By Steve Silverman
The New England Patriots got off to the most pedestrian of starts this season, but wins over the Miami Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts helped get Bill Belichick’s team right on track. However, taking on the high-flying Kansas City Chiefs is quite another story. The Patriots and Chiefs engaged in a back-and-forth game reminiscent of the offensive shootouts in the old American Football League.
The Pats found a way to outlast the Chiefs by a 43-40 margin in the NFL’s game of the year – at least to this point.
Eagles 34, Giants 13
Philadelphia Eagles: A-. It wasn’t a perfect performance by the Eagles, but they exerted their dominance on defense and made enough plays to win easily on the road. The defending Super Bowl champions made it their best performance of the year.
New York Giants: D-. The Giants appear destined to have another losing season after dropping to 1-5. Eli Manning has played like an old man all season, and that’s not likely to change. He simply can’t get away from any kind of decent pass rush.
Jets 42, Colts 34
New York Jets: A-. Jets fans are starting to wonder what is going on, as their team has shown offensive explosiveness in back-to-back weeks in beating the Broncos and the Colts. The Jets are taking advantage of opportunities, and Sam Darnold is getting a little better each week. He is also getting support from the other skill-position players.
Indianapolis Colts: C-. The Colts are leaning very hard on quarterback Andrew Luck, and he threw four TD passes against the Jets. However, the Colts continue to have problems preventing big plays, and they lost for the fifth time in six games.
Steelers 28, Bengals 21
Pittsburgh Steelers: A-. The Steelers almost always have their way with the Bengals, and they are even more dominant in the Queen City than they are at home. However, they were pushed to the limit by the Bengals, and it took a last-minute touchdown dash by Antonio Brown after catching a short pass to give the Steelers the win.
Cincinnati Bengals: B. The Bengals exchanged figurative punches for 59 minutes with the Steelers and appeared to be on their way to a win. However, they whiffed after Brown’s late reception, and that left the Bengals and their fans shaking their heads and wondering what they have to do to beat the Steelers.
Chargers 38, Browns 14
Los Angeles Chargers: A-. The Chargers demonstrated their capabilities for the first time this season, as they exploded for 38 points on the road against the Browns. Running back Melvin Gordon was on fire with 132 rushing yards and three rushing TDs, and that meant Philip Rivers did not have to do everything himself.
Cleveland Browns: D+. The Browns are not at the point where they are building off the previous week’s performance. The defense is supposed to be the strength of the team, but the defense got shredded, and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has no answers.
Texans 20, Bills 13
Houston Texans: C+. The Texans could have lost this game very easily, but they took advantage of the Peterman factor to steal it on Johnathan Josephs interception return for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter. The Texans won their third straight game, but they played an ordinary game and were not impressive.
Buffalo Bills: C+. The Bills may be the least talented team in the league, but they were on their way towards either stealing the game or sending it into overtime. However, when Josh Allen had to leave the game due to an elbow injury, backup Nathan Peterman had to play. It was no surprise that he threw a pick-six to give the Texans a late lead and the win.
Dolphins 31, Bears 28
Miami Dolphins: B. The Dolphins didn’t play particularly well, but they played with toughness and heart and made big plays against a previously impervious defense. Backup quarterback Brock Osweiler stepped up when Ryan Tannehill couldn’t go, and the Dolphins earned the victory.
Chicago Bears: C-. The Bears missed out on an opportunity to assert themselves and move to 4-1. They took a two-score lead in the third quarter, but the defense slipped for the first time this season, and Chicago fell in the extra period.
Vikings 27, Cardinals 17
Minnesota Vikings: B. The Vikings are making some highlight-film plays and are doing enough to win, but they are not looking like a championship team. Kirk Cousins was just ordinary with 233 yards, a TD pass and an interception, and he needs to be much better.
Arizona Cardinals: C+. The Cardinals have just one victory so far, but they were competitive for 60 minutes against a team that had quite a few votes as the preseason NFC favorite to go to the Super Bowl. Rookie quarterback Josh Rosen is not there yet, but he has shown signs that he will be a solid NFL signal caller.
Falcons 34, Buccaneers 29
Atlanta Falcons: C+. Even though the Falcons beat their division rivals, they have the same problem as the Bucs. They finally managed to get a win after suffering three straight losses where they gave up 37 points or more. Matt Ryan is having a sensational year, but he is fighting an uphill battle, because the Atlanta defense is so porous.
Tampa Bay Bucs: D. The Bucs have proven they can move the ball, whether Ryan Fitzpatrick or Jameis Winston is under center. However, someone needs to explain to head coach Dirk Koetter that it is not illegal to play defense in the NFL.
Seahawks 27, Raiders 3
Seattle Seahawks: B+. The Seahawks don’t appear to have the talent that they did a few years ago, but Pete Carroll has this team playing hard and the offense is taking advantage of its opportunities. They have worked their way back to .500, and that’s encouraging.
Oakland Raiders: D. The Raiders looked quite jet-lagged as they traveled to London to play this game. The defense is over-matched most weeks, and that was the case once again against the Seahawks. Wins will be few and far between this year.
Redskins 23, Panthers 17
Washington Redskins: B-. The Redskins were no-shows in Week 5 at New Orleans, but they came out with a nasty demeanor in the first half and nearly ran the Panthers out of Washington. The second half was not as good, but they did enough on the final drive to keep the Panthers from stealing the game.
Carolina Panthers: C+. The Panthers didn’t get the wake-up call until the second half, and it was almost good enough to earn a come-from-behind win. The bottom line is they let a solid opportunity for a victory slip away.
Rams 23, Broncos 20
Los Angeles Rams: B-. The Rams could not be blamed if they had taken this game lightly, because the Broncos were coming off an embarrassingly bad defeat at the hands of the New York Jets. They kept their minds on their business, but nearly got nailed in the late going by a team that was determined to redeem itself.
Denver Broncos: B-. The Broncos should have been blown out by the best team in the league so far in the season, but they never quit, despite trailing 20-3 in the second half. They mounted an impressive rally, but couldn’t steal the win. Still, the Broncos showed some heart against the powerful Rams.
Cowboys 40, Jaguars 7
Dallas Cowboys: A-. The Cowboys have been fairly limited on offense for most of the season, but that was not the case against Jacksonville. Not only did Dak Prescott throw for 183 yards and two touchdowns, he also ran for 82 yards and another touchdown.
Jacksonville Jaguars: D-. It’s time to start pumping the brakes on the Jaguars, who many thought would be one of the top teams in the league. Despite having solid defensive personnel, the Jaguars are limited offensively with Blake Bortles at quarterback and Doug Marrone running the show.
Ravens 21, Titans 0
Baltimore Ravens: A. The Ravens earn the top grade because they played a nearly perfect road game. Not only did they take an early lead and dictate the pace, they earned a rare shutout away from home. Michael Crabtree is doing his part –six receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown — to give Baltimore a productive offense.
Tennessee Titans: D. Did the Titans even show up for this home game that appeared quite winnable? The offense could not get out of its own way, and head coach Mike Vrabel has to be upset about a performance in which his team showed almost no resistance.
Patriots 43, Chiefs 40
New England Patriots: A-. The Pats now have a full complement of offensive playmakers, as Tom Brady has his choice of Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, Rob Gronkowski, Chris Hogan and Sony Michel. Earlier in the year, it seemed like New England’s offense was plain gray, and now it’s as colorful as a Monet masterpiece.
Kansas City Chiefs: B. There is no doubt about the Kansas City offense, which has been basically unstoppable in its first six games. However, there is a thing called defense, and the Chiefs are apparently unfamiliar with it. No matter how good an offense is, a team can’t win a championship without a semblance of a defense.
Packers 33, 49ers 30
Green Bay Packers: B. The Packers struggled badly on defense throughout the night, and it appeared they were going to suffer an embarrassing home defeat to the battered and bruised Niners. However, Rodgers came through the way he has on so many occasions, and the Packers came through with a much-needed win. While the Packers have issues on defense, Rodgers is still a championship-level quarterback and proves it on a regular basis
San Francisco 49ers: B-. The 49ers have a slew of key injuries, but they went into Green Bay and were the better team for most of the game. However, they had no answers once Aaron Rodgers got serious in the final minute,s and they suffered a heartbreaking defeat. This is typical of a young team that does not know how to win.
Bye week: Lions, Saints