Midterm report cards for all 32 NFL teams

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·10 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Halfway home

Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Midterm grades are in for all 32 NFL teams. Who is passing and who is failing? Let’s take a look at out how each team has fared on the field to this point.

Arizona Cardinals

USAT

One of the biggest and brightest surprises of this season is Arizona. The Cardinals are 8-1 and just finished clobbering the San Francisco 49ers with Colt McCoy at QB. Kliff Kingsbury seems to have gotten the hang of coaching at this level. Grade: A

Atlanta Falcons

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

New coach, but the same old song and dance from the Falcons. Matt Ryan puts up staunch numbers, yet ATL finds more ways to lose than to win. Arthur Smith has a big task ahead of him as his veteran quarterback is reaching the end of the line and there is no successor in sight. Grade: C

Baltimore Ravens

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The Ravens appeared to be flying South as winter neared. Then, Lamar Jackson woke them up against Minnesota and suddenly the team is 6-2 and in first place in the AFC North. Doubt John Harbaugh at your own peril. He’s one of the better coaches in the league. Grade: B+

Buffalo Bills

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Grades came tumbling in Week 9. Who could figure the Buffalo Bills would go to Jacksonville and fail to score a touchdown, notching only a pair of field goals. Buffalo is 5-3 and a half-game ahead of New England. The AFC East was not supposed to be this close and the Bills have created their own concerns. Grade: B-

Carolina Panthers

Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Sam Darnold and the Panthers have lost five of six after winning their first three games of 2021. Darnold is looking the way he did with the Jets and the return of Christian McCaffrey didn’t help overcome the Patriots. Going in the wrong direction. Quickly. Grade: C-

Chicago Bears

Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The Bears’ defense remains ferocious—proving that point when they stymied the Steelers in Week 9—but the offense is still lagging. It is going to take time for Justin Fields to develop and not sure Matt Nagy has enough of that in Chicago; a familiar script that they hoped the rookie QB was going to be able to flip. Grade: C-

Cincinnati Bengals

USAT

Everyone was stunned when the Bengals were 5-2 and in first place in the AFC North. Losses to the Jets — inexcusable — and Browns have sent the elevator to the basement. Cincinnati seemed to have so much going for it and now finds itself in a familiar gear: Reverse. Grade: C

Cleveland Browns

Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio’s other team, the Browns, had great expectations. There have been injuries and turbulence already. The romp over the Bengals could be a good sign of things to come. However, midterm grades are based on what you have accomplished… and 5-4 is less than flattering. Grade: C

Dallas Cowboys

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The speedbump in Week 9 was a huge one for the Dallas Cowboys. They sandwiched a six-game winning streak between losses in the opener to the Buccaneers and Sunday against the Denver Broncos. And Dallas was crushed by the Orange, allowing 30 straight points before a couple of meaningless scores. Grade: B

Denver Broncos

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

“Weird” would be the best way to describe Denver. Three wins in the first quarter and everyone was wowed. Too bad they came against teams that were weaker than weak. The train headed South but the Broncos righted themselves and put together a stunner at Dallas. Grade: C

Detroit Lions

David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

Awful. Grade: F

Green Bay Packers

USAT

Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers under center is a threat to win the Super Bowl. Green Bay with Jordan Love under center is a threat to lose the NFC North. Thankfully, Matt LaFleur should get the great quarterback back against Seattle. That could put the Packers back on stride and headed toward another successful regular season. They, too, lost their opener and then the final game before grades were filed. Grade: A-

Houston Texans

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

H as in Horrendous. Grade: F

Indianapolis Colts

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Colts got off to a terrible start and appeared lost early in 2021. They have recently regained momentum and should find their way back to .500 in Week 10 with a home game against the Jaguars. They appeared to be a threat to claim a wild-card spot. Yes, we know— they are still below .500. Grade: C

Jacksonville Jaguars

Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

A team that looked like it was going to battle for the top draft pick — again — suddenly has two wins. The upset of the Buffalo Bills was arguably the biggest surprise of 2021. Hard to get excited over the Jags’ offense, but the defense is coming together. Urban Meyer still has a lot to prove. Grade: D+

Kansas City Chiefs

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas City is nowhere near the team it has been in recent seasons. Will Patrick Mahomes, Andy Reid & Co. hit their high gear? Or is this a case of the high-powered run is done? A 5-4 record is not impressive, and the way it has been reached is worrisome. Grade: C

Las Vegas Raiders

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Las Vegas has been like its home: Hot and cold, great and awful. There has been ugliness off the field. Inconsistency on it. The Raiders are 5-3 but the record is not as lofty as it sounds. Silver and Black come into their grade off a loss to the Giants. Not great for a team that was in first place. Grade: C+

Los Angeles Chargers

Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Chargers are kind of like the Raiders: Some good, some bad, and hard to predict what you will get game to game. What you will get almost every week is a great performance from Justin Herbert. That is a wonderful piece to build around for the next decade or more. Grade: B-

Los Angeles Rams

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s try and forget what happened Sunday at SoFi against the Tennessee Titans. Matthew Stafford went into Lions mode for a short while and it turned the game into a laugher—and not in the Rams’ favor. Overall, this is one of the better teams in the NFC, which means it is one of the better teams in the league. Grade: B+

Miami Dolphins

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Dolphins opened with a win, and close their halfway mark with a win— although beating the Houston Texans does not count for much. Let’s be honest: this is one of the biggest disappointments in the league. Much was expected in the AFC East and nothing has been accomplished. Grade: F

Minnesota Vikings

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Another discouraging season from a team that, for some reason, people always expect to succeed. The game against the Baltimore Ravens is a mirror of the Minnesota Vikings. You think there is hope and then it is extinguished. Something isn’t right. Grade: C-

New England Patriots

AP Photo/Elise Amendola

Bill Belichick has his team a half-game behind the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East. The Patriots are 5-4 and beat all the bad teams put in front of them, but don’t do much else. Truth is, though, that is what you have to do when you face a lesser team. (The Bills didn’t do that in Jacksonville, leaving New England an opening heading into the second half.) Grade: C+

New Orleans Saints

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans’ road to the midpoint of the season has not been easy. Two losses are opposites. They blew an 11-point lead to the Giants and overcame an 18-point deficit against Atlanta…only to fall at the finish. And this is with a constant quarterback shuffle. Sean Payton is a great coach but this team isn’t destined for the Super Bowl. Grade: B-

New York Giants

Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Some strong efforts recently by Big Blue. However, the record still is 3-6 and the Giants aren’t about to scare any of the true contenders in the NFC. They are 3 1/2 games back of Dallas with half the season or so to go. This team is not going to wind up 11-6. Grade: C-

New York Jets

Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

The unpredictable nature of the league is what the Jets are about. They have defeated the Tennessee Titans and the Cincinnati Bengals. They also have lost every other game. Grade: D

Philadelphia Eagles

AP Photo

Speaking of unpredictable, what do you make of a team that has won 3-of-5 on the road and is winless in four tries at home? Welcome to the Philadelphia Eagles. Hoping they stick with Jalen Hurts and give him the chance to be the franchise quarterback. With a trio of what looks like high draft picks coming up, the only certainty is uncertainty. Grade: C-

Pittsburgh Steelers

Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Give the Steelers a lot of credit: they went 1-3 in the first quarter, and people were grumbling out loud about Mike Tomlin (for a change). And what happened in the next four games? Pittsburgh runs off a stretch of wins and is in the thick of the AFC North race. Grade: B+

San Francisco 49ers

Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Another team that has failed to live up to expectations—and there are only so many excuses before their fans get indigestion. San Francisco was expected to be a Super Bowl contender. It is a pretender. Grade: D

Seattle Seahawks

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Seattle found a way to win without Russell Wilson when it faced the Jacksonville Jaguars. A minor highlight in a season without much fanfare. Pete Carroll’s team needs to win seven or eight the rest of the way to hope for a wild-card spot. A mighty climb. Grade: C-

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

AP Photo/Jason Behnken

The Super Bowl champs are positioned to make another run to the big game. The Buccaneers are a length ahead of the Saints, who beat them before the bye. There is a lot to like with this team and expect many highlights throughout the second half. Grade: A-

Tennessee Titans

Al Bello/Getty Images

There is no way to explain how a team that defeated playoff teams from last season—four weeks in a row— lost to the New York Jets. But the Tennessee Titans have done just that. At this point, they appear to be the best team in the AFC but they still have to succeed without Derrick Henry. Grade: A-

Washington Football Team

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The WFT have been bitten by the curse of being an NFC East champion. There is precious little wiggle room toward a repeat in the division. Four games back of Dallas means there isn’t much hope. Grade: D

1

1