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Snarking Around the NFL: Week 14

Hooray! Hooray! A week of actual, quality football! Don’t worry, there’s still more than enough food for snark to fill Ralph Wilson Stadium—the parts not already filled with snow, at least.

Baltimore Ravens v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Ten of Week 14’s 16 games were decided by no more than one score. That may be a high-water mark for the 2017 season, which has seen enough sloppily played blowouts to fill a decade’s worth of Record Books of Ill Repute. Still, there’s snark to be snarked, and I’m gonna snark it.

Countdown List of the Week: Three non-players who can’t win the NFL MVP award, but probably could make a solid case for it

3) Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis

No one in the NFL makes the guys around him better like Lewis does. He makes the Steelers better, he makes the Ravens better, he makes the Browns better...

2) Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones

No one has managed to do it yet, but he’s certainly been the one who has come the closest to making NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell disappear.

1) Former NFL players Jon Runyan, James Thrash and Troy Vincent

Young Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has done a lot of things he didn’t know he wasn’t supposed to do: you’re not supposed to be able to celebrate with such childlike joy in the NFL. You aren’t supposed to hit the class bully so hard his family feels it. Maybe being unfairly singled out for infractions no more nefarious than those committed by several others in the same week, and being forced to miss a game to be made example of, will be the fuel he needs on Sunday afternoon, when someone reminds him the Steelers aren’t supposed to beat the Patriots.

Meme Tweets of the Week

And away he Wentz.

I have no love for the Eagles. After living amongst their fans for more than 17 years, I can say from personal experience that I’d rather live in the Pittsburgh area through a hundred Bubby Bristers. The Eagles rank as close to the bottom of my Personal Ranking of NFL Team Disdain as any NFC team can get: the only teams over which I would root for the Eagles are the Ravens, Bengals and Patriots.

With that said, I do feel for both Carson Wentz, and for all Eagles fans. If ever there was a snake-bitten NFL team, it’s Philly. Teams like Cincinnati and Cleveland have brought upon themselves the ire of the football gods with brain-shattering front-office decisions, celebration of knucklehead players, or both. Philly, though, has had mostly competent (albeit pretty ruthless) ownership since Jeffrey Lurie bought the team in 1994. Philly has won World Series titles, NBA championships and Stanley Cups, but they have lost at football in ways the Cleveland Browns could only dream of.

So it goes, with the loss of second-year stud (and MVP candidate) Wentz to a torn ACL, which might have been the first ACL to be torn in mid-air in the history of the NFL. Yes, it’s gotten that wacky.

They aren’t out of contention, thanks to having Nick Foles as their backup. Foles might be the best backup quarterback in the NFL this year, and he does have the third-highest single-season quarterback rating in league history, from 2013. Still, you have to think at least a handful of Eagles fans have wondered in the last 48 hours, quietly or aloud, if they could donate a ligament to the cause.

They forgot a button for “bench quarterback for being competent”.

It all makes sense now: their in-booth controller broke, and the “left” button on the D-pad is now permanently stuck in the pressed position.

“‘Tis better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt.” — Not Michael Bennett

Seahawks defensive lineman Michel Bennett has had a rough year. First, there was that whole thing in the casino in Las Vegas, where police and — more importantly — surveillance video pretty much refuted his entire story. Then there was that incident at the end of Sunday’s loss to the Jaguars in which he appears to intentionally roll into the Jacksonville center’s legs when the Jaguars were kneeling the ball to end the game.

Then, after the game, someone dug up this gem. If Bennett was more of a stand-up guy, I’d call this a case of a meme-er kicking Bennett in the cajones while he was down. But, since Bennett has decided to see if he can be a bigger turd than Cincinnati resident buffoon Vontaze Burfict in 2017, I’m just gonna leave this meme right here.

(Bennett failed, by the way; Burfict is still the league’s Head Turd.)

Winless Team Watch

Sometimes, I think the Browns are simply trying each week to see if they can make the next loss more disheartening than the last.

You led by 14 points with 17:49 left in regulation, Cleveland! Fourteen points! But, never a city to pass up a chance to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, you may have just raised the bar to a level you cannot surpass without forfeiting at your own stadium due to lack of interest — from the coaches.

Let’s look at what you managed to do from the moment you stretched your lead to two touchdowns, onward:

  • Allowed a 75-yard touchdown drive
  • Gave up a 65-yard return on a 53-yard punt that could have pinned the Packers inside their own 20-yard line
  • Gave up the tying touchdown with 17 seconds to go in regulation
  • Threw an interception on the third play of overtime, on your own side of the field
  • Gave up a 25-yard, game-ending touchdown

With three games still left to play in 2017, I’m almost scared to imagine what you might do for an encore.

Stats of the Week

Here is a trio of eye-popping stats from the Steelers’ win over the Ravens on Sunday night.

  1. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is the only player in NFL history to throw for 500 yards or more in a single game three different times. All three times have resulted in victories for the Black-and-gold.
  2. Antonio Brown’s stat line on Sunday night (11 receptions, 213 yards) was among the best of his already stellar career, but it’s just continuing a trend that began four weeks ago. His numbers over the last four weeks have been downright eye-popping: 39 catches, 627 yards and six touchdowns. That’s good for a pace of almost 157 yards per game. To put that into perspective, if those stats were maintained over an entire season they would look like this: 156 receptions, 2,508 yards and 24 touchdowns.
  3. Sunday night’s game-winning kick by Chris Boswell was his fourth game-winner in the last five games, with two of those kicks being walk-off winners. However, Sunday’s 4-of-4 performance for the “Wizard of Boz” also tied a mark he set in his rookie season; it was the sixth time this year he’s made at least three field goals in a game, and the 15th time in his career. Those fifteen are the second-most in the first three years of a kicker’s career, ever, and there are still three games left this season. And, since you’re now probably asking who has the most games with three or more field goals in the first three years of their career: it’s 16 by Justin Tucker, who was on the opposite sideline Sunday night.

Random Thoughts

  • If the aforementioned Marvin Lewis has a job on January 2nd, it will serve as proof that the Bengals’ front office is run by a bunch of nincompoops. Although, the fact that Burfict still has a job might be Exhibit A in that case.
  • It would figure that, in one of the few weeks this season when most of the games were actually fairly entertaining, the most universally interesting game of all was the second-lowest scoring game of the week. The Colts visited the Bills on Sunday amid a lake-effect snowstorm that dumped eight inches of snow — during the game. It’s a friggin’ miracle the Bills managed to win, considering that the Colts, in their visiting uniforms consisting of white helmets, white jerseys and white pants, would have been the biggest accidental sports coup of the century, if only Indianapolis didn’t spend at least half of every season in a climate-controlled dome.
  • The lowest-scoring game of the week, besting the Buffalo-Indianapolis game’s 13-7 final by a single point with a final score of 12-7, was played in Arizona, where weather was decidedly not a factor in the outcome. The Titans and Cardinals are, quite simply, two miserable offenses that should only be consumed for their sedative properties. In that regard, they’re better than Xanax.

And, Finally...

I’m going to keep this short, because I’m pretty much livid at this point, and I don’t have any words of wisdom to provide here this week — except this: if you think intentionally throwing your body at the legs of your opponent on a meaningless play, or throwing a punch on the field, or attempting to climb into the stands to fight a fan are infractions not worthy of a suspension, but you think JuJu Smith-Schuster’s hit on Vontaze Burfict in week 13 is, get your resume ready. I think the NFL is hiring blind fools. They’ve already staffed their entire Football Operations Department with them.

Oh, and, your neighbor, and stuff like that.