Grading Every NFL Team in Week 12

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Tom Brady

Tom Brady
Joe Camporeale - USPRESSWIRE

Week 12 in the NFL was very similar to the Thanksgiving dinners we all sat down to on Thursday. There were some turkeys, some stuffing, some killer side dishes, and a few were able to relax and enjoy their dessert without feeling sick to their stomach.

This past week was filled with memorable moments, like Jim Schwartz throwing a challenge flag on a Justin Forsett touchdown which would have been reviewed and overturned but because Schwartz threw the flag he was penalized instead and the play wasn’t reviewed. It exposed what might be the dumbest rule in all of sports and one that cost the Detroit Lions a possible victory.

Another wonder moment was the New York Jets giving up what seemed like a million points in less than two minutes to the New England Patriots in a way that isn’t even possible in video games. Mark Sanchez running into his own offensive lineman and fumbling the football is a perfect description of the Jets’ season and I am sure America immediately revised their “I’m thankful for…” lists to include “I’m thankful I’m not a Jets fan.”

Football over Thanksgiving weekend is the perfect combination, even if half of us end up with acid indigestion from the way our teams played. But for the other half, it is the ice cream on the apple pie, the whipped cream on the pumpkin pie, the gravy on the turkey. It helps make the weekend that much better, especially if you just saved $300 on a new flat screen so you can enjoy your Week 13 games in higher definition.

So, without further adieu, here are your grades for NFL Week 12:

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Detroit Lions

Detroit Lions
Raj Mehta - USPRESSWIRE

Oh, poor Detroit. Jim Schwartz and his damned challenge flag might have cost you a win against one of the best teams in football. If it wasn’t for that one action by the coach this might have been a passing grade. The Lions offense was able to match the Houston Texans score for score until overtime. In fact, the Lions could have won it if it hadn’t been for Jason Hanson’s 47-yard field goal attempt bouncing off of the upright and into oblivion. Grade: D+

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Houston Texans

Houston Texans
Andrew Weber - USPRESSWIRE

The Texans came into their Thanksgiving matchup billed as one of the best teams in the AFC. If they didn’t have Jim Schwartz throw a challenge flag they very well could have been the turkeys on that night. Even though they won they did get lucky, twice. Their defense just couldn’t stop the Lions’ offense. Their offense, on the other hand, seems to be running on all cylinders right now which is a good thing. Grade: C+

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Washington Redskins

Washington Redskins
Tim Heitman - USPRESSWIRE

After their loss to the Carolina Panthers in Week 9 the Washington Redskins faithful seemed ready to give up. Then, those same fans woke up on Thanksgiving morning looking forward to dinner and some football because the Redskins have a chance to get back into the divisional race thanks to the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants slipping. It is still an uphill battle but Robert Griffin III and a healthy return of Pierre Garcon have helped turn the Redskins season around. However, the Redskins defense almost squandered a 28-3 halftime lead which almost made Redskins fans choke on their mashed potatoes. However, in the end, they were able to enjoy their dessert. Grade: B-

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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys
Tim Heitman - USPRESSWIRE

This game was a microcosm of the Dallas Cowboys season. Being down 28-3 at halftime almost ruined Thanksgiving altogether but Tony Romo had a very nice second half and almost made everyone forget about his terrible first half. In the end, the Cowboys couldn’t overcome the three scoring plays of 25 or more yards and fell 38-31 to the Redskins. The Cowboys have now been leapfrogged by the Redskins in the chase of the New York Giants for the division title and with their health issues on defense it doesn’t look good. Maybe next year Cowboys fans will be thankful for Jerry Jones not being in charge of personnel decisions. Grade: C-

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New England Patriots

New England Patriots
Joe Camporeale - USPRESSWIRE

The New England Patriots entered their Thanksgiving matchup against the New York Jets on a roll, having scored 37 or more points in their previous three games. Now, they enter Week 13 on a four game streak. It is hard to say whether the Patriots were that good or the New York Jets were just phenomenally bad. The Patriots scored 28 points in less than 2:30 and scored 35 points in the second quarter, effectively ending the Jets’ season. Going 11-15 on third down was a huge help for the Patriots as they just demolished the Jets 49-19. An all-around effort from the Patriots for sure. Grade: A+

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New York Jets

New York Jets
Ed Mulholland - USPRESSWIRE

Ahh, the New York Jets. It was so bad that Fireman Ed left at halftime and deleted his Twitter account and will no longer be Fireman Ed because of the Mark Sanchez-Tim Tebow division amongst Jets fans. Nothing has gone right this year for the Jets and fans are understandably angry, lashing out in all directions. Their season was epitomized by Mark Sanchez running into Brandon Moore’s buttocks and fumbling. Turnover after turnover, lost opportunity after lost opportunity. Grade: F-

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Minnesota Vikings

Minnesota Vikings
Dennis Wierzbicki - USPRESSWIRE

The Minnesota Vikings continued their road woes against the Chicago Bears, falling to 1-4 away from their dome. The Vikings were only a game behind the Bears in the standings heading into this game and might have lost any hope of playoff dreams. Adrian Peterson continued his amazing comeback, rushing for another 108 yards but the offense just couldn’t get it done, even against a banged up Bears team. Still, did anyone really expect the Vikings to be where they were at this point in the season? Grade: C

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Chicago Bears

Chicago Bears
Dennis Wierzbicki - USPRESSWIRE

Jay Cutler returned from injury but the Bears victory was extremely costly as Matt Forte, Devin Hester, Charles Tillman, Lance Louis, and Chris Spencer all went down with injury. The Bears injury list continues to grow which is not what Bears fans want as they get ready for a potentially deep run into the playoffs. Still, where would the Bears offense be without Brandon Marshall? Wow. They got the job done despite injuries and a shuffling offensive line. Grade: B

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Oakland Raiders

Oakland Raiders
Rob Leifheit - USPRESSWIRE

The Oakland Raiders might be the worst team in football again and that is saying something. They fell to 3-8 after getting dominated by the Cincinnati Bengals 34-10. I honestly can’t think of one positive from the Raiders Week 12 performance except to say, at least they weren’t the Jets. The Raiders only gained 218 yards on offense and their defense looks awful. Grade: F

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Cincinnati Bengals

Cincinnati Bengals
Frank Victores - USPRESSWIRE

Here come the Cincinnati Bengals! Andy Dalton tossed 3 TDs despite only completing 16-of-30 passes. Dalton is getting things done right now and the Bengals defense, which forced 2 turnovers, is also hitting its stride. The Bengals are finally starting to play like the playoff team they were last season. Grade: A

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Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers
Andrew Weber - USPRESSWIRE

Eight turnovers for the Pittsburgh Steelers was the story of this game. Third-string quarterback Charlie Batch looked like he hadn’t played in over a year as he tossed three picks. The Steelers lost five fumbles to further compound their offensive woes. It was the first time since 1989 that the Steelers had turned the ball over 8 times, also done against the Cleveland Browns. Only 49 yards rushing against one of the worst run defenses in the game isn’t going to win you any football games either. To add injury to insult, LaMarr Woodley and Mike Adams both went down with injury. Grade: F-

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Cleveland Browns

Cleveland Browns
Andrew Weber - USPRESSWIRE

The Cleveland Browns became the first team to force eight turnovers in a game since the 2001 New Orleans Saints did it against the St. Louis Rams. In a season marred by almost-wins, this might be the lone bright spot. Josh Gordon might be a receiver the Browns can finally rely on and he should only get better with experience. Grade: A

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Buffalo Bills

Buffalo Bills
Brian Spurlock - USPRESSWIRE

The Buffalo Bills shouldn’t be 4-7, should they? On paper they have a decent enough team. However, whatever can go wrong will go wrong for the Bills. Ryan Fitzpatrick will look great one week and terrible the next. Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller might be the best running back duo in the NFL. Mario Williams was supposed to help solidify the front four on defense. Alas, it seems something always will go wrong for the Bills, even when they were representing the AFC in four straight Super Bowls. The good news for Bills fans is, at least there are some building blocks on this team. Grade C-

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Indianapolis Colts

Indianapolis Colts
Brian Spurlock - USPRESSWIRE

The Indianapolis Colts might have had the best draft of any team this year. Of course, when you have the number one pick you are expected to make good selections. Andrew Luck is giving Colts fans reason for hope but fellow rookie T.Y. Hilton looks like he may become a star in this league. Throw in solid tight end play from Dwight Allen and Coby Fleener and some defense and you have a Colts team that is 7-4 heading into Week 13. For Colts fans, anything more is just gravy on their Thanksgiving dinner. Head Coach Chuck Pagano has become an inspiring figure, not only for Colts players and fans but for the country as well. This might be one of the best stories in the country this year. Grade: A

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Denver Broncos

Denver Broncos
Denny Medley - USPRESSWIRE

The Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning are running away with the division and everyone expected their matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs to be a runaway victory for the Broncos. It wasn’t pretty but it was still a win. Knowshon Moreno did an admirable job filling in for an injured Willis McGahee, gaining 85 yards on 20 carries and four catches for 26 yards. Still, this game was closer for a lot longer than it should have been. Grade B+

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Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City Chiefs
Denny Medley - USPRESSWIRE

I try to think of something positive to say about the Kansas City Chiefs and the only thing that comes to mind is Jamaal Charles. Another 100+ yard game for Charles is the only thing aside from, “at least the season is almost over,” that can be construed as a positive. Well, they did play a good first half and probably should have had a lead going into halftime. Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn might be the worst quarterback controversy in football, even worse than Mark Sanchez-Tim Tebow. I’m going to leave KC fans on a positive, Jamaal Charles! Grade: D-

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Seattle Seahawks

Seattle Seahawks
Steve Mitchell - USPRESSWIRE

If only there were a way for the Seattle Seahawks to petition the NFL to have all of their games played at home. I don’t know if there is a more unreliable road team in the NFL over the last few seasons and their road trip to play the Miami Dolphins played out like every other road trip this team makes, in a loss. Sure, the Seahawks were competitive and Leon Washington tied the NFL record with his eighth career kickoff returned for a TD, but this team needs to find ways to win on the road. They came close but their final drive was nothing but negative yardage. One positive is Russell Wilson continues to improve, completing 21 of 27 passes for 224 yards and two TDs. Grade: C+

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Miami Dolphins

Miami Dolphins
Steve Mitchell - USPRESSWIRE

The Miami Dolphins scored three touchdowns on drives of 94, 82, and 80 yards which is a breath of fresh air after only scoring two touchdowns over the last 13 quarters. A questionable roughing the passer penalty on Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas cancelled out an interception by Bobby Wagner which might have saved the Dolphins. Believe it or not, the Dolphins will enter Week 13 still in the playoff hunt with their 5-6 record. Grade: C+

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Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons
Kim Klement - USPRESSWIRE

They were 9-1 entering this game but were by no means guaranteed to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The game might have been one of the better all-around games played all weekend for the casual football fan. Then again, the Atlanta Falcons are making it a habit to play in tight games, winning seven football games by fewer than seven points. Matt Ryan is still having a great year and he would be so much better with help from a consistent running game which doesn’t seem to exist in Atlanta right now. This was a big win for the Falcons who hope to finally put together a playoff win this year with Matt Ryan under center. Grade: B+

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Brad Barr - USPRESSWIRE

This Tampa Bay Buccaneers team looks like they are finally putting it together. Despite the loss they showed they can hang with the big boys. The Bucs are now 5-2 in their last seven games and threatening to do some damage in the playoffs. What a turnaround from last season. Grade: B+

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Tennessee Titans

Tennessee Titans
Rob Foldy - USPRESSWIRE

The Tennessee Titans entered their Week 12 matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars with their fans feeling pretty confident that they should win this game. That was not the case as the Titans defense just couldn’t stop Chad Henne and the Jaguar offense consistently. Chris Johnson rushed for 80 yards on 21 carries but 31 of those yards came on one play. The Titans had two weeks to prepare for this game and just didn’t start with the consistency they needed. Not a good sign. Grade: D

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville Jaguars
Rob Foldy - USPRESSWIRE

What a difference a quarterback makes. Chad Henne earned his first win as a starter since 2010 and the Jacksonville Jaguars offense, once considered an endangered species, came to life. Justin Blackmon continued to show he actually reported to the Jaguars after being drafted and wasn’t a mythical figure like he was for the first 10 weeks of the season. Henne is certainly making the case to keep the starting job for the rest of the season and might be the Jaguars opening day starter next season. The offense looks like a different creature with him under center. Grade: A-

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Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore Ravens
Kirby Lee - USPRESSWIRE

Injuries have not been kind to the Baltimore Ravens this season and it is really starting to show. While the Ravens did leave with a win against the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, it took a Herculean feat from Ray Rice who ran his way to a first down after catching a check-down pass from Joe Flacco on 4th and 29. Rice’s 30-yard gain set the Ravens up for the game-tying field goal. Without it, the Ravens would have been leaving San Diego with an 8-3 record instead of 9-2. Someone needs to step up while the Ravens try to get healthy and Flacco needs to start playing like the elite quarterback he claims he is. Grade: C

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San Diego Chargers

San Diego Chargers
Jake Roth - USPRESSWIRE

Nobody expected the San Diego Chargers to beat the Baltimore Ravens but thanks to the Ravens ineptitude this week they almost did. The Chargers ineptitude was laid out for all to see when they couldn’t stop the Ravens on 4th and 29 and allowed Ray Rice to gain 30 yards. The Chargers should have won this game. Another question for the Chargers is when will they report Philip Rivers as a missing person? He hasn’t been seen in two years now. Grade: C-

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San Francisco 49ers

San Francisco 49ers
Derick E. Hingle - USPRESSWIRE

Colin Kaepernick was named the San Francisco 49ers starter over a healthy Alex Smith and made head coach Jim Harbaugh look very smart in the process. While all of the attention goes to the quarterback it was the 49er defense that was the true winner of this matchup. They held Drew Brees and company to only 290 total yards, forced 2 turnovers, both of which went for touchdowns, and sacked Brees five times. The 49ers defense is the go-to weapon to stop any asteroids headed to earth, they are that good. They are my pick to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl right now. Grade: A

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New Orleans Saints

New Orleans Saints
Derick E. Hingle - USPRESSWIRE

So there is something out there that can stop Drew Brees and the explosive New Orleans Saints offense. Still, after a terrible start, the Saints are still improving and this week might only be a small setback as they continue forward. The Saints are perfectly capable of putting this loss behind them and winning out the rest of their schedule. Grade: C-

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St. Louis Rams

St. Louis Rams
Mark J. Rebilas - USPRESSWIRE

Janoris Jenkins is now a household name among St. Louis Rams fans after returning two picks for touchdowns, the first rookie to do that since 1960. Steven Jackson also put on a little throwback show, rushing for 139 yards on 24 carries. Sam Bradford only completed eight passes but only had 17 attempts and still managed to throw for 205 yards and two TDs. Rookie Chris Givens had five catches for 115 yards and a TD and represented over half of the Rams passing game. This was a much needed win. Grade: A

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Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals
Mark J. Rebilas - USPRESSWIRE

The one positive for the Arizona Cardinals in Week 12 was there was no long plane ride home after this performance. Rookie Ryan Lindley tossed four interceptions, two of which went for touchdowns, and attempted 52 passes. On the positive side, Beanie Wells returned from injury and had two TDs. Oh, and nobody fumbled. Grade: F-

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Green Bay Packers

Green Bay Packers
Brad Penner - USPRESSWIRE

The Green Bay Packers couldn’t overcome the injuries on defense or their offensive line and they just looked like they weren’t up to the task against the New York Giants. Mike McCarthy admitted his game plan changed in the face of the Giants’ pass rush to avoid serious injury to Aaron Rodgers. The good news for the Packers is this wasn’t the worst performance by a team in MetLife Stadium in Week 12. Grade: F

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New York Giants

New York Giants
Brad Penner - USPRESSWIRE

The New York Giants needed to come out of their bye with a win. They got that and more. Their pass rush made an appearance and Eli Manning looked crisp, throwing for three TDs. Victor Cruz is still having trouble with drops and leads the NFL in that category and will need to start making those grabs like he did last season. This was one of the best games the Giants have played all year. Grade: A

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Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia Eagles
Eric Hartline - USPRESSWIRE

Things couldn’t get any uglier for the Philadelphia Eagles right now. Nothing is working and the Eagles can’t get out of their own way. The Eagles have squandered a 3-1 start and have now lost seven straight games. Bryce Brown was a pleasant surprise rushing for 178 yards on only 19 carries but he fumbled twice and the Carolina Panthers recovered both times. It looks like the Andy Reid era is over. Grade: F-

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Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers
Howard Smith - USPRESSWIRE

Cam Newton looked great and the Carolina Panthers defense looked good in forcing three turnovers. The Panthers needed a game like this to get their confidence back up and give them something to build upon heading into next season. Brandon LaFell continues to make strides and should soon be a consistent threat in this offense. Grade: B+


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