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Snarking Around the NFL: Week 6

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It was a bad week for: Survivor fantasy football leagues, double-digit leads in Atlanta, the city of Green Bay and Ben McAdoo’s chances of landing a job as an offensive coordinator after the Giants fire him. All this and more, with a dash of Snark. Order up!

Pittsburgh Steelers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

List of the week: Top-3 Countdown of Things That Must Make More Sense When You’re Drunk

3) Why is the Department of the Interior responsible for everything outdoors? Why do we drive on parkways and park on driveways? Why are shipments sent by car, while cargo is sent by ship? The list goes on.

2) What do people in China call their good dishes? And here’s a better question: where are they made?

1) NFL officiating. But we’ll get to that a little later.

Meme Tweets of the Week

“Us backup QBs have the easiest job in the NF—NOOOOOOO!!”

In most NFL cities, backup quarterbacks really do have it easy. Quarterback is the only position outside of special teams where players almost never rotate out for a breather, and quarterbacks outside of Pittsburgh enjoy protections typically reserved for high-ranking government officials. So, if you want to earn a few million without much risk you’ll actually need to do anything besides a handful of snaps in mop-up duty at the end of a blowout, learn to play quarterback. If nothing else, the Cleveland Browns will hire you.

Unless you’re a top-shelf passer, you aren’t going to see the field much as an NFL backup. So, there’s probably a solid chance that most of today’s backups, coming off of the bench cold, would look like a newborn giraffe trying to walk for the first time.

On second thought, don’t try to be good enough for Cleveland if you don’t actually want to play. A newborn giraffe walking for the first time would probably get an extended look to become the full-time starter. And, of course, when I say “full-time starter” regarding quarterbacks in Cleveland, I mean “for at least 17 minutes.”

Speaking of the Browns...

This is the play that made the Browns wish they had signed Ryan Fitzpatrick.

If you’ve watched Cleveland play this year, you’d understand how much of a step up this would be.

Who knew the key to winning was getting all your wide receivers injured?

Who needs receivers when you can hold C.J. Anderson and Jamal Charles to a combined 36 yards rushing on 14 carries? Who needs receivers when Janoris Jenkins pulls down a pick-6? Who needs receivers when your quarterback can’t hit the broad side of a barn with a Buick? Don’t ask me how the Giants won. I couldn’t begin to tell you.

Undefeated Teams Watch

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

No, seriously: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

I’m not laughing at you, Kansas City (well, maybe a little). I’m laughing at all the people who seemed to think a Pittsburgh road loss to the then-undefeated Chiefs was a foregone conclusion after the Steelers lost to the Jaguars last week — me included, if I’m being perfectly honest. Oh, how wrong you (okay, we) all were.

The evidence was there. We just ignored it.

In Mike Tomlin’s career as the Steelers’ head coach, his team has lost consecutive games only 10 times. Half of those occurrences took place during the 2012 and 2013 seasons—the only ones under Tomlin that didn’t end with a winning record. So, in nearly eight and a half other seasons, his teams have lost consecutive games only five times. In four of those seasons, it never happened once.

Mike Tomlin teams don’t often lose back-to-back games. Period. And quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has lost consecutive games once since the opening week of the 2014 season, when he lost to the Ravens and Cowboys in Weeks 8 and 9 in 2016.

Those two have been nearly magical against the Chiefs. With Roethlisberger on the field, Tomlin’s record against the Chiefs is 5-1, including three wins in the last 378 days as of Sunday. The one loss was in overtime, when Roethlisberger was injured during the Steelers’ only OT drive.

So, this segment of Snarking Around comes to a close — likely to be replaced by a tracker to see which winless team avoids an 0-16 season first. There are two: Cleveland and San Francisco. The Browns will probably go deeper into the season without a win — after all, they’ve had a lot of experience.

Random Thoughts

  • The Jets may have been cheated out of a win over the Patriots. Yes, I know how funny that sounds (but not really in a funny “ha-ha” way). This time, though, it was all on the refs. That’s the only place to lay the blame when a guy momentarily loses control of the ball, never drops it, and regains control before hitting the end-zone pylon, and it’s ruled a fumble and a touchback for the Patriots. Yes, I know that’s a lot of italics. It deserves it, though. What makes it even more maddening was that the play was originally ruled a touchdown on the field. They overturned it.
  • NFL.com reported Sunday evening that Giants head coach Ben McAdoo has handed over play-calling duties to his offensive coordinator after the team started the 2017 season 0-5. The Giants proceeded to beat the Broncos in Denver, 23-10 — and it wasn’t even as close as the final, 13-point margin. At various times throughout the game, the Giants led by scores of 10-0 and 20-3, including a halftime lead of 17-3. The Giants literally had the game won less than 18 minutes in. It would seem, then, that the biggest impediment to Ben McAdoo’s team finding success was...Ben McAdoo. For what it’s worth, I hate when head coaches also take on play-calling duties. That’s trying to answer to two masters, and it rarely works in today’s NFL. Of course, it’s given us some glorious Eli Manning Faces:
Eli Manning Face
  • Tough week to be favored to win at home. Six home teams who were the Vegas favorites lost this week, and it started Thursday night with the Carolina Panthers, who were 3-point favorites over the red-hot Eagles. Baltimore was favored by 6.5 over the Bears, and the only reason the Ravens didn’t lose in regulation by double digits is because the Bears gave up two special-teams touchdowns. Jacksonville had a slim, 2.5-point margin in Vegas, but lost by 10 to the visiting Rams. Pittsburgh went into the loudest stadium in the NFL as 4.5-point underdogs and came away with a 6-point win. But two teams completely stunk it up at home as the favorites: Denver was favored by 11.5 and lost by 13, while the Falcons were 12.5-point favorites. Yes, Atlanta only lost by three to the Dolphins, but they had to blow a 17-point lead to get there. I feel like we’ve heard this story from Atlanta before, but I just can’t put my finger on it...
Atlanta blew a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl

Sad Stat of the Week

I’ve been pretty harsh to the Browns this week. It’s not intentional, it’s just that...well...it’s easy. Especially when you are doing statistical research and happen upon a gem like this: since the Browns returned to the league in 1999, a quarterback in the NFL has thrown for at least 20 touchdowns in a single season 255 times, or roughly eight times per team. It has only happened once in that time period for Cleveland (Derek Anderson, 2007, 23 touchdowns).

And, Finally...

At some point, the NFL world will have to stop listening to Ian Rappaport. The same NFL pundit who once claimed Ben Roethlisberger was seeking a trade claimed yesterday that receiver Martavis Bryant is now disgruntled and seeking a trade. There was no smoke in the Roethlisberger rumor, because there never was a fire. From what is being said by Bryant and his teammates, there’s no fire to this latest rumor, either. At this point, I believe him.

Yes, his numbers are way down. Yes, he’s had a somewhat public tiff going on with Roethlisberger over the last year and a half, ever since his suspension was announced last year. But there are several things playing against it:

  1. Bryant has to know his market value is at an all-time low right now. He’s coming off a year-long suspension for multiple violations of the league’s substance-abuse policy. He doesn’t look like he’s playing particularly well and his stats are terrible as a result. The Steelers return on the trade wouldn’t be anywhere near what they’d want, and he (and his agent) would be aware of that.
  2. Roethlisberger isn’t having a stellar season, which is a major factor in Bryant’s weak stats. But he’s not going to find a better situation. The team that would make the most sense on the surface would be the New York Giants, but they already started the season 0-5 in a division with three other solid teams, so the likelihood they would make the playoffs is almost non-existent. They aren’t going to pony up much anyway at this point.
  3. Rappaport has given me little reason to believe he’s vetted his sources for Pittsburgh trade rumors at all, or that he actually bothers to verify things with a second source before publishing, like any good journalist should.