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NFL Team Grades for Week 14 | Bleacher Report

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    Late season is the great season in the NFL. With plenty of playoff positioning at stake, Week 14 figured to be full of drama and excitement. It most certainly didn’t disappoint.

    The Kansas City Chiefs barely escaped Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens in an overtime thriller, while the Dallas Cowboys won with a wacky walk-off touchdown in their overtime game. A banged-up Pittsburgh Steelers team got upset by the Oakland Raiders, while the New England Patriots lost on one of the wildest final plays you’re likely to see.

    There was plenty of the unexpected in Week 14, and plenty of winners and losers to go around. Let’s take a look at how each team graded out.


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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Week 14 Opponent: Detroit Lions

    Result: Lost 17-3

    Are the Arizona Cardinals the worst team in football? That’s debatable, but Arizona is certainly one of the least interesting. That’s a bit of a shame because rookie quarterback Josh Rosen has shown flashes of potential. Unfortunately, there just isn’t much else on the roster to get excited about.

    On Sunday, the Cardinals stumbled their way to a 14-point loss against the Detroit Lions.

    It’s not like Detroit dominated Arizona. Matthew Stafford only threw for 101 yards, and the Lions only rushed for 3.9 yards per carry. But the Lions turned Rosen’s one big mistake into a pick-six and a 10-0 lead.

    Mistakes killed the Cardinals from there. They missed a field goal in the first half, had to settle for one inside the 5-yard line in the fourth and failed to convert a 4th-and-20 from midfield near the end of the game. At least Arizona got David Johnson involved in the passing game, though his eight catches resulted in just 12 yards.

    Arizona is simply a nondescript team in the running for the top pick in next year’s draft.

    Week 14 Grade: F

    Season Grade: D-

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    Week 14 Opponent: Green Bay Packers

    Result: Lost 34-20

    The Atlanta Falcons have stumbled often during the 2018 season, and they did so against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

    Despite jumping out to an early 7-0 lead, the Falcons then fell into a 27-7 hole. Though the defense didn’t give up regular chunks of yardage—as it has often done this season—it did allow Green Bay to engineer long, sustained drives.

    Matt Ryan passed for 262 yards and three touchdowns, but he also had a pass intercepted and returned for a touchdown by Bashaud Breeland.

    Atlanta has frequently come close to winning games only to lose. At one point, the Falcons were even close to looking like a playoff team. They’ve lost five in a row, though, and are firmly out of the playoff picture in the NFC.

    Week 14 Grade: D+

    Season Grade: D+

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    David Eulitt/Getty Images

    Week 14 Opponent: Kansas City Chiefs

    Result: Lost 27-24 (OT)

    If the Baltimore Ravens manage to sneak into the postseason, other AFC teams had better be on alert. Baltimore just showed it can hang with even the most explosive offensive teams, losing to the vaunted Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead by the narrowest of margins.

    A strip-sack cost the Ravens a chance to pull ahead before the end of regulation, and an injury to quarterback Lamar Jackson left third-stringer Robert Griffin III trying to lead a field-goal-matching drive in overtime.

    “I’m good,” Jackson said after the game.

    Though Kansas City did miss a 43-yard field-goal attempt just before overtime, the Ravens could easily have won this game at a couple different points. More importantly, Baltimore has its quarterback of the future in Jackson (147 yards passing and two TD passes, 71 yards rushing), a competent running back in Gus Edwards and a championship-caliber defense.

    At 7-6, the Ravens can still make a meaningful postseason run.

    Week 14 Grade: C

    Season Grade: C+

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    Week 14 Opponent: New York Jets

    Result: Lost 27-23

    Buffalo Bills rookie quarterback Josh Allen continues to flash his ability as a runner. He had another 101 yards on the ground against the New York Jets on Sunday. Unfortunately, Allen also continues to prove he has a long way to go as a passer. He completed just 50 percent of his passes and threw two terrible interceptions.

    Allen also lost a fumble that was recovered in Buffalo territory.

    Allen doesn’t deserve all of the blame for this loss. His porous offensive line constantly left him under pressure, and special teams was a disaster. Buffalo gave up two long kickoff returns that led to 10 New York points. Blocked and missed field goals took six off the board for the Bills.

    This was a total team loss, and one the Bills shouldn’t feel good about. However, if Allen can develop into a more consistent signal-caller, this will be the kind of mistake-filled game the Bills can still win in the future.

    Week 14 Grade: D

    Season Grade: D+

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    Week 14 Opponent: Cleveland Browns

    Result: Lost 26-20

    The shoulder of Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton does not appear to be 100 percent. During Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns, Newton missed several throws that we’re accustomed to watching him make.

    However, Newton’s shoulder is far from the only thing wrong with the Panthers right now.

    The defense is an issue. Although it only gave up 348 yards, it also surrendered 7.7 yards per play. Play-calling is also an issue. It’s the reason why the Panthers were stopped three times inside Cleveland’s 3-yard line on their second-to-last possession.

    Carolina simply isn’t playing up to its potential. This is a team that was once 6-2 and in prime position to push for the postseason. It’s since lost five straight and will almost certainly spend January planning for next season.

    Week 14 Grade: D

    Season Grade: C-

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    David Banks/Associated Press

    Week 14 Opponent: Los Angeles Rams

    Result: Won 15-6

    Was it pretty for the Chicago Bears? It was not. They won a sloppy, dirty, mistake-filled game thanks to their defense—and you can bet Chicago is perfectly happy to win that way.

    The Bears bullied the one-loss Los Angeles Rams for four full quarters in prime time. The defense allowed 214 yards of offense and grabbed four interceptions. Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen combined for 170 yards rushing. Chicago got some help from an L.A. field-goal attempt that hit the upright, but the Bears were able to overcome a poor performance by Mitchell Trubisky and get the win over a quality opponent.

    He finished just 16-of-30 for 110 yards and three picks of his own. That’s the big negative from this game, and it shouldn’t be overlooked. If Chicago wants to be a Super Bowl contender, it needs more consistent play out of Trubisky (though to be fair, he was coming off an injury).

    Chicago is built to win games like this in sour weather, but the team cannot expect to do so three straight times in the postseason.

    Week 14 Grade: B

    Season Grade: B

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    Week 14 Opponent: Los Angeles Chargers

    Result: Lost 26-21

    Perhaps the Cincinnati Bengals aren’t ready to give up on their season after all. After looking listless for the past several weeks, Cincinnati actually put up a pretty strong fight on the road against the Los Angeles Chargers.

    Of course, some of this may have to do with the fact Andy Dalton and A.J. Green (among others) are on injured reserve. Players like quarterback Jeff Driskel and wideout Tyler Boyd are getting their opportunities to lead the offense. There has to be a level of motivation in that.

    Unfortunately, Cincinnati lacks enough healthy talent to take on a potential title contender like Los Angeles for four full quarters.

    The Bengals did a great job of slowing the L.A. offense—it produced just 288 total yards—and keeping things close on the scoreboard. However, keeping things close isn’t enough to get a win in Los Angeles or to get Cincinnati back in the playoff picture.

    At 5-8, the Bengals now find themselves in the AFC North basement.

    Week 14 Grade: C-

    Season Grade: D+

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    Week 14 Opponent: Carolina Panthers

    Result: Won 26-20

    Barring a miracle, the Browns aren’t going to make the postseason this year. Still, they have to be happy with the progress they’ve shown this season, especially over the last few weeks. Since firing Hue Jackson, Cleveland has gone 3-2. Jackson only won three games in over two seasons as the Browns’ head coach.

    On Sunday, Cleveland beat a Panthers team that has been struggling but still possesses plenty of top-tier talent. Cleveland also showed that it has some pretty strong talent of its own.

    If you’re tired of hearing about rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield, you’d better get used to it. He’s brought an energy and a confidence to the offense that the Browns haven’t had since at least 2007. He was responsible for some huge passing plays against Carolina, and he finished 18-of-22 for 238 yards and a touchdown.

    Defensively, the Browns got contributions from guys like Myles Garrett and Terrance Mitchell. They held the Panthers to just 5.7 yards per play and 20 points.

    The real sign of progress for Cleveland is that it overcame a pair of turnovers to win. The 2017 Browns would have lost this game.

    Week 14 Grade: B

    Season Grade: C-

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    Week 14 Opponent: Philadelphia Eagles

    Result: Won 29-23 (OT)

    The Cowboys managed to knock off the rival Philadelphia Eagles in overtime, thanks in large part to wideout Amari Cooper. The midseason addition has transformed what the offense is capable of, and he proved that again on Sunday.

    Cooper finished with 10 catches, 217 yards receiving and three touchdowns—one of which came on a tipped pass in overtime to seal it.

    With Cooper leading the way, Dak Prescott was able to throw for a whopping 455 yards. He did have two interceptions, and all of his touchdowns went to Cooper, but Dallas was able to stretch the field more than it has all season.

    When the offense is balanced, the Cowboys are tough to beat. They have a ferocious front seven, an elite running back in Ezekiel Elliott and a top-tier pass-rusher in Demarcus Lawrence. With the win, they also have a firm grip on the NFC East.

    Week 14 Grade: B-

    Season Grade: B

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    John Hefti/Associated Press

    Week 14 Opponent: San Francisco 49ers

    Result: Lost 20-14

    Well, the Denver Broncos were on a roll. A three-game winning streak got Denver back in the playoff picture. A flat performance against the San Francisco 49ers may have knocked them out of it.

    On paper, this was a game Denver should have won. The Broncos had knocked off the Los Angeles Chargers and Pittsburgh Steelers in recent weeks. The 2-10 49ers—playing with their third-string quarterback—shouldn’t have been such a tough challenge.

    Either the Broncos overlooked the 49ers or they failed to plan for tight end George Kittle. Either way, Nick Mullens and Kittle terrorized Denver in the first half, connecting for 210 yards and a touchdown. The Broncos were able to shut Kittle down in the second half, but by then the damage was done.

    San Francisco jumped out to a 20-0 halftime, and Denver couldn’t muster enough offense to battle back. It was an uninspired outing and one that could put a cap on the season.

    Up next are the suddenly competitive Browns.

    Week 14 Grade: F

    Season Grade: C-

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Week 14 Opponent: Arizona Cardinals

    Result: Won 17-3

    Detroit has been a confusing team under Matt Patricia, but perhaps that’s by design. His former team, New England, has long been known for its adaptability from week to week. We’ve now seen the Lions look like a run-oriented team, a pass-heavy team and a defensive squad all in the same season.

    This could also be out of necessit,y too. With Marvin Jones on injured reserve (and Golden Tate in Philadelphia) and Kerryon Johnson sidelined, Detroit simply doesn’t have a lot of offensive firepower right now.

    Perennial preseason standout Zach Zenner was the offensive hero in this game. He rushed for 54 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. The defense, however, deserves most of the credit. It held Arizona to just 279 yards and three points while producing six points of its own.

    Injuries have derailed Detroit’s season—and there were plenty more of them in Week 14—and the Lions will finish at 8-8 at the absolute best. However, with a healthier team and a few more pieces on offense, Detroit could be back in the NFC North conversation next year.

    Week 14 Grade: C+

    Season Grade: C-

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    Week 14 Opponent: Atlanta Falcons

    Result: Won 34-20

    An uninspired home loss led to the firing of Packers head coach Mike McCarthy last week. This week, Green Bay came back and produced a dominant victory.

    Did the firing of McCarthy have something to do with this win? Perhaps. The play-calling was definitely a tad different than what we’ve seen in recent weeks. The Packers didn’t simply lean on Aaron Rodgers. They gave running back Aaron Jones 17 carries. They rushed for 138 yards as a team. They sustained drives and supported the defense, and yes, they did allow Rodgers to make a handful of spectacular plays.

    The end result was a comfortable two-touchdown victory.

    Had Green Bay been playing this brand of balanced ball all season, the Packers may still be in the NFC North race. As things stand, the Packers are figuring out what kind of team they should be building for 2019 and beyond.

    Week 14 Grade: B+

    Season Grade: C-

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    Michael Wyke/Associated Press

    Week 14 Opponent: Indianapolis Colts

    Result: Lost 24-21

    All good things must end. The Houston Texans had been on a winning streak ever since starting 0-3, but the Indianapolis Colts ended their streak at nine games.

    Credit goes to the Colts, because the Texans did not have a horrible game. Houston didn’t turn the ball over, and it held Indianapolis to just 50 yards rushing. The defense also forced four three-and-outs to start the game before picking off Andrew Luck in the second quarter.

    Houston simply couldn’t find a way to put the Colts away. Indianapolis battled back, scored on four straight possessions after the interception and played well enough defensively to prevent Deshaun Watson and Co. from completing the comeback.

    “We didn’t play well as an offense,” head coach Bill O’Brien said, per Sarah Barshop of “We were never able to get into a rhythm.”

    This doesn’t mean the Texans aren’t a dangerous playoff team. Houston is still in control of the AFC South, and it’s still a team the rest of the AFC needs to be wary of.

    Week 14 Grade: D+

    Season Grade: B

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    Michael Wyke/Associated Press

    Week 14 Opponent: Houston Texans

    Result: Won 24-21

    As long as Luck is under center and healthy, the Colts are going to have a chance. They got off to a terrible start against Houston, but Luck rebounded, led four consecutive scoring drives and finished with 399 passing yards.

    What’s different about this year’s Indianapolis team is that it hasn’t had to rely on Luck to do everything himself—as was often the case in his previous healthy seasons. He certainly played a little bit of hero ball against the Texans, but Luck also got help from a defense that forced four three-and-outs and helped keep the Colts in the game early and close it out late.

    Indianapolis only got 50 yards out of the rushing attack, but that’s more of an aberration than it would have been in years past. Make no mistake: This is as balanced a Colts teams as we’ve seen since Luck took over, and a lot of credit has to go to Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich.

    The Colts are still alive in the playoff race, and they’re definitely capable of pulling an upset or two in the postseason.

    Week 14 Grade: B-

    Season Grade: C+

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    Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

    Week 14 Opponent: Tennessee Titans

    Result: Lost 30-9

    Look, we get it. No one wants to tackle Derrick Henry when he’s running with a head of steam. The Jacksonville Jaguars certainly didn’t want to on Thursday night. More alarmingly, they didn’t seem to want to be on the field at all.

    The Jaguars got punched in the mouth by the Tennessee Titans early and never got back into the fight.

    Henry rushed for 238 yards and four touchdowns all by himself, while the Titans amassed 426 yards of total offense. Jaguars quarterback Cody Kessler somehow passed for 240 yards and a touchdown, despite being under constant pressure, and that’s about the only positive the Jacksonville offense can take away from this one. Jacksonville rushed for just 60 yards as a team.

    Very little has gone right for the Jaguars this season, but there’s no excuse for mailing it in against a division rival. That’s what Jacksonville did in this game, and may be what it decides to do over the final three weeks of this lost season.

    Week 14 Grade: F

    Season Grade: D

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    Week 14 Opponent: Baltimore Ravens

    Result: Won 27-24 (OT)

    While the Chiefs have stood out for their offense this season—and for good reason—the Kansas City defense deserves some credit for knocking off the Ravens.

    Yes, Patrick Mahomes made more magic while leading Kansas City to a comeback win. However, the defense also stopped the Ravens on 4th-and-1 in Chiefs territory, forced a turnover in Ravens territory and got a critical overtime stop.

    Though Baltimore did have success running the ball (198 yards), the Chiefs held them to 321 yards overall.

    Spencer Ware (15 carries, 75 yards) ran well in his second game replacing Kareem Hunt. While the Chiefs rushing attack isn’t going to be quite as explosive with Hunt gone, it should be functional moving forward.

    Most importantly, the Chiefs know they’ll be in the postseason. Sunday’s win clinched a playoff berth for Kansas City.

    Week 14 Grade: C+

    Season Grade: A-

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    Week 14 Opponent: Cincinnati Bengals

    Result: Won 26-21

    Give the Chargers some credit for maintaining their focus a week after upsetting the Pittsburgh Steelers. They traveled back home, hosted a floundering Bengals team and easily could have fallen victim to the trap game.

    With the Chiefs on tap on Thursday night, overlooking Cincinnati was a real possibility.

    However, Los Angeles managed to fight through a sloppy game against a scrappy opponent and come out on top. It wasn’t pretty by any means, but the Chargers—in particular, Philip Rivers, who finished 19-of-29 for 220 yards and a score—made the big plays when they needed them.

    Up next is that game with the Chiefs, and hopefully, the Chargers will have running back Austin Ekeler. He aggravated a neck injury late in the game, but he told Eric D. Williams of afterwards that he was fine.

    Week 14 Grade: C+

    Season Grade: B

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    Week 14 Opponent: Chicago Bears

    Result: Lost 15-6

    The Rams may have out-coached themselves against Chicago. Despite being in a close contest all game long, they chose to run Todd Gurley just 11 times. Despite a horrible game from Mitchell Trubisky, they failed to change the game plan and clamp down on Chicago’s running game.

    Other mistakes—like a missed field goal and a safety from the 8-yard line—led to this loss, but game-planning was at the center of it.

    “Consistently, over and over, I put our players in bad spots,” Rams coach Sean McVay said, per Rams insider Myles Simmons. “This loss is on me. I didn’t do nearly enough for our football team today.”

    Is this a bad loss? In the sense that it moved the New Orleans Saints back into the No. 1 seed, it is. However, the Rams can benefit from finally being tested by a strong defensive team—and you can bet they’ll approach the game differently if these two meet again.

    Week 14 Grade: D+

    Season Grade: A-

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    Week 14 Opponent: New England Patriots

    Result: Won 34-33

    Desperation pitch-back plays at the end of games almost never work. It worked for the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, though, as Kenyan Drake eventually got the ball and scored on a 69-yard play as time expired.

    The Dolphins won on a miracle of a play, and they were very fortunate to do so. However, it shouldn’t cheapen the effort Miami gave in a game it had to have. It doesn’t take away the first 28 points the Dolphins dropped or the two times in the fourth quarter Miami held the Patriots to field goals.

    Was it a perfect performance? Absolutely not. Miami allowed 421 yards of Patriots offense and rarely pressured Tom Brady. However, Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins offense matched New England score for score. In the end, having the football last—and, yes, getting a little luck—proved to be enough to steal the win.

    The Dolphins move to 7-6 and remain in play for an AFC wild-card spot. They also prevent the Patriots from clinching the AFC East for at least another week.

    Week 14 Grade: B-

    Season Grade: C+

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    Winslow Townson/Associated Press

    Week 14 Opponent: Seattle Seahawks

    When: Monday at 8:15 p.m. ET

    National TV: ESPN

    Line (viaOddsShark): SEA -3

    The Bears survived the Rams on Sunday night, which means the Minnesota Vikings now face long odds of winning the NFC North. However, they’re still in control of the No. 6 seed, and they’ll maintain that regardless of Monday night’s outcome.

    A win over the Seattle Seahawks, though, would move Minnesota into the No. 5 spot and drop Seattle to No. 6. There will be plenty to play for.

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    Week 14 Opponent: Miami Dolphins

    Result: Lost 34-33

    Being in the locker room with Bill Belichick after the Patriots blew the game in Miami must have been fun. Belichick is well-known for stressing the fundamentals, and New England fundamentally broke down while giving up the 69-yard desperation score.

    The play was the longest game-winning play from scrimmage with no time remaining since at least 1970.

    The play will stand out most from this game, but New England should be more concerned with how the rest of it unfolded. Yes, the Patriots were in position to win with just seconds remaining, but they also surrendered 28 points and 343 yards before that.

    New England has enough talent on offense to hang with anyone in the AFC. It has the goods at coach and quarterback to make it back to the Super Bowl. The question is whether it has a consistent enough defense to navigate the playoffs.

    This game was proof that on any given day, the Patriots defense can be its undoing.

    Week 14 Grade: C-

    Season Grade: B

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    Jason Behnken/Associated Press

    Week 14 Opponent: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Result: Won 28-14

    The New Orleans Saints better hope whatever funk they were in for a game-and-a-half is gone for good.

    New Orleans did little offensively last week against Dallas, and it was more of the same in the first half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Saints got down 14-3 at halftime, and they would have been down more early in the third if not for two missed field goals.

    The Saints straightened up, though, and went on a 25-0 run in the second half. It was a total team effort, as one touchdown came after a blocked punt, and two more came after defensive three-and-outs.

    Quarterback Drew Brees stilled looked a bit off with some of his throws—as he did against Dallas, and that’s a concern—but perhaps the last two weeks will serve as a wake-up call. New Orleans clinched the NFC South with this win, and the team is in control of the No. 1 seed in the conference.

    Week 14 Grade: B

    Season Grade: A

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Week 14 Opponent: Washington Redskins

    Result: Won 40-16

    If you’ve been looking for proof that the New York Giants have underachieved in 2018, Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins provided more than enough. New York absolutely dominated its division rival.

    The Giants racked up 402 yards of total offense. They also scored on five straight possessions in the second quarter—after a pick-six in the first—to jump out to a 34-0 lead. Eli Manning had perhaps his best game of the season, passing for 197 yards and three scores.

    This was the type of performance that allows fans to see why the Giants thought they could make a playoff push this season—and why they took Saquon Barkley at No. 2 instead of a quarterback.

    Barkley, by the way, rushed for 170 yards and a touchdown on just 14 carries.

    It’s really a shame that New York wasn’t able to pick up a couple more victories early in the season. The Giants have won four of their last five and now have the look of a team that would be fun in the postseason.

    Week 14 Grade: A+

    Season Grade: C-

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    Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    Week 14 Opponent: Buffalo Bills

    Result: Won 27-23

    Did Sunday bring a pretty win for the Jets? No, it didn’t. You can bet that New York will take the win, though—especially since rookie quarterback Sam Darnold had a big hand in pulling it off.

    Darnold briefly left with a foot injury but returned to help lead the Jets back from an 11-point deficit. Sure, Darnold made some mistakes (he threw another pick), but he also showed the grit needed to will his team back in the second half.

    “His composure and his poise are top-notch,” Jets receiver Jermaine Kearse said, per Darryl Slater of “He just moved on and kept it pushing.”

    At 4-9, the Jets are out of the playoff mix, but the postseason was never a realistic goal for this season. It’s always been about developing Darnold into a franchise quarterback. That is exactly what a game like this will help do.

    Week 14 Grade: B-

    Season Grade: D

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    Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

    Week 14 Opponent: Pittsburgh Steelers

    Result: Won 24-21

    On paper, the Oakland Raiders had no business winning Sunday.

    Perhaps someone forgot to tell the Raiders they’re playing in a lost season. Perhaps someone forgot to tell the Pittsburgh Steelers they’re welcome to stop blowing games in Oakland at any time. Maybe, though, Jon Gruden’s Raiders are beginning to figure things out.

    Over the last month, the Raiders have knocked off Arizona, battled back to pull within a score of the Chiefs and have now upset the Steelers. That’s quite a bit of fight for a team that appeared to have none against the 49ers in the beginning of November.

    Now, Oakland was helped by an injury to Ben Roethlisberger and some terrible game management on the part of Mike Tomlin, but a team that had truly given up wouldn’t still pull out the win.

    The Raiders may not be loaded with talent, but they have plenty of heart. Armed with three first-round picks in next year’s draft, a big influx of talent should be on the horizon.

    Week 14 Grade: C+

    Season Grade: D-

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    Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

    Week 14 Opponent: Dallas Cowboys

    Result: Lost 29-23 (OT)

    The defending Super Bowl champions aren’t completely out of the playoff race, but Sunday’s loss to the rival Cowboys certainly puts a damper on their chances. They’ve lost to Dallas twice now and would need to win out while the Cowboys go winless to take the NFC East.

    Injuries have played a role in Philadelphia’s disappointing season. The banged-up defense had no answers for Amari Cooper or Ezekiel Elliott. The two combined for more than 400 yards of offense. However, team health isn’t the only reason why the Eagles fell short against Dallas.

    The Philadelphia offense has been out of sync most of the season, and it was for long stretches on Sunday. The Eagles didn’t even get on the board until midway through the third quarter.

    There is technically still hope for Philadelphia, but it’s looking more and more like the Eagles are just the latest victims of the dreaded Super Bowl hangover.

    Week 14 Grade: C-

    Season Grade: C-

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    Week 14 Opponent: Oakland Raiders

    Result: Lost 24-21

    You can make excuses for Pittsburgh’s loss: The teams always tends to struggle in Oakland. Ben Roethlisberger left the game with a rib injury and missed most of the second half. The Steelers didn’t have running back James Conner. Kicker Chris Boswell slipped on a potential game-tying kick as time expired.

    All of these statements are true, but they don’t excuse one of the biggest letdowns of Pittsburgh’s season.

    The biggest share of blame has to go to coach Mike Tomlin, who mismanaged the game. He couldn’t get his team motivated for an inferior opponent, and he had no answers for Derek Carr and Jared Cook. His defense couldn’t stop Oakland on its final two drives, and he—in the most boneheaded move of all—refused to reinsert Roethlisberger when given the chance.

    “Probably could have come in a series or two sooner,” Tomlin said, per NFL Media’s Aditi Kinkhabwala. “But we were in the rhythm and flow of the game.”

    It’s this kind of mismanagement that has the Steelers on a three-game losing streak and in danger of missing the postseason.

    Week 14 Grade: D

    Season Grade: C+

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    John Hefti/Associated Press

    Week 14 Opponent: Denver Broncos

    Result: Won 20-14

    San Francisco has been staring down a lost season ever since quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo went down with a torn ACL. The only thing they can do here in December is play spoiler. Perhaps someone should have told Denver, because the Broncos looked like they didn’t know the 49ers were capable of doing so.

    Mullens and Kittle were on fire in the first half. Mullens passed for 271 yards and two touchdowns before the intermission, and Kittle was responsible for a large chunk (210 yards, one touchdown).

    While those two were the stars of the first half, San Francisco’s defense was the star of the second. It did allow the Broncos to score a pair of touchdowns, but it also stopped Denver twice on fourth down.

    San Francisco will have more chances to play spoiler down the stretch, but those games may be tougher to win. The 49ers finish with the Seahawks, Bears and Rams.

    Week 14 Grade: B+

    Season Grade: D-

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Week 14 Opponent: Minnesota Vikings

    When: Monday at 8:15 p.m. ET

    National TV: ESPN

    Line (viaOddsShark): SEA -3

    Seattle doesn’t have a chance of winning the NFC West, but it can still earn a playoff spot. The Seahawks currently own the No. 5 seed in the conference, but they’re barely ahead of the Vikings. This is why Monday night’s game between the two is so important.

    A loss could leave Seattle clawing to even get into the postseason, as there’s a tough matchup with the Chiefs in Week 16.

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    Jason Behnken/Associated Press

    Week 14 Opponent: New Orleans Saints

    Result: Lost 28-14

    Any chance the Buccaneers had to make an unlikely playoff push went out the window in the second half Sunday. Tampa blew a 14-3 halftime lead, both because of lackluster defense and an inefficient offense. Special teams breakdowns—two missed field goals and a blocked punt—also played a role.

    You might also want to add poor coaching to the list. Despite holding a lead through the third quarter, the Buccaneers ran the ball just seven times in the second half. With Brees and Co. on the other side of the field, that’s a recipe for a loss—even if your defense is good.

    Tampa’s defense is not good, and while it surrendered just 298 total yards, 194 of those game during the second-half meltdown. The end result was another disappointing loss and a drop to 5-8.

    “When you go into the half 14-3, you’ve got all the confidence in the world that you’re gonna come out of this football game winning it,” linebacker Lavonte David said, per Jenna Laine of “When you don’t get the job done, it’s tough.”

    The Best Tampa can hope for now is a .500 season—and perhaps some notable changes after it.

    Week 14 Grade: D

    Season Grade: C-

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    Mark Zaleski/Associated Press

    Week 14 Opponent: Jacksonville Jaguars

    Result: Won 30-9

    If you thought the Titans were going to go away quietly after losing to the Texans in Week 12, you were mistaken. They picked up a come-from-behind victory against the Jets last week and then pasted the Jaguars on Thursday night.

    Tennessee has had to claw its way to the finish most weeks in 2018, but it coasted against Jacksonville because of Derrick Henry. Though Marcus Mariota chipped in 162 passing yards, Henry’s 238 yards rushing were really all the offense Tennessee needed.

    This is because the Titans defense was phenomenal. It racked up four sacks, forced a turnover and held Jacksonville to just 255 yards of offense. Tennessee’s defense doesn’t do any one thing special, but it is a fundamentally sound that will be an asset down the stretch. 

    Expect the Titans to continue fighting for the remainder of the season and to be a tough out if they make the playoffs.

    Week 14 Grade: A+

    Season Grade: C+

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Week 14 Opponent: New York Giants

    Result: Lost 40-16

    You can probably go ahead and stick a fork in the Washington. It didn’t give up on the season when starting quarterback Alex Smith went down for the year, or even after his replacement, Colt McCoy, did the same. On Sunday against the Giants, however, Washington certainly didn’t look like it wanted to be there.

    It also didn’t look like a team with any plan to finish out the season.

    Mark Sanchez got the start but was pulled after going 6-of-14 for 38 yards and two interceptions. Josh Johnson replaced him, and it now appears he’ll be the guy the team leans on from here on out.

    “We’ll get Josh ready to go,” coach Jay Gruden said, per John Keim of

    At 6-7, Washington is still technically alive in the NFC East race, and perhaps Johnson can help the team finish strong. The fact that Gruden decided to roll with Sanchez first, though, is concerning. It’s far more likely that Washington’s season is effectively over.

    Week 14 Grade: F

    Season Grade: C-

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