5 at 10: Braves cling to lead, SEC school in trouble and the Best/Worst of the NFL

5 at 10: Braves cling to lead, SEC school in trouble and the Best/Worst of the NFL

September 20th, 2011 by Jay Greeson in Sports

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick (7) jumps over the tackle of Atlanta Falcons defensive end Ray Edwards (93) and middle linebacker Curtis Lofton (50) in the second half of an NFL football game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011. Atlanta won 35-31. (AP Photo/John Amis)

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

Aaron Rodgers (12) watches from the sidelines against the Carolina Panthers during an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011. The Green Bay Packers defeated the Carolina Panthers 30-23. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)

NFL Power Poll

Two weeks into the season, here's where they stand, and remember according to an ESPN report of the 177 teams to start 0-2 since 1990, 22 have made the playoffs. Granted, if Peyton Manning does not return, the Colts will not add to that 22.

Top 5

1) Green Bay: Aaron Rodgers still has the champ's belt, and the Packers are wearing it well. Season-ending injury to safety Nick Collins hurts, though.

2) New England: He's Tom Brady, and you're not. Through two games, Brady leads the league in completions (63), attempts (88), yards (940), touchdowns (7), QB rating (128.0) and spilt ends (0). Dude is money.

3) New York Jets: League's best overall roster. Is it time to say Mark Sanchez is the NFL's version of Stephen Garcia?

4) New Orelans: The league's best one-loss club after dropping the opener at Green Bay in a shootout. As long as Drew Brees and coach Sean Payton are on the same headset connection, the Saints can play with anyone.

5) Detroit: If quarterback Matt Stafford stays healthy, the Lions are going to stay in the race all season. Side note: Detroit is a favorite at Minnesota for the first time ever. (And the Lions play there every season.)

Bottom 5

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) scrambles to get away from Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews (52) during an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Sept. 18, 2011. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)

28) Carolina: Cam Newton has more than 800 yards passing in his first two games. Heck, that even impressed SportTalk's Dr. B (he's a doctor after all).

29) St. Louis: Lot of talent mixed with some injuries (Steven Jackson needs to come back quickly, and has anyone been worn down by a career of injuries like Cadillac Williams?) and some inexperience equals growing pains. That said Sam Bradford can flat-out play.

30) Minnesota: Not only are the Vikings a home underdog to Detroit, the coach asked the fans for patience in the rebuilding process. After week 2. Ouch.

31) Indianapolis: We were asked last week if Peyton Manning could win the MVP without playing a snap. Can't happen, but a top-five finish looks possible. Either way, Manning's credentials are getting the biggest addition by subtraction in recent memory.

32) Kansas City: Friend of the Show Weena knows some folks who gamble more than a little. (We're not saying that they meet with a counselor, get free coffee and doughnuts and start by saying, "Hi, I'm Weena." "Hi, Weena." But it's close.) One of Weena's rules is riding a streak, for example, he made a little coin riding the Steelers last year on an seven-game streak where they covered every week. Here's saying the reverse is true. Betting against the Chiefs is 2-0 right now, and here's saying Kansas City would have home-field advantage in the losing against the spread playoff race. We'll predict a 13-3 finish against the number.

Atlanta Braves' second baseman Dan Uggla, left, puts his arm on the shoulder of relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel, right, after the Braves lost to the Florida Marlins 6-5 on a walk off home run by Omar Infante during a baseball game in Miami, Monday, Sept. 19, 2011. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

It's officially time to fret Johnny Braves Fan

The Braves' lead is 2.5 over the Cardinals and 3.5 over the Giants. It's officially time to be concerned. How did this happen you ask? Simple: Atlanta is 3-7 in its last 10 games; St. Louis and San Fran are 8-2.

And the consternation really is more about the way the Braves are losing games than the games lost off what once seemed to be a comfortable lead in the wildcard race.

Last night in a disastrous 6-5 loss to Florida, Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel was touched up for a game-winning walk-off homer by Omar Infante. That was after Chipper Jones lost a grounder in the lights - Yes, you read that right - to extend the inning. Oy vey. It was the second consecutive loss and the second time in two days that the Braves' once untouchable bullpen was roughed up.

Playoffs aside, if the Braves bullpen does return to its previously awesome state, even if they make the playoffs, they won't be around for long.

Drivers who made NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup championship pose for photos early Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011, in Richmond, Va. From left in front are Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin. From left at top are Tony Stewart, Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon. (AP Photo/Clem Britt)

NASCAR

OK, let's get this straight: After the first of 10 "playoff races" Dale Jr. is fifth in points and has not won a race Cup since W was still in office. Heck, Junior has led all of 50 laps for crying out loud. All season. FIFTY. Who is he chasing in the points, the pace car.

Earnhardt's finished third at Chicago, where Tony Stewart pulled out some magic from his glovebox and took his first checkered flag of the season. Stewart, the last man not named Jimmie Johnson to win the NASCAR season points title, is in second, seven points behind Kevin Harvick, in the standings.

With this season's new rules (NASCAR would never "tweak" the rules, would they?), the jumbled mass at the top of the points standings is as certain as the late race Big One at Talladega. It's going to happen, and whoever emerges relatively unscathed will win the whole thing.

Which means take heart Junior fans. Your driver could become the first star/team in modern sports history to win a championship without ever winning anything.

South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia, foreground, throws a pass to South Carolina tight end Rory Anderson to set up a field goal to give the Gamecocks the lead at the end of the second quarter of their NCAA college football game against Navy, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011, at Williams-Brice Stadium, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Brett Flashnick)

This and that

- Did you see that South Carolina was sent an official NCAA notice of allegations that centered on the players staying in a Columbia hotel for a cut rate and included the dreaded "Failure to monitor" verbage? What's the over/under timetable down there on Spurrier? With Lattimore approaching the halfway point of his college career - and if you think that dude is not turning pro after three seasons, well, then you're not thinking - the NCAA looking around and Spurrier approaching his 67th birthday in April, how long before the Ol' Ball Coach hangs up the visor?

- Texas and Oklahoma have been cleared for take-off in the conference expansion race that is part "Let's Make a Deal," part "Musical Chairs."

- Hats off to Mariano Rivera, the Yankees closer that set the all-time MLB record with his 602nd career save Monday night. That's an amazing total and an amazing career for a guy who really had just one pitch. (Yes, it as an amazing pitch, but still it's the only pitch he throws.) What say you BISpy and Eljefe, does mark even get a golf clap from the He-Man-Yankees-Haters Club?

- During the first half of Sunday night's Falcons game, NBC played a short clip of NFL rookie Julio Jones during his pre-game toss around. ((CLICK HERE)) and ask yourself if Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff has given a second thought to his critics for moving up to get the rookie wideout.



(AP Photo/Joe Giblin)

Today's question

The Big East and the Big 12 are discussion a possible merger. With Texas and Oklahoma standing at the end of the diving board waiting to cannon ball into the Pac 12, 14, 16 or even 36, the Big 12 is cooked. With the best dual-sport programs (Syracuse, Pitt and even UConn) bolting the Big East for the ACC, the Big East is looking at a basketball-only future.

So a merger could possibly give the other schools a conference seat when the realignment music stops. While the basketball could be salvaged (adding Kansas and Missouri softens the blow of losing Pitt and the 'Cuse) the football would be G-R-O-S-S. Wow, we can hardly wait for that long-standing, always-bloody, always-bitter Iowa State-Rutgers showdown. Plus, in the future of mega-conferences, the only beneift of having a conference is going to be TV money and that is based on football. (Basketball TV deals are not as lucrative and the big basketball TV deal is March Madness, and that's negotiated by the NCAA as one whole group. And that's the main reason college presidents do not want a major college football playoff. Period.)

But today's question, if the Big East also-rans and Big 12's lesser half merge, what do we call it? The Big Least? The Big Leftovers? The Dreary Dozen?

Discuss.