2013 NFL Grades, Week 12: NFC North has a bad Sunday

The NFC North is a real mess, huh? A few weeks ago it looked like maybe the best division in the NFL top to bottom. A pair of Jay Cutler and Aaron Rodgers injuries later and it's a total trainwreck.

The division actually went winless Sunday ... despite two of its teams playing each other. That's what happens when the Vikings and Packers end in a tie.

Meanwhile the Lions laid an egg at home against the Buccaneers and the Bears got blown out on the road against the Rams. The Buccaneers have played well the last few weeks and St. Louis has shown some solid ability in the past few games as well.

But how can you trust either of those teams after those sets of games? You can't. The Packers and Vikings don't have the makeup of a division winner either.

Just a sloppy division right now.

Patriots 34, Broncos 31
B- The Broncos took major advantage of a mistake-ridden first half from the Patriots to surge out to a monster lead. But that second half was brutal. Peyton Manning made some big throws but struggled some in the weather. Knowshon Moreno was an absolute beast. The Broncos didn't have enough.
 B New England couldn't stop the Broncos running game but Tom Brady took care of business when he needed to. Aqib Talib shut down Demaryius Thomas in a big way but it was ultimately Brady that flipped this game on its head.
Titans 23, Raiders 19
B- The Titans are somehow the No. 6 seed in the AFC after their win in Oakland. Justin Hunter and Kendall Wright are turning into a nice little duo in Tennessee and Ryan Fitzpatrick is getting them the rock. Chris Johnson remains hit or miss.
 C+ The Raiders were very nearly in the playoffs and remain (sort of) in the hunt. It's a weird thing. Matt McGloin did well once again, Rashad Jennings keeps running well and the defense keeps overachieving.
Cardinals 40, Colts 11
F The absence of Reggie Wayne is a big problem for this team. Andrew Luck once again struggled, the running game is non-existent and the defense couldn't slow down Arizona at all. A blowout from the start.
A Arizona keeps answering the bell and staying in the NFC Wild Card hunt. Carson Palmer's playing really well the last few weeks and Michael Floyd's developing into an impressive second weapon. Big win for Bruce Arians against his old team.
Cowboys 24, Giants 21
B Tony Romo led another clutch drive to shrug off the #Narrative. The Cowboys defense, despite being banged up, limited the Giants to just six points in the first half. They let New York mount a comeback eventually but the offense was able to seal the deal.
C Andre Brown ran the ball really well and Eli Manning didn't cough the ball up, but it was surprising that the Giants didn't feed Brown the rock more. The defense couldn't limit Tony Romo enough in the earlygoing or down the stretch and get the ball back.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24. Detroit Lions 21
B+ Three wins in a row for Greg Schiano's team as they overcome a miserable start to the season. Pretty impressive turnaround for the Bucs considering where they were a few weeks ago. Mike Glennon is playing his way into the Offensive Rookie of the Year discussion.
D- Brutal loss for the Lions -- they would've been leading the NFC North by a full game if they don't botch this home game. Matthew Stafford didn't cause all the interceptions but he made some pretty mind-bogglingly bad throws.
Minnesota Vikings 26, Green Bay Packers 26
C- Adrian Peterson was excellent per usual and Christian Ponder was surprisingly efficient. The defense can't do what it did down the stretch though -- it's never a good look to give up 19 second-half points when you're sitting on a lead.
C- Matt Flynn gave the Packers a little spark and they put together a nice comeback to get  to overtime. This tie could end up helping them but they could've been more aggressive in the extra period knowing Chicago and Detroit lost. Eddie Lacy is a full-grown man.
Jacksonville Jaguars 13, Houston Texans 6
B+ Are the Jaguars trying to play themselves out of the No. 1 seed? That's two wins now, and they just hopped the Texans in the AFC South. Credit to Gus Bradley for continuing to get effort from his squad despite its struggles early in the season.
F- Texans have now lost at home to the Oakland Raiders and Jaguars in consecutive weeks. That's the NFL equivalent of rock bottom. Six points. Ugh.
San Diego Chargers 41, Kansas City Chiefs 38
B+ Despite not playing any defense, the Bolts still stormed back to take the victory away from the Chiefs. Give credit to Philip Rivers , who's now crossed over 390 passing yards four times on the season. Danny Woodhead continues to be an impressive offseason pickup.
C+ The Chiefs lost Justin Houston and Tamba Hali , so there's some built-in excuse for not playing good defense. But they've been exposed by two high-caliber quarterbacks in the last two weeks. It's not going to get any easier for them.
Carolina Panthers 20, Miami Dolphins 16
C+ Stunning comeback effort, although this was the worst win of the Panthers' seven-game winning streak. Cam Newton got knocked around early and the defense wasn't as good without Charles Johnson .
B- Mike Wallace has to catch that pass at the end of the game, even though he had probably his best game of the season Sunday. The Dolphins running attack is a complete mess. It's kind of amazing that Ryan Tannehill 's still alive.
Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Cleveland Browns 11
B+ This team is right back in the playoff hunt. Ben Roethlisberger 's been inspired by trade rumors and is taking it out on opponents. Antonio Brown is having a really, really good season.
D+ Tough day when Josh Gordon sets a franchise record for receiving yards ... in a loss. His 237 yards netted the Browns their only touchdown. There are just too many issues with the quarterback position and it looks like Brandon Weeden 's under center for the forseeable future.
St. Louis Rams 42, Chicago Bears 21
D This defense fell off a freaking cliff. Chicago can't stop anyone -- first Zac Stacy and then Benny Cunningham lit up the defense on the ground. Josh McCown 's doing some good things on offense, at least. Tough loss given how bad the NFC North was Sunday.
B+ Rams are a major pest for playoff teams right now. They're not in the postseason hunt but they're doing damage and flashed some upside Sunday. Tavon Austin keeps coming on strong, the running game is improved and Kellen Clemens has a couple wins under his belt.
Baltimore Ravens 19, New York Jets 3
F Miserable effort for Rex Ryan's squad. Geno Smith continues to look terrible and hasn't played well in his last few games. The defense limited the Ravens enough but it was largely irrelevant.
B+ Must-win game for the Ravens and they took care of business. Man this offense is really not that good: the running game just has nothing going on at all. The defense is going to have to carry the Ravens and hope Joe Flacco can get hot. Sound familiar?
CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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