NFL 2023: Grades for teams coming off Week 7 Bye

Oct 15, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) looks to pass the ball
Oct 15, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) looks to pass the ball / Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

Four of the six clubs that sat out Week 7 reside in the AFC. That includes the Houston Texans and New York Jets, a pair of last-place teams in 2022 which are making some noise this year.

Only two of the teams that had Week 7 off sport losing records. All told, these half-dozen squads have all had their ups and downs. It’s grading time.

NFL 2023: Grades for teams coming off Week 7 Bye

Carolina Panthers (0-6)

It’s the only winless team in the league, and with good reason. The Panthers are tied for last in the NFL with the Broncos in terms of points allowed per game. Carolina defenders have also allowed the second-most rushing yards per game (144.3) in the NFL. The team has allowed 22 offensive TDs in its six losses.

Rookie quarterback Bryce Young has taken his lumps and has just as many touchdown passes (6) as turnovers. Veteran wide receiver Adam Thielen has been a bright spot with 49 catches, four for scores.

Grade: D+

Cincinnati Bengals (3-3)

For the second consecutive year, Zac Taylor’s team got off to a 0-2 start. The club entered the off-week after posting back-to-back victories over the Cardinals and Seahawks. While the Bengals have managed to even their record, two of their three losses are to their divisional rivals from Baltimore and Cleveland.

Who would have thought that seven weeks into the season, Cincinnati would own the league’s bottom-ranked offense in terms of total yards per game? Only the Raiders have run for fewer yards per contest.

Grade: C

Dallas Cowboys (4-2)

There’s been some finger-pointing at quarterback Dak Prescott for the team’s erratic start. Dallas has been dominant at times, especially when it comes to opportunistic defense. While Prescott tied for the NFL lead in interceptions in 2022, he’s thrown only four picks in six games, three in the loss to the 49ers.

The Cowboys’ run defense has been only average at best, and it must be better when the team battles the Eagles and other clubs. Just three teams have given up fewer points per game than Mike McCarthy’s club.

Grade: B

Houston Texans (3-3)

Six games into the DeMeco Ryans head-coaching era in Houston, the Texans have already won as many games as they did a season ago. There’s still room for improvement but the club has benefited from its offseason acquisitions, using first-round picks on quarterback C.J. Stroud and edge-rusher Will Anderson.

A year ago, the team turned over the ball 28 times during a 3-13-1 showing. In six outings this season, the Texans have just three turnovers. Stroud and fellow rookie/wideout Nico Collins have been a potent duo.

Grade: A

New York Jets (3-3)

Give credit where it’s due. Losing veteran quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the early stages of the season opener vs. the Bills was a pretty crippling blow. However, the Jets managed to split their first six games, besting Buffalo in overtime while giving the Philadelphia Eagles their first loss of 2023 in Week 6.

Robert Saleh’s aggressive team has just as many takeaways (13) as sacks. New York is dead last in the NFL in passing, but much-maligned quarterback Zach Wilson has managed to come up with a few key plays.

Grade: A-

Tennessee Titans (2-4)

This was a playoff team three straight years from 2019-21. In that third season, the Titans were the top seed in the AFC. Mike Vrabel’s club got off to a 7-3 start a year ago, however the team is just 2-11 in its last 13 outings. Workhorse Derrick Henry remains a standout put the passing game has been a flop.

Tennessee’s defense has probably deserved a better fate. The team has just five takeaways, but the pass rush has produced 15 sacks and Vrabel’s team has given up just nine offensive touchdowns in six games.

Grade: C