By Steve Silverman
The Los Angeles Rams have been on a roll, and they have been overpowering most of their opponents. They secured a 29-27 victory over the Green Bay Packers Sunday, and that may have been their most impressive game of the season. The Packers are a solid team that was primed for this game and came out of the gates at full speed. The Rams didn’t play their best game, but they fought hard and found a way to win. That’s what championship teams do.
Texans 42, Dolphins 23
Houston Texans: B+. The Texans have reeled off five straight wins, and they got a huge lift in this game from Watson, who threw five TD passes and gave his teammates a huge dose of confidence. Add in Lamar Miller’s 133 rushing yards, and that two-pronged attack was too much for the Dolphins.
Miami Dolphins: C-. The Dolphins are proving to be one of the most inconsistent teams in the league. They offered little resistance once Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson started to find the range. Adam Gase has to find a way to reach this team, or the season will end in disappointment.
Eagle 24. Jaguars 18
Philadelphia Eagles: B+. The Eagles still have not played the kind of game they are capable of, but they responded to a challenge from a team with a strong defense by taking charge in the second half. Carson Wentz is looking more comfortable, and the Eagles still have a chance to establish that they are a solid playoff team.
Jacksonville Jaguars: C. The Jaguars were somewhat better this week as they played in London against the defending Super Bowl champions. They had the lead early, but once Philadelphia woke up, the Jaguars did not have enough juice to win this game.
Panthers 36, Ravens 21
Carolina Panthers: A-. The Panthers are playing under-the-radar football, as the Rams, Saints and Vikings get most of the attention. That’s fine with head coach Ron Rivera, because the Panthers are getting better every week.
Baltimore Ravens: C-. The Ravens started the season well, and they also got off to a good start in this game. However, after they scored the opening touchdown, on an impressive 14-yard TD run by Alex Collins, they seemed to shrivel, once the Panthers responded. The Ravens are now a 4-4 team, and they are badly in need of a spark.
Bears 24, Jets 10
Chicago Bears: B. The Bears sensed the Jets would not be able to compete at a high level for 60 minutes, and that’s part of the reason they didn’t force pass rusher Khalil Mack or top receiver Allen Robinson into action. Mitchell Trubisky came through with a winning effort against an over-matched opponent.
New York Jets: C+. Every team has injuries, but the Jets have been ripped apart by injuries to their skill-position players and their defense. They fought hard against the Bears, but rookie quarterback Sam Darnold just didn’t have the weapons to come through with a win.
Bengals 37, Buccaneers 34
Cincinnati Bengals: B-. The Bengals have not changed their stripes. At the start of the season, the Bengals were winning games with strong second-half efforts and coming from behind on a couple of occasions. After losing back-to-back games, they nearly gagged away another game against the lowly Bucs.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: C+. The Bucs were on their way to a D- or an F, with Jameis Winston in the lineup, as he threw four awful interceptions. Once Ryan Fitzpatrick replaced him, the Bucs came all the way back to tie the Bengals, only to lose on the final possession.
Seahawks 28, Lions 14
Seattle Seahawks: B+. These Seahawks do not compare with their dominant teams of a few years ago. But head coach Pete Carroll is getting the most out of this team, as Seattle moved a game over .500 with a solid road win over a good team. Chris Carson pounded away at the Detroit defense to the tune of 105 yards and a touchdown.
Detroit Lions: C-. The Lions think they are good enough to challenge for the NFC North title, but they were flat at home against an opponent they should have been able to handle. Rookie head coach Matt Patricia is giving his team the proper formula to follow, but this team seems to enjoy putting it in cruise control, and that’s why you can’t trust the Lions.
Chiefs 30, Broncos 23
Kansas City Chiefs: B-. The Chiefs know they are quite a bit better than their opponents, and they did just enough to get the win at home. There’s no stopping stellar quarterback Patrick Mahomes, but there’s no reason to believe that the defense is championship-worthy
Denver Broncos: B-. The Broncos have played the Rams and Chiefs in back-to-back weeks, and they have played two solid games. While they didn’t win either, they were competitive for 60 minutes in both. This team does not have the talent to match the top or even above-average teams, but they will not quit at any point and could have a solid second half of the season
Redskins 20, Giants 13
Washington Redskins: B+ The Redskins could have had a letdown after their rivalry victory over the Dallas Cowboys last week, but they held their concentration against the Giants. Washington may struggle with fast, athletic opponents, but they are a hard-hitting team that can punish opponents. Adrian Peterson is rejuvenated in Redskins colors.
New York Giants: C-. The Giants come with a C-minus type of effort every week. While Eli Manning threw for 317 yards, the Giants just can’t take advantage of red zone opportunities, and it seems like they know they are going to end up on the short end every week.
Steelers 33, Browns 18
Pittsburgh Steelers: B+. The Steelers are slowly but surely moving towards a level that will help them win a playoff spot and possibly compete with the top teams in the AFC. Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown are starting to find their rhythm, and that’s a dangerous combination.
Cleveland Browns: C. The Browns are nothing more than a below-average team that gets very little help from its coaching staff. Hue Jackson’s game strategy and his team’s preparation has been ineffective, and, as of Monday, he’s out of a job.
Colts 42, Raiders 18
Indianapolis Colts: A-. Don’t try to write off the Colts’ 42-point performance by saying it came against a substandard opponent. That may be the case, but they are putting a balanced offense on the field, as Andrew Luck is getting plenty of help from the running game.
Oakland Raiders: C. This should have been a game that the Raiders could have won, because the Colts are not exactly a juggernaut. Nevertheless, they gave up 42 points at home, and it doesn’t look like Jon Gruden is going to have more than a couple of winning opportunities the rest of the way.
Cardinals 18, 49ers 15
San Francisco 49ers: C. Head coach Kyle Shanahan has one of the toughest jobs in the NFL, as the Niners seemed totally dependent on quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo when the season started. They can fight with C.J. Beathard at quarterback, but the rug has been pulled out from under this team. Shanahan is trying hard not to let his players understand that, but they are not blind.
Arizona Cardinals: B-. Josh Rosen got his first win as a starting quarterback, and that’s a good step to take. However, the Cardinals are just ordinary, and the chances for wins are few and far between. The only way they turn things around is for David Johnson to become a game-changing force.
Rams 29, Packers 27
Los Angeles Rams: B+. The Rams could easily have let this game slip away, as they were not at their best against a motivated opponent. However, while the quality of their play was not at a peak level, their competitive fire was burning hot, and they found a way to stay undefeated.
Green Bay Packers: B+. The Packers have had a difficult time competing on the road against quality opponents, and most expected them to get blown out by the undefeated Rams. However, the Packers battled the Rams hard for 58 minutes. If not for a late fumble on a Ty Montgomery kickoff return, Aaron Rodgers might have launched a game-winning rally.
Saints 30, Vikings 20
New Orleans Saints: A-. It’s not enough to say this performance was about revenge for the Saints, after their heart-wrenching defeat in the divisional playoffs last year. The Saints walked into U.S. Bank Stadium and won a strange game, even though their offense lacked its usual explosiveness (Out-gained 423-270).
Minnesota Vikings: D-. The Vikings were told by all that they have what it takes to be a Super Bowl team this year. They have looked nothing like it. They have been beaten by two very good teams, in the Rams and Saints, and one very bad team, in the Bills. They could straighten out, but they look flawed through Week 8.
Patriots 25, Bills 6
New England Patriots: B. The Bills were playing their Super Bowl, and that substantial effort kept Tom Brady and the offense from finding the end zone. The Pats got the job done with their defense, and Devin McCourty’s 85-yard interception return for a touchdown gave New England complete control of this road game. The Pats didn’t play anything close to their best game, but still won by 19 points on the road.
Buffalo Bills: C+. No doubt that Bills came with an emotional effort against their ancient American Football League rivals. While the defense did a great job of forcing field goals, Derek Anderson couldn’t produce enough big plays to create a threat against the division-leading Pats.
Bye week: Chargers, Cowboys. Falcons, Titans