NFL 2021: Grades, aftermath for teams coming off Week 14 bye

NFL: Jonathan Taylor #28 of the Indianapolis Colts is tackled by Terrance Mitchell #39 of the Houston Texans and Maliek Collins #97 at NRG Stadium on December 05, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
NFL: Jonathan Taylor #28 of the Indianapolis Colts is tackled by Terrance Mitchell #39 of the Houston Texans and Maliek Collins #97 at NRG Stadium on December 05, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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It was the final series of NFL off-weeks as the Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles got some rest.

The four teams that did not suit up in Week 14 have something in common.

Each of those clubs – the Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, and Philadelphia Eagles – have overcome some early problems and are now playing their best football of the season.

So that’s that. No more time off. Every team in the league has now played 13 games. So will the Colts, Dolphins, Patriots, and Eagles take advantage of some extra prep time?

NFL 2021: Grades for teams coming off Week 14 Bye

Indianapolis Colts (7-6)

The team is looking to become the seventh in NFL history to rebound from a 0-3 start to reach the playoffs. The offensive standout has been second-year running back Jonathan Taylor, who leads the NFL in rushing yards and total touchdowns.

Linebacker Darius Leonard and cornerback Kenny Moore II have been solid. The Colts lead the NFL with 29 takeaways. Quarterback Carson Wentz has cut down on the miscues that plagued him with the Eagles.

Grade: B+

Miami Dolphins (6-7)

A year ago, Brian Flores’ team finished with 10 wins but failed to qualify for the playoffs. After a 1-7 start, the Dolphins have won five in a row and if the club runs the table, Miami will own a 10-7 record. Will that be good enough in the jumbled AFC to claim a postseason berth?

Second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has been sharp since he returned to the starting lineup. The Dolphins’ defense has also regained its opportunistic touch as of late.

Grade: B

New England Patriots (9-4)

Six weeks into 2021, the Patriots had lost four of their first six games – all of their setbacks coming at Gillette Stadium. But Bill Belichick’s team hasn’t lost since and owns a two-game lead in the AFC East.

Rookie quarterback Mac Jones has been up to challenge and improved on a weekly basis for a balanced attack. The New England defense has also made amends for a disappointing 2020. Free-agent pickup Matt Judon paces a potent pass rush.

Grade: A

Philadelphia Eagles (6-7)

First-time NFL head coach Nick Sirianni and his team got off to a 2-5 start. But the Eagles have rebounded to win four of their last six games. Despite being one game under .500 for the season, the club owns a plus-46 scoring differential.

Quarterback Jaylen Hurts has had its ups and downs but rookie wideout Devonta Smith has impressed. Philadelphia’s defense has stepped up this season – tied for ninth in the league in total yards allowed per game.

Grade: B-

Aftermath

While the Dolphins and Patriots were away, both the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets were losing. The former fell to the Buccaneers in overtime and the latter to the Saints at MetLife Stadium. Meanwhile, as the Colts sat idle, the first-place Tennessee Titans were securing their spot atop the division with the 20-0 whitewash of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Finally, the Eagles find themselves with the same record as the Washington Football Team. This after Dallas went into FedExField and held on for a 27-20 win. Washington and Philadelphia square off this week in the City of Brotherly Love.