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2013 NFL Grades, Week 17: Dolphins, Ravens choke hard

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

They wouldn't know it, but all it was going to take was a single win. The Ravens and the Dolphins just needed to beat a divisional opponent with relatively little to play for and they'd be in the playoffs.

Before Sunday, the Ravens and Dolphins needed help from someone else (the Ravens from the Chiefs or Jets and the Dolphins from the Chargers). It ended up being irrelevant as both Miami and Baltimore choked away their chances at the playoffs.

Miami's fall the final two weeks is disastrous. Joe Philbin's squad scored a total of seven points against the Bills and the Jets. Neither of those teams had anything to play for. Miami had everything to play for.

Baltimore wasn't much better. After a miraculous victory over the Lions three weeks ago, the Ravens were embarrassed by the Patriots by 30-plus points at home. A trip to Cincinnati on Sunday didn't cure any ills. Joe Flacco was bad once again (and probably injured) and Ray Rice and the running game were abysmal.

A horrible close to the season for a pair of playoff pretenders.

TeamGradeAnalysis
Eagles 24, Cowboys 22
BWhere are all Chip Kelly's doubters now? The Eagles won the NFC East on the strength of Nick Foles and LeSean McCoy. The defense made a few huge plays when it counted as well.
B-Nice attempt by Kyle Orton who had a huge game replacing Tony Romo. The defense did an alright job limiting the Eagles from scoring too many points. But Dallas came up just short.
Broncos 34, Raiders 14
B+Another record-breaking day for Peyton Manning and this game was over at halftime. Manning lit up the Raiders for four touchdowns en route to setting the single-season passing yards record. Solid final tuneup for the playoffs.
DOK performance from Terrelle Pryor, stats-wise but the Raiders were never even in this game.
49ers 23, Cardinals 20
B-Tough loss for the Cards but it wouldn't have mattered in the big scheme of things. Carson Palmer tossed for 400 yards but the defense didn't do much to slow down Colin Kaepernick.
BStrong passing game for Colin Kaepernick but the 49ers passing game has to be a concern with Aaron Rodgers about to host them in the playoffs. Nice little rematch of last year and another strong season for Jim Harbaugh.
Seahawks 27, Rams 9
D+They are an old-fashioned team doing it in a different era of football. Can they sustain it?
BSeattle took care of business to lock up the No. 1 seed in the NFC. Marshawn Lynch ran all over the field, Golden Tate was a beast and the defense kept the Rams in single digits. The road to the Super Bowl goes through Seattle.
Chargers 27, Chiefs 24
C+I don't care for Andy Reid resting his starters but his backups did a pretty good job of keeping up with the Chargers. Chase Daniel wasn't horrible and Knile Davis can flat-out run.
B-What a series of lucky breaks to make the playoffs. San Diego might've gotten bailed out on a fake field goal and they shouldn't have struggled that bad against backups. But they got it done.
Saints 42, Buccaneers 17
C-New Orleans is a hard place to play and the Bucs hung with the Saints for a while but couldn't make it last. Mike Glennon had some nice throws but beating the Saints in the Superdome wasn't happening.
A-Taking care of business game for Drew Brees and the Saints. They locked up a playoff spot early on Sunday with a 14-point lead in the first half. Brees was great and the defense stepped up in a big way in the second half to shut down the Bucs.
Packers 33, Bears 28
BAaron Rodgers was far from perfect but he made some massive throws down the stretch including a fourth and long that hit Randall Cobb for a touchdown. Talk about a dangerous team in the postseason now that the offense is getting healthy.
B-Brutal loss on a blown coverage by the Bears defense. Matt Forte was superb, Alshon Jeffery dominated down the field and Jay Cutler didn't make too many boneheaded mistakes. The defense just couldn't stop the Packers when it counted.
Patriots 34, Bills 20
CC.J. Spiller finally flashed some life but the Bills defense couldn't slow down LeGarrette Blount, which really isn't very impressive. Thad Lewis actually did some nice things, too. Tough matchup in a bad environment. Closer than the score indicates.
BLeGarrett Blount ran for ... 189 rushing yards? He also had 145 kick return yards so that's nice. Just a total slopfest of a game that New England ended up winning because Buffalo made a few big mistakes.

TeamGradeAnalysis
Panthers 21, Falcons 20
B-The Panthers go from worst-to-first and become the 2013 NFC South champions with this win. It's fitting that they beat Atlanta by pressuring the quarterback, something they've been very good at throughout the season.
C+Good job, good effort for a team that's out of it. Atlanta tried to play spoiler and Matt Ryan hooked up with Roddy White, but the offensive line couldn't protect Ryan at all.
Vikings 14, Lions 13
DWhat an epic collapse for the Lions to close out the season. They were already eliminated but simply limped to the finish, losing six of their last seven games. Only Calvin Johnson's absence prevents an F in this one.
CThe Vikings sent out the Metrodome with a win despite missing Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart. It might not be enough to save Leslie Frazier's job though.
Giants 20, Redskins 6
D-Solid 3.45 yards per attempt for Kirk Cousins, who didn't do much in his final three games while Robert Griffin III watched from the sideline. The Redskins secured the No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft ... for the Rams.
C+Literally the most meaningless game of the week had to be won by someone. Eli Manning left at halftime with an ankle injury. Jerrel Jernigan had a great game, so there's that.
Bengals 34, Ravens 17
F-The champs are out of the playoffs one year later. Joe Flacco threw three picks on 50 (ugh) attempts. Ray Rice, fittingly, had 15 yards on six carries. Huge disappointment of a season in Baltimore.
B-Tough grade for a big win but Andy Dalton made some really, really dumb throws. How do you toss a pick on first and goal from the 1-yard line? This ended up being a blowout.
Steelers 20, Browns 7
D+Are the Browns seriously going to fire Rob Chudzinski? This game wouldn't help his case but he was working with Jason Campbell and Edwin Baker. No idea what they expect.
B+Massive win to keep their playoff hopes alive. Pittsburgh's not a team you want to play in the postseason if they can sneak in. Defense is playing well and Le'Veon Bell is a revelation.
Titans 16, Texans 10
FThe final, sad nail in a very embarrassing season. Houston was a Super Bowl contender until suddenly it was the worst team in the NFL.
C+Chris Johnson creeped over 1,000 yards again but it's not like he had a great year. It's hard to imagine the status quo remaining in Tennessee despite this win.
Jets 20, Dolphins 7
A-This win didn't save Rex Ryan's job -- he apparently had already been told he was sticking around -- but it was an impressive performance against a team that had everything to play for.
F-Just as unimpressive was the Dolphins chokejob the last two weeks. They posted seven points total in the last eight quarters and in both games they had an opportunity to make the playoffs.
Colts 30, Jaguars 10
C-Another blowout loss to close out the season that at one brief point held a lot of hope. It's probably for the best that Jacksonville will end up with a high draft pick.
BStrong statement game to close the season. Indy could make some noise in the playoffs and -- *gulp* -- Trent Richardson looked good on Sunday. Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton found a nice groove just in time for the postseason.

 
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