Welcome to the Week 7 grades!
It took nearly a month, but Bill Belichick finally earned his 300th career regular-season win. The Patriots coach picked up his 299th win back on Sept. 24 and after watching his team lose three straight games, Belichick got his 300th win on Sunday in shocking fashion with a 29-25 upset win over the Bills. The 70-year-old is now the third coach in NFL history to reach the 300-win mark, joining Don Shula and George Halas.
The only thing more shocking than New England's win was the one that the victory that the Vikings pulled off on Monday night against the 49ers.
Minnesota and New England were two of five teams that received and 'A' this week. So who else aced Week 7? Let's check out every grade from the week, starting with Minnesota's big Monday win.
Minnesota 22-17 over San Francisco (Monday)
|Brock Purdy has been reliable all year and the 49ers defense has been reliable all year. But Monday night, they both let San Francisco down. The 49ers went into Week 7 with one of the best defenses in the NFL, but you wouldn't know that based on how they played against Minnesota. The 49ers defense got torched for 452 yards, and a big reason that happened is because it didn't get much pressure on Kirk Cousins. (He was sacked zero times on 45 pass attempts.) It also couldn't get off the field, as the Vikings converted 8 of 13 third downs. As for Purdy, after playing impressive football for three quarters, he melted down in the fourth quarter with two interceptions, marking the first time in his career he's thrown two picks in a game, let alone the same quarter. The 49ers have now lost two straight, and things aren't going to get any easier with the Bengals and Jaguars next up on their schedule.
|Kirk Cousins threw an interception on his second pass of the game, but after that, the Vikings played nearly perfect football. Cousins carved up the 49ers defense with 378 passing yards. Most of Minnesota's offensive fireworks came from rookie Jordan Addison, who caught two TD passes, including an improbable 60-yarder just before halftime that looked like it had been intercepted (you can see that here). Not to be outdone, the Vikings defense was equally impressive. It kept Brock Purdy on the run for all four quarters, and it also came up with two huge interceptions over the final six minutes of the game. At 3-4, there's no reason this reinvigorated Vikings team can't get back in the NFC North race.
49ers-Vikings grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
New England 29-25 over Buffalo
|I give Buffalo credit for rallying back in the second half and taking the lead right after the two-minute warning, but this was a poor showing on multiple fronts. Once again, it was a sluggish start offensively with Josh Allen throwing an interception on his first throw of the day that helped the Patriots build a 10-0 lead from the jump. Penalties continually put them behind the eight-ball and contributed to stalled-out drives that had them in third-and-long situations. While they started to find a rhythm in the second half on offense and took advantage of a forced fumble by Kendrick Bourne to take the lead, they let the Patriots carve them up defensively on the final possession to take the win. Sluggish starts and poor late-game execution aren't exactly the DNA of a team poised to go on a deep playoff run.
|New England flashed what many hoped they'd see from this team coming into the year on Sunday. The Patriots pulled off the biggest upset of Week 7 slate in dramatic fashion, scoring a game-winning touchdown on a Mac Jones throw to Mike Gesicki with just seconds left to defeat the Bills. The Patriots forced a turnover, executed precisely on special teams and the offense largely was efficient. While scoring drives have typically been a painstaking process this season, Jones moved the ball with ease in this game, especially during the 75-yard game-winning drive. Jones was making smart decisions with the football, getting it out quickly, and was rewarded with chunk plays by his skill position players. A much-needed signature win for this team and the 300th regular-season victory for Bill Belichick.
Bills-Patriots grades by Tyler Sullivan (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Chicago 30-12 over Las Vegas
|If you're wondering why Brian Hoyer has never really made it as a starter in the NFL, just watch this game. With Jimmy Garoppolo out, Hoyer was forced to start and he had a nightmare performance. Not only did he throw for just 129 yards, but he also threw two interceptions, including a pick-six. Coach Josh McDaniels could have gone with rookie Aidan O'Connell as his starter, but he decided that Hoyer was the better option. The Raiders offense sputtered, the special teams struggled and their defense couldn't stop a rookie QB. This was an ugly showing by a team that had a chance to move above .500.
|With rookie QB Tyson Bagent making his first career start, not much was expected of the Bears offense on Sunday, but they put on a show. Bagent was efficient on a day where he threw for 162 yards and a TD, but it was the Bears' ground game that did the dirty work. D'Onta Foreman (89 yards, two touchdowns) led a rushing attack that steamrolled the Raiders for 173 yards. The Bears defense was also impressive in a game where they forced three turnovers, including a pick-six by Jaylon Johnson that essentially iced the win. The Bears have now won two of their past three games following an 0-4 start.
Raiders-Bears grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Cleveland 39-38 over Indianapolis
|Myles Garrett almost single-handedly carried the Browns to a win in this game. Although the Browns defense struggled at times, that doesn't apply to Garrett, who had two strip-sacks and a blocked field goal in the first half alone. The two forced fumbles by Garrett led to two touchdowns for the Browns. Offensively, the Browns weren't great, but P.J. Walker did do just enough to help Cleveland win the game. Walker, who was playing for an injured Deshaun Watson, threw for 57 yards on Cleveland's game-winning drive that was capped by a Kareem Hunt TD with just 15 seconds left. The win is definitely a positive thing for Cleveland, but Browns still have a lot of questions to answer at quarterback.
|The Colts got the full Gardner Minshew experience on Sunday. The good part of that experience: Minshew threw for 305 yards while also totaling four touchdowns. The bad part of that experience: Minshew turned the ball over FOUR times, including a second-quarter fumble that Cleveland returned for a TD and a fourth-quarter lost fumble that clinched the loss for Indy. The Colts did get some huge performances from Jonathan Taylor (120 total yards) and Josh Downs (five catches for 125 yards), but it wasn't enough to overcome the team's multiple mistakes. Although the Colts lost, it does feel like this team is good enough to compete for a division title, especially after dropping 38 points on the vaunted Browns defense.
Browns-Colts grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
N.Y. Giants 14-7 over Washington
|We have reached Week 7 and for the seventh straight week, the Commanders' biggest problem hasn't changed: They can't protect the quarterback. Sam Howell got sacked six times and was under pressure for most of the game and when your QB is getting beat up on almost every play, it's hard to win in the NFL. Howell has now been sacked 40 times through seven weeks, which is the second-highest total in NFL history through seven games. The Commanders defense played reasonably well, but if the offense can't fix its problems, it's going to be hard for Washington to win enough games to compete for a playoff spot.
|The Giants' pass rush finally showed up for a game. Going into Week 7, the Giants had the fewest sacks in the NFL with five, but they more than DOUBLED that total with six against the Commanders. Dexter Lawrence (two sacks) and Kayvon Thibodeaux (1.5 sacks) both made life a living nightmare for Sam Howell. The Giants offense wasn't great, but they didn't have to be, because the Commanders offense was worse. Tyrod Taylor did have a huge second quarter with two touchdown passes. This felt like a must-win game for the Giants and they got it with a huge defensive stop at the end after Washington had driven down inside of New York's 10-yard line in the final two minutes.
Commanders-Giants grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Atlanta 16-13 over Tampa Bay
|Desmond Ridder almost gave this game away by losing THREE fumbles inside of Tampa Bay's 15-yard line, including two at the one-yard line, but the Falcons were able to overcome that, thanks in large part to a defense that came up with some turnovers of its own. Richie Grant saved the game in the fourth quarter with a huge interception of Baker Mayfield. As for Ridder, when he wasn't turning the ball over, he was actually solid, throwing for 250 yards. The most impressive part of that number is that five receivers finished with at least 25 yards. This game was a breakthrough for a Falcons team that has had some trouble winning on the road and they now have first place to themselves in the NFC South heading into Week 8.
|After scoring just six points in a Week 6 loss to the Lions, the Buccaneers offense didn't look much better in Week 7. Baker Mayfield threw for 275 yards in this game, but the offense couldn't move once they reached Falcons' territory. The Bucs scored zero touchdowns on two trips to the red zone. They also had a key drive come to an end late in the fourth quarter after Mayfield threw an interception. The offense is going to have to improve if this team wants to have any shot of competing for the NFC South title.
Falcons-Buccaneers grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Baltimore 38-6 over Detroit
|The TV overlords stepped in during the third quarter and took this game off television. The Lions secondary had a horrid day, surrendering a whopping 355 yards of total offense in just the first half, while the offense didn't pick up a first down until late in the second quarter. A throwaway game for sure.
|This was the breakout game for Todd Monken's offense. The Ravens put together touchdown drives on their first four possessions, and didn't look back. The defense also stifled what was the No. 4 scoring offense in the league. It was a beatdown from beginning to end.
Lions-Ravens grades by Jordan Dajani (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Pittsburgh 24-17 over L.A. Rams
|Pittsburgh played complementary football while also capitalizing on Rams mistakes. T.J. Watt's pick at the start of the second half was huge, but so was Kenny Pickett's 39-yard completion to Diontae Johnson three plays after Brett Maher's missed field goal attempt late in the third quarter. The completion to Johnson set up Jaylen Warren's game-tying touchdown run. The Steelers offense then capitalized on the defense forcing the Rams into their only three-and-out of the day on L.A.'s ensuring drive. Pittsburgh's offense got the ball back and took control of the game by moving 80 yards on 10 plays. Pickett had four key completions and one third-down conversion with his legs on the drive that was punctuated by Najee Harris' first touchdown run of the season.
|Los Angeles should have had a bigger lead at halftime. The Rams led by six points despite Puka Nacua's big first half (94 yards on five catches) and Pittsburgh's offense failing to convert on a single first down. But a missed field goal and point-after attempt by Brett Maher contributed to the Rams' inability to distance themselves from Pittsburgh in the first half. The Rams ran the ball well (Royce Freeman and Darrell Henderson Jr. combined to run for 127 yards and a score on 30 carries), but their passing game just wasn't good enough, especially with Cooper Kupp's minimal contribution. Defensively, the Rams didn't put more pressure on Kenny Pickett while allowing him to make several big plays with his legs. They also allowed too many big plays, especially on completions from Pickett to Diontae Johnson and fellow wideout George Pickens.
Steelers-Rams grades by Bryan DeArdo (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Kansas City 31-17 over L.A. Chargers
|Justin Herbert and the Chargers were able to go just about toe to toe with the Chiefs in the first half despite Kansas City's eye-popping offensive production. However, their second-half offensive performance was a letdown. Two interceptions and three punts just won't cut it. Props to the Los Angeles defense buckling down and only allowing seven points after halftime, but Herbert and the offense have to be better going forward. They had their chances but simply couldn't execute in key moments.
|The connection between Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce was as good as it has ever been. Kelce's 12 catches tied a career high while his 172 receiving are the second-most in a game of his career. Mahomes put up 424 passing yards, four touchdowns and one interception on 32 of 42 passing in total. The Chiefs defense did what they do best once again, holding their seventh consecutive opponent to 21 or fewer points. They are the only team to do so in all of their games this season. The only reason the Chiefs don't receive an "A" grade is because they were unable to score for the majority of the second half.
Chargers-Chiefs grades by Garrett Podell (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Denver 19-17 over Green Bay
|With the Packers coming off a bye, this seemed like the perfect game for them to get their season back on track, but instead, they fell flat on their face. The Packers offense totaled just 100 yards during a first half where Green Bay got shut out. The defense wasn't much better as the Broncos scored on three of their five possessions in the first half. The Packers did wake up in the second half, but they fell apart over the final eight minutes of the game, a span that included an ugly game-sealing interception from Jordan Love with less than two minutes left to play. Love continues to struggle with his accuracy, especially on deeper passes. With three straight losses, the Packers season suddenly looks like it's headed nowhere fast.
|It took seven weeks, but the Broncos finally picked up their first home win of the season and they did it the old-fashioned way: By outperforming the Packers in all three phases of the game. The Broncos piled up 145 yards on the ground, which opened things up for Russell Wilson, who threw for 194 yards and a TD. Although struggled in the red zone -- they scored just one TD on four trips inside Green Bay's 20-yard line -- Wil Lutz made up for that by hitting four field goals. Defensively, the Broncos struggled some in the second half, but P.J. Locke made up for that by sealing the win with an interception of Jordan Love with under two minutes left to play. Unfortunately for the Broncos, they won't get to celebrate this victory long because they're playing the Chiefs next week.
Packers-Broncos grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Seattle 20-10 over Arizona
|It's a good thing Kyler Murray could be coming back soon, because the Cardinals offense seems to have hit a brick wall with Joshua Dobbs. For the second straight week, the Cards got shut out in the second half and that's mostly because the offense got held to just 88 yards. The Cards defense forced three turnovers and put Arizona in a position to steal this game, but the offense just couldn't capitalize. The Cards have now been outscored 57-12 in the second half over the past four weeks and they'll be hoping that Murray's eventual return will be able to fix that.
|The Seahawks defense is starting to look like one of the better defensive units in the NFL. For the third straight week, Seattle held its opponent to 17 points or less and a big reason that happened in this game is because the Seahawks had Josh Dobbs running for his life. The Seahawks totaled four sacks on Dobbs with 1.5 of those coming from Darrell Taylor in a game where Arizona had ONE drive that went for more than 26 yards. Offensively, Geno Smith made a few mistakes -- he threw a pick and lost a fumble -- but Seattle was able to overcome that thanks to Kenneth Walker III, who finished with 105 yards on the ground. This wasn't a pretty win, but no one cares about pretty wins, because ugly wins count the same in the standings.
Cardinals-Seahawks grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Philadelphia 31-17 over Miami
|After flying high through most of the first six weeks of the season, the Dolphins offense finally came crashing back to earth. Their run game got stonewalled, Tua Tagovailoa faced constant pressure and they lost Jaylen Waddle for a chunk of the game. All of that added up to the Dolphins offense only producing 10 points. The defense did come up with some big plays, including a fumble recovery in the first half and a pick-six by Jerome Baker in the second half, but they just couldn't get off the field. The Dolphins got run over by the "Brotherly Shove" on a night where the Eagles went 4-for-4 on fourth-down conversions. The Dolphins have now played two teams this year that currently have a winning record and they've lost those games by an average of 21 points.
|The Eagles started fast and ended strong and although things got a little crazy in-between, they were still able to bully their way to a win on Sunday night. The offensive star was A.J. Brown, who abused the Dolphins' secondary with 10 catches for 137 yards and a TD. Jalen Hurts was also solid, but he did make several mistakes, including a pick-six in the second half that allowed the Dolphins to tie the game. Hurts made up for it, though, by engineering a fourth-quarter TD drive that took 6:35 off the clock. The Eagles used multiple "Brotherly Shoves" on the drive that Miami simply had no answer for. Defensively, this was a masterpiece for the Eagles. Not only did they shut down Miami's run game, but they came up big plays when they needed them, like Darius Slay's pick of Tua Tagovailoa in the fourth quarter. This was an impressive win for an Eagles team that's now tied with the Chiefs for the best record in the NFL.
Dolphins-Eagles grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Jacksonville 31-24 over New Orleans (Thursday)
|Although Trevor Lawrence was on the injury report all week with a banged-up knee, he definitely didn't play like he had a banged-up knee. Not only did Lawrence throw for 204 yards and a touchdown, but he was also Jacksonville's leading rusher with 59 yards. The Saints seemed to be caught off guard every time Lawrence looked to scramble, and he took advantage of that by taking off eight times. Although Lawrence played well, the Jags offense did disappear in the second half before reappearing with just three minutes left to play when Lawrence hit Christian Kirk for a 44-yard score that ended up winning the game. The Jaguars defense also had an up-and-down game, but it did make several clutch plays, including a pick-six from Foyesade Oluokun and a fourth-down stop on New Orleans' final offensive play. The Jags were somewhat sloppy at times, but when you can play a sloppy game and still beat a decent team on the road by seven points, that usually means you're pretty good, and the Jags are pretty good.
|The Saints fought back from a 24-9 deficit to tie things up at 24 in this game, but in the end, they just made way too many big mistakes. The mistakes started with Blake Grupe's missed field goal in the first quarter and ended with Foster Moreau dropping a potential game-tying TD pass with just under 30 seconds left to play. (It was a bad drop that you can see it here.) In between, there was a Derek Carr pick-six, and let's not forget that the defense gave up a 44-yard TD pass with just three minutes left to play that ended up providing the game-winning points. The Saints have now lost four of their past five since starting the season 2-0.
Jaguars-Saints grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)