Welcome to the Week 12 grades!
It took 23 years as Patriots coach, but it appears that Bill Belichick has finally hit rock bottom in the NFL. The "Patriot Way" is now the "Wrong Way." The Patriots suffered one of the most embarrassing losses of Week 12 in a 10-7 setback to the Giants.
If you're wondering how bad things got, here's a small taste:
- They became the first NFL team in 30 years to lose back-to-back games despite surrendering 10 or fewer points in each game.
- Belichick has now lost two straight games when his team allowed 10 or fewer points. Before this season, Belichick had only lost two such games in 28 seasons as a head coach.
- NFL teams are 49-2 this season when allowing 10 or fewer points, which breaks down like this: The Patriots are 1-2 while the rest of the league is 48-0.
Like we said, it's been ugly.
With that in mind, let's get to the grades for Week 12, starting with the Monday game in Minnesota (If you want to see the grades for the Thanksgiving games and Black Friday game,).
Chicago 12-10 over Minnesota (Monday)
|The Bears became the first team this season to win a game without scoring a touchdown, and they were able to do that thanks in large part to a wildly impressive defensive performance. The defense came up with four interceptions, including a huge pick from T.J. Edwards in the second half that came after Minnesota had driven into Chicago territory. Montez Sweat also came up big for Chicago. The newcomer recorded 1.5 of Chicago's two sacks on the night. Offensively, Justin Fields almost gave the game away with two fourth-quarter fumbles, but he was able to rebound to lead a 66-yard drive that led to Cairo Santos' game-winning field goal. A 36-yard catch by D.J. Moore set up the kick, which was fitting, because Moore (11 catches for 114 yards) was one of the few offensive bright spots on the night for Chicago. The Bears have suddenly won two of their past three games, and they're starting to look like a team that could play the role of spoiler down the stretch.
|The Joshua Dobbs magic may have finally run out for the Vikings. After two impressive starts for Minnesota, Dobbs came crashing back to earth on a night where he threw four interceptions. Dobbs almost made up for his mistakes by leading a late TD drive that briefly gave Minnesota the lead, but the defense couldn't stop the Bears from driving 66 yards for a game-winning field goal. It's hard to put much blame on Minnesota's defense, though, because this game would have turned into a blowout if not for them. The Vikings were only able to keep it close because their defense kept the Bears out of the end zone while also forcing two turnovers. The Vikings actually had a chance to put this game away with just under four minutes left, but Kevin O'Connell went way too conservative with his late-game play calls. This loss definitely stings, but if there's one bright spot for the Vikings, it's that they should have Justin Jefferson back the next time on they're on the field following their Week 13 bye.
Bears-Vikings grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
N.Y. Giants 10-7 over New England
|Bill Belichick played mind games all week about who his starting QB would be, and as it turns out, it didn't matter, because they were both bad. Mac Jones started the game, but he was benched at halftime after throwing two interceptions. Bailey Zappe played the second half and although he did lead a TD drive, he threw a back-breaking interception in the fourth quarter. This entire loss was an indictment on Belichick. Not only did his quarterbacks struggle, but his hand-picked rookie kicker missed a 35-yard field goal that would have sent the game to OT. After a loss like this, it's starting to feel more and more like the Patriots will be moving on from Belichick after this season.
|The Patriots offense has been horrible this year and the Giants took advantage of that on Sunday. The Giants were able to come away with a win thanks to a defense that came away with three interceptions. Bobby Okereke made one of the biggest plays of the game with a 55-yard interception return in the second quarter that set up a Tommy DeVito TD pass. The Giants also got a field goal following a Xavier McKinney interception in the second half. Although the offense struggled, it did show some flashes at times, especially when DeVito threw the ball to Jalin Hyatt, who caught five passes for 109 yards. The Giants have somehow now won two straight games, which should have this team feeling good heading into their Week 13 bye.
Patriots-Giants grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Atlanta 24-15 over New Orleans
|If the Saints could have done anything in the red zone, they probably would have won this game, but they completely fell apart every time they drove inside Atlanta's 20 on Sunday. The Saints made five trips into the red zone and they came away with zero touchdowns. Two of those trips ended with a turnover, including a brutal 92-yard pick-six thrown by Derek Carr. The Saints' other problem in this game is that their defense got steamrolled for 228 yards on the ground. This was an ugly overall performance by a team that had extra time to prepare for the Falcons because they were coming off a bye.
|The Falcons finally decided it was time to get the football to their best playmakers -- and surprise, surprise -- that strategy actually paid off. Bijan Robinson totaled 123 yards and two touchdowns on 19 touches. The Falcons running back caught a 26-yard TD in the fourth quarter that essentially iced the game. Drake London also got involved on offense with five catches for 91 yards. The Falcons offense piled up nearly 400 yards despite an underwhelming performance from Desmond Ridder, who threw two picks. Defensively, the Jessie Bates signing continues to look like one of the best moves of the offseason. Not only did the Falcons safety record a 92-yard pick-six, but he also forced a key fumble in the second half. The Falcons suddenly look like the team to beat in the NFC South.
Saints-Falcons grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Tennessee 17-10 over Carolina
|The Panthers offense has been struggling all season and those struggles continued in Week 12. Carolina only had three drives in the entire game that went for more than 35 yards. As if that's not bad enough, Bryce Young lost a fumble in the first half that set up 15-yard TD drive for the Titans. With the offense not improving following another loss, it's starting to feel like Frank Reich is suddenly on one of the hottest seats in the NFL.
|The Titans love playing smash-mouth football and that's exactly what they did on Sunday. Defensively, they beat up on Bryce Young. Not only did they sack the Panthers QB four times, but Arden Key also came up with a huge strip-sack in the first half that set up an early TD for the Titans. Offensively, the Titans went back to their bread-and-butter: They gave the ball to Derek Henry. The Titans running back rushed for 76 yards while also scoring multiple touchdowns for the first time this season. A bruising defense combined with a strong rushing attack? That's how Mike Vrabel loves to win games.
Panthers-Titans grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Indianapolis 27-20 over Tampa Bay
|The Buccaneers season is officially spiraling out of control. The Bucs have now lost six of their past seven games and a big reason it's happening is because their offense is struggling. Those struggles continued in Indy on a day where the Colts defense beat up on Baker Mayfield (He was sacked six times). With the offensive line struggling, Mayfield never seemed really comfortable and that might be why he turned the ball over twice, including a lost fumble with under two minutes left that killed any chance of a comeback win. With the offense playing like this, it's hard to see the Bucs staying in the division title race over the final six weeks of the season.
|The Colts have offensive weapons all over the place and they used every single one of those weapons against the Bucs. Jonathan Taylor ran through Tampa's defense on a day where he averaged 6.1 yards per carry (He also had two rushing touchdowns). Michael Pittman also had a big day with 10 catches for 107 yards. Gardner Minshew, who was starting his seventh game of the season for the Colts, seems to look more and more comfortable every week. On the defensive side of the ball, the Colts suffocated Baker Mayfield, sacking him six times while also picking off the Bucs QB. The Colts suddenly feel like a dark horse team to make the playoffs out of the AFC.
Buccaneers-Colts grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Pittsburgh 16-10 over Cincinnati
|While it came against a team with a backup quarterback, the Steelers deserve a lot of credit for winning a road game against a division foe less than a week after firing their offensive coordinator. Pittsburgh won the game by having a well-balanced offense and a defense that came up with the game's biggest play on Trenton Thompson's third-quarter interception. The pick set up Najee Harris' game-winning score. With Matt Canada gone, the Steelers topped 400 yards for the first time since Week 2 of the 2020 season.
|Cincinnati's defense did its best to keep it in the game, but it couldn't overcome an offense that is clearly missing Joe Burrow and Tee Higgins. Zac Taylor, for whatever reason, didn't lean on his running game despite having a backup QB under center in Jake Browning. Joe Mixon had just eight carries and the Bengals had just 11 rushing attempts.
Steelers-Bengals grades by Bryan DeArdo (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Jacksonville 24-21 over Houston
|The Jaguars held onto their top spot in the AFC South on the road in Houston, and have now won nine straight games away from home. That's the longest road win streak in franchise history. Trevor Lawrence had a great outing with 364 passing yards and two total touchdowns, and had four completions that went for at least 42 yards. The defense was inconsistent for some of the afternoon, but came up big when C.J. Stroud tried to engineer a game-tying drive, as Josh Allen got to the quarterback twice and kept Houston just out of field goal range.
|This was a tough loss for the Texans. With a raucous crowd, it looked like C.J. Stroud and Co. were poised to take first place in the AFC South, but Matt Ammendola's 58-yard field goal attempt that would have tied the game was short by just a few inches. Houston's defense struggled to contain Jacksonville's passing attack, and was the victim of several questionable penalties in the secondary on third downs. There were a couple of coaching questions, too. Houston had to blow through two timeouts before its final drive, and the Texans turned the ball over on downs near midfield in the fourth quarter after electing to pass on a third-and-1 and fourth-and-1, but the Texans were still in the mix at the very end.
Jaguars-Texans grades by Jordan Dajani (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Philadelphia 37-34 over Buffalo (OT)
|Josh Allen did all he could to lead the Bills to victory, just came up short to a magnificent second half by Jalen Hurts. The Bills had their miscues (again) with two missed field goals and Allen's interception in his own territory, but they played well enough to beat any team in the league on this cold, rainy day. This was a loss Buffalo couldn't afford, but the Bills know they can compete with the top teams in the league and that confidence should help with Kansas City and Dallas on the horizon. If Allen continues to play like this (339 pass yards, 81 rush yards, 2 pass TD, 2 rush TD), the Bills will be in the playoffs.
|There's nothing else you can say at this point. The Eagles are never out of a football game. Not with Jalen Hurts at quarterback, the player who has the NFL record with eight consecutive wins when trailing by double digits and 14 straight wins against winning teams. Hurts was phenomenal in the second half, going 14 of 20 for 137 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing for the winning 12-yard score in overtime to get the Eagles to 10-1. Jake Elliott hit a 59-yard kick in the rain to tie it and force overtime. The Eagles defense didn't give up the winning touchdown either, as the Bills had the ball first in OT -- allowing Hurts and the offense a chance to win the game. This is a clutch football team.
Bills-Eagles grades by Jeff Kerr (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Denver 29-12 over Cleveland
|Things got out of whack for the Browns after Dorian Thompson-Robinson suffered a concussion early in the second half that knocked him out of the game. At that point, the Browns trailed by just five points but then proceeded to watch the Broncos score 12 unanswered points in his absence. Cleveland struggled to protect backup P.J. Walker, who was sacked four times in his short stint, including a late safety. While the wheels came on at that point, the Browns were sluggish to start this game offensively. They were able to reach the red zone twice in the first half but ultimately settled for field goals. When they finally got into the end zone at the start of the second half to cut the lead to just two points, the defense immediately let the Broncos travel 70 yards down the field to kick a field goal to go up by five. That was just one example where complementary football wasn't firing on all cylinders for Kevin Stefanski's team as they had their three-game winning streak snapped. They also committed three turnovers on the afternoon, which resulted in 10 points in favor of Denver.
|This was a hard-nosed win for Denver, which extends the club's winning streak to five games and is over .500 for the first time this season. The Broncos came out of the gate putting the football on the ground and finding tremendous success, including first-half rushing touchdowns by Samaje Perine and Russell Wilson. They also picked up chunk plays through the air when they needed to. While the offense did its job, the defense was particularly stellar for Denver. They were stout early in the red zone against Cleveland and forced three fumbles throughout the game, two were turned into points by the offense. They also put points on the board themselves with a late safety that capped a 15-0 run to end the game. Don't look now, but Broncos Country is getting hot.
Browns-Broncos grades by Tyler Sullivan (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
L.A. Rams 37-14 over Arizona
|When the Rams rushing attack is working, their offense is nearly unstoppable and their rushing attack was working in this game thanks to Kyren Williams. The running back, who was playing in his first game sinc Week 6, totaled 204 yards, with 143 of those coming on the ground. The Rams rushed for 228 yards in the game, marking the first time since 2018 that they've rushed for at least 225. The passing attack was also on fire with Matthew Stafford throwing four TD passes, including two that went to Williams. With this win, the Rams have creeped their way back into the NFC playoff race.
|The Cardinals offense got off to a fast start on Sunday, but then everything fell apart for them after that. After scoring a TD on their opening drive, the Cardinals got only one first down total on their final five possessions of the first half combined. With the offense sputtering, Arizona needed its defense to do something, but that didn't happen. In what was easily one of their worst performances of the season, the Cardinals defense got steamrolled for more than 450 yards by the Rams. With the Cards getting destroyed, it will be interesting to see if Jonathan Gannon can keep his 2-10 team motivated over the final six weeks of the season.
Rams-Cardinals grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Kansas City 31-17 over Las Vegas
|After spotting the Raiders a quick 14-0 lead, the Chiefs completely took over after that. They finished the game by outscoring the Raiders 31-3 and a big reason for that was because Patrick Mahomes was on fire. Mahomes completed 79% of his passes and when he's dealing like that, the Chiefs are nearly impossible to beat. The Chiefs' QB found a new favorite target in Rashee Rice, who had a career-high eight receptions for 107 yards. Of course, the most important thing for the Chiefs offense is that it finally produced some points in the second half. After going three straight games without a second half touchdown, the Chiefs scored two against the Raiders. The Chiefs defense struggled early, but got back on track in the second half, holding the Raiders to just 107 yards. The Chiefs are looking like the Chiefs again.
|For the a good chunk of the first half, the Raiders looked like the best team in football. With 12 minutes left to play in the second quarter, Josh Jacobs had already rushed for 91 yards and the Raiders defense had held the Chiefs to just 24 yards of total offense. It looked like the rout was on, but instead, the wheels fell off the wagon after that for the Raiders. Although Jakobi Meyers and Davante Adams both made some big grabs, the offense had trouble moving the ball over the final two and a half quarters of the game. As for the defense, the unit shut down Patrick Mahomes for a quarter, but the Chiefs QB diced them up over the final three quarters. The Raiders are a much better team with interim coach Antonio Pierce running the show, but they have to play four quarters of nearly perfect football to beat a team like the Chiefs and they only got one quarter of that on Sunday.
Chiefs-Raiders grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)
Baltimore 20-10 over L.A. Chargers
|In their first game since losing Mark Andrews for the season, the Ravens offense seemed to struggle a little bit, but that didn't matter because the defense handed the Chargers a beatdown. The Ravens forced four turnovers with the biggest one being a strip-sack by Jadeveon Clowney that came in the fourth quarter after the Chargers had driven inside Baltimore's 20. The Ravens pass rush overwhelmed the Chargers offensive line on a night where Justin Herbert got sacked three times. Although the offense didn't put up huge numbers, the rushing attack did put up nearly 200 yards and that's exactly what Baltimore needed on a night where the passing game was slightly off. With the Ravens now at 9-3, it's looking more and more like the road to the Super Bowl in the AFC is going to have to go through Baltimore.
|This was a game where everything went wrong offensively for the Chargers, but they managed to keep this close thanks to an impressive performance on the defensive side of the ball. The offensive woes were at their worst during a second-quarter span where L.A. turned the ball over on THREE straight possessions. The Chargers biggest stars -- Justin Herbert, Austin Ekeler and Keenan Allen -- all lost a fumble in the game. When your best players are all turning the ball over, it's almost impossible to win. At 4-7, this is starting to feel like a lost season for the Chargers.
Ravens-Chargers grades by John Breech (Love the grades? Hate the grades? Let him know on Twitter.)