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Around the NFL: What We Learned in Week 14

Pac-Man Jones can’t shut up, Jeff Fisher terribled himself out of a job, the Browns are still bad. Believe it or not, it’s not a replay of 2010. It’s week 14 of the 2016 NFL season, and here’s what we learned.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills
Ronald Darby: you just got Juiced.
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

For all intents and purposes, the Colts, Bills Chargers and Bengals are out of the playoffs in the AFC, even if the math doesn’t say it’s official just yet. In the NFC, the Cardinals, Saints, Panthers and Eagles are basically in the same boat. It’s down to a nine-team race on each side, if we are being realistic. But What We Learned isn’t about math. It’s about football — mostly the really bad football, too, because it’s the funniest. In that case, we learned a lot this week.

  1. Kettle, you have a call from Pot on line one. Pac-Man Jones calling someone else “trash” is like Vontaze Burfict calling someone else a jagoff. That one’s a bonus, by the way, because I only promised to call him that in the weekly Yinzer’s Guide, not in the weekly wrap-up. Consider it a Christmas present, peeps.
  2. Leap tall buildings in a single bound? Not any more. We just learned that Dak Prescott is human, after all — either that, or Eli Manning sprinkled kryptonite on the rookie’s Wheaties Sunday morning. Try to figure this out: the Cowboys are 0-2 against the Giants this year, and 11-0 against the rest of the NFL. If the two somehow end up meeting in the playoffs, and the trend continues, the Giants will win, by a score of 3-2.
  3. Shortest. Contract extension. EVER. A week ago, the Rams announced that Jeff Fisher had been given a contract extension through the 2018 season. Monday, he was fired, just a little over two years before that extension was set to expire. Now, as it turns out, the extension was actually given before the season, but the Rams felt some mysterious need to hide it. Of course, if I had just told Fisher that he was good enough to keep around for two more seasons past the current one, I might shamefully hide that fact, as well. But, for as much as I think Fisher is an awful head coach, part of me very much hopes no one in the L.A. Rams’ organization never reads the Yinzer’s Guide, which is probably a very safe assumption to make. I’d hate to think I had any part in the guy losing his job. On the other hand, the firing instantly made football in Los Angeles more palatable. So I take it back. You’re welcome, L.A.
  4. It’s the little things that make Clevelanders smile... Because it sure isn’t the winning football. Here is how bad it is in Cleveland these days: Emmanuel Ogbah sacked Andy Dalton Sunday afternoon, and the crowd erupted. The Browns were down 20-0 in the second quarter at the time. The cherry on the sundae was clearly the moment when quarterback Robert Griffin III was laughing it up during the post-game press conference. Maybe it’s some sort of league-mandated therapy, or something.
  5. This time the Weekly Fumble is actually a fumble. Ryan Tannehill is going to be okay after a scary hit initially looked to have caused a catastrophic knee injury. He may miss several weeks, but it’s not a grade-three sprain (complete tear). Normally, I wouldn’t give the Weekly Fumble to someone who was seriously hurt, but in this case, he could have shattered his throwing arm and I’d be obligated to give him the award. Why? Because Mediocre-Pro-Quarterback Tannehill took a breather at one point Sunday, and was replaced by Cut-From-His-Pop-Warner-Team Tannehill, who proceeded to throw this absolutely gorgeous pass. Isn’t a forward pass supposed to go...forward?
  6. College Football Bonus! The Army-Navy Game is old-school football at its finest. And, by old-school, I mean “seventeen days after the forward pass was invented and no one really knew how to use it yet.” How’s this for a stat line in this day and age of pass-happy offenses: 8 of 12 for 124 yards. Pretty low passing numbers? Well, let me make your jaw drop: that was the final passing tally for both teams, combined. Navy had three players run the ball for a total of 112 yards and two touchdowns. Army, the game’s shocking winner, had three touchdowns...on 70 carries for 316 yards, by eight different players. It is worth noting, though, that Army’s 351 total yards from scrimmage only topped Le’Veon Bell’s individual output on Sunday by 53 yards, and on a lot fewer touches.
  7. And, finally...Bell’ll be ringin’. And gettin’ paid, too. When you think of classic Steelers football, you probably see hyperinflated images of individuals like Franco Harris, Rocky Bleier, Jerome Bettis and even “Fast” Willie Parker racking up yardage totals that seemingly make Army’s collective output pale in comparison. Steelers football is smashmouth, run-it-straight-at-’em football after all, right? It’s interesting to find out, then, that Bell’s 236 rushing yards are a new team record. So are his 298 yards from scrimmage. Okay, if you watched the game, you already know that. But his awesome hasn’t been limited to just one game. Had he played the entire season (thanks for missing those tests, Juice), and his average yards per game were the same as they are right now, he’d be roughly 25 yards behind Ezekiel Elliott for the league lead, and ahead in yards from scrimmage by almost 400. So, when we are discussing his worthiness of an extension sometime after the Steelers hoist Lombardi Number Seven, just remember that he truly is the best all-around running back in the NFL. By a fairly wide margin.