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2018 NFL Mock Draft: Imagining how the dominoes would fall if Browns land first two picks

The Browns have a chance to land the top two picks in the 2018 NFL Draft, a not-far-fetched scenario John Breech explained earlier this week. Seriously, it could happen.

Welcome to your new job, John Dorsey. No pressure. Time to get some “real players.”

Obviously, below is not the current draft order. 

The Browns have a chance to land the top two picks in the 2018 NFL Draft, a not-far-fetched scenario John Breech explained earlier this week. Seriously, it could happen.

Welcome to your new job, John Dorsey. No pressure. Time to get some “real players.”

Obviously, below is not the current draft order. 

 

1. Cleveland Browns

Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA. Browns GM John Dorsey has the reputation as an old-school “football guy.” That indicates to me that he’ll go with the traditional pocket passer with the first overall pick. Rosen has a clean delivery and is typically impressive within the confines of the tackles as a thrower.


2. Cleveland Browns from Texans

Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma. For as much as many Browns fans would probably despise this, I think the best option in this crazy scenario would be Cleveland trading down a few spots to add an extra pick or two. But staying put, Dorsey grabs the mammoth left tackle to protect his quarterback as his team begins a new era. 


3. New York Giants

Sam Darnold, QB, USCTop two quarterbacks stay the same. Darnold has played well at a high-profile program for two seasons, so he’s gotten a head start on the immense spotlight that comes with being the signal-caller for the Giants. New Yorkers will love the hard-nosed playing style of Darnold, who consistently demonstrated his toughness at USC.


4. Indianapolis Colts

Connor Williams, OT, Texas. The Colts have a fair amount of needs, but this is the best need-prospect match at this point. Williams has All-Pro upside as a pass-blocker, and with Andrew Luck hoping to return in 2018, that upside is vital for Indianapolis.

 

5. San Francisco 49ers

Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU. With Sutton, Marquise Goodwin, and Pierre Garcon, the 49ers will have a desired blend of size and skill sets at the receiver position for Jimmy Garoppolo. Sutton has true No. 1 receiver talent, and his presence will elevate the efficiency of Goodwin and Garcon. 


6. Chicago Bears

Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, AlabamaThe Bears would like to go offense in Round 1, and I’ll assume they have their eyes on Sutton. With him gone, they flip to defense to round out their underrated defensive backfield with Fitzpatrick, a do-everything cornerback/safety hybrid with the length and fluidity to cover and a mastery-level understanding of how to get home as a blitzer.


7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State. The Buccaneers would probably lean toward a cornerback here. With Fitzpatrick off the board, they address what will help the secondary — pass-rush. Chubb isn’t a Joey Bosa prospect, yet the NC State isn’t far away from where Bosa was coming out of Ohio State. This fills a need a premium position.


8. Cincinnati Bengals

Derwin James, S, Florida State. With James and George Iloka, the Bengals would suddenly have two enormous, versatile safeties on their defense. The two can rotate their responsibilities from play-to-play, which would help to cause confusion for opposing quarterbacks.

 

9. Denver Broncos

Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma. For this mock, let’s assume John Elway can’t lure Kirk Cousins, Tyrod Taylor or big fish Andrew Luck to Denver. So he makes this pick, fully understanding the controversy it’ll cause, especially after taking Paxton Lynch in Round 1 of the 2016 draft.

10. New York Jets

Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville. Despite a heavy recent investment at the quarterback position over the past five drafts, the Jets still need one. Jackson has transcendent potential but certainly comes with some risk. Gang Green’s willing to roll the dice because of Jackson’s amazing talent. 

11. Arizona Cardinals

Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA. Miller is a huge left tackle prospect with long arms and outstanding athleticism for the position. He flourished protecting Rosen at UCLA and will be a foundational piece of the next phase of the Bruce Arians era with the Cardinals.


12. Oakland Raiders

Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia. Time to celebrate in the Raiders draft room. Smith is clearly the linebacker with the most game-changing ability in the 2018 draft due to his play-recognition skills, athleticism, and speed-to-power capabilities.

 

14. Miami Dolphins

Braden Smith, OG, AuburnFirst “surprise” of the night, but Smith has an impressive resume as one of Auburn’s long-time guards who had an excellent career against top competition. He’s well-versed in the zone and power run schemes, giving Adam Gase plenty of options on offense.

15. Los Angeles Chargers

Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State. Despite being a redshirt senior with loads of experience, the Chargers, a team without a variety of roster holes, makes this pick with eyes well into the future. A pure pocket quarterback, Rudolph can learn from Philip Rivers for a year or two before taking over in Los Angeles.


16. Green Bay Packers

James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State. Back-to-back selections for the ‘Pokes. With Jordy Nelson in the twilight of his illustrious career, the Packers reload at wideout with Washington, who has a wonderful blend of possession receiver and deep threat skills.


17. Baltimore Ravens

Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. Based on the hype, another relative tumble for Barkley, a drop only precipitated by the position he plays and the depth of this draft class, not his overall talent. The Ravens would be ecstatic to land the insanely gifted runner here.

 

18. Detroit Lions

Maurce Hurst, DT, Michigan. The Lions might have a more glaring need at defensive end, but any type of pass-rush improvement would be greatly helpful to Teryl Austin’s unit. Hurst has a game reminiscent of Geno Aktins.


19. Seattle Seahawks

Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSASeattle isn’t afraid to make an eye-opening first-round pick, and selecting a prospect from the University of Texas-San Antonio would raise some eyebrows. But at 6-7 and 250 pounds with a long reach and explosiveness, Davenport fits the profile the Seahawks love.


20. Dallas Cowboys

Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama. Ridley would give the Cowboys the deep threat they desperately need on offense, thereby opening up the underneath game for Dak Prescott to methodically move the ball down the field. 

21. Tennessee Titans

Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, OLB, Oklahoma. Dick LeBeau doesn’t shy away from multiple fronts on defense, but his scheme has 3-4 roots. Okoronkwo is the premier 3-4 outside linebacker in this class, and in Tennessee, on a defense already boasting some talented players, he can make a big impact right away.

 

22. Buffalo Bills

Vita Vea, DT, Washington. Two consecutive weeks with this pairing. Vea can help a defense in many ways. He’ll simply eat blocks and clog lanes due to his size at 6-5 and around 340 pounds, but he’s not a stationary nose tackle. The Washington star flashes high-caliber hand use and has twitchy athleticism relative to his massive frame.


23. Atlanta Falcons

Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma. Tight ends in Round 1 are usually seen as a luxury pick. The Falcons are in a luxury-pick situation, and, actually, could use a reliable pass-catcher over the middle. 

24. New Orleans Saints

Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas. If there’s one position in which the Saints clearly need an upgrade on defense it’s the linebacker spot. Jefferson is athletic and matured into being a force against the run during his tenure at Texas.

25. Buffalo Bills from Chiefs

Marcell Ateman, WR, Oklahoma State. With the top quarterbacks unavailable, the Bills go receiver. With Ateman and Kelvin Benjamin, the Bills would have two matchup nightmare boundary wideouts capable of coming down with the ball even in tight coverage. 

 

26. Jacksonville Jaguars

Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame. Hard to change this pick. McGlinchey can get exposed against speed rushers but is ready to dominate as a run-blocker, the latter part of that sentence is music to the ears of Doug Marrone and Tom Coughlin in Jacksonville.


27. Los Angeles Rams

Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa. The Rams have been unbelievably efficient — particularly compared to where they were a year ago — on offense in 2017. More secondary talent would help the defense, and Jackson has everything needed to be a No. 1 cornerback at the NFL level … size, toughness, plus athleticism and ball skills.

28. Carolina Panthers

Deontay Burnett, WR, USC. There are many similarities between Burnett and 2017 second-round pick Curtis Samuel. However, Burnett is the more polished receiver and can provide legitimate over-the-top speed right away in Mike Shula’s offense.


29. Pittsburgh Steelers

Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville. Had Alexander not been banged up in this final season at Louisville, there’s a good chance he would’ve had a monster year. His smoothness in coverage coupled with his awareness when the ball is in the air make him a top-flight cornerback prospect in this class.

 

30. Minnesota Vikings

Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan. It’s not easy finding big holes on the Vikings roster. While the offensive line has improved this season from where it recently had been, there’s still plenty of room for improvement. Okorafor has the size, athleticism, and length to be a steady left tackle for a decade in Minnesota.


31. New England Patriots

Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech. For as gifted as Jefferson is at linebacker, Edmunds, at 6-4 and around 250 pounds, might have more inherent talent and twitchiness. Bill Belichick understands the importance of quality linebacker play in today’s NFL.


32. Philadelphia Eagles

Bryce Love, RB, Stanford. Yes, the Eagles have Jay Ajayi and have gotten quality contributions from Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement. They just can’t pass on Love here, an electric home-run hitter with the ability to pick up yardage between the tackles when blocking isn’t perfect.

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‘They’re allive!” Skip Bayless on the Cowboys win over the Raiders

Dec 18, 2017
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– All I’ve got to say about last night was, they’re alive. They’re still alive. I don’t know how? But they’re alive. I told you it took seven years off my life. Ernestine is not speaking to me. Our Maltese, Hazel, is definitely not speaking to me. They said the neighbors complained about me because I was losing my mind over all of the above.

And just for the record, to put this in the scope of this quote unquote game, which was an eyesore of a football game between what looked like two bad team, to be honest about this, that’s what it looked like to me, the Cowboys should have put this game away in the first quarter and shut up all those black hole fans. Should have just done it. Because the Raiders were asking to be beaten in the first quarter. And they let them off the hook.

And here they came. And all of a sudden, it’s 10 to 10. And my team, my Dallas Cowboys, had to resort to running a fake punt from their 24 yard line on fourth and–

– 11.

– 11. Fourth and 11 for you– you ran a fake punt, and the punter had to cut inside the block. So it wasn’t like there’s just an open flank. And Chris Jones, who could run a little bit, ran 24 yards. And all of a sudden, they have to resort to some sort of statue of liberty, what was it, a throwback play. But that didn’t work. And they go down and get the touchdown. So it’s 17 to 10. And then this thing happens. Fourth and one.

– Flee flicker. The flee flicker.

– Flea flicker. It was a flea flicker. So it’s fourth and one from the Cowboy 39. This is the whole season for them. This is game on the line. Because if you don’t get the 1 yard, it’s going to be dubious that you’re going to win and survive this game. Because the Raiders have all the momentum. And you’ve got none. The line cannot protect Dak Prescott in the second half. They can’t get an inch running the football. And now it’s going to come down to a centimeter thanks to Gene Steratore.

Now I agree with Dak Prescott, I thought on a second thrust, I thought he more than got the first down on the second thrust. But it was so busy inside the scrum, you couldn’t really see. But I thought he thrusted again with the football before he went down. I thought he got a bad spot. But the spot was the spot. And I think Gene Steratore got mixed up. I do. I think he got it backwards in his head.

– So you think he said no first down.

– Yeah, he just got– remember, he’s a showman to a fault. I don’t like referees who are showman. Remember, Joey Crawford in the NBA. He’s such a showman. He’s trying to, he wants to be the story. And, finally, he’s going off on the Spurs’ bench calling technicals. And they suspended him for a while.

But the point is Steratore is grinning. And he’s having a good time, he’s cutting up with everybody. So he’s going to be a showman. He’s going to pull out some kind of no card that’s doubled up, you know it’s folded over. And he’s going to show you, and all of a sudden, he shows you it’s not a first down. But it’s not. It was so clearly not. I said it’s a centimeter. , But it was like a quarter of an inch short. Right?

– Yes. Yes, it was.

– It was clearly not a first down. And I took one look at it before the no card went down, and I said that’s.

– I said the same thing.

– I just sat back, and said, we’re done. Season’s over. Game over. They’re going to go score, and this is going to go crazy the other way.

https://www.foxsports.com/watch/undisputed/video/1118899267834

 

Breaking down NFL Week 15 with Tiki Barber

Dec 18, 2017
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Sportsnet’s Starting Lineup

Dee Gordon trade the beginning of the fire sale?

December 08 2017

MLB Network/FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi joins Elliott Price, Rob Wong, and Bob McCown (!) to give his thoughts on the Marlins trading Dee Gordon to the Seattle Mariners, what it means for Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich, when (and where) Giancarlo Stanton will probably be moved, and whether Yasiel Puig would be a good fit in Miami.

http://www.sportsnet.ca/590/sportsnet-starting-lineup/breaking-nfl-week-15-tiki-barber/

 

Cowboys keep playoff hopes alive on dumbest rule, strangest measurement in football

Dec 17, 2017
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In a season that’s seen some of the strangest, most absurd moments in the NFL’s entire history, Sunday night’s game, a 20-17 Dallas Cowboys victory over the Oakland Raiders, ended on the dumbest possible note: a ridiculous measurement followed by the return of the most nonsensical rule in football.

Settle in and get a drink; this is going to make you want to throw something.

The scene: Dallas and Oakland were both playing to keep the dying embers of their playoff hopes alive. Late in the fourth quarter, with the score tied at 17, the Cowboys were driving toward what could have been a game-winning score. On a crucial fourth down, Dallas couldn’t push the ball decisively past the first-down marker, and the officiating crew called for a measurement.

Well, this is just silly. (Via screenshot)

Here is where we note that the officiating crew was led by Gene Steratore, who last helmed a Cowboys game when Dez Bryant caught/didn’t catch a crucial playoff pass. That handy little coincidence ought to give you a sense of the strangeness to come.

When the crew brought out the chains, something amazing happened: no one could tell whether the ball had broken the plane necessary to give Dallas a first down. This wasn’t a case of being within a single link of the yardage chain, this was simply too close to call based on the shape of the football, the angle of sight, and the position of the first-down post.

So what did Steratore do? He brought out a folded index card — yes, seriously — and plunged it between the ball and the post. And because the ball moved: first down!

“Bull[expletive]” Raiders coach Jack Del Rio shouted on the sideline, and you can understand why.

“Didn’t use the card to make the final decision,” Steratore told a pool reporter postgame. “The final decision was made visually. The card was used nothing more than reaffirmation of what was visually done.”

An organization worth more than $10 billion is measuring yardage with all the technological sophistication of a kindergartner making a Mother’s Day card. Instead of Oakland getting the ball on the Dallas 40 with more than four minutes remaining, Dallas held onto the ball and, soon afterward, kicked a decisive field goal.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The NFL continues to trot out this goofy little community theater-level production of bringing the chains onto the field even though it could easily use a tennis-style electronic line judge to make the calls. (The technology has existed since the 1970s.) Why? Because the NFL loves the drama of the measurement, the tension that comes with wondering whether that chain will extend past the ball or not. And, like most attempts at drama, it ends up looking ridiculous a lot more than the NFL would want to admit.

Oh, but we were just getting started. After securing that miracle first down, the Cowboys couldn’t push in a touchdown even though they ended up practically breathing into the end zone — could’ve used a paper-width more distance there — and were forced to settle for a field goal. That allowed Oakland to drive back down the field —aided greatly by a 55-yard pass interference penalty, another one of those rules that seems unduly punitive — and get in position for either a game-tying field goal or a go-ahead touchdown.

With 31 seconds left and the ball on the Dallas 7, Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr took the snap, saw no one open, and took off toward the end zone. He extended the ball—because all you’ve got to do as a runner is break that mystical plane of the end zone—but he did so a touch too early, hit the ground, and fumbled forward into the end zone … thus activating the dumbest rule in football, the touchdown-to-touchback.If Carr had fumbled the ball half a foot in to the right, out of bounds, Oakland would have lined up for a first-and-inches. Instead, it was loss of possession, loss of game, loss of playoff hopes.

The NFL now resembles a particularly cranky homeowners’ association annual meeting, with a horde of black-and-white-striped bureaucrats jamming themselves into every possible crevice, arbitrarily applying game-altering rules, claiming they’re trying to eliminate uncertainty and yet doing the exact opposite. When you’ve got retired officials commenting on the officiating brain trust that’s officiating the officiating crew on the ground, it’s maybe possible you’ve gone too far down the rabbit hole.

A receiver now has to provide a notarized proof of legal adoption to confirm a catch. An offensive lineman can remove a kidney from a defender without penalty, but a defender can’t even think angry thoughts about a ballcarrier without drawing a flag. And oh, the challenges, the endless challenges, which apply in every situation except those where they don’t.

Protesting players, angry politicians, troublesome owners, falling ratings, and disaffected fans are combining to form an existential problem unlike any the NFL has ever seen, and one the league appears woefully ill-equipped to handle. Given the farce that was the final few minutes of Sunday night’s game—and, we could add, the final seconds of the Patriots-Steelers epic a few hours earlier—it’s not hard to see how the league bureaucratically knotted itself into this mess.

Changing rules from tax code-level complexity to simple common sense won’t get the NFL out of its current morass. But it’ll help make games less like small-claims court and more, you know, fun.

____
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

https://ca.sports.yahoo.com/news/cowboys-keep-playoff-hopes-alive-dumbest-rule-strangest-measurement-football-054207215.html?src=rss

 

NFL Week 15 Grades: Packers Come up Short as Aaron Rodgers Struggles in Return

Dec 17, 2017
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After missing two months due to a broken collarbone, Aaron Rodgers came back and played like a quarterback who had missed two months due to a broken collarbone during Green Bay’s 31-24 loss to Carolina on Sunday. 

Earlier this week, Rodgers had insisted that he wasn’t returning to the field so that he could “save” the Packers‘ season, but in the end, that’s exactly what it looked like he was trying to do. With a rusty right arm, Rodgers made some uncharacteristically bad throws in a loss that all but killed the Packers’ playoff chances. 

Rodgers suffered three interceptions in the game, which is notable for two reasons: It ties a career high, and it’s something he hadn’t done in a game since 2009.

The worst part about the picks is that they came on throws that Rodgers is almost always capable of making. On all three interceptions, Rodgers looked like a guy trying to “save” the season only to find that his arm was still a little rusty. As a matter of fact, on two of his three picks, his intended target might have scored a touchdown if Rodgers had put the throw on the mark. 

 

On Rodgers’ first interception, Davante Adams was a full five yards behind the nearest defender, but Rodgers just could’t get him the ball.

Whether that’s rust, a bad route or a genuinely bad throw, the bottom line is that Rodgers likely completes that pass if he hadn’t missed six weeks of practice and eight weeks of regular-season games. 

Rodgers would make nearly the same exact mistake on a third-quarter pass that was intended for Jordy Nelson. Nelson was definitely open, but Rodgers just couldn’t get the ball there, which led to another Panthers interception. 

After the game, Rodgers pretty much admitted that he had a little rust he wasn’t able to shake off.  

 

“I felt good, I just missed some throws,” Rodgers said, via the team’s official website. “Missed some ones I’m used to hitting. Just uncharacteristic plays. I’m disappointed in my performance today.”

Of course, you have to give some credit to the Panthers, who designed their entire defensive game plan around putting as much pressure on Rodgers as possible. According to ESPN, Rodgers was blitzed a total of 31 times in the game, which is more than he’s ever been blitzed in a game in his career. 

With Rodgers struggling, the Packers could’ve used a big performance from their defense, but that didn’t happen, as Cam Newton shredded them with four touchdown passes. 

With the loss, any hopes of a fairytale ending to the season likely went up in flames. 

 

“It’s not the fairytale that we were hoping for,” Rodgers said. “As I lay in that surgery bed eight weeks ago thinking about this moment, I obviously saw it going differently.”

At 7-7, the Packers could be eliminated from playoff contention as early as Monday night if the Falcons beat the Buccaneers.

Carolina 31-24 over Green Bay

Packers: C

After two months off, one thing Aaron Rodgers could’ve used in the game was some protection from his offensive line, but he didn’t get that. For most of four quarters was running for his life, and you could almost feel Packers’ fans holding their breath every time he took a hit. Rodgers got sacked three times by the Panthers defense and even had an unwelcome reunion in the backfield with former teammate Julius Peppers, who split one of those three sacks.

Panthers: B+

With everyone talking about Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton did his best to steal the show on Sunday. The Panthers quarterback threw four touchdown passes against Green Bay, marking only the sixth time in his career that he’s thrown four or more touchdowns in a game. Not surprisingly, the Panthers are 6-0 in those games. Newton definitely took advantage of finally having Greg Olsen in a game for four quarters. The Panthers tight end caught nine passes for 116 yards and a touchdown. Defensively, the Panthers went after Rodgers early and they went after him often. Carolina blitzed the Packers quarterback 31 times and ended up sacking him three times. 

 

Minnesota 34-7 over Cincinnati

Bengals: F

If Marvin Lewis decides to coach somewhere else next season, he probably shouldn’t go to the NFC North. For the second week in a row, the Bengals played a team from that division and for the second week in a row, the Bengals got obliterated. Everyone from Lewis on down looks like they’ve officially mailed it in for the season, which is how you get a loss this big. Over their past 10 quarters of play, the Bengals have now been outscored 87-17. The Bengals looked lost on offense, and Andy Dalton (11 of 22, 113 yards, pick-six) made a pretty strong argument for letting AJ McCarron play the final two games. 

Vikings: A

Although the Vikings weren’t able to pull off their first shutout in 24 years, coach Mike Zimmer is probably still more than happy with the defensive performance he got from his team. The Vikings held the Bengals to just 161 total yards in this game, which is the fewest yards the team has allowed in a home game since 1994. This blowout win wasn’t just big because it clinched the NFC North for the Vikings; it was big because Teddy Bridgewater was able to play in a game for the first time in more than 700 days.  

New Orleans 31-19 over N.Y. Jets

Jets: B-

With Bryce Petty under center for the Jets, this game had all the makings of a blowout, but the Jets defense didn’t let that happen. The Jets defense slowed down the Saints‘ high-powered offense by forcing three turnovers. As for Petty, he threw two interceptions and completed less than 50 percent of his passes, which is why it was so impressive that this game didn’t get ugly. This was a one-score game until Mark Ingram scored on a 50-yard run with 1:33 left in the game.

Saints: B

With only one football to play with, it’s amazing that Drew Brees is able to keep all his offensive weapons happy, but he definitely was able to pull that off against the Jets. Brees completed 26 passes, with 20 of those going to either Michael Thomas (nine catches, 93 yards, 1 TD), Alvin Kamara (six catches, 45 yards, 1 TD) or Mark Ingram (five catches, 77 yards). Ingram was actually even more impressive on the ground, rushing for 74 yards and two touchdowns. The backfield combination of Ingram and Kamara has suddenly turned into one of the best running back duos in NFL history. 

 

Although the Saints turned the ball over three times, when you have this many weapons, it almost doesn’t matter. The Saints are now 2-0 on the season when they turn the ball over three or more times. The Saints and Falcons are the only two teams in the NFL this year that have won multiple games when turning the ball over three or more times. 

Buffalo 24-16 over Miami

Dolphins: C-

Jay Cutler must have used up all his holiday magic against the Patriots last week because he looked terrible against the Bills. The Dolphins quarterback was intercepted three times in the second half and somehow, each one was actually uglier than the one before it. The worst pick came with under a minute left in the game after the Dolphins recovered an onside kick. 

Cutler might want to think about re-retiring. 

Bills: B-

In a game where LeSean McCoy became the 30th player in NFL history to hit the 10,000-yard mark, it’s almost fitting he accounted for half of the Bills points in this victory. Not only did McCoy rush for 50 yards and a touchdown, but he also caught four passes for 46 yards and another touchdown. The Bills weren’t great, but sometimes “not great” is good enough to win, especially when Jay Cutler spends most of the second half throwing interceptions. 

 

Baltimore 27-10 over Cleveland

Ravens: B+

The Ravens‘ recipe for success has been pretty simple this season: be completely average on offense, play dominant defense and let Justin Tucker score as many points as possible. Well, let’s just say they definitely stuck to that recipe in their win over the Browns. The Ravens’ defense forced four turnovers, which led directly to two Baltimore touchdowns. The biggest play for the Ravens defense came in the third quarter when Za’Darius Smith stripped DeShone Kizer in the end zone and Brandon Williams recovered for a Baltimore touchdown. The score gave the Ravens a 24-10 lead and effectively iced the game. 

Browns: F

If DeShone Kizer was trying to impress new Browns general manager John Dorsey in this game, he didn’t go a good job. The Browns quarterback threw for negative-12 yards in the first quarter and things didn’t get much better after that. And yes, you read that right, Kizer threw for negative yardage in the opening quarter, which doesn’t happen very often in the NFL. Kizer also threw an interception inside the Ravens’ 10-yard line, lost a fumble that Baltimore recovered for a touchdown and pretty much likely played himself out of a job for next season.   

Eagles: B

After losing their MVP candidate quarterback to a season-ending injury, no one would’ve been surprised if the Eagles offense struggled in New York, but that’s not what happened with Nick Foles under center. Foles kind of looked like an MVP himself with four touchdown passes and no interceptions as he led the Eagles back from a 20-7 first-half deficit. For the Eagles, the only thing more impressive than Foles in this game was their special teams unit, which blocked an extra point, a field goal and a punt. 

Giants: B

The fact that Eli Manning got benched this season is becoming more and more laughable every week. The Giants quarterback single-handedly kept New York in this game with 434 passing yards and three touchdowns. The crazy thing about Manning’s performance is that he threw 57 passes against Philly, which is the second-highest total in his career. Sterling Shepard was the biggest benefactor of Manning’s big day, catching 11 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown.  

 

Jacksonville 45-7 over Houston

Texans: F

If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if a team’s third-string quarterback went up against the best defense in the NFL, you now have your answer. 

Jaguars: A+

We’ve been talking about the Jaguars‘ defense all season and while that was happening, Blake Bortles somehow morphed into one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Bortles passed for 326 yards and three touchdowns and has been arguably the best quarterback in the NFL in the month of December. 

Bortles has been even more impressive in the red zone this season, throwing 16 touchdown passes and zero interceptions after adding three to his total on Sunday. The most impressive thing about Bortles’ performance against Houston is that he did it without Leonard Fournette and two of his top receivers. 

Washington 20-15 over Arizona

Cardinals: C

If the Cardinals‘ offense could have figured out how to function in the red zone, Arizona probably could have won this game, but that never happened. The Cardinals made six trips to the red zone on Sunday and came away with zero touchdowns. Although we probably shouldn’t be surprised that Phil Dawson was forced to kick five field goals in this game, because he’s become the Cardinals entire offense. Dawson has scored 30 straight points for the Cardinals over their past three games. The last time a player who wasn’t Dawson scored came 11 quarters ago. 

 

Redskins: B

Blaine Gabbert played the roll of Santa Claus for the Redskins on Sunday, delivering two big gifts to Washington’s defense. The first gift game on Arizona’s opening possession when Gabbert lost a fumble that the Redskins recovered at Arizona’s 6-yard line. The second gift came when Gabbert threw a pick inside the Redskins’ 10-yard line. The Redskins’ defense had Gabbert on the run all day and ended up sacking him five times. Offensively, the Redskins put up their lowest rushing total of the season (31 yards), but were still able to come out with the win thanks to a 196-yard, two-touchdown performance from Kirk Cousins

Rams: A+

Not many teams can walk into Seattle and blow out the Seahawks, but that’s exactly what the Rams did. The secret to stopping to the Seahawks is to stop Russell Wilson, and the Rams defense made sure to do that. The Rams sacked Wilson seven times, with Aaron Donald racking up three of those sacks. The Rams defense was so good that Todd Gurley‘s amazing performance was almost an afterthought. The Rams running back totaled 180 yards and four touchdowns in the win. The Rams’ 35-point margin of victory was their biggest road win since 2000. This game marked just the third time since 1990 that the Rams have held an opponent under 150 yards of total offense (the Seahawks finished with 149). 

Seahawks: F

It’s not often that the Seahawks fall flat on their face in a big game, but that’s what happened in their NFC West showdown with the Rams. Russell Wilson has basically been the Seahawks’ entire offense this season, and now we know that happens when the opponent bottles him up: The Seahawks get blown out. Of course, even if Wilson had gone wild, there’s no guarantee the Seahawks would’ve won and that’s because they couldn’t stop Todd Gurley. This was the Seahawks’ largest home loss since 1997.

New England 27-24 over Pittsburgh

Patriots: A

Rob Gronkowski must have got some serious rest during his one game suspension because he went full Gronk on the Steelers. Despite the fact that the Steelers did their best to key in on Gronk, the Patriots tight end still had a huge game, catching nine passes for 168 yards. Gronk came up the biggest when the Patriots needed him the most. With the Patriots trailing 24-19, Gronk caught three passes for 69 yards on a drive that ended with Dion Lewis‘ game-winning touchdown. 

Steelers: B+

After playing a nearly perfect game against their archrival, the Steelers are likely going to have nightmares about this loss for the rest of the season. Ben Roethlisberger is probably going to have nightmares about the ugly interception he threw in the Patriots’ end zone with five seconds left, while the rest of team is going to have nightmares about the catch rule. 

San Francisco 25-23 over Tennessee

Titans: D

The Titans season is slowly unraveling right before their eyes. One week after a 12-7 heartwrenching loss to the Cardinals, Tennessee came back and lost even an bigger heartbreaker to the 49ers. Last week, it was the Titans’ offense that failed them; this week, it was their defense. The Titans’ defense gave up three scoring drives over the final 8:30 of the game, which led to the 49ers win. After struggling against two NFC West teams over the past two weeks, things aren’t going to get any easier next week because they have to play the first-place team in the division: The Los Angeles Rams. 

49ers: A

At the rate he’s going, Jimmy Garoppolo might not ever lose a game. The 49ers quarterback is now undefeated in five career starts after pulling off this wild comeback. Garoppolo’s even doing things that haven’t been seen in San Francisco in more than a decade. With 381 yards passing, Garoppolo became the first 49ers quarterback since 2000 to throw for 300 or more yards in back-to-back games. The biggest benefactor of Garoppolo’s arrival has been Marquise Goodwin, who had another huge game with 10 catches for 114 yards. He’s had at least 99 yards in each of Garoppolo’s three starts. Jimmy G and the 49ers also got some serious help from Robbie G. 49ers kicker Robbie Gould hit six field goals in the game, including the game-winner from 45-yards out. He also hit from 38, 48, 28, 50 and 48 yards. 

Dallas 20-17 over Oakland

Cowboys: B

The Cowboys weren’t perfect, but they did exactly what they needed to do to escape Oakland with a victory Sunday night. Although Dak Prescott struggled at times, he came up big in the clutch. With the score tied at 17 in the fourth quarter, Prescott led the Cowboys to the winning field goal by going 3 of 4 for 61 yards on an 11-play drive that covered 69 yards. Before that drive, Prescott had only thrown for 143 yards in the game, plus two interceptions. The good news for Prescott and the Cowboys is that they’re going to get some serious offensive reinforcements this week with the return of Ezekiel Elliott.

Raiders: B-

This was a Murphy’s Law game for the Raiders because everything that could go wrong ended up going wrong for them. Although most of it was their fault — for instance, Derek Carr fumbled away the game in the final minute, Giorgio Tavecchio missed a short field goal and a kickoff return for a touchdown was called by back by a penalty — there were also a few bizarre things that went against the Raiders that were completely out of their control. Namely, a ref used a folded piece of paper during a measurement of a crucial Cowboys first down in the fourth quarter that Dallas ended up converting by about a centimeter.

https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/nfl-week-15-grades-packers-come-up-short-as-aaron-rodgers-struggles-in-return/

 
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