Well, that was...a terrible week of football.
Unless you’re a Steelers fan, that is. Then it was pretty awesome. Oh, the Raiders also pulled one out of their collective behinds, and the Bills scored 10 points in the final 150 seconds to shock the Buccaneers. But, other than that, you might as well have been golfing—or gardening—or volunteering for Chinese water torture.
Countdown List of the Week: Top Three Things That Happened in Week 7 That Caught You Off-Guard
3) After 60 minutes of football, the Browns didn’t lose.
They did, however, lose after 68 minutes. A Pyrrhic victory, maybe. The real losers here, though, are all the fans who actually paid money to see this game live and in person. At least everyone else could go find an infomercial to ease the pain.
Kirkpatrick was the ball.
1) The Atlanta Falcons played the Patriots and didn’t blow a lead.
They never had one to begin with. Good grief, you’d never know this was a rematch of the Super Bowl less than nine months ago.
Meme Tweets of the Week
What’s in a name? In this case, the #ColdHardTruth.
The 49ers got the beatdown of the week, trailing 40-3 until a garbage-time touchdown. It’s merely serendipity that their quarterback’s last name doubles as a two-word synopsis of the game. It would only be better if they had a running back whose last name was Rentedmule.
That’s just #savage.
The worst part of this, though, is that it means the Titans went to overtime against a team that allegedly didn’t even suit up. I’m pretty sure no one in attendance could refute that assertion. I only watched it beginning with the final minute of regulation, and I had to be revived with smelling salts three times.
That rare moment when Skip Bayless isn’t the most frightening thing on screen. #Ermahgerd!
There’s just...far too much happening here. Let’s get this out of the way, though: those are some kick-ass locks. Wear your gray proud, Rob. But for goodness’ sake, man, put it in a ponytail. Even a man-bun. But wearing it like that, with what appears to be a pink seersucker sports jacket and the slightly less flamboyant cousin of the pirate shirt from Seinfeld? You look like a cross between a cult leader and a bottle of Pepto-Bismol.
Winless Teams Watch
Note: This segment will replace the Undefeated Teams Watch, now that the Kansas City Chiefs have lost two games in five days. This segment will remain until one of these two teams manages to finally learn the difference between their rear-ends and a hole in the ground. After what I saw in week seven, I’m confident I won’t need to find another replacement any time soon.
A week ago, this popped up on Twitter:
On the surface, there’s an argument to be made here. Yes, they lost five straight games by three points or less. That might be an NFL record. But among those losses were defeats at the hands of the Cardinals and Colts, teams that combined to score a whopping zero points in Week 7. The 49ers, of course, lost to the Cowboys in Week 7 by 30 points. The reality is they suck.
Buuuuuuut...they aren’t the Browns, who are so bad that...well...
- I get that your offensive line is bad, Indianapolis, but 10 sacks in one game?! There are currently eight teams that have given up 10 or fewer all season long. Receiver T.Y. Hilton may have apologized for calling out the offensive line after Sunday’s shutout loss to the Jaguars, but he was right to say it in the first place. No need to apologize, T.Y. No need.
- Ten of 15 games in week seven were won by a margin greater than one score (more than eight points). Half of those had margins greater than two scores. Four games were won by at least 21 points, and three of those were shutouts. Yes, the whole mess with protests and boycotts has had an impact on attendance. But nothing is driving fans away faster than the product on the field. That starts with a league office that has done little to dispel images of favoritism, aloofness and a total disconnect with what fans want to see. Of course, it might also help if players put as much effort into playing as they do creating new touchdown celebrations...
- No-Snark Zone Carson Wentz is the NFL’s next superstar quarterback. A few weeks ago, that was a subjective statement. It’s quickly becoming indisputable fact.
Interesting Stats of the Week
Sometimes, less is more.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger hasn’t set the world on fire this season. That’s true. But something interesting has shown up in his statistics. The last two weeks are the only times this season he has thrown the ball fewer than 30 times. In the first five games of the season, when he threw 30 or more times, his best yards-per-attempt was 7.3, in week one. His YPA over the last two weeks: 10.1 and 9.3, respectively.
This is not an indictment of Roethlisberger. This is a critique of the pattern of play-calling. The Steelers are back to an old-school approach the last two weeks, using the run to set up the pass. What it is (predictably) doing is bringing safeties into the box, creating opportunities to throw the ball 10-plus yards downfield. That, in turn, draws the safeties and linebackers away, creating running lanes. Things in the Steelers’ offense are beginning to click, and it’s showing in Roethlisberger’s production and efficiency.
Maybe it’s time for the league to really — really — take a look at their policies on personal conduct. Under Roger Goodell, the league has had a borderline-schizophrenic approach to dealing with the very real crime of domestic abuse, with their hypocrisy on full display in the way they handled the Ray Rice situation. Now, they’re going to great lengths to keep Ezekiel Elliott from playing. The problem, though, is the NFL is hardly even trying to be secretive about their real concern: their own image.
Lots of NFL players are buffoons. Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict is one of the more extreme on-the-field cases. But the NFL has a habit of making knee-jerk reactions, doling out discipline for off-field issues before the players in question ever receive their days in court. In cases where the player is cleared of all charges, the league retroactively seeks some sort of justification for their actions, and they are never held accountable.
My hope is that the players, in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, demand that discipline for off-field matters be dealt with in court first. Then, and only then, should the league or teams be allowed to apply further punishment.
Let’s not overlook the absurdity of their on-field policies, though. A week ago, Le’Veon Bell was fined for his touchdown celebration. Why? Because he used the ball and the goal post as a prop. Apparently, you can use one or the other, but not both, in a single celebration. Violations will cost you a percentage of your game check. I can’t begin to fathom why that is; I just know it is.
I’m not really a fan of all the celebrations that go on in the NFL today, but to each his own. Unless the players are legitimately impeding the progression of the game, let them have their fun. Even with the looser rules this year, the NFL’s view on celebration leaves me feeling a lot like Steve Martin in The Jerk: