NFL midseason grades: Eagles, Bills among highest scores; Raiders, Texans both failing – USA TODAY

The Nov. 1 deadline to finalize trades is over, and now we’ve entered Week 9 of the regular season. The Philadelphia Eagles remain the NFL’s lone undefeated team at 7-0. Four clubs have six wins.
There is a lot of parity in the NFL this season. Seventeen teams have at least four victories and 26 teams have at least three wins this season. The Houston Texans and Detroit Lions are the only two clubs with just one win entering November. A total of 71 games have been decided by one score through eight weeks, the most in NFL history. 
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USA TODAY Sports grades each NFL team at roughly the midway point of the season:
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The Cardinals are 1-1 since WR DeAndre Hopkins returned from a six-game suspension, but Arizona is currently 0-2 in the NFC West.
The Falcons are one of the pleasant surprises in the NFL, sitting atop the NFC South. They are the only team in the NFC South without a losing record. The Falcons haven’t won the division since 2016.
The Ravens’ three losses have come with second-half leads, two of them collapses in the fourth quarter. But Lamar Jackson and company sit atop the AFC North and already have wins over the Bengals and Browns. Baltimore doesn’t face a team that currently has a winning record for the rest of the regular season.  
The Bills look like a juggernaut. Buffalo ranks No. 1 in total offense and No. 3 in total defense. QB Josh Allen’s 19 touchdown passes are No. 2 in the league. He is an MVP candidate.
Carolina is in rebuild mode. Matt Rhule was the first head coach to be fired this season. The Panthers shipped away star Christian McCaffrey and sent Robbie Anderson packing. The quarterback remains a position of need; Baker Mayfield hasn’t worked out this season, and now the team has turned to P.J. Walker. 
Chicago has by far the worst passing offense in the NFL at 127 yards per game, and the team’s decision to part ways with defenders Khalil Mack in March and Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith at this deadline signal they are rebuilding.
Ja’Marr Chase’s absence due to a hip injury could last at least several more weeks, and that is a big blow to the Bengals offense. Week 8’s blowout loss to the Browns was a prime example. The Bengals have been up and down this year. Three of their losses have come in one-score games.
Cleveland snapped its four-game losing streak with a win over the Bengals in Week 8. Nick Chubb’s 841 rushing yards lead the NFL. Deshaun Watson is eligible to return in Week 13 vs. the Houston Texans after he and NFL reached a settlement on an 11-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy amid allegations of sexual misconduct.
The Cowboys’ defense is the primary reason why the team went 4-1 when QB Dak Prescott was out with an injury as it ranks third in points allowed and seventh in yards, but you can’t look past Cooper Rush’s contributions. The Cowboys have a league-best 33 sacks.
Russell Wilson hasn’t lived up to expectations in his first year in Denver. The Broncos have the worst red zone offense in the NFL and rank second to last in points per game. However, the Broncos rank No. 2 in total defense. Denver is currently 0-2 in the AFC West.
The Lions are riding a five-game losing streak and resemble the 3-13-1 club from a season ago. Detroit has the NFL’s worst-ranked defense in yards and points allowed.
The Packers are on a four-game skid for the first time in six years. Aaron Rodgers desperately needs a No. 1 wide receiver. Green Bay is in second in the NFC North, but four games behind Minnesota.
It’s becoming increasingly likely the Texans will draft a quarterback in the first round of the 2023 NFL draft. They rank 29th in points scored and 31st in yards on offense.
Sam Ehlinger became the Colts’ sixth different starting quarterback since Andrew Luck retired in 2019. The Matt Ryan experiment turned out similar to the Carson Wentz experiment — both underwhelmed. But the Colts are figuring out this year that they have holes beyond quarterback. 
After starting 2-1, the Jaguars have lost five in a row. QB Trevor Lawrence has left a lot to be desired so far. The 2021 No. 1 overall pick has only thrown for over 300 yards in one game this year. The 2022 top pick, Travon Walker, has 32 tackles, 2.5 sacks and one interception in eight games.
The Chiefs offense is less explosive without Tyreek Hill, but it’s more diverse. Eight players have double-digit targets. The Chiefs have the second-ranked offense, and Patrick Mahomes has thrown a league-best 20 touchdowns. The Chiefs are on pace to win the division for the seventh consecutive season.
The Raiders were shut out 24-0 by the Saints in Week 8, the first time they were held scoreless since they lost 52-0 to the then-St. Louis Rams in 2014. The Davante Adams and Derek Carr reunion hasn’t kept the Raiders out of the AFC West basement.
The Chargers have been ravaged by injuries but are second in the AFC West. Justin Herbert and the Chargers passing attack ranks top five in the NFL. Derwin James leads all safeties with 63 tackles. Herbert and James are the team’s most important players.
The Rams are in the midst of a Super Bowl hangover. WR Cooper Kupp seems to be the only player not suffering any side effects, but the rest of the offense has lacked explosiveness, ranking 28th in points and 30th in yards after being top 10 last year.  
Wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle have combined for 1,688 receiving yards, the most by a pair of teammates in the Super Bowl era through eight games. QB Tua Tagovailoa currently has the best passer rating (112.7) in the NFL. And now they just added edge rusher Bradley Chubb.
The Vikings are off to their best start since 2009. WR Justin Jefferson leads the NFC with 752 receiving yards. Pass rusher Za’Darius Smith’s 8.5 sacks are tied for NFL’s best. Minnesota is already four games ahead of the Packers and Bears.
Bill Belichick reached his 325th career win, the second-most wins all time by a head coach. But the Patriots have been a model of mediocrity all season. There’s also a brewing quarterback controversy.
The Saints are coming off a shutout win versus the Raiders in what was perhaps their best performance of the season. Alvin Kamara recorded 158 yards from scrimmage yards and three touchdowns in the win. The Saints are just one game back of first in the NFC South.
Brian Daboll is a coach of the year candidate after he helped the Giants get off to their best start since 2012. Running back Saquon Barkley has been revitalized, leading the NFC with 779 rushing yards.
The Jets haven’t been 5-3 since 2015. C.J. Mosley, Sauce Gardner and Quinnen Williams are leading the way. Mosley’s 82 tackles are No. 2 in the league, Gardner’s 12 pass deflections are tied for an NFL-high and Williams’ six sacks lead all interior linemen. Even though Zach Wilson is 4-1, he has three touchdowns against five interceptions and a 71.0 passer rating.
The 7-0 Eagles matched their best start in franchise history. The last time the Eagles started 7-0 (2004), they advanced to Super Bowl 39. Eagles coach Nick Sirianni is the coach of the year favorite at the midway point. The Eagles have a top five offense and defense. 
Mike Tomlin has never had a losing season in Pittsburgh. The Steelers have the worst scoring offense in the NFL, and rookie Kenny Pickett has eight interceptions in five games.
San Francisco beat the Rams for the eighth straight time in the regular season. The 49ers are 3-0 in the NFC West as they enter their bye. Fred Warner and Nick Bosa lead the way on the 49ers’ No. 1-ranked defense.
The Seahawks might be the most surprising team. Geno Smith leads the NFL in completion percentage and has the best passer rating in the NFC. Seattle’s defense has 14 takeaways, which is tied for third in the NFL.
It has been two decades since Tom Brady has lost three games in a row. The Bucs look out of sync on both sides of the ball. Injuries have hampered the team, and they just lost linebacker Shaq Barrett to a season-ending Achilles injury. The positive news is they are one game behind Atlanta in the NFC South.
The Titans are on pace to win the AFC South for the third consecutive season. Tennessee is 3-0 in its division. RB Derrick Henry has 755 rushing yards, which ranks third in the NFL. Rookie QB Malik Willis registered his first career start in Week 8.
The Commanders are quietly 4-4 after winning three consecutive games. Washington’s defense hasn’t allowed more than 21 points during its winning streak. Wideout Terry McLaurin has tallied 227 receiving yards in the last three games, but the offense ranks in the bottom third of the league in points and yards. 
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Tyler Dragon on Twitter @TheTylerDragon.  


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