Let's start this week's grades off with a piece of advice: If you're ever in Philadelphia, don't make fun of Rocky.
Before the Eagles and Falcons kicked off in Philly on Sunday, the Falcons sent out a tweet that ended with Freddie the Falcon smashing Rocky with a hammer.
In a twist of irony, it was the Falcons who ended up getting hammered in a game that the Eagles played exactly like Rocky would've wanted them to: They punched the Falcons in mouth and knocked Atlanta's offense out cold.
In what might go down as the most impressive defensive performances by any team in 2016, the Eagles absolutely shut down the Falcons' offense during Sunday's 24-15 win.
It's hard to put into perspective just how ridiculously good the Eagles defense played on Sunday, but let's try and do it anyway.
The Eagles held the Falcons to season lows in total yards, rushing yards and points.
Philly limited Atlanta to just 303 total yards of offense, which was well below Atlanta's previous season-low of 362 yards. The Eagles also held the high-scoring Falcons to just 15 points. Going into the game, the Falcons were averaging a league-high 33.9 points per game.
So how did the Eagles do it?
They shut down the Falcons running game and dared someone besides Julio Jones to beat them. Jones put up big numbers (10 catches, 135 yards), but Matt Ryan had no one else to throw to against an Eagles secondary that was suffocating everyone not named Jones.
As a matter of fact, the Falcons only got 132 receiving yards that didn't come from Jones, and 76 of those came on one play, a 76-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.
The Falcons' 48 rushing yards in the game marked just the third time since 2012 that Philly has held an opponent under 50 yards rushing. Speaking of rushing, the Eagles defense also got some serious help from their own running back: Ryan Matthews.
The re-emergence of Matthews, who carried the ball 19 times for 109 yards in the game, kept the Eagles offense on the field and the Falcons offense off of it. The Eagles had the ball for 38:10 in the game, which means the Falcons only had the ball for 21:50. That kind of ball control by the Eagles offense kept the Falcons off the field, and kept the Eagles defense fresh.
It's too bad the Eagles can't play all their games at home because they've been unbeatable there this season. With the win over Atlanta, Philly is now 4-0 at home, a record that includes wins over Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Minnesota and Cleveland.
Unfortunately for Philly, they don't get to play the rest of their games at home. If the Eagles are going to be serious contenders, they're going to need to win on the road, which won't be easy. Over the next three weeks, the Eagles travel to Seattle (Week 11) and Cincinnati (Week 13).
Tennessee 47-25 over Green Bay
The Packers strategy of "Let Aaron Rodgers do everything and hope we win" doesn't seem to be working so well anymore. If one thing had been proven in his career, it's that he does need some help on offense and the Packers just don't have that right now. During Rodgers' career, Green Bay is 4-12, including Sunday, in games where he has to throw 43 or more passes. Of those 16 games, five have come this year, which means the Packers are relying too much on their star quarterback, and it's hard to rely on your quarterback when he doesn't have room to breath. Rodgers (31 of 51 for 371 yards) was sacked five times by Tennessee. The Packer have had some bad losses this season, but this one was definitely the most embarrassing.
The Titans did so many things well that it's almost impossible to fit them all into one paragraph here. For one, they rushed for 162 yards on the NFL's second-ranked run defense. A big chunk of that came from DeMarco Murray, who totaled 123 yards on the ground. Murray didn't just show off his legs against Green Bay though, he also threw a 10-yard touchdown. Of course, Marcus Mariota doesn't have to worry about losing his job to Murray anytime because he found more holes in the Packers defense than you can find in a slice of Swiss cheese (lame cheese pun intended for all the cheeseheads still reading, they need something to get them through life right now). Mariota threw for 295 yards and four touchdowns, and amazingly, the Titans have now scored 35 or more points in their past three games.
Washington 26-20 over Minnesota
After exploding for 20 points in the first half, the Vikings offense absolutely disappeared in the second half, which is almost fitting because that's kind of what their playoff chances are doing right now. With their fourth straight loss, the Vikings became just the third team in NFL history -- along with the 1989 Rams and 2009 Giants -- to open 5-0 and then lose their next four games. In an ugly second half, the Vikings only totaled 94 yards of offense. On their four possessions in the second half, they punted twice, threw an interception and turned the ball over on downs with eight seconds left in the game. The only thing uglier than the Vikings' second half offense was Blair Walsh's missed extra point in the second quarter. It might be time for Minnesota to find a new kicker.
Kirk Cousins might want to have his agent call the Redskins front office ASAP because he just picked up some serious leverage in negotiations after the way he played against the Vikings on Sunday. Going up against the NFL's fourth-ranked pass defense, Cousins shredded the Vikings for 262 yards and two touchdowns. The Redskins offense came up big time on third downs against Minnesota, converting 50 percent of their attempts (6 of 12). It seems the way to beat the Vikings defense is to wear them out: The Redskins scored on all four of their second half possessions and had the ball for more than 18 minutes in the second half.
Tampa Bay 36-10 over Chicago
The scary thing about this game is that Jay Cutler hadn't connected on a 50-yard Hail Mary just before halftime, the Bears would've lost 36-3. Here's how ugly things were for the Bears on Sunday: Chicago turned the ball over FOUR times during a five possession span in the first half. Those turnovers (two interceptions, two lost fumbles) led to two touchdowns for the Bucs. It almost seems impossible to believe that the Jay Cutler who beat the Vikings in Week 9 was the same Cutler who played in Tampa on Sunday.
Jameis Winston was so good on third downs against Chicago that you almost have to feel sorry for the Bears defense for what they went through on Sunday. Winston was a magician on third down, helping the Bucs convert 8 of 15 attempts. The most impressive one was this third-and-10, where Jameis ran 23-yards backwards and then completed a 39-yard pass to Mike Evans.
You can almost see the Bears' spirits break on that play. Actually, I think they did break because the Bears' shell-shocked defense would give up a 43-yard touchdown pass one play later. Winston threw for 312 yards and two touchdowns in the win.
Kansas City 20-17 over Carolina
The Chiefs offense was almost non-existent in Carolina, but that didn't matter thanks to a phenomenal performance from Kansas City's defense and kicker Cairo Santos. The Chiefs D shut down a Panthers running game that went into Sunday ranked ninth in the league on the ground. As for Santos, the Chiefs kicker hit from 47-, 36-, 33-, 37-yards in the game, and was Kansas City's biggest offensive weapon. The Panthers basically gifted this game to Kansas City with two second half turnovers, and hey, it's almost the holidays, so the Chiefs glady accepted.
Blowing a 17-0 lead at home isn't easy, but the Panthers managed to do it because they ran what might go down as the two ugliest offensive plays of their 2016 season. On one play, a pressured Cam Newton inexplicably threw the ball into double coverage and then watched Eric Berry return it for a touchdown.
On another play, Kelvin Benjamin was stripped and lost the ball with the game tied at 17 and less than 30 seconds left.
Those two turnovers wasted a brilliant performance by the Panthers' defense and led to 10 points for Kansas City. Carolina will be kicking themselves all week after losing this one.
Philadelphia 24-15 over Atlanta
Even an MVP candidate like Matt Ryan needs offensive help once in awhile and he definitely didn't get that on Sunday. The Falcons had no run game, totaling just 49 yards on the ground. When Ryan doesn't get any help on the ground, the Falcons almost always struggle: Atlanta is 3-8 since 2011 when they rush for 50 or fewer yards. Ryan was hurt by an uncharacteristic drop from Julio Jones on a third-and-12 late in the game. With the Falcons trailing 21-15, Jones had an easy 20-yard gain, but dropped a pass that was right in his hands.
Overall, the Falcons were also awful on third down, converting just 2 out of 11 attempts.
We already talked about the big day from the Eagles defense, so let's talk about something else, like the big day Philly got from Ryan Matthews, who you probably just benched in your fantasy league. After struggling for weeks, Matthews exploded for 109 rushing yards and two touchdowns. That total was more than Matthews had in his past three games combined. The combination of Matthews and Carson Wentz (25 of 36, 231 yards), helped the Eagles control the clock for 38:10.
Los Angeles 9-6 over New York
The good news for the Rams: They won. The bad news: There's a 99 percent chance that Jeff Fisher is going to use the win as an excuse to keep playing Case Keenum, even though the Rams probably could've won without him. As matter of fact, the Rams offense probably could've stayed in Los Angeles and the team probably would've still beat the Jets thanks to an impressive showing from L.A.'s defense and special teams. We don't usually mention punters here, but we're going to mention Rams punter Johnny Hekker, who averaged a ridiculous 51.7 yards per punt. That includes the 78-yard punt you see below.
Kicker Greg Zuerlein was also on his game, nailing three field goals (20, 38, 34). The in over the Jets marked the second time this year the Rams have won without scoring a touchdown.
It's hard to grade the Jets here because they were forced to start a new quarterback (Bryce Petty) against one of the best defenses in football. The Jets defense gets an 'A' for keeping their team in this game despite a no-show from the team's offense. The Jet's 11 drives in this game ended with eight punts, an interception, the end of the half and one touchdown. That's not enough offense to win.
Denver 25-23 over New Orleans
Darian Stewart was a one-man wrecking crew for the Broncos defense on Sunday. Not only did the Denver safety pick off two passes, but he also recovered a fumble, accounting for three of the four turnovers that the Broncos forced in New Orleans. Trevor Siemian and the Broncos offense might want to write Stewart a thank you note because the Broncos defensive back set up 10 Denver points off his three forced turnovers. Despite Stewart's performance, he wasn't the hero of the game. That honor belongs to Will Parks, who did this: The "Block heard around the Bayou."
The Broncos have been winning with defense and special teams all year, so it was only a matter of time before Denver won on a returned two-point conversion for a touchdown.
The Saints had one of their best all-around performances of they year, but it went to waste thanks to three huge mistakes in the second half. We've already covered the "Block heard 'round the Bayou," so we won't cover that here, but we will cover Michael Thomas and his two ugly fumbles. Thomas' rookie year now has a giant black eye on it after he lost two fumbles in the fourth quarter. Those two fumbles led to 10 Broncos' points and basically cost New Orleans the game. Thomas is the only player in the NFL who's lost two fourth quarter fumbles this year. That's not exactly something you want to be known for. The Saints defense had one of its best games of the season, sacking Trevor Siemian six times. The downside of the loss is that no one's going to remember that improbably 32-yard TD pass that Drew Brees threw to Brandin Cooks with just 1:22 left in the game.
Houston 24-21 over Jacksonville
Brock Osweiler continued his season-long trend of looking ugly in almost every game he's played in, but that didn't matter because the Texans defense and special teams came through. The 24 points scored in this game was more than the Texans had scored in their three previous road games combined (22). Houston got a huge pick-6 from Kareen Jackson and a big 57-yard punt return in the second half from rookie Tyler Ervin. Ervin's return set up an easy seven-yard touchdown drive that even Osweiler was able to finish. In the game, Osweiler went 14 of 27 for 99 yards and two touchdowns. The way the Texans ran the ball, they didn't really need Osweiler. Houston totaled 181 rushing yards, which is kind of a magic number for them. In franchise history, the Texans are now 19-1 when they rush for 180 or more yards.
No one does garbage time quite like the Jaguars. Every week it seems like Jacksonville is trailing by double digits in the fourth quarter and every week it seems like they put up huge numbers. This week was no different. Bortles padded his stats by throwing for 51 yards and a touchdown on Jacksonville's final offensive drive of the game.
Miami 31-24 over San Diego
For the first time in four weeks, the Dolphins didn't have to completely rely on Jay Ajayi to get the win. Ryan Tannehill actually came through with some clutch plays against the Chargers. Despite the fact that he got rocked several times in this game, Tannehill still was able to throw for 240 yards and two touchdowns. The suddenly resurgent Dolphins have now won four games in a row for the first time since 2008.
After the Chargers stadium measure went down in flames on election day, I guess it only made sense for the Chargers to do the same thing on Sunday. Philip Rivers had a total fourth quarter meltdown in this game, throwing four interceptions in the FOURTH QUARTER. Before Sunday, Rivers had only thrown four picks in a game once in his career, now he's done it twice, and this time, they all came in one quarter. Rivers' ugliest interception was a 60-yard Pick-6 that he threw to Kiko Alonso with just over 60 seconds left in the game.
Arizona 23-20 over San Francisco
A big reason the 49ers were able to stay in this game is because of a defense that forced four turnovers and some gutsy quarterback play from Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick wasn't perfect, but he came through with several big plays in a game where he threw for 210 yards and rushed for 55 yards, a total that led the team in that category. On the defensive side of the ball, the 49ers held an opponent to 80 or fewer rushing yards for only the second time this year.
The Cardinals could've turned this game into a blowout, but they didn't because they had two big issues: They kept turning the ball over and they could't score in the red zone. The Cards reached the red zone five times in this game, but only came away with two touchdowns. On the three other possessions, they were held to field goals (twice) and lost a fumble). Carson Palmer (376 yards, one TD, 2 INTs) continues to look like a shell of the quarterback he was last season.
Dallas 35-30 over Pittsburgh
After Dak Prescott's performance against the Steelers, there's only one debate left to have in Dallas and it has nothing to do with the team's quarterback situation: Which Cowboys star is going to take home the rookie of the year award? Both Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott continued their phenomenal seasons on Sunday by putting up huge numbers. Elliott totaled 209 yards and three touchdowns in the game (114 on the ground, 95 through the air). The tandem even hooked up for a huge 83-yard touchdown play on a screen pass in the first quarter. Including that play, Prescott threw for 319 yards, and made zero mistakes in the game.
How good are the Cowboys? Ben Roethlisberger played arguably his best game of the season and that wasn't even enough to derail Dallas. Big Ben threw for 408 yards and three touchdowns, marking only the third time in his storied career that he's thrown for 400 or more yards with three or more touchdowns. The loss ended a personal seven-game home winning streak for Roethlisberger. The Steelers defense gave up 422 total yards in the game, marking the third time this year they've been torched for 420 or more yards. The Steelers are 0-3 in those games.
Seattle 31-24 over New England
In the ultimate twist of irony, the Seahawks won this game the same way the Patriots won Super Bowl XLIX: with a goal line stand in the final seconds. The Seahawks defense didn't completely shut down Tom Brady and the Patriots, but they did when they had to. Besides the goal line stand -- where they stopped New England on four straight plays from inside the two-yard line -- the Seahawks defense also came up big with two huge turnovers, including an interception that was Brady's first of the year.
Of course, the Seahawks defense is only half the reason fans in Seattle will be giddy after this win. The other half is Russell Wilson and the play of C.J. Prosise (that's actually two more halves, but who's counting). A healthy Wilson torched the Patriots (348 yards, three touchdowns), and Seattle might have finally found a running back in Prosise who can carry the load until Thomas Rawls is 100 percent healthy. The rookie put up 153 total yards in the game.
For two straight years after blowing Super Bowl XLIX, the Seahawks got ripped for not giving the ball to Marshawn Lynch, which makes you wonder why Belichick didn't give the ball to his running back. Despite the fact that LeGarrette Blount had three rushing touchdowns in the game, including one where he carried Seattle's entire defense into the end zone, Blount was only given one crack to score on the Patriots' final offensive possession.
Belichick might've actually out-thought himself by going with two Brady sneaks and a fade to Rob Gronkowski. The most amazing thing about this loss is that it's only the second time the Patriots have lost at home after holding a fourth quarter lead: their record is now 102-2 since 2001.
The Patriots' biggest problem in this game was a defense that rarely put pressure on Wilson even though the Seahawks have an offensive line that's been struggling all season. The Pats defense also had several breakdowns on Wilson scrambles that led to wide open receivers for Seattle.
Belichick's motto is "Do Your Job," which means it's likely going to be a rough week of watching film for the defense, because a lot of them didn't do their job against Seattle.