.

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Phelan Ebenhack/Associated Press

Week 5 Opponent: at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Score: Won 19-14

Week 5 was a good week for the New England Patriots, in that they chalked up a win in Tampa Bay.

That was just about all that made it a good week.

A Patriots team that entered the season as the overwhelming favorite to represent the AFC in Super Bowl LII looks like a deeply flawed club that will probably still win a weak AFC East only to get rolled in the playoffs just like it did on opening night.

If there’s been a worse Pats defense in the Bill Belichick era than the porous mess they’re trotting out in 2017, this writer can’t remember it. Jameis Winston was the fifth quarterback in as many games to top 300 passing yards. That they only gave up two scores says more about Tampa’s inability to finish than anything New England did.

The Patriots’ leading tackler is free safety Devin McCourty. That’s what you call a red flag.

Quarterback Tom Brady knows full well that New England’s defense is awful. So he’s pressing—forcing passes he normally wouldn’t. Making mistakes. Turning the ball over.

Never mind the beating he’s taking behind a bad offensive line.

If Tampa had anything resembling a professional kicker, the Patriots would be 2-3.

Supporters of the Pats will point to all their championships and proclaim that Belichick and Brady will figure it out. That the “Patriot Way” will triumph and New England will get it together.

But the past won’t fix the present.

And through five weeks, the present’s rather a mess.


Week 5 Grade: C+

Season Grade: B-

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Henry Browne/Getty Images

Week 5 Opponent: Bye Week

Score: N/A

The more things change in the Big Easy, the more they stay the same.

Or at least it appeared that way over the first two weeks of the season, when the Minnesota Vikings and New England Patriots moved the ball at will on New Orleans.

The past two weeks were a different story, though. The Saints blew out the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte in Week 3 and then allowed just 186 total yards in a 20-0 shutout of the Miami Dolphins.

Yes, the New Orleans Saints pitched a shutout.

With the Saints a somewhat surprising 2-2 heading into their bye, the week off is all about getting players with nagging injuries healthy and trying to find a way to keep that defensive momentum going.

It isn’t going to be easy. The Saints will face a stiff post-bye opponent when the 3-2 Detroit Lions come to town in Week 6. Then comes the true litmus test—a journey to Lambeau Field to square off with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.

If the Saints can even split those games, it may be time to start taking them seriously as a dark-horse postseason contender.


Week 5 Grade: N/A

Season Grade: B-

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Seth Wenig/Associated Press

Week 5 Opponent: vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Score: Lost 27-22

The New York Giants have officially hit rock bottom.

It’s not just a matter of Sunday’s loss to the previously winless Los Angeles Chargers—a loss that drops a Giants team that made the playoffs last year to 0-5.

No, believe it or not, it gets worse from there.

To say that insult was added to injury for the Giants doesn’t begin to cover the disaster that befell Big Blue at wide receiver in Week 5.

Youngster Sterling Shepard? Hurt.

Veteran Brandon Marshall? Injured.

Superstar pass-catcher Odell Beckham? Per the team, he suffered a broken ankle that will all but surely end his season.

Of course, it’s not like New York’s season wasn’t already over. We were already talking about a team that couldn’t run the ball or pass-protect on offense and had regressed significantly on defense.

Watching its best offensive player leave the field on a cart sobbing in the fourth quarter was just the final straw. One more indignity in a season filled with them.

And there are still 11 depressing games to go.


Week 5 Grade: D

Season Grade: F

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Ron Schwane/Associated Press

Week 5 Opponent: at Cleveland Browns

Score: Won 17-14

The New York Jets are tied for first place in the AFC East after five games this season.

The fact that’s a true statement is either a testament to how wild and wacky the NFL can be or a harbinger of the impending apocalypse.

Or maybe both.

It isn’t that the Jets played well against the Cleveland Browns. The team managed fewer than 250 total yards of offense against one of the worst defenses in the NFL.

But in a race to the bottom, the Browns just wanted the loss more than the Jets did.

And while the Jets deserve to be commended for exceeding expectations this year (and then some), Gang Green’s third win also begs a question.

What does it accomplish?

The Jets are at the beginning of a ground-up rebuild. They aren’t going to make the postseason in 2017. And every win they chalk up knocks them further down the draft order in 2018.

In effect, a Jets team some believed was the worst in the NFL entering 2017 is losing by winning.

That’s a very Jets thing to do.


Week 5 Grade: C

Season Grade: C+

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Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Week 5 Opponent: vs. Baltimore Ravens

Score: Lost 30-17

The sky is falling in Oakland.

Some may think that’s hyperbolic, but the truth is that after dropping its third straight game Sunday, an Oakland team that looked like possibly the class of the AFC is now in jeopardy of falling way off the pace in a loaded AFC West.

Yes, the Raiders were without quarterback Derek Carr against the Ravens. But the blame for Sunday’s loss isn’t EJ Manuel’s alone.

It’s not Manuel’s fault that tailback Marshawn Lynch rushed for just 43 yards on 12 carries, once again looking his age.

It’s not Manuel’s fault he was under duress much of the day playing behind an O-line that hasn’t performed to expectations.

And it isn’t Manuel’s fault that the Raiders couldn’t get stops late, allowing nearly 150 yards on the ground. Or that they are allowing over 24 points a game during their losing streak.

The Raiders were supposed to be one of the leading challengers to the New England Patriots in the AFC this year, and there’s no question they need Carr back ASAP.

But they don’t look like a Super Bowl threat right now.


Week 5 Grade: D+

Season Grade: C

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Michael Perez/Associated Press

Week 5 Opponent: vs. Arizona Cardinals

Score: Won 34-7

The Week 5 “Buzzsaw of the Week” award goes to the Philadelphia Eagles, who opened the proverbial can on an overmatched Arizona Cardinals team to move to 4-1 on the season.

You name it, the Eagles did it well Sunday. Carson Wentz continued his second-year explosion, piling up over 300 passing yards and four touchdowns. The Eagles rolled for over 120 yards on the ground. The defense stymied an Arizona passing attack that entered Week 5 second in the NFL.

It was a dominant, complete effort—one that sent a message.

And that message is that the Eagles look like the best team in the NFC East in 2017.

Just like we all predicted, said next to no one.

The Eagles have a quarterback in Wentz who has made huge strides in his sophomore season. A multi-headed rushing attack that hasn’t missed a beat since Darren Sproles got hurt. A deep and talented receiving corps. And arguably the best combination of offensive and defensive lines in all of the NFL.

The Eagles are for real, folks.

And this Thursday’s tilt with the Carolina Panthers could be the biggest game of Week 6.


Week 5 Grade: A+

Season Grade: A-

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Don Wright/Associated Press

Week 5 Opponent: vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Score: Lost 30-9

Fresh off a 26-9 waxing of the division-rival Ravens, the 3-1 Steelers were riding high heading into Sunday’s matchup at Heinz Field with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Sure, there were grumblings of discord between wide receiver Antonio Brown and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but when rattling off a list of the AFC’s top teams, the Steelers were being mentioned alongside the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots more often than not.

They came crashing back to earth in Week 5—and then some.

The Steelers didn’t just lose to the Jags. They were bludgeoned from start to finish. Roethlisberger threw a mind-boggling five interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. Leonard Fournette rolled over the Steelers’ second-ranked defense for 181 yards and two scores, including a 90-yarder that put the exclamation point on the most surprising shellacking of 2017.

The Jaguars entered Week 5 with the NFL’s best pass defense and worst run defense—information that spurred Mike Tomlin to dial up 55 pass attempts versus 15 carries for Le’Veon Bell.

Maybe it was an aberration. Maybe the Steelers will get back on track next week. But given how they looked Sunday at home and the fact they travel to Arrowhead next week to face the Chiefs, betting the rent on it wouldn’t be advisable.


Week 5 Grade: F

Season Grade: B-

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Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Week 5 Opponent: at Indianapolis Colts

Score: Lost 26-23 (OT)

There are different types of despair for fans of the NFL’s winless teams.

There’s the “what happened” surprise agony being experienced by fans of the New York Giants, who came into 2017 with aspirations of a Super Bowl trip.

There’s the all-encompassing hopelessness of fans of the Cleveland Browns, who have turned losing into a bizarre sort of performance art.

Then there’s the “so close but yet so far” pain being felt by supporters of the San Francisco 49ers, who fell in overtime to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 5.

Since a Week 1 home loss to the Carolina Panthers, the 49ers have lost four games by a total of 11 points. Three of those excruciating losses have come on the road.

If you’re into moral victories, the 49ers have at least shown some fight—signs of improvement in Kyle Shanahan’s first year as head coach. Against the Colts, Brian Hoyer topped 300 yards through the air with two touchdowns and zero interceptions, and rookie tight end George Kittle (7/83/1) emerged as a nice weapon underneath for him.

But whether it’s the inability to score on a late drive or (as on Sunday) to stop the other guy from doing it, the Niners keep coming up short.

At least in doing so, they aren’t messing up their shot at the No. 1 overall pick in 2018.

Hey…you take the “wins” where you can get them.


Week 5 Grade: C-

Season Grade: D

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Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Week 5 Opponent: at Los Angeles Rams

Score: Won 16-10

Someone should really tell the Seattle Seahawks that the NFL season starts in September.

Once again, the Seahawks came out of the gate slow this season. And yet here we are, in the second week of October, and lo and behold the Seahawks are in first place in the NFC West.

To be fair, their six-point win in Los Angeles wasn’t a flashy one. The Seattle offense was inconsistent again, largely because its offensive line wasn’t. It was once again consistently bad.

But the “Legion of Boom” held the NFL’s highest-scoring team over the first month of the 2017 season to just 10 points, forcing five turnovers in the process.

So long as that defense plays at that level, the Seahawks are going to be in every game. This is a team that’s made a habit in recent years of getting hot later in the year.

And with a win over an improved Rams team that’s been a thorn in the Seahawks’ side even when it wasn’t good, Seattle just grabbed an early tiebreak edge.

Like there was ever any real doubt who was going to win that division.


Week 5 Grade: B+

Season Grade: B

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Phelan Ebenhack/Associated Press

Week 5 Opponent: vs. New England Patriots

Score: Lost 19-14

In the NFL, good teams find a way to win when they aren’t playing their best. They take advantage of their opponent’s flaws and mistakes.

If Thursday night’s loss was any indication, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are not an especially good team.

Despite playing at home against the worst defense in the NFL, the Bucs managed just 14 points against the Patriots. Yes, Jameis Winston topped 300 passing yards, but the Buccaneers didn’t convert a third down until the third quarter. Tampa didn’t get the vertical passing game going until the last 15 minutes against a secondary that hasn’t stopped anyone this year.

And the kicking—great googly moogly, the kicking. Nick Folk missed all three field goals, and while the 56-yarder is excusable, the misses from 49 and 31 are not. Over the past two weeks, Folk is 2-of-7.

An injury-ravaged Tampa defense played better than anyone could have reasonably expected. This was a game the Buccaneers could have won. Maybe should have won.

But the offense and special teams couldn’t get it done.

The Bucs have alternated wins and losses over their first four games. One week, they look like contenders. The next, they look like pretenders.

That sort of inconsistency is another trait that good teams don’t possess.


Week 5 Grade: D+

Season Grade: C

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Joel Auerbach/Associated Press

Week 5 Opponent: at Miami Dolphins

Score: Lost 16-10

On some level, the Tennessee Titans sort of deserve a mulligan of sorts for their loss at Miami in Week 5, especially with quarterback Marcus Mariota sidelined by a bad hammy.

However, it’s Tennessee’s own fault that it entered the 2017 season believing that Matt Cassel could serve as the backup quarterback.

And Cassel or no, losing to a Miami team with arguably the NFL’s most anemic offense is not a good look.

Also, while Cassel wasn’t very good (141 yards, passing TD, fumble lost), he isn’t the sole reason the Titans are 2-3 and struggling to score points.

Tennessee entered Week 5 inside the NFL’s top 10 in rushing, but just as in last week’s loss to Houston, the Titans couldn’t get on track there against the Dolphins. On the day, they gained less than 70 yards on the ground.

With the Jaguars exceeding expectations and even the Colts getting a win in Week 5 (as well as hoping to have Andrew Luck back soon), the Titans need to get Mariota back on the field and their offense moving.

Or a season that began with promise could get away from them.


Week 5 Grade: D

Season Grade: C-

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Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

Week 5 Opponent: Bye Week

Score: N/A

For the Washington Redskins, the bye week will be about trying to forget about the one that got away.

The final score is skewed by a fluke play, but the reality is that the Redskins had a late lead on the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs on the road last week but couldn’t hold it. Had their defense stiffened and not allowed the Chiefs to drive and kick a game-winning field goal, we might be talking about the 3-1 Redskins as one of the better teams in the NFC.

After all, this is a Washington team that throttled the Oakland Raiders at home the Week before and got a road win over a sneaky-good Rams team the week before that.

But the Redskins aren’t 3-1. They’re 2-2, a team with a top-10 offense that can score points and a top-12 defense that could be without star cornerback Josh Norman for some time.

Given those rankings, the Redskins should probably have a better record. But the timing of their lapses on both sides of the ball has been lousy. their mistakes, while not overly plentiful, have been costly.

Coming out of the bye, the Redskins will have a solid shot at getting above .500 against the San Francisco 49ers, but then comes the gauntlet—trips to Philly and Seattle with a home tilt against the rival Cowboys sandwiched between.


Week 5 Grade: N/A

Season Grade: B-

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