Passing out NFL grades at halfway point

By Steve Sell
November 08, 2017

It’s mid-term report card time for the 32 NFL teams as everybody reached at least their eighth game this past week and some actually have nine, but soon will be enjoying the much-needed bye week as they’re on fumes.

My grades are based on what I thought teams would be before the season and how they actually are at this point. So you might see a team with a so-so record being graded higher than a team ahead of it.

• AFC EAST •

• New England (6-2) – Everybody panicked when the Patriots were among the worst defensive teams in the NFL after 3 weeks, but as usual Bill Belichick got things somewhat straightened out, and the Patriots and Pittsburgh are battling for best AFC record. Grade — B+.

• Buffalo (5-3) — What a clunker the Bills had against the Jets. Until then they were challenging for an “A” grade, but this was a stinker. Grade — B.

• Miami (4-4) — The 4-2 start was a facade. We’re seeing the real Dolphins the last couple of weeks, but still better than what I expected. Grade — B-.

• New York Jets (4-5) — There were thoughts this team might challenge Cleveland as the worst team in football and maybe win not more than a game or two. Give them credit for not mailing it in. Grade — A-.

• AFC SOUTH •

• Tennessee (5-3) — The Titans are in a winnable division, especially with DeShaun Watson and Andrew Luck out for the year. Grade — B+.

• Jacksonville (5-3) — The AFC’s biggest surprise. Grade — A+.

• Houston (3-5) — The season has been wrecked by injuries. Grade — C.

• Indianapolis (3-6) — Considering no Andrew Luck, they’re keeping their head above water. Grade — C+.

• AFC NORTH •

• Pittsburgh (6-2) — My Super Bowl winner at the start of the year. Lots of turmoil, but staying the course. Grade — A-.

• Baltimore (4-5) – The only team that can make any run at Pittsburgh, but Joe Flacco has just been so bad. Grade — C.

• Cincinnati (3-5)— The Bengals are declining and Andy Dalton has been woeful. Grade — D.

• Cleveland (0-8) — Staring down the barrel at 0-16. Not much was expected, but this has been worse than ever imagined. Grade — F.

• AFC WEST •

• Kansas City (6-3) — The Super Bowl talk has died down with three losses in the last four games. A porous defense and ineffective offensive line are causes for concern. But they should still win the division. Grade — B+.

• Oakland (4-5) — The Raiders are starting to get it back, but have dug themselves a deep hole. Still, they could catch Kansas City. Grade — C-.

• Denver (3-5) — The Broncos would give their kingdom for a quarterback. The defense was shellshocked on Sunday. Grade — C-.

• Los Angeles Chargers (3-5). 3-1 after an 0-4 start. Could be a sleeper. Grade — B-.

• NFC EAST •

• Philadelphia (8-1) — Best record in football. Grade — A+.

• Dallas (5-3) — Much depends on Zeke Elliott. If the injunctions keep him playing the rest of the season, look out. The Cowboys are getting their act together. Grade — B.

• Washington (4-4) — Washington is who we thought they were, a 500 team. Grade — B-.

• New York Giants (1-7) — A dumpster fire. Grade — F.

• NFL SOUTH •

• New Orleans (6-2) — Looked bad the first two games, now winners of six straight. Nobody saw this coming. Grade — A.

• Carolina (6-3) — They don’t look great in games they win, but they are winning two of every three. Grade — B.

• Atlanta (4-4) — A Super Bowl game hangover. Grade — C-.

• Tampa Bay (2-6) — The Bucs can’t score. Grade — D.

• NFC NORTH •

• Minnesota (6-2) — Even with all the problems at quarterback, the Vikes keep winning with that great defense. Grade — A.

• Green Bay (4-4) — Without Aaron Rodgers, the Packers are sinking fast. Grade — C-.

• Detroit (4-4) — No running game makes this a perennial .500 team. Grade — C.

• Chicago (3-5) — Mitchell Trubisky has a long way to go at QB. Grade — C.

• NFC WEST •

• Los Angeles Rams (6-2) — Even though they have little fan following in La La Land, they are the NFC’s biggest surprise. Grade — A+

• Seattle (5-3) — A winning record, but haven’t looked good doing it. Is the window of opportunity closing? Grade — B-.

• Arizona (4-4) — No David Johnson, no Carson Palmer, no chance. Grade — C.

• San Francisco (0-8) — If the 49ers and Cleveland both end up 0-16, the NFL should have a game between the teams on playoff weekend to determine which is the best of the worst. Grade — F.


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