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Around the NFL: What we learned in Week 9

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It's an honorary title this week, but it's getting closer to reality: Atlanta Falcons, stand up. You are the Worst Team in the NFL. Why? Because you lost to a quarterback who washed out of Jacksonville, that's why. Read about that and more in this week's Around the League.

You can sum up the Steelers/Raiders game pretty accurately with just this photo.
You can sum up the Steelers/Raiders game pretty accurately with just this photo.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The Dan Campbell honeymoon in Miami.

Well, Dolphins, it was fun while it lasted. You guys looked like you were enjoying yourselves again, and it seemed the party would go on forever. Then...then, you got Belichicked. You took it on the chin hard, and it affected you. It's understandable, really. Honestly, no one could have faulted you for getting wiped out by the defending Super Bowl champs.  But then you let a golden opportunity slip away. You could have been 4-4 and in the playoff hunt. Instead, you let Rex Ryan and his Bills enjoy those spoils. Oh well, you made Ace Ventura proud for two weeks, I guess.

Cam Newton has come a long way -- and has a long, long way to go.

My number-one impression of Panthers quarterback Cam Newton coming out of college was that the man who led Auburn to a national championship was a gifted athlete with the biggest me-first attitude I've ever seen in a quarterback. In the years since he was drafted, I've had the chance to watch him grow as a passer and, to a lesser degree, as a human being. He's got a great grasp of the professional game now, and I would rank him solidly in the middle of the second tier of quarterbacks, from that standpoint. But what he did to a fan's sign on Sunday? Come on, Cam, you make more on one series than that guy paid for his entire family to attend your game. Removing and destroying a sign he paid to have made up shows me that you are still the same, immature kid who acted like the world should bow down to him. Please, Cam: prove me and a lot of other people wrong going forward. You have so much potential.

Kudos to Jim Tomsula and his big brass ones.

Tomsula, the head coach of the 49ers, had the stones to take a step that might make him a very unpopular man in the Bay Area: he benched overrated and underwhelming quarterback Colin Kaepernick. That part may not have been so unpopular, given how utterly dreadful Kaepernick has been this season. The gutsy part of the move was replacing him with Blaine Gabbert. Or, as I named him last week, "Blaine-Freakin'-Gabbert". Well, "Blaine-Freakin'-Gabbert" just-freakin'-won, and he beat the Atlanta Falcons, who were one of the NFL's remaining undefeated teams through five weeks. Atlanta has now lost three of four and, by losing to the guy who couldn't keep a job in Jacksonville, have earned the title of the Worst Team in the NFL. For this week at least. Cleveland hardly ever loses that title for more than a week at a time.

The key to a quick, sure-fire win: fire your coach.

The Dolphins fire Joe Philbin, then proceed to win their first two games under interim coach Dan Campbell. The Titans fire Ken Whisenhunt, and proceed to win their first game under interim coach Mike Mularkey. On the surface, it would seem the easiest way to get a needed victory is to fire the guy at the wheel. Sure, the Titans got rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota back this week. That's an upgrade no matter how you slice it. But a lot of this one comes down to just how horrendously bad the Saints' defense has been. They have the second-worst yardage defense in the league behind only the New York Giants, and have given up a whopping 268 points so far -- just a hair under 30 points per game. Oh, and 83 of those have been in the last two games. They are on pace to give up 476 points this season. That's good for one of the worst defensive seasons in league history.

The Cowboys and the Eagles combined for 60 of the ugliest points ever.

It looked like a battle of twins who suffer multiple personality disorder. The first half was an epic display of offensive ineptitude, while the second half looked like the defenses weren't even on the field. How bad? This bad:

The Cowboys were only marginally better in the first half, mostly because they actually moved the ball effectively for more than one drive. In the end, the teams combined for 14 points before halftime, and 46 after it. The reason I'm willing to single out the Eagles for bad play but let the Cowboys slide: Dallas is without their franchise quarterback and, for the final 11 minutes of regulation and all of overtime, their best defensive player in linebacker Sean Lee.  The Eagles, meanwhile, played with every one of their top players.

College Football Bonus! A wacky week for the top 25.

Six top-25 teams lost to lower-ranked or unranked teams. Another three won by fewer than 7 points over unranked teams. This is the point in the college football season when things go completely nuts, because we are in full-on conference play. The biggest loser this week may be TCU, who some felt got the shaft last season when Ohio State was given the final playoff spot over the Horned Frogs. Of course, the Buckeyes went on to win the first undisputed College Football Championship, so those who "overlooked" TCU can be forgiven. This year, though, TCU had fought hard to stay relevant. Losing to unranked Oklahoma State has surely deep-sixed their chances at this point.

And finally...Antonio Brown has officially become a man among boys.

For any receiver in the NFL -- Brown included -- 10 catches for 180 yards would be an outstanding game. Yeah, Brown had that. By halftime. In fact, he had more than 100 yards in each half, and wound up with 284 on the day, on 17 catches. It was the best in each category for a Steeler by a wide margin, and is now the ninth-best single-game receiving yards total in NFL history. He also had two carries for 22 yards, giving him a total of 306 yards on the day. Oh, and runningback DeAngelo Williams racked up more than 200 yards from scrimmage, too -- the only time in NFL history that a team has had a player go for more than 300 yards in the same game that another player exceeded 200. They accounted for more than 88 percent of the team's total offensive output.