5 at 10: NFL's Best/Worst, SEC Championship game and Urban Meyer returns to coaching

5 at 10: NFL's Best/Worst, SEC Championship game and Urban Meyer returns to coaching

November 29th, 2011 by Jay Greeson in Sports

The Mercedes-Benz Superdome is seen during the third quarter of an NFL football game between the New Orleans Saints and the New York Giants in New Orleans, Monday, Nov. 28, 2011. (AP Photo/Bill Feig)

Great Monday gang. Almost to 30 comments, which would be awesome. Awesome in its awesomeness.

From the "Mama McNabb stage here at the Al Davis Studio," here we go...

NFL Power Poll

There are three positions that determine certain sports: The NFL is a quarterback driven league, college hoops is a point guard driven league and baseball is a pitching driven league (at least the regular season is and the playoffs are who's hot top-to-bottom).

Anyhoo, if you know and understand that, gauging the NFL - both its strongest teams and its weakest - becomes a little more clear, a little more easy. Not to say that a bad team with a good QB (we're talking about you Philip Rivers) is better than a good team with a bad QB, but it's a lot closer than you think. Where the QB scale does tip, though, is for teams with even or close to even records. Let's discuss, with a focus on the most important position in sports:

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) huddles the team against the Detroit Lions in the first quarter of an NFL football game in Detroit, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Top 5

1) Green Bay: The best team has the best quarterback who is playing the best of anyone. Coincidence? Not hardly.

2) New England: After a sloppy loss to the New York Giants, the Pats were 5-3. Three straight wins and three straight games scoring 34 or more points have the Pats at 8-3 and in control of the AFC East. We think you know why - because Tom Brady is the coolest Brady ever - even cooler than cousin Greg Brady's alterego Johnny Bravo http://29.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lqjumhQNEp1qfacmco1_500.jpg.

3) New Orleans: You know what Drew Brees needs? A theme song. What about the great line from "Strokin" but we sub out the Clarence Carter with "Drew Brees, Drew Brees, Drew Brees.... Ah, stuff, Drew Brees." Who's with us?

4) Pittsburgh: Big Ben is a level below the three QBs above, well, that is in most categories other than Super Bowl rings.

5) Baltimore: Edges San Francisco since the Ravens exposed San Fran on Thanksgiving night.

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Curtis Painter sits on the bench next to receiver Reggie Wayne after throwing an interception during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game in Indianapolis, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2011. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Bottom 5

28) Miami: Be it bad luck or bad coaching the Dolphins are plus-6 in point differential through 11 games but are 3-8. Oh, wait, maybe it's bad quarterback play.

29) Jacksonville: When your QB controversy is between Blaine Gabbert and Luke McCown, well, your choices are limited.

30) St. Louis: The Rams are -130 in point differential, meaning through 11 games they average losing each game by 11-plus points.

31) Minnesota: Christian Ponder shows flashes, but without Adrian Peterson, this offense is Percy Harvin and his band of merry misfits.

32) Indianapolis: Gross

LSU wide receiver Rueben Randle (2) runs past Alabama defensive back DeQuan Menzie (24) during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

SEC championship

Our crack college football ace David Paschall is in his element right now. It's the week of the SEC title game and Paschall has two stories in today's TFP. Here's a look at 20 years of SEC title games (SEC title game in 20th year of dazzling) and here's a look at LSU's pursuit of the SEC title as well as the BCS title (LSU working for 'two rings').

LSU appears to be a well-rounded juggernaut. They have ways of scoring in a variety of ways. They have the Honey Badger, and we all know he doesn't care. They have an improving senior quarterback, at least one NFL receiver, two powerful running backs and a salty offensive line. They have the second-best defense in the country.

They also better come to play in Saturday's game against a Georgia team that has won 10 straight, has arguably the nation's best sophomore quarterback in Aaron Murray, has a defense that has gotten better week-to-week and will have a home-field edge in the Georgia Dome.

Will it be enough for Georgia to pull the upset? Not likely. But every time there appears to be a mismatch on paper, we know a wise man who always says, "That's why they play the games."

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski shouts instructions to his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2011, in Lahaina, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Eugene Tanner)

College hoops hodgepodge for $200, Alex

That's "An album cover" Mr. Connery.

Seriously, college basketball is trying its best to wiggle into the public eye. There are a bevy of big-time matchups this week:

No. 4 Duke at No. 2 Ohio State is tonight; No. 7 Wisconsin at No. 5 UNC is Wednesday; a sneaky Georgetown at No. 12 Alabama game is Thursday; No. 9 Florida at No. 3 Syracuse and No. 19 at No. 6 Louisville is Friday; and UNC plays at No. 1 Kentucky on Saturday. We're dealing with a lot of stuffs and dunks and high-quality hoops.

That said, last night's showing by two of the in-state programs was somewhat puzzling and somewhat promising, if that makes any sense.

Vandy lost in overtime to Xavier. The Commodores squandered a 10-point lead and were outrebounded 51-33 without center Festus Ezeli. Xavier is not exactly chopped liver - the Musketeers are ranked No. 11 in the country - but this is supposed to be the best Vandy team in a generation and they've already lost twice at Memorial Gym. That said, here's saying that the 'Dores will be noticeably more physical when Ezeli returns and that the early-season struggles may help get this talented team's attention heading into SEC play.

Tennessee went on the road to Oakland, which is just as you expected, outside of Detroit. The Vols played in a purgatory they called a gym and Oakland got lots of drives 12-feet and in. Seriously, the UT defense made Reggie Hamilton look like Reggie Theus. Hamilton scored 35 points and was one of four Oakland players in double figures in a 89-81 win over UT.

But know this, these Vols are going to fight every foe they face, and that's saying something. Look at it this way: Oakland beat UT 89-82 last year. That was in Knoxville and with a UT team ranked No. 7. So after all the Bruce Pearl implosion and fallout, going on the road against a tough Oakland team with far less talent, the Vols are one-point worse by comparison. That's reason for optimism, right?

That said, let's all agree that UT forward Jeronne Maymon needs more than five shots - the number he got Monday night. Maymo went 32 points, 20 rebounds the last time the Vols were on the floor, and that kind of beast needs to be fed. Period.

Alabama coach Nick Saban

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

This and that

- We said Monday that we would not mention the professional basketball league that sounds like Tin Sea Hay, and we won't. But there was a New York Times story about a certain pro sports labor negotiation that was fascinating. Apparently the owners of the league got the players reps to agree to a roster amnesty act, meaning that when or if the Tin Sea Hay starts BID-ness next month, each team can wipe one suffocating contract off its salary cap. The players will still get paid of course - the players always get paid, and in this case they will get paid twice, once to leave their current teams and then a much smaller, more fair contract for a new team - but the teams get huge salary cap relief.

- Not surprisingly, Alabama coach Nick Saban says the two best teams should play for the title as opposed to conference champions. In other news, the 5-at-10 says the best 5-at-10 should be given $3 million, the Wal-Mart folks say the nation's top two stores should get all the Christmas business and the Heinz reps say the nation's top two best ketchups should be the only ones allowed at picnics and, well, you get the idea.

- Is Boston about to hire Bobby Valentine to manage the Red Sox? Really? Is Spy's or Jefe's head about to pop off? The answer in each case is, "Yes, yes it is."

- The UTC basketball programs begin SoCon play this week. The TFP will have some conference preview stuff later this week, but here's our Mocs hoops ace David Uchiyama's story on the Mocs scuffles (UTC coach John Shulman 'not proud' at 2-4). And BTG was right yesterday, there is some justifiable hand-wringing going on in Mocs Nation right now.

- How about this for a sportsmanship banquet and reunion gone sour? Enjoy (Joe Kapp - Angelo Mosca fight). Yep, that's two 70-year-old dudes refusing to bury the hatchet and dropping the gloves. (Side note: That's a pretty stout right from Joe Kapp.)

Florida coach Urban Meyer and his wife Shelley Meyer, right and daughter Gigi Meyer, left, celebrate after the Gators beat Georgia in Jacksonville, Fla. Meyer is stepping down as coach after the Gators appearance in the Outback Bowl. (AP File Photo/Stephen Morton, File)

Today's question(s)

Now that the charade that is the Urban Meyer hiring is behind us - and truth be told a couple of websites, including the site SportsbyBrooks.com have been reporting Meyer was a done deal for more than a week - we have some questions:

- Why was Nick Saban hammered about denying he was leaving Miami for Alabama and then leaving any way and Meyer is given a free pass for not telling the truth all last week before taking the job Monday? Hey we get it, Saban was coaching an NFL team so he wanted to steer the attention away from the Alabama job and Meyer wanted to try to be fair to the current OSU coaches and players going into their rivalry game with Michigan. Is it really that hard for someone to say "I have no comment at this time," when asked about a possible coaching job?

- Maybe Meyer got all the family time he needed in 10 months, and maybe he has recharged his batteries, but is the 5-at-10 the only one that thinks Meyer comes across looking at best like a phony and at worst like someone who didn't want to face the SEC without Tim Tebow?

- The term dream job is all well and good, and the 5-at-10 believes we're lucky to have a pretty dreamy job, thank you very much. That said, why did Lane Kiffin get so much grief for leaving Knoxville for his "dream" job and Meyer gets none for leaving his "family time" for his "dream" job?

- And if THE Ohio State University and Florida meet in the Gator Bowl as a lot of folks forecast, will Meyer be on the sideline?

Seems like Meyer got treated with some serious kid gloves throughout the entire process. Thoughts?