First-quarter report cards for all 32 NFL teams

Who is making the grade?

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There is one team that is perfect and one team that is winless. In between that, there have been many surprises in the first quarter of the NFL season. Time to hand out some grades!

Arizona Cardinals

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The Cardinals don’t make anyone believe they are deep contenders with their play. Yes, DeAndre Hopkins has been suspended for 6 games, meaning he has two more before returning. That isn’t enough of an excuse for the ordinary level of play. Grade: C

Atlanta Falcons

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The Falcons have a gem in Cordarrelle Patterson … and now he is on IR with a knee problem. They have a mediocre QB in Marcus Mariota, who has turned Kyle Pitts from an incredible threat into a mannequin. They feel like a middle-to-bottom team in the league, so don’t expect any sort of playoff hopes. Grade: C-

Baltimore Ravens

(Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports)

Oh, the Ravens. They have two absolutely awful losses. Both were to AFC East teams. The Dolphins came from out of nowhere to hang an “L” on John Harbaugh, and the Bills were trailing before coming back and winning on the road. Lamar Jackson is a thrill a minute. However, teams that blow these kinds of leads usually don’t figure things out. Grade: C+

Buffalo Bills

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The Bills seemed invincible, and then they had a hiccup against the Dolphins and almost lost their breath again in Baltimore. But great teams make great recoveries, and that is what the Bills did against the Ravens. It is going to take a great team to knock off Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, and others. Grade: B+

Carolina Panthers

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Baker Mayfield isn’t bringing glory to Carolina. Christian McCaffrey is a shell of what he once was. Matt Rhule has good reason to be excited … there are plenty of big college jobs open. Grade: D-

Chicago Bears


Dull, dull, and duller. Nothing changes when it comes to offense in Chicago (other than head coaches). How much leash will Justin Fields have with the Bears? Grade: C-

Cincinnati Bengals


The Bengals stumbled out of the blocks but regained their footing in the last two games. That seems more representative of what to expect from Cincinnati this season. Plenty of offensive firepower that starts with Joe Burrow. A running game would help. The defense is solid. Grade: B-

Cleveland Browns

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Deshaun Watson’s suspension can’t be used as an excuse for Cleveland. This team seemed on the right trajectory and now one has to wonder if it has simply flattened. Hard to think things will get better until Watson returns—and who wants to see that as a reason for improvement when he does? No one except the Browns faithful. Grade: C-

Dallas Cowboys

(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

The Cowboys had every reason for the season to fall apart when Dak Prescott was injured. Instead, all they have done with Cooper Rush is win. That’s exemplary play. Grade: B+

Denver Broncos

(Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports)

The Broncos have split their first two games, losing at Seattle and at Las Vegas. When you are in the AFC West, it helps to beat teams in the west, even with Seattle in the NFC. Russell Wilson is not providing instant magic and that’s a concern. Melvin Gordon can’t hold the football. Javonte Williams could be done for the year. Welcome to head coaching, Nathaniel Hackett. It isn’t easy. Grade: C-

Detroit Lions

(Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports)

The Lions score bunches of points. But the Lions allow more points. They are a fun team to watch, if you don’t have any vested interest in cheering for them. Dan Campbell had to expect better than 1-3. Everyone did. Grade: D+

Green Bay Packers

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The Packers are a mild 3-1. Aaron Rodgers isn’t putting up huge numbers and the ground game and defense are more relied upon in 2022. They still figure to win the NFC North. The quandary is whether Green Bay is good enough to menace the top teams in the conference. The jury is out.  Grade: B

Houston Texans

(Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)

The Texans were up 17  points in Lovie Smith’s first game, which ended in a tie. They followed that with three losses. This isn’t the recipe for anything other than a high draft pick. They do have 2 firsts and 11 overall picks in next year’s draft. Never too soon to look ahead. Grade: F

Indianapolis Colts

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The most disappointing team in the league at 1-2-1. Stunning the win came against the Kansas City Chiefs. Everything else has gone wrong for Frank Reich, Matt Ryan, and Indy. Grade: D

Jacksonville Jaguars

(Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports)

Doug Pederson is working magic in Jacksonville. The Jags may not be ready to be proclaimed contenders but they are no longer pushovers. Trevor Lawrence has shown growth. He had a weird game against the Eagles, losing 4 fumbles, but he is progressing as is his team. Grade: B-

Kansas City Chiefs

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The Chiefs somehow lost to the Colts, which is the only blemish on an otherwise strong first quarter. The lack of Tyreek Hill isn’t doing the damage people feared. They remain the best team in the AFC West and could wind up the best team in the conference. Grade: A

Las Vegas Raiders

(Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports)

Finally, the Raiders found their way into the win column. They beat a Broncos team that is looking to find itself. Is Josh McDaniels an NFL head coach? That is still a big question mark. Grade: D+

Los Angeles Chargers

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The Chargers have taken the brunt of the injury bug. They have been hammered by players being lost, and Justin Herbert is playing hurt. We won’t know what this team is capable of at full strength in 2022. Hard to gauge them for the long run. Grade: C

Los Angeles Rams

(Arizona Republic)

The Rams are 2-2, as is every other team in the NFC West. That isn’t supposed to be the position of a Super Bowl champion. They have flirted with losses in their wins, too, and have been outscored 44-3 in the fourth quarter over 4 games. Super Bowl hangover? Grade: C-

Miami Dolphins

(Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports)

The Dolphins have been a pleasant surprise. They have speed at wide receiver in Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill. The Tua Tagovailoa issue is an ugly situation. They have won three of four and don’t be surprised if Teddy Bridgewater is able to do much of the same that Tagovailoa has done, should he get the call at QB. Grade: B+

Minnesota Vikings

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The Vikings are what they are: the middle of the road. They get Justin Jefferson involved half the time when he should be the prime focus for Kirk Cousins. Not a solid recipe for success. Grade: C

New England Patriots

(Dan Powers-USA TODAY Sports)

The Patriots are 1-3 and were reduced to Bailey Zappe at quarterback for much of the game against the Packers. Suddenly, they are last in the AFC East. That won’t sit well with Bill Belichick but what can you do when you are playing a third-string QB who is a rookie? Grade: C-

New Orleans Saints

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Dennis Allen isn’t having success with the Saints but there are circumstances impacting New Orleans. Jameis Winston was out in Week 4. Alvin Kamara was out. Michael Thomas was out. Yet, the Saints almost downed the Vikings in London. Almost doesn’t count in the NFL, remember? Grade: C-

New York Giants


The Giants are 3-1 and that looks good on paper.  However, they are an ugly 3-1, and do not expect this to carry through the rest of the season. The schedule has been favorable and the win at Tennessee in Week 1 was a miracle. Brian Daboll is doing a solid job but expect the road to get much choppier. Grade: C+

New York Jets

(Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

The Jets have faced every team in the AFC North and split the four games. Zach Wilson looked good in his return but the Steelers are not their vaunted selves. The win against the Browns was one for the highlight reel. This has been a nice first quarter for a team that could have easily lost all four games. Grade: C+

Philadelphia Eagles


A perfect first quarter earns a great grade. Grade: A+

Pittsburgh Steelers

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The Steelers, like the Patriots, are having issues. Mike Tomlin faces similar challenges to Bill Belichick, especially at QB. Is Mitch Trubisky now a backup with Kenny Pickett as the present and future? Grade: D

San Francisco 49ers

(Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)

Impressive way to close out the first quarter as the Niners muzzled the Super Bowl champion Rams. Even with all the drama over Trey Lance, the second-year QB’s injury, and Jimmy Garoppolo taking over, this team has somehow come together. Don’t be surprised if the Niners become the force in the NFC West. They just need to stay healthy, which is always a challenge, especially for San Francisco. Grade: B

Seattle Seahawks

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The Seahawks sandwiched wins in the first quarter around a pair of losses. Geno Smith has done a good job, in fact playing better than Russell Wilson has in Denver. Don’t get overly excited about the Seahawks but Pete Carroll is doing a nice job with what he has. Grade: B-

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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Tom Brady no longer has the killer look in his eyes. Wonder if the GOAT wishes he had decided to stay retired. The Bucs are in a first-place tie with the Falcons and play Atlanta next. This feels like the final chapter for Brady and there is no guarantee it will wind up nicely. Grade: C+ 

Tennessee Titans

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Tennessee has found its footing after a slow start. The biggest problem is the Titans play well in the first half of games and go to sleep after the break. That’s not going to work in the long run. Grade: C

Washington Commanders

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Washington is one of the weaker teams in the league. Let’s be honest: Carson Wentz feels more of a stopgap than a franchise QB. There is a reason he is on his third team after being a second overall pick. Ron Rivera is going to have a long, long season. He deserves better. Grade: D

Story originally appeared on List Wire