2012 NFL Grades, Week 7: Green Bay's getting kind of scary again

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

The biggest stunner from the first portion of Week 7 had to be Baltimore getting curb-stomped by Houston. It's impossible to imagine a team that's 5-2 giving up almost 50 points. But the bigger thing to take away, for me, was how good Aaron Rodgers and the Packers looked.

Because they looked good. Not on defense, necessarily, but on offense we've now seen Rodgers go large for two consecutive weeks, in a fashion that's very reminiscent of the play from 2011 that netted him an MVP award.

He shredded the Texans last Sunday night and ripped up a tough St. Louis secondary in Week 7. When the receivers start getting separation -- Jordy Nelson is doing just that over the last two weeks -- and everything starts clicking for Green Bay -- see: Randall Cobb going off -- they're a really tough team to beat.

30-20 over the Rams isn't the same sort of beatdown that we saw in Week 6, but it was still impressive. The only thing that keeps them from an A was the defense's inability to completely shut down a St. Louis team that was facing major issues on the offensive line.

TeamGradeAnalysis
49ers 13, Seahawks 6
CMarshawn Lynch ran well, but the Seahawks got too cute going away from him, particularly when trying to use play-action on first down. Russell Wilson did nothing -- almost literally -- in the second half. The defense is, understandably, angry about getting gashed by Frank Gore.
BA dominant performance from Frank Gore on Thursday was only more impressive because of the competition. Alex Smith is drawing plenty of questions about his decision making, but teams bottling up Vernon Davis is his real problem. Niners gave up 100 yards at home to an opposing running back for just the second time under Jim Harbaugh.
Panthers vs. Cowboys
BAbysmal effort on the ground against a banged-up defense, as Felix Jones and Philip Tanner totaled 74 yards on 28 carries. Instead of calling a draw on third-and-9 in the red zone with the Cowboys losing by one, Jason Garrett could just tell everyone he doesn't trust Tony Romo. It would save us all some time.
D-Carolina kept things close despite not having Chris Gamble and Jon Beason. But they're now 0-3 when the defense limits opponents to less than 20 points. DeAngelo Williams had two -- two! -- carries. This is a franchise in the middle of a serious step backwards.
Colts vs. Browns
C+Pat Shurmur's decision to punt on fourth-and-1 late while losing -- with his new owner watching -- is just awkward/sad/inexplicable. Josh Gordon dropped a huge touchdown pass, but maybe he can blame the sun? There's some stuff to like about Cleveland and the future, but they still need to bust out a full-blown reboot under Jimmy Haslam.
B-Weird day for a Colts team that did just enough to win a pretty critical game at home. Andrew Luck was a little off, even with two rushing touchdowns, and the Colts' defense simply isn't that good.
Buccaneers vs. Saints
B-I guess I could dock their grade because of the defense stinking the joint up, but a) they had a huge goal-line stand in this game and b) we knew they were going to stink. Meanwhile, Drew Brees had 313 passing yards and four touchdowns ... in the first half. He didn't do major damage after the break, but the Saints' identity is becoming a little bit clearer. You miss scoring opportunities on them, and they'll beat you.
CVincent Jackson set a Buccaneers receiving-yards record (216 yards), Josh Freeman threw for 420 yards and three touchdowns and they still lost, because Drew Brees shredded them and the NFL rule book is weird sometimes. More succinctly: Jackson had a 95-yard catch, the longest play in Bucs history, and somehow didn't score.
Giants vs. Redskins
B-Robert Griffin III pulled off a miraculous comeback against the Giants ... but Eli Manning was a little bit better late. What RG3 does on a weekly basis is just mind-blowing. Losing Fred Davis certainly hurts the Redskins, and they've got a 2011 Panthers feel to them: must-see TV, lots of close games and perhaps not enough victories because of defensive deficiencies.
BDivision wins are never easy to come by, and things weren't cake for the Giants on Sunday. Eli Manning threw two interceptions, Ahmad Bradshaw never really got going, and the defense was gashed early on. But some late sacks, a few turnovers and a big-boy throw to Victor Cruz changed the outcome of this game and gave New York the NFC East lead.
Texans 43, Ravens 13
FWow, what a stinker by Baltimore. Terrell Suggs coming back and looking good is a small silver lining, but it's clear their defense is no good at this point. If Bad Joe Flacco shows up -- and he showed up on Sunday -- it becomes much, much more difficult for this team to justify its status as a Super Bowl contender.
AThey pressured Joe Flacco all day, Matt Schaub was extremely efficient and Arian Foster scored two touchdowns that he never really needed (because the lead was so big). This AFC contender matchup was a laugher by halftime with Houston up 29-3.
Rams vs. Packers
B+Pretty good pair of weeks for Jordy Nelson, and Randall Cobb as well. That might have something to do with Aaron Rodgers getting angry and going off. The reigning MVP went 30-for-37, 342 yards and three touchdowns Sunday against the Rams, which is particularly impressive given the talent of St. Louis cornerbacks.
CThe Rams did a decent job of hanging in against a Packers team that clearly wasn't going to lose this game. Their passing defense clearly took a step back with Rodgers shredding it, however. They "only" gave up three sacks, which is much less terrible when you consider how makeshift their offensive line was on Sunday.
Vikings vs. Cardinals
D+The offensive numbers look OK, but don't get fooled: the Cardinals weren't particularly good until later in the game when they were down 14 points. A much bigger concern is the 153 rushing yards they gave up to Adrian Peterson. Also, a John Skelton pick-six was the difference on the scoreboard.
BChristian Ponder had ... 58 passing yards? His two picks were really, really bad on Sunday, so get excited for the "it's all Samantha Steele's fault!" headlines. Meanwhile, Adrian Peterson is an absolute monster. Shame on you for ever doubting him. 5-2, Vikings. 5-2.
Bills vs. Titans
C+Chris Johnson's game -- 18 carries, 195 rushing yards, two touchdowns -- could've been better if Jamie Harper hadn't vultured two scores from him. Matt Hasselbeck's basically saved the Titans season, so naturally they'll go right back to Jake Locker when the youngster is healthy. Tremendous comeback for Hassy on Sunday.
C-Defense is for suckers, and so is betting on the Bills: with Buffalo up six points, Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a pick to Jason McCourty while McCourty was basically lying on the ground. You've seen this movie before -- too many times, I imagine -- and you know that the Bills lost. How could they have spent so much money on defense this offseason???
Patriots vs. Jets
CThe Patriots nearly coughed up a loss to the second double-digit underdog at home this year. And they very nearly couldn't close an inferior team out ... again. They won a tough divisional game, but the overtime victory over the Jets raises questions about their overal ability.
BYes, the Jets out-grade the Patriots even though they lost. That's because they played a team that heavily out-manned them and put up a pretty good fight. There's no reason New York should've been in this game, but they were. And they very nearly had sole possession of first place in the AFC East.
Raiders vs. Jaguars
CThis was a crippling loss for the Jaguars on a number of levels: it happened in overtime, on the road after they blew a huge lead. And, of course, both Blaine Gabbert and Maurice Jones-Drew suffered injuries during the first half. Chad Henne was an absolute disaster. That being said, at least they played well with their normal starters?
D+While Oakland "won" this game, it's hard to imagine this being a true victory for the Raiders. Darren McFadden couldn't get going, Carson Palmer looks more or less washed up at this point, and the defense got torched Blaine Gabbert early.
Bengals vs. Steelers
BJonathan Dwyer stepped up big in the running game with injuries hurting the depth chart. Pittsburgh, with the help of Jay Gruden, shut down the Bengals offense in the second half, giving up just three points. This wasn't a perfect game, but it was a win and it was a huge one considering the long-term ramifications for the Steelers.
C-What happened in the second half? The Bengals took over early and then completely folded to the Steelers. The defense couldn't stop Pittsburgh in any facet and the play calling was just incredibly bizarre, especially when they ran the ball two-straight times, down seven points, 89 yards away from the end zone, with just 5:40 remaining in the game. Marvin Lewis continues to not excel at coaches' challenges.
Bears vs. Lions
INC
INC
 
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