5 at 10: Tennessee Vols, Atlanta's new young gun and Peyton Manning for 2011 MVP

5 at 10: Tennessee Vols, Atlanta's new young gun and Peyton Manning for 2011 MVP

September 16th, 2011 by Jay Greeson in Sports

Fans gather in anticipation of the traditional Vol Walk before the NCAA college football game between Tennessee and Western Kentucky on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2009 in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

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

Tennessee coach Derek Dooley makes his way through fans during the traditional Vol Walk before an NCAA football game against Tennessee-Martin at Neyland Stadium Saturday, Sept. 4, 2010 in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

From UTFan

Give the 5-at-10 seal of approval for going to a mixed (Gators fans and Vols fan) tailgate. In fact it's at a Florida fan's house and we'll be outnumbered. Thoughts?

Great question, and feel free to swing by anytime.

This was this week's "Spent entirely too much time on that question" question. And we broke the answer down in four quarters, with a pregame tip.

Pregame:

Bring a non-offensive food item. Nachos are a good idea or if you have a "go-to" snack, bring it.

First quarter:

Stay humble and relatively under control. This is the road tailgate version of "establishing the run." Get in there. Make some comments - do not hide from your allegiances... EVER. But stick to the game plan out of the gate and build some steam.

(Staff Photo by Patrick Smith/Chattanooga Times Free Press)

Second quarter:

Bring in some history. Say things like, "Yeah, Florida has won six straight, but did you know that these teams have only played 40 times. Ever. That's crazy, huh? It seems like we were dominating you guys for years before Meyer got there." Or, "did you know that Florida quarterback John Brantley was named the heir apparent to Tebow and that's one of the main reasons Cam Newton transferred. Wow, bet you guys wish you could have that decision over, huh?"

Third quarter:

The flow of the game dictates your direction here. If the game's close you have a decision to make: Either push all in and start singing, "Rocky Top" after every first down or stay with the game plan of humility and control. This all depends on the number of adult beverages you've knocked back at this point. If Tyler Bray is running away with things, remember to be humble, and when someone says, "Wow, you're being quite reasonable about this." You can smile and say, "Yeah, recent struggles can't change a tradition of success like we have at Tennessee." You can even try to pull off the Captain Morgan pose here, but that's optional.

Fourth quarter:

Trust your gut. And if Florida pulls one out at the end, run to the car, put on some jorts and a wife beater, come back in the party, grab a Keystone and blend in.

Good luck.

Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Tyler Bray (8) throws during the first quarter against Montana in Knoxville.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

From GatorHater

Biggest key to Saturday in the Swamp? I think it's UT's pass rush and whether they can get to Brantley. What do think? P.S. I enjoy the 5@10. Thanks.

GatorHater,

The biggest key Saturday is likely pass rusher, but in our view it's whether the Vols can keep the Gators' pressure off of Tyler Bray.

We've been asked a dozen times or more about what are the Vols' chances Saturday, and the answers in "Slim" - as in "Slim" Tyler Bray. Dude can seriously wing it and he has two huge and athletic targets on the perimeter in Da'Rick Rogers and Justin Hunter.

But how Bray handles the pressure - from a dynamite Florida front seven and from a deafening crowd at the Swamp - will determine Saturday's winner.

If Bray gets rattled and knocked around it could be a long - and damaging - afternoon. If Bray's uniform doesn't need to be scrubbed come Saturday night, the Vols are going to give Florida a fight. (And UTFan above is going to have a much more enjoyable tailgate.)

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) slides toward Baltimore Ravens defensive back Tom Zbikowski in the first half of an NFL football game in Baltimore, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

From SteelerFan

Jay,

No doubt about it: My Steelers took a butt-whuppin' from the Ravens in Week No. 1 of the NFL season.

I've been defending my Black and Gold boys all week. Give me some help. Tell me about some sports teams, in your memory, that were prematurely pronounced dead early in a season, only to rise up and prove their critics wrong. (UGA fans may want to hear your answer to this, too.)

I still think the Steelers win 10-12 games this year and make the playoffs.

SteelerFan

Rest easy, my man, there's no reason to put up the Steeler gear after one week. Was it a bad week? Sure, but it's only one week.

In fact, the 5-at-10 believes it's better on the professional level to take a 35-7, turnover-filled thumping that it is to lose a nail-biter because of a bone-headed play by your quarterback (cough, cough, the Dallas Cowboys, cough). The tail-whipping allows the coaches to get the attention of everyone in the room and allows the leadership in the locker room to work its magic. The nail-biter often can offer false hope and allow people to think they're close to being good.

As for examples, there's the "player-return" thing, like when the Cowboys started 0-2 in 1992 before Emmitt Smith ended his holdout. With Smith back, the Cowboys rolled to the Super Bowl. (Granted, knowing your allegiances, you do not want to be compared to anything close to a Cowboys team.)

There's the "got to gel," where a team of relatively news pieces comes together like when the Miami Heat started last year 9-8 before finishing 58-24 and advancing to the NBA Finals.

Then there's the "flipping the switch" thing, like Tiger Woods in the 1997 Masters. Woods shot a 4-over-par on the front nine of the opening round, then shot a 6-under 30 on the back nine for a 70. He went on to set just about every Masters scoring record that week in winning his first green jacket.

As for your Steelers, the biggest thing to us is that for the last month everyone was talking about how Pittsburgh's experience would serve them well. Now, after one bad loss, that experience is re-defined as a defense that's just old.

The black-and-gold will be fine. Vegas has them as a 14.5-point favorite this week, so they're not that "old" in some people's view. Stupid sports writers.

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning (18) during the second quarter of an NFL preseason football game against the Washington Redskins in Indianapolis, Friday, Aug. 19, 2011. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

From CelticVol,

Mr. 5@10,

So sorry I couldn't email my question last week. The wife and I took the little ones to Disney World where they charge $10 to get on the internet. Needless to say I didn't pay the $10 and am still broke. Here's my question to you: One of my coworkers posed this question to me this morning and I wanted to get your take on it. Can a player win the NFL MVP award and not play a single down? The answer should be yes and the player should be Peyton Manning. Have you ever seen a player more vital to his team than Peyton is to the Colts?

C-Vol,

First off, great call on not paying $10 for the interwebs. Save those greenbacks for Disney swag or an extra cocktail after the kiddies doze off - we're certain you deserved it.

After a stunning career that featured 200-plus starts, a Super Bowl title, leading the Colts on an impressive run of nine straight seasons with 10-or-more wins plus all the stats, Peyton Manning's true value was overwhelmingly apparent in his absence of the 34-7 loss to Houston in Week 1.

And yes, in the question above, we rationalize how a blowout is relatively meaningless in the NFL. It's just one game, and the NFL goal is to get to 11 wins, no matter when you get them.

But the Steelers are built on a system that broke down and looked bad for one game. The Colts are built on one player who broke down and who knows when he will return.

We hate to go back to point-spreads, but what the heck. We mentioned that despite the humbling loss in Week 1 that Pittsburgh is still a two-touchdown favorite over Seattle this week. Well, after that tail-spanking in Texas and without Manning, the Colts are a 3-point home UNDERDOG to a Cleveland Browns team that is viewed by many as the worst in the league. Well, second-worst any way.

According to RJ Bell of pregame.com, it's only the second time since 2000 that the Colts have been a home underdog in a game that they intended to play their starters. The other was a 2007 home date against a New England Patriots team that finished the regular season 16-0.

C-Vol, we don't think he could win the MVP without playing, but if he misses the year and the Colts go bagel-16, Manning may not take a snap and finish in the top five of the MVP voting.

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Julio Teheran throws against the New York Mets in the third inning of the second game of a baseball doubleheader on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011, at Citi Field in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

From Potty Humor Man,

Hey 5@10

The Braves announced their Minor League Awards Thursday. Julio Teheran was no surprise as the top organizational pitcher, but the position player of the year Joe Terdoslavich must have slipped by me. What do you know about this guy? And if Furcal was Fookey and Smoltz was Smoltzie, what would Bobby have called this guy?

Potty Humor Man,

OK, this is kind of stinky question, but we're game. Joe Terdoslavich is a switch-hitting first baseman who batted .286 with 20 homers and 82 RBIs in 132 games at High-A Lynchburg.

As for the last part, well, buckle up.

Bobby also called Chipper Jones "Chip" which leads us to think that Joe Terdoslavich's nickname would have been either Terdie or just plain Terd.

And to make matter worse, you are obviously a pretty big Braves fan, yet Terd slipped by you pretty easily. (Insert Krystal joke here.)

That said, the options here are limitless:

- Maybe the Braves tried to trade him to Chicago for Marlin Byrd, but the Cubs response was, "A Byrd in the hand is worth a Terd in bushes."

- Maybe, with their renewed plan of speed and contact hitting the Braves could change the nickname of Turner Field from "The Ted" to "The Punch Bowl," and when Joe Terdoslavich gets called up that would put a new spin on "The Terd in the Punch Bowl."

- Maybe they could.... We're going stop now because this could get out of hand quickly.

Let's just wipe this topic off the charts.

Enjoy the weekend.