5-at-10: NFL playoff patterns, Hall of shadows, college football craziness

5-at-10: NFL playoff patterns, Hall of shadows, college football craziness

January 9th, 2014 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

Morning folks. Hey, how about that heat wave, huh?

From the "Talks too much" studios, we still believe that children are the future, teach them well and let them lead the way.

NFL playoffs

Bobby Petrino

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

With all the stuff that has happened this week - the BCS title game, the baseball Hall of Fame, the chance to use the Bobby Petrino 'Rock Lobster' photo (High 5, web team, for not deleting that charmer) - the NFL playoffs have actually been under the radar.

Think about that, and in this age of the NFL monolith, when was the last time the NFL was actually underplayed. Wow.

So let's do work today and look overarching trend of the playoff games this weekend. Good times. We will breakdown each in the mailbag tomorrow with a special guest. Gooder times.

Look at the teams left in the playoffs, and all of them other than San Diego have either a) an elite quarterback or b) a young quarterback still in his original rookie contract, which offers enough value and flexibility that you can surround those guys with some legit players. San Diego has a good quarterback in Philip Rivers who is playing above his head and engineered a road upset over Andy Dalton, who fills the young QB with strong supporting cast model.

Still, of those other seven teams, the a or b scenario applies and the head-to-head results will offer us an interesting testament as to which model is more effective. Let's examine.

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18). (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

There are three elite quarterbacks left in the players. Denver's Peyton Manning, New England's Tom Brady and New Orleans' Drew Brees. These guys are responsible for a lion's portion of each team's success and the main reason that each is two wins from going to the Super Bowl.

There are four postseason quarterbacks who are still in the realm of their first contracts, Carolina's Cam Newton, Indy's Andrew Luck, Seattle's Russell Wilson and San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick. Each of these guys has shown flashes, but each also is aided by standout defenses and deep rosters. Because of injury and bad luck, Luck and the Colts have the thinnest roster of the four mentioned above, but of the young quarterbacks, Luck is the closest to elite status right now, so that's kind of a mixed bag of karma.

So it goes, and we'll see if a balanced roster of defense, depth and a young, inexpensive quarterback of teams like Seattle and Indy can top the quarterback-centric teams of New Orleans and New England.

Since Carolina and the San Fran play, those teams are mirror images, with Newton getting the edge in the quarterback category but the 49ers having the better supporting cast around Kaepernick.

Which would you rather have a young QB and a talented roster for a three-year window of excellence or an elite QB with very limited depth but the knowledge that a Brees, Manning or Brady gives you a chance every week and every season?

As enticing as each option could be, the opposite sides of those coins can cripple franchises. Look at the Titans, who have a young and inexpensive QB but a challenged roster. Or look at the Falcons, who have a good QB but are paying him elite money so the depth has been depleted.

Every team would love to have a franchise QB and be happy to pay him franchise-changing money. Too many teams, however, are being forced to squeeze the square peg of a good QB into the salary-cap-wrecking round hole of elite QB contracts.

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Hall of Famers

Atlanta Braves pitcher Greg Maddux gives a thumbs up sign during spring practice in 2003.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

By now we all know that Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas were elected to the baseball Hall of Fame.

We also know that managers Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and Tony La Russa were tabbed for Hall induction late last year.

What a monster baseball day for the state of Georgia. We all know the long connection to the Braves Maddux, Glavine and Cox have, and each will almost certainly go in as Braves. But Torre broke in with the Milwaukee Braves played for the organization from 1960-68 and managed the club from 1982-84. Thomas was born in Columbus, Ga.

As for La Russa, well, the connection is a stretch, but he did play nine games with the Braves in 1971, going 2-for-7 for a .286 average, which was well above his big-league career number of .199.

And as was discussed on Press Row by SEC whiz David Paschall, Thomas, a former Auburn slugger, is the first former SEC player to be elected into the Hall of Fame.

Those are just the facts, as for the ancillary details and the conjecture that consumed a part of the sports culture Wednesday, the Hall of Fame voting is broken. Dan Le Batard sold his ballot in protest to Deadspin, which let the public vote on it. (You can read more about that here.)

Most of the names that are left lurking in the shadows of the PED era that belong in the Hall lost support, as guys like Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds and many others with overwhelming Hall of Fame numbers got fewer votes this year than last. Plus, guys like Craig Biggio and Mike Piazza - two dudes with surefire Hall of Fame ledgers - were again not admitted because of swirling rumors, conjecture and, in Piazza's case, bad skin. Yep, a big rationale against the best hitting catcher of all time is that Piazza had back acne, a common side effect of steroid use. Egad.

Baseball has got to figure out a better way, otherwise silly stunts like Le Batard's will become more and more common and seem more and more like the better way to vote than the current model.

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College football moves

Wow, how about Wednesday as a zoom-tastic day of college football machinations?

Vanderbilt football coach James Franklin.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Let's review.

Bobby Petrino is set to be announced as the next coach of Louisville, where he was the first coach to make Louisville relevant. Petrino can slap coach and he has few peers as a play-caller, but his off-the-field history is, as they say in France, crapola.

Reports have James Franklin getting an offer to coach Penn State. We think Franklin is a fantastic coach and has worked miracles in Nash-Vegas. if this is true, it also tells us that the Penn State folks are 100-percent certain Franklin had zero pre-investigation knowledge of the rape allegations against a few former Vandy players.

Johnny Football is taking his signature to Sundays, where he can get paid and not have to worry about it or be chastised for it.

Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier is headed to Michigan for the same job. Something tells us Nick Saban did not buy a round of OCPs when he was informed of his OC making a lateral move. Our Press Row co-host and TFP college football ace David Paschall offered a keen insight on Twitter about the potential for a ton of discussion if Saban turns new BFF Lane Kiffin as the Tide's next OC. It would be a move that would melt the internet in Knoxville.

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This and that

Georgia head coach Mark Fox

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

- Great win for Georgia and coach Mark Fox last night as the Bulldogs upset Missouri less than a week after Fox's father died. Good times and the shots of Fox getting emotional on the bench after the overtime win at Mizzou were poignant.

- Big game for the Mocs tonight at the Roundhouse. You have our attention Mr. Wade, now what are you and that merry band of go-getters going to do with it?

- One of the big and nonsensical storylines of the this weekend's NFL games includes Ric Flair, who is a Charlotte guy and a Panthers fan but supported the 49ers last week, even giving San Fran a pre-game pep talk. This did not please Panthers receiver Steve Smith. There is no word how the other Four Horseman feel about this development. But Steve, please remember, if you're going to be the team you got to beat the team. Wooooooo.

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Today's question(s)

Gang, buckle up and please remember the mailbag questions. We could use a few. If you do not want to post the question here you can email it jgreeson@timesfreepress.com or send it to us on the Twitter, @jgreesontfp. You also could call Spy on his girl's cell phone at 867-5309 - don't lose that number.

Here are today's lists of talking points and several of these will be discussed on Press Row today from 3-6 on ESPN 105.1 FM. You can also listen live right here at timesfreepress.com. Good times.

The talking points are endless:

Would you be happy or irate as a Louisville with the Bobby Petrino hire?

If you had a top-10 pick would you draft Johnny Football? (And FE to the C, are your Raiders going to draft college football's biggest outlaw?)

Should PED users be allowed in the Hall of Fame? Should only those that admitted to it or failed tests be considered PED users or is everyone guilty? Discuss.