Credit: © Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: © Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Hogan's NFL Report Cards

1st Quarter Report Cards For All 32 NFL Teams

Matt Hogan
October 02, 2019 - 7:18 pm
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We have now reached the end of the first quarter of the 2019 NFL season, and just like grade school, I will be handing out report cards to all 32 NFL teams. Below, teams are listed in the order of their respective division standings.

AFC

North:

1. Cleveland Browns (2-2) Grade: C

The Browns were trending in the wrong direction before their dominate win over the Ravens in week 4. I still think they are mostly average team with great talent at wide receiver. Their team stats rank in the middle of the pack on both sides of the ball, confirming my belief that they are indeed average. I was never on the Browns bandwagon (because it’s the Browns) and I haven’t seen anything in the first 4 weeks that makes me want to hop on it anytime soon. 

2. Baltimore Ravens (2-2) Grade: B-

The Ravens started 2-0 before dropping the last 2 games to the Chiefs and the Browns. Despite the current losing streak, they are still the best team in this division. They currently boast the number one total offense, rushing offense, and scoring offense. I believe they can beat anyone, but their bad pass defense makes them vulnerable. If Lamar Jackson continues to develop and keep this offense rolling, they will be in the playoff hunt.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-3) Grade: D+

Hard to win games when you can’t move the ball down the field. The Steelers rank 29th in yards per game with 283.5. Losing Big Ben for the season isn’t going to help bring that average up either. Until James Connor starts running more effectively and opens up the passing game for the young Mason Rudolph, the Steelers are an afterthought. 

4. Cincinnati Bengals (0-4) Grade: D-

They can’t score and they can’t stop other teams from scoring. The Bengals are 0-4 and clearly rebuilding. Bengal fans should expect a high draft pick in the 2020 draft. Let’s hope they use it on a franchise changing player, because this organization hasn’t won a playoff game since 1991. 

South:

1. Houston Texans (2-2) Grade: C

Lots of talent on both sides of the football, but their lack of decent pass blockers has cost this team 2 games, and it will cost them more if they don’t fix the issue soon. They traded 2 first round picks for left tackle, Laremy Tunsil, but it doesn’t seem to have completely fixed their problem. If this team finds a way to give Watson more time in the pocket, the sky is the limit. Right now, their O-line is crippling them. 

2. Indianapolis Colts (2-2) Grade: C-

The Colts have done surprisingly well considering Andrew Luck’s surprise retirement. Jacoby Brissett has played very well, and this roster is LOADED with talent. If Brissett can continue to play at a high level and improve his deep ball, the Colts can easily be a playoff team. However, until I see consistency, they will be considered an average team with potential.

3. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2) Grade: C-

The Jags are lucky to be 2-2. They lost their starting QB to injury and have a star player demanding a trade. Don’t sleep on this team just because they are starting a late round rookie QB. The Jags identity is playing good defense and pounding the rock, which they have done each of the last 2 weeks. They don’t need a star QB to be a competitive team, but they seem to have found one in Gardner Minshew- and if he doesn’t work out, they have Nick Foles set to return from injury in a few weeks.  

4. Tennessee Titans (2-2) Grade: C-

The Titans have been about as inconsistent as any team so far this season. They completely manhandled the Browns and Falcons, while dropping 2 division games to the Jags and Colts. While the offense lacks, their defense is exceptional so far this year. The Titans are inconsistent and flawed on offense. I do not expect this team to make any sort of playoff push, but they will upset a few more teams this season.

East:

1. New England Patriots (4-0) Grade: A+

This is perhaps the best defense New England has had since the early 2000’s. Scoring on this team will not be easy- just ask the Rams. They have dealt with Antonio Brown drama, offensive line injuries, and survived a close game against a good Bills team. Tom Brady looks as good as ever, and he has a lot of weapons. This is the gold standard team of the NFL. The Patriots are on a course for their 3rdsuper bowl in a row and 5th in the last 6 years.

2. Buffalo Bills (3-1) Grade: B+

No more laughing at the Bills. Sean McDermont is a legit coach and has completely changed the culture in Buffalo. It concerns me that their running game is led by 100-year-old Frank Gore, but I believe this offense works and will lead the Bills to a winning season. Don’t be fooled though, this is still the Patriots division.

3. New York Jets (0-3) Grade: C-

We still haven’t seen the Jets at full strength, and they had a bye week in week 4. Hard to make an opinion, but it’s never good to start 0-3. When Sam Darnold returns and LeVeon Bell kicks it into high gear, this Jets team will be fun to watch down the stretch but will not win nearly enough games to be relevant come December. 

4. Miami Dolphins (0-4) Grade: F

This team will lucky to have players that actually want to play for them next season. They have been just awful at just about everything so far this season. Luckily for them, they will likely have 2 top 10 draft picks. 

West:

1. Kansas City Chiefs (4-0) Grade: A

Easily the most exciting team to watch so far, and they are missing their star wide receiver, Tyreek Hill. The Chiefs have picked up right where they left off a year ago. They already look the part and will look even better when they get back to full strength.

2. Oakland Raiders (2-2) Grade: C-

What an offseason the Raiders had. It is nice to see Gruden and the Raiders find some success. Can you imagine if Antonio Brown played for this team? An elite wide receiver is exactly what this offense needs. Despite the decent start to the season, this team has too many weaknesses to overcome. I expect them to fizzle out over the next month and a half. The Raiders future doesn’t look too bleak though. Keep an eye on this team for next year.

3. Los Angeles Chargers (2-2) Grade: D+

What a disappointment the Chargers have been thus far. I know they are dealing with injuries, but this team was a popular Super Bowl dark horse over the offseason. Perhaps Melvin Gordon’s return this week will help spark a team that is more than capable of beating any team in the league. This team needs to shape up soon or they risk missing out on their Super Bowl window. 

4. Denver Broncos (0-4) Grade: F

Did anyone ACTUALLY think Joe Flacco was going to make this team any better than it was last year? This is no longer a defense to be terrified of, and their offense is one of the leagues least threatening. Time for the Broncos to completely rebuild and stop renting veteran QBS.

NFC

North:

1. Green Bay Packers (3-1) Grade: B

The Packers are one bad interception away from being undefeated, although I am not sure they are as good as their record indicates. They struggle to stop the run and their offense is not as flashy as in years past, but this is a good football team with an elite QB. The Packers will be in the playoff conversation all year.  

2. Chicago Bears (3-1) Grade: C+

It is never easy to lose your starting QB and win, but the Bears did exactly that in week 4. Trubisky will miss more time, but he will return at some point this season. The defense is talented enough to keep this team afloat while they await the return of their franchise QB. Assuming Chase Daniel and the Bears offense don’t completely tank, this team should find themselves in the mix for the NFC north title.

3. Detroit Lions (2-1-1) Grade: B-

Do not sleep on the Lions. Their offense is both balanced and legitimate (Ranked top 10 in every major category). Their defense needs some work, but they just went toe-to-toe with the Kansas City Chiefs and had some success stopping their high-powered offense. Although no one saw it coming, it looks like the Lions will stay in the race for the playoffs all season long (possibly even the NFC north title race).

4. Minnesota Vikings (2-2) Grade: C

The Vikings have the 31st ranked passing offense, but they do just about everything else right. Their defense is elite, and their rushing attack is perhaps the best in the league. Running the ball and playing great defense is a winning formula. The Vikings better hope their formula works, because if it doesn’t and the Vikings are forced to play from behind, they will struggle to win games.

South:

1. New Orleans Saints (3-1) Grade: B

No Brees? No problem… Just kidding. Big problem. The offense has struggled to find the endzone and has been unconventional in its approach. Drew Brees is obviously the guy that makes this offense elite, and without him it is average at best. Luckily the Saints defense is playing out of its mind and held the Cowboys to only 10 points in week 4. Their defense will keep them in games until Brees returns. When Brees returns, the Saints become a Super Bowl caliber team again. 

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2) Grade: C+

Tampa has been the surprise team of the NFL so far. We all knew what Bruce Arians brought to the table; I just don’t think anyone thought Tampa’s offense was going to be the good. The Bucs scored 55 points in their week 4 win over the reigning NFC champions (LA Rams). If their defense catches up to their explosive offense, and Jameis Winston limits his turnovers; the Bucs could be this year’s Cinderella. 

3. Carolina Panthers (2-2) Grade: C

Right when the Panthers’ defense gets back to elite level, Cam Newton gets injured. Backup QB, Kyle Allen, has looked great since taking over for Cam(minus the fumbles), but this offense just doesn’t seem to quite be there yet. Their offense flows through star running back, Christian McCaffery, and I think eventually this team becomes to predictable and one-dimensional on offense. Don’t sleep on this defense though; they are nasty and get after the QB. Unless Cam returns to form, the Panthers will more than likely be watching the playoffs at home.

4. Atlanta Falcons (1-3) Grade: D-

Hard to think of a team off to a more disappoint start. This team has all the talent in the world and are only a few years removed from the Super Bowl. This team cannot get it together despite the talent. Looks like it will be a long year in Atlanta, but don’t let the twitter mob fool you… Matt Ryan is a GOOD quarterback.

East:

1. Dallas Cowboys (3-1) Grade: A-

The Cowboys were well on their way to an A+ on their first report card of 2019, but then the posted only 10 points against the Saints on national TV. This team is balanced and dangerous, but I need to see more of what I saw in weeks 1-3 instead of what we saw in week 4. Despite the bad outing against the Saints, this is still one of the best teams in football. If Dak keeps playing like he has so far, the Cowboys could be back in the Super Bowl for the first time since the 90’s. 

2. Philadelphia Eagles (2-2) Grade: B

The Eagles salvaged their tough start to 2019 with a HUGE win over the Packers in week 4. The Eagles may have gotten lucky with their goaline interception to beat the Packers, but they also saw a spark in their running game. If the Eagles continue to run the ball well and keep Wentz healthy, the sky is the limit for this Super Bowl caliber roster. 

3. New York Giants (2-2) Grade: C-

The Giants are NOT a playoff team… however they receive a somewhat favorable grade because they are exceeding expectations. Everyone wrote this team off in the offseason, and those who didn’t over the offseason did after Saquon Barkley went down with an ankle injury. Daniel Jones looks legit and this team’s future looks bright, but this season will amount to nothing for a Giants team that is seriously lacking at WR and on defense.

4. Washington Redskins (0-4) Grade: F

The Redskins have been unwatchable since losing Alex Smith to injury last season. Perhaps Dwayne Haskins can turn things around, but it seems incredibly unlikely. This team is simply bad on both sides of the ball. This should be Gruden’s last season as the head coach in Washington.

West:

1. San Francisco 49ers (3-0) Grade: B

Kyle Shanahan is proving once again why he is one of the best offensive minds in all of football. This offense has been very efficient and balanced. That combined with their top 10 defense has led to an undefeated start. This team will be in the playoff conversation all year, but they play in a very competitive division.

2. Seattle Seahawks (3-1) Grade: C+

The Seahawks have finally gotten back to playing good defense, but their offense lacks explosiveness. They have one of the best coach-QB combo in the league but have failed to develop anything more than a middle of the road defense. They might be 3-1, but they won two of those games by a combined 3 points. Their offense needs to get kicked into high gear before we start seeing this team as anything more than a wildcard team.

3. Los Angeles Rams (3-1) Grade: B

Yes, they lost to the Bucs, but the Rams are still the team to beat in the NFC. They have a top 5 offense in the league and a top 15 defense. If they can figure out a way to get Todd Gurley back to playing at an elite level, this team could find themselves hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in February.

4. Arizona Cardinals (0-3-1) Grade: D+

The Cardinals finished 2018 with the worst record and have brought in a new coach and QB in an effort to turn things around. The Cardinals have a long way to go to become a playoff team. Kyler Murray looks capable, but he needs to cut down on the turnovers. It is encouraging to see their offense have some success, but this team has too many holes to make any sort of noise this season. 

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