5 at 10: NFL Best/Worst, Post-season baseball and Vols-Bulldogs gameweek

5 at 10: NFL Best/Worst, Post-season baseball and Vols-Bulldogs gameweek

October 4th, 2011 by Jay Greeson in Sports

Tennessee's Jonathan Wade (4) intecepts a pass from Georgia's Mohammed Massaquoi (1) during their game Saturday, Oct. 8, 2005, in Knoxville, Tenn. Georgia won, 27-14.(AP Photo/Wade Payne)

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From the "Drunken Moose Studios," here we go...

Tennessee defensive end Antonio Wardlow (38) blocks Georgia 's Gordon Ely-Kelso (95) second-half punt during college football play at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga., Saturday, Oct. 7, 2006. Tennessee's Wardlow recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. (AP Photo/Todd Bennett)

UT-UGA

Is there any way to overstate what Saturday's Tennessee-Georgia game means for these two programs? Let's examine:

- The SEC East is wide open again after weekend losses by Florida and South Carolina. The winner of the UT-UGA game truthfully moves into the leader's spot for the time being - especially with Florida's date (loss) against LSU this weekend.

- Two coaches at opposite ends of the career path are in need-to-win mode. UT's Derek Dooley has never beaten a team that finished the season with a winning record. This would be a good start. We all know that UGA's Mark Richt has not exactly been the poster child of job security since starting the season 0-2. This would be a huge win for him.

- This is a matchup of the two best quarterbacks in the SEC. Tyler Bray and Aaron Murray are flushed with gifts - both throw it well and read defenses beyond their sophomore years. That said, Bray is still searching for his "I'm the man" moment against an opponent of equal athletic abilities. Murray, while he's no doubtedly talented and been less than blessed by an offense plagued by injuries and suspensions for the last season and a half is 9-9 as a starter.

- Two of the league's top young playmakers - UT sophomore receiver Da'Rick Rogers and Georgia running back Isaiah Crowell - will be on the field. Good times.

- UT's strength (Bray and the passing game) will be matched against UGA's defensive strength (a ball-hawking, play-making secondary). Watching teams match best-on-best is always fun. Good times.

We'll get more into match-ups Wednesday, but know that this game is large. Especially for Tennessee, which has games (and likely losses) against LSU and Alabama on the immediate horizon.

Atlanta Falcons Michael Turner takes the ball from quarterback Matt Ryan in the second half of a NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

NFL power poll

The weekly power poll is to reflect just that the powerful - and weak - teams in the NFL.

What it doesn't necessarily address are the surprises of the season's first four weeks. Think of it this way, the NFL season has just played the first quarter, and here's some of the league's top surprises (not named the Detroit Lions of course):

Your Tennessee Titans: Huge pleasant surprise, like being up 21-0 over your rival after the first quarter. Will it last? Hard to know, but in a division where the Colts are dead in the water, it's anyone's race.

The Dream Team that is the Philadelphia Eagles: Disappointing, like hearing your team's starting tailback will not play because of a "violation of team rules." Not good, and who knows when it will be right.

Some of the high-hope 2-2 teams that have given up more points than they scored: Atlanta (-15 in points differential or two worse than Carolina), Pittsburgh (minus-8), Oakland (minus-), Chicago (minus-4) and Dallas (minus-2) are fairly fortunate to be 2-2. Like when your team turns it over a few times in the first quarter but your still tied 7-7 going into the second quarter. Count your lucky starts and move on... to the Power Poll.

Top 5

Green Bay Packers inside linebacker A.J. Hawk (50) during the second half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

1) Green Bay: The defending champs look unstoppable and Aaron Rodgers has been out-of-control good. Here's a pretty good stat to show in how high regard the Packers are held: Pittsburgh and Philadelphia each has 20-to-1 odd of reaching the Super Bowl; The Packers are 27-to-1... of going 16-0.

2) New England: Take away Tom Brady's error-prone meltdown against the Bills and the Pats are unbeaten. As is, they-re 3-1 and still the team to beat in the AFC because of Brady.

3) Detroit: There's something to be said about a team believing in WILL win, and the Lions have that. Sunday's rally against Dallas was hard to believe, unless you're a Lions fan, then you expected it right?

4) New Orleans: Only loss was a shootout against the Packers, and that is looking like something that will happen to a lot of teams in the NFL. Offensively, there is no better connection between QB (Drew Brees) and coach (Sean Payton) than what New Orleans has going on right now.

5) Baltimore: The defense is aging, sure, but this team leads the NFL in point differential at plus-62, which means not only are they winning, they are stomping people. Joe Flacco has three quality receivers and Ray Rice at his disposal, and that offensive balance probably makes Ray Lewis wonder what could have been if the Ravens offense 10 years ago was half of what it is now.

Bottom 5

Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri (4) misses a field goal in the fourth quarter as Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Ronde Barber (20) disrupts his concentration and Indianapolis Colts tight end Brody Eldridge (81) tries to block Barber. The Buccaneers defeated the Colts 24-17 in an NFL game, Monday, Oct. 3, 2011 in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Margaret Bowles)

28) Kansas City: The league's worst one-win team, since that win came over...

29) Minnesota: Yep the Vikings fell in to the Chiefs last week. How much has the NFL become a pass-first, pass-always league? Check this out: The Vikings are third in the NFL in rushing with 157 yards per game and fifth in the league against the run, allowing 76.3 yards per game. But they are winless - and likely will not be favored in a until week 13 against Denver - because they can't pass or defend the pass. Heck, Minnesota quarterback Donovan McNabb couldn't throw a good party during Mardi Gras right now.

30) Indy: We all know their story, and we all sympathize. Let's just move along.

31) Miami: The Dolphins are off this week, but really, they've been off just every week so far. (Thank you, and don't forget to tip the wait staff.)

32) St. Louis: Disappointing is the only word that jumps to mind about the Rams, who looked the part of team on the rise last month. Granted, the Rams have been without their top RB and WR for most of the first month, but that's football. So it goes in the NFL.

Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander throws during the first inning of Game 3 of baseball's American League division series against the New York Yankees on Monday, Oct. 3, 2011, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Give him the dang ball

Postseason baseball is awesome. The pressure of each pitch. The drama.

OK, the game's take way too long, but at least it's understandable because it's a playoff game (as opposed to regular-season games that take four hours).

That said, the 5-at-10 got to watch one of our favorite subplots unfold last night. Watching perfection or greatness is always awesome, but sometimes watching great players scrape by and succeed with less than their best stuff is equally impressive.

Detroit ace Justin Verlander has been overpowering all season. He's going to be an unanimous choice for the AL Cy Young and he may win the AL MVP after winning 24 games for the Tigers. Monday night in a critical Game 3 of Detroit's ALDS against the New York Yankees, Verlander was down 2-0 four batters into the game. His velocity was there - dude effortlessly runs it up there in the mid-to-high 90s - but he was missing spots and the Yankees were working counts and forcing him to make pitch after pitch.

So he made pitch after pitch after pitch after pitch. And the toughed out eight innings in a 5-4 win that puts the Yankees on the edge of elimination, which also puts Fox TV executives on the edge of the cliff and BIspy and Jefe on the edge of celebration.

Tip your cap Justin, you were at your best despite not having your best - and it was fun to watch.

Chattanooga head football coach Russ Huesman argues that a kick went into the end zone for a touchback in the first half of an NCAA college football game against Appalachian State in Boone, N.C.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

This and that

- The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that the Louisiana Superdome will be known the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. An announcement is expected today. We're OK with this, in fact, let's start a campaign to get our venue's name changed. How does Volkswagen Finley Stadium grab you? It's better than Wacker Finley Stadium and maybe not as good as Amazon Park at Finley Stadium. Who's with us?

- Our UTC beat ace John Frierson tells us the Mocs are still confident (Mocs still confident in ability). OK, but the clock is ticking, and if the playoffs are the goal - and they are and they should be - time is running short. If it's not over until the fat lady sings, well, she's not singing yet, but there's a heavy-set woman warming up her vocal cords.

- Everyone involved in the NBA talks says that today is a monster day for the labor negotiations. Whatever you say gang, but know this, if you miss games, you will lose at least 10-percent of your casual fan base every month you miss. Tread carefully.

Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel, front right, and his players. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)

Today's question(s)

More NCAA violations at THE Ohio State University. Three of the players that were part of the Tattoo Crew with Terrelle Pryor that have been suspended for the first five games of the season have been ruled ineligible for the foreseeable future. The three - DeVier Posey, Daniel "Boom" Herron and Marcus Hall - worked a part-time job for an OSU booster, who paid them for more hours than they worked. We had a lot of jokes to sprinkle in here, but let's skip that and leave it with this question: Is there any way the NCAA can not drop the hammer on THE Ohio State University? The NCAA has to go in there and start swinging right?

If they don't, then what's the limit? Where's the threshold that will cause the NCAA to get serious on someone other than Boise State's volleyball team?

Ball's in your court Mark Emmert and Co., whatcha got?

Discuss.