NFL Week 15 grades: Bengals get a 'D' as they 'Bungle for Joe Burrow,' Saints get 'A+' for crushing Colts
Here are the Week 15 grades for every team playing on Sunday and Monday
Less than 24 hours after Joe Burrow won the Heisman, Dalton basically rolled out the red carpet for the LSU quarterback with a four-interception performance that killed any chances the Bengals had of possibly upsetting the Patriots. And as crazy as it sounds, an upset wasn't completely out of the question with the New England leading just 13-10 at halftime.
Unfortunately for the Bengals, all four of Dalton's picks came in the second half, and somehow each one was uglier than the previous one. On the Bengals' opening possession of the second half, Dalton dropped back and tried to sneak a pass to Tyler Boyd, but as you can see below, Boyd just wasn't open, and Stephon Gilmore came away with the interception.
After being picked off by Gilmore, you'd think that maybe Dalton would start throwing away from him, but nope.
On the Bengals' very next possession, Dalton threw in Gilmore's direction again, and this time, not only did the Patriots corner pick off the pass, but he returned it 64 yards to the house.
Apparently, Dalton forgot to do his homework on Gilmore, who's been one of the best corners in the NFL all season.
Week 15 is in the books and there's a lot to go over. Fortunately Will Brinson, John Breech, Ryan Wilson and Sean Wagner-McGough are here to break everything down on the Pick Six Podcast. Listen below and be sure to subscribe right here for daily NFL goodness fired into your eardrums.
On a day where former Bengals quarterback Boomer Esiason, the Bengals might have actually been better off if Burrow had put the helmet on and flown to Cincinnati to finish this game. Dalton's disastrous third quarter ended with a third pick, although this time it wasn't Gilmore.
With just under 30 seconds left to play in the quarter, Dalton was picked off by J.C. Jackson after he tried to hit Alex Erickson with a deep pass.
Dalton finished the game 17 of 31 for 151 yards and a touchdown to go along with his four interceptions.
Now that Burrow owns a Bengals helmet, he should probably just start wearing it around, because there's a good chance that's what he's going to have on his head for most of his NFL career.
New England 34-13 over Cincinnati
|After weeks of struggling, this seemed like the perfect week for the Patriots to fix their offense, but that didn't happen in Cincinnati. Although the Patriots won in a blowout, that was mostly because their defense dominated the game. Not only did the Patriots force five turnovers, but one of those was a pick-six by Stephon Gilmore, who had two total interceptions in the game. Offensively, the Patriots didn't even total 300 yards (291), which was somewhat of a surprise, considering they were going up against a Bengals defense that has given up the second most offensive yards in the NFL this year.|
|Although Andy Dalton had a disastrous performance against New England, the Bengals offense actually did have some success in this game, but Dalton just wasn't really part of it. The Bengals proved early and often that they could move the ball on the ground against New England, they just didn't stick to that part of their game plan. Joe Mixon (136 yards) led a Bengals rushing attack that totaled 164 yards, which was the second-highest rushing total that the Patriots have surrendered this season.|
Tampa Bay 38-17 over Detroit
|Jameis Winston got a brutal start with an interception on the Buccaneers' first possession, but as it turns out, that pretty much ended up being the only mistake he would make in the game. After the pick, the Bucs quarterback responded with one of the best first-half performances in NFL history, throwing for 308 yards and three touchdowns (221 of those yards came in the first quarter, which was the highest first quarter performance by any NFL quarterback since 2004). Winston would finish the game with 458 passing yards, making him the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 450 or more yards in back-to-back games. The impressive part is that Winston did all of this without Mike Evans on the field. With Evans out due to an injury, Winston spent his day targeting Chris Godwin (five catches, 121 yards) and Breshad Perriman (five catches, 113 yards, three touchdowns), though Godwin also had to leave early due to injury.|
|With the Lions down to their third-string quarterback, it's hard to fault Matt Patricia for the play of the team's offense, but it's easy to fault him for the play of the team's defense. Patricia is a defensive coach, and he had no answers for the Buccaneers, who put up 495 total yards while totally embarrassing Detroit. This game marked the third time this season that the Lions have surrendered 490 or more total yards, marking the first time since 2009 that the Lions defense has gotten beat down that badly three or more times in a single season.|
Kansas City 23-3 over Denver
|For a team based on Denver, you'd think the Broncos would know how to handle snow, but they looked completely lost in Kansas City on Sunday. With snow falling nearly the entire afternoon, Drew Lock never looked comfortable in the game, completing less than 50 percent of his passes. Although Lock's accuracy was off, it might not have mattered if it had been on, and that's because his receivers dropped multiple passes in the game. Basically, the only thing colder than the weather during this game was the play of the Broncos' offense.|
|Not even the snow could slow down Patrick Mahomes. Playing with an injured hand in blizzard-like conditions, Mahomes still managed to have a huge day, throwing for 340 yards and two touchdowns. With the Chiefs ground game held in check by the Broncos defense, Mahomes had to carry Kansas City, and he did that by targeting Travis Kelce (11 catches for 142 yards) and Tyreek Hill (five catches for 67 yards and two TDs) early and often. Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker also came up big in the snow, hitting three field goals, including a 44-yarder just before halftime. |
N.Y. Giants 36-20 over Miami
|Less than 48 hours after signing a huge extension with the Dolphins, DeVante Parker came through with a big game, but unfortunately for Miami, he's the only player who really came through anything on Sunday. Not only did Parker catch four passes for 72 yards, but he also was on the receiving end of both touchdowns that the Dolphins scored in the loss. The game was littered with mistakes for the Dolphins, who missed a field goal, lost a fumble, suffered a safety and failed to convert fourth-and-1 from the Giants' 10-yard line in the first quarter.|
|In what could end up being the final home start of Eli Manning's career, Saquon Barkley did his best to send his quarterback out with a bang. Barkley, who hadn't hit the 100-yard mark since Week 2, ended the drought by steamrolling the Dolphins for 112 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries (Barkley also tacked on four receptions for 31 yards). Although Manning wasn't anywhere close to perfect -- he threw three interceptions -- he did have a serviceable performance, throwing for 283 yards and three touchdowns. Manning's biggest play came in the second quarter when he hooked up with Golden Tate for a 51-yard score.|
Seattle 30-24 over Carolina
|The Seahawks offense revolves around two things: getting the run game going, and then letting Russell Wilson do his thing, and both those conditions were on full display against Carolina. Chris Carson got started early with four carries for 47 yards and a touchdown on the Seahawks' opening drive, and then continued to do damage in a game where he finished with 133 yards and two touchdowns. Wilson also had some major success against the Panthers, throwing for 286 yards and two touchdowns. The most encouraging thing for the Seahawks is that Tyler Lockett (eight catches, 120 yards, 1 TD) had his first 100-yard receiving game since Week 9. Defensively, K.J. Wright had two picks, with the biggest one coming in the third quarter when the Panthers had marched into Seahawks territory.|
|The Panthers might want to think about switching to a Wildcat offense and just snapping the ball to Christian McCaffrey, because it seems like he's the only player who's have any success on that side of the ball for Carolina. In a game where Kyle Allen threw three interceptions, McCaffrey kept this from turning into a blowout with 175 total yards and two touchdowns. Of McCaffrey's total, 87 came on the ground while 88 came through the air.|
Green Bay 21-13 over Chicago
|Mitch Trubisky and the offense couldn't finish or extend their drives for the bulk of this game. They converted just nine of their 20 third down attempts and couldn't move the sticks on any of their three fourth down tries. Defensively, they couldn't pressure Aaron Rodgers much throughout the game as Khalil Mack was mostly held in check. You do have to give them credit for crawling back from a 21-3 deficit to make it a one score game late. Those prior miscues, however, prevented them from an attainable win. |
|The Packers were the aggressors early in this game and it paid off for them. A fourth-and-4 pass from Aaron Rodgers to Davante Adams opened up the scoring in the first quarter and they were able to control the first half rather easily. They opened up the third with back-to-back scoring drives to give them a sizable lead, but did allow Chicago to crawl back in this contest to make it a one-score game. The defense was sound for the bulk of the afternoon and were able to come up with timely turnovers. But allowing the comeback to be as close as it was takes them out of the "A" conversation. |
Bears-Packers grades by Tyler Sullivan (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Houston 24-21 over Tennessee
|This was a statement win for the Texans, who now control their own fate. Despite throwing two interceptions in the red zone, Deshaun Watson remained poised and gave us a great performance. He passed for 243 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions -- and relied on DeAndre Hopkins, who recorded 119 yards on six catches. Carlos Hyde will probably get overlooked in this matchup, but he was absolutely huge for this team. He rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries, which puts him over 1,000 rushing yards this season for the first time in his career. The Texans defense may have allowed the Titans to record 432 total yards, but they limited their opponent to 21 points. It was a great team win, answering any questions about who the best team in the division is.|
|What a disappointment. The Titans came into this game riding a four-game win streak and it just seemed like they were ready to take the division lead from the Texans, who just lost to the Denver Broncos last week. Instead, the Titans dropped a close game at home. Minus the first half, the Titans didn't play that bad. Falling into 14-0 halftime hole was just too much to overcome. The Titans aren't great playing from behind. Tennessee scored at least 31 points over the past four games, but scored just 21 on Sunday. It's a disappointing loss because a win could have put the Titans in first place in the AFC South, but it's not the end of the world. Tennessee has a legitimate star in A.J. Brown, who caught eight passes for 114 yards and a touchdown, and Ryan Tannehill kept the Titans competitive, but it just wasn't enough. The Titans also have a rematch with the Texans coming up in Week 17. |
Texans-Titans grades by Jordan Dajani (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Philadelphia 37-27 over Washington
|Carson Wentz makes this grade a lot higher than it should be. Wentz went 8 for 8 on the game's final drive for 70 yards with the Eagles down three points to clinch a victory over a three-win Redskins team. Wentz threw the winning touchdown pass to Greg Ward with 26 seconds left to steal a win in Washington, as Ward was the only Eagles wide receiver to catch a pass on the day. Miles Sanders was phenomenal, piling up 19 carries for 122 yards and six catches for 50 yards on a day the Eagles needed him. The defense was poor, allowing 27 points and 261 passing yards to a Redskins team that was last in the NFL in scoring and pass yardage. The only big play the Eagles defense made was on the Redskins' final play, a fumble by Dwayne Haskins that was returned for a touchdown on an Avonte Maddox sack. A win is a win, but the Eagles need to play much better if they are to beat Dallas next week. |
|Give the Redskins credit; they gave the Eagles everything they can handle. Dwayne Haskins had the best game of his short career, going 19 of 28 for 261 yards and two touchdowns for a 121.3 passer rating, giving some life into a dormant Redskins offense. Terry McLaurin had his second 100-yard receiving game against the Eagles in as many games, hauling in five catches for 130 yards and a touchdown and providing a deep threat throughout the afternoon. Two roughing-the-passer penalties on Wentz hurt the Redskins and only getting a field goal on a Wentz fumble with under five minutes left cost them this one. At times, the Eagles appeared to out-hustle the Redskins on loose balls and contested catches, but the Redskins aren't as bad as their 3-11 record indicates. |
Eagles-Redskins grades by Jeff Kerr (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Jacksonville 20-16 over Oakland
|For three quarters, the Raiders were able to bottle up Gardner Minshew and the Jaguars offense, but in the fourth quarter, Minshew showed off his magic. With the Jags trailing 16-6, Minshew led to scoring drives in the games final quarter, and he was nearly perfect on both of them. On the first drive, which cut the lead to 16-13, Minshew went 5 of 7 for 40 yards and a touchdown. The Jags then got the ball back with 1:44 left to play, and Minshew responded with some more magic. On Jacksonville's final offensive drive, Minshew went 5 of 6 for 48 yards. The drive ended with a four-yard TD pass to Chris Conley that gave the Jags their first lead of the game with just 31 seconds left to play. For the game, Minshew threw for 201 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, the Jaguars did a good job of harassing Derek Carr, sacking the Raiders quarterback four times, with two of those coming from Yannick Ngakoue.|
|The Raiders' final game in Oakland is probably one that fans will remember for a long time, but not for a good reason. In the team's final home game at the Coliseum, the Raiders blew a 16-3 lead in the second half in what can only be described as a total meltdown. The Raiders offense couldn't move the ball in the second half, and on the one possession where they did, Daniel Carlson missed a 45-yard field goal. As for the Raiders defense, it gave up three scoring drives of 59 yards or more over the final quarter and a half. Even Jon Gruden made a few bad mistakes. The worst one came on a third-and-11 with 1:47 left when Gruden decided to call a pass play. If the Raiders had ran the ball, they could have run the clock down to 1:07, then kicked a field goal, leaving Jacksonville with less time to score what ended up being the game-winning touchdown.|
Arizona 38-24 over Cleveland
|Freddie Kitchens can't feel too comfortable about his job security after this blowout loss. From an offensive standpoint, the Browns weren't bad, but they did make several critical mistakes, with the ugliest one coming in the first quarter after Baker Mayfield threw an interception on a drive where the Browns had driven down to Arizona's 20-yard line. The Browns offense couldn't consistently get anything going, which is an ugly look for Kitchens, because Cleveland was going up against a defense that went into the week surrendering more yardage than any other team in the NFL. Of course, the offense wasn't the problem for Cleveland in Arizona, it was a defense that couldn't stop Kenyan Drake. The Cardinals running back rushed for four touchdowns on a day where the Cardinals totaled 226 yards on the ground, which marks the second time this season the Browns have surrendered 200 or more rushing yards.|
|The Cardinals aren't exactly known as a team that can beat you with the run, but that's exactly what they did in this game. The Browns had no answers for Kenyan Drake, who rushed for 137 yards and four touchdowns on 22 carries. Drake helped power the Cardinals to 226 rushing yards, which marks just the third time since 2012 that the Cards have rushed for 225 yards or more. With the ground game going, that opened things up for Kyler Murray, who completed 19 of 25 passes for 225 yards and a touchdown.|
Atlanta 29-22 over San Francisco
|Falcons coach Dan Quinn spent two years coaching with Kyle Shanahan in Atlanta (2015-16), and it definitely seemed to show in this game. Quinn seemed to be ready for any offensive trick that Shanahan tried to throw at him, which basically turned the 49ers offense into a one-trick pony that could only move the ball if George Kittle was making plays. The hero of the game for the Falcons was Julio Jones, who caught 13 passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns, including a five-yard score with just two seconds left where Jones was able to cross the goal line by just inches. Jones single-handedly kept the Falcons in this game with huge catch after huge catch.|
|The 49ers defense has come up big multiple times this season, but this game wasn't one of those times. With San Francisco up two scores in the fourth quarter (19-10), the 49ers defense let the Falcons put together two touchdown drives over the final 10 minutes of the game. If you include a wild TD on the final play, the 49ers gave up 19 points in the fourth quarter, which was especially surprising, considering San Francisco was only giving up an average of 4.2 points per fourth quarter on the season. Offensively, Jimmy Garoppolo struggled throwing the ball to anyone who wasn't named George Kittle. Garoppolo went 13 of 17 for 134 yards while targeting Kittle, but just 9 of 17 for 66 yards while targeting everyone else. This loss is a devastating one for the 49ers for multiple reasons, with the main one being that San Francisco is now no longer in first place in the NFC West.|
Minnesota 39-10 over L.A. Chargers
|Somehow, some way, the Vikings dropped 39 points on the Chargers despite Kirk Cousins and the rest of their offense having a completely forgettable day, save for a few highlight-reel Stefon Diggs grabs. How so? They capitalized with tremendous efficiency on error after error after error after error by L.A. You don't get seven takeaways without some opportunistic defense.|
|They were within two points pretty much all the way until halftime, but you know what? They don't deserve any credit for Sunday. None. Yes, Philip Rivers looked comfortable taking shots early, but he also made maybe a half-dozen capital-D dumb throws to go along with another laughable string of untimely penalties and turnovers from his teammates. What an embarrassment from a team with actual talent.|
Vikings-Chargers grades by Cody Benjamin (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Dallas 44-21 over L.A. Rams
|This was a red-hot Los Angeles team that was supposed to humiliate a sub-.500 Cowboys team entering with a three-game losing streak, but instead it was the Rams who got taken out to the woodshed. The rushing defense got shredded and the secondary -- trying to assist with stopping Ezekiel Elliott and then Tony Pollard -- became Swiss Cheese. Offensively, Goff looked uneven the entire evening and although Gurley had two touchdowns, none were on the ground and neither impacted the outcome or momentum of the game. It was a must-win game for the Rams, but they played like it was preseason football, and probably ended their playoff hopes because of it.|
|Everything the Cowboys could do right, they did. Usually their own worst enemy, it was the complete opposite when the Rams came to town, with Dallas avoiding costly mental mistakes that led to brutal penalties and drive-killing dropped passes. The decision to cut Brett Maher and sign Kai Forbath also paid off mightily, with the latter nailing all three of his field goal attempts to help deepen the embarrassment of the Rams. Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard were flat-out dominant -- both exceeding the 100-yard mark and Elliott having 150 yards from scrimmage with three touchdowns -- while the Cowboys defense stepped up mightily and forced the Jared Goff and Todd Gurley into a corner they couldn't fight their way out of.|
Rams-Cowboys grades by Patrik Walker (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Buffalo 17-10 over Pittsburgh
|To clinch just their second playoff berth this century, the Bills had to win a primetime game on the road in a hostile environment, and that's exactly what they did on Sunday. Not only did the Bills defense absolutely suffocate the Steelers offense, but the unit also came up with multiple big plays, including four interceptions. Two of those picks came from Tre'Davious White, who set up a third quarter field goal when he returned an interception 49 yards. Offensively, the Bills were able to rack up 131 yards on the ground, which was especially impressive considering they were going up against a Steelers defense that was only giving up 101.2 rushing yards per game. Devin Singletary led the way with 87 rushing yards, but those came with several scares as he fumbled twice (he didn't lose either one). John Brown also came up big for Buffalo, accounting for 99 of Josh Allen's 139 passing yards.|
|When you have a third-string quarterback running your offense, it can be tough to move the ball against one of the best defenses in the NFL, and the Steelers found that out first-hand on Sunday night. Although Duck Hodges has had a solid season, he had a total meltdown on national television with four interceptions that more or less cost the Steelers the game. The ugly part of the performance is that three of the four picks came in Bills territory. It wasn't just Hodges who struggled though; the Steelers also had some trouble getting their running game going. Although James Conner made his return in this game, he totaled just 42 yards on eight carries. Overall, the Steelers totaled just 229 yards, their lowest offensive output since 2013.|
New Orleans 34-7 over Indianapolis
|Frank Reich has been the Colts coach for nearly two full seasons and this was definitely the most humiliating loss the Colts have suffered since he took over at the beginning in 2017. The Colts got outclassed, outscored and totally embarrassed by a Saints team that was better in every phase of the game. Things got off to an ugly start for the Colts when they gave up a blocked punt on their opening possession, and then things only got worse from there. On a night where Marlon Mack couldn't find any running room and where Jacoby Brissett was constantly overthrowing receivers, the Colts finished with just 205 yards of offense, which was the team's second-lowest total since 2012. With the loss, the Colts are now eliminated from the playoff race, which seems fair, because they definitely didn't play like a team that deserves to be in the playoffs.|
|This game was all about Drew Brees, who broke one of the NFL's biggest passing records on a night where he was nearly perfect. During the blowout win, Brees embarrassed the Colts defense with a performance that included 307 passing yards and four touchdowns. Brees ended the game 541 career touchdown passes, which broke Peyton Manning's career record of 539. As if that wasn't enough, Brees added another record when he broke the single-game mark for completion percentage by completing 96.7% of his passes (29 of 30). The biggest benefactor of Brees' big day was Michael Thomas, who caught 12 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown. Not to be outdone, the Saints special teams chipped in a blocked punt and New Orleans defense held the Colts to just 205 yards, the fewest yards the Saints have given up this season.|
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