5 at 10: Wildcard race, Kiffin era revisited and the Best/Worst of the NFL

5 at 10: Wildcard race, Kiffin era revisited and the Best/Worst of the NFL

September 27th, 2011 by Jay Greeson in Sports

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

Michael Patrick of the Knoxville News Sentinel<br/> Lane Kiffin waits in the hallway, Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010 waiting for television stations to kill their live feed of his press conference.

More UT-NCAA issues

Wow, the Lane Kiffin era in Knoxville is a lot like an STD - every time it appears to be gone and forgotten, a painful reminder resurfaces causing everyone to ask, "How could we have been so dumb?"

Our UT football ace Patrick Brown filed this story this morning (Willie Mack Garza reportedly paid for UT recruit's visit), detailing how Willie Mack Garza reportedly paid for high-profile recruit Lache Seastrunk to visit UT. To make matters worse, Garza, who followed the Boy Blunder Kiffin to USC before resigning recently to tend to some "personal matters," allegedly negotiated the deal through Seastrunk handler Willie Lyles, who is about as trustworthy as a Snake Oil Salesman and has the reputation of Ponzi Scheme operator.

Wow, just when UT appeared to be out of NCAA jail, this comes out. It's hard to know what it means for the Vols, who recently had their NCAA cases closed with relatively no new penalties added by the NCAA. The biggest concern for Johnny Vols Fan this morning would have to be whether any one at UT knew of the alleged violations by Garza, and if they knew whether they informed the NCAA of these issues. If they did not know - and since everyone this side of the custodial staff at UT has been turned over - there could be an outside chance of the NCAA claiming a lack of institutional control. That seems less than likely.

However, if the NCAA can connect that information to UT and the Vols did not turn it over to the NCAA, well, the entire process could start again. Because if we know anything the NCAA hates being lied to - well that, and no interloper since General William T. Sherman has scorched one proud Southern town more criminally and effectively than Kiffin.

This handout from Sports Illustrated shows the cover of the Dec. 12, 2005 issue, featuring Tom Brady, the 2005 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year. The issue will hit newsstands on Dec. 7. (AP Photo/HO, Sports Illustrated)

NFL Power Poll

In the NFL more than any other sport, you are what your record says you are. MLB and NBA regular seasons are marathons. College football's regular season - the best of them all - is a 13-chapter Stephen King thriller that builds each week and college basketball is a five-month try-out, sports' version of the political primaries where we find out who the candidates are and let them duke it out in a month-long postseason extravaganza.

The NFL, though, is like Sports Illustrated in its heyday. Each week is memorable, but when the week is over, it's over. Time for the next one. Sure there were some other magazines that had great weeks - a Golf Digest for BiSpy; a Law Review for Jefe; a MMA Illustrated for EC; People or Soap Opera Digest for JordanRules - but the week-in, week-out greatness of SI made it SI. (Side bar: Thursdays when SI arrived during the 5-at-10's childhood was a great day. Sadly, it's not that way any more.)

So the NFL is about weekly success built into expected greatness. You are what your record says you are.

With that in mind, here's the Power Poll:

Top 5

1) Green Bay (3-0): One to 53, best team in the NFL.

2) Detroit (3-0): Vegas' odds on Lions reaching the Super Bowl are at 15-to-1; they were at 80-to-1 during the summer

3) Buffalo (3-0): Who knows how long the Bills will rank with the league's elite, but they're 3-0 now and that counts.

4) New England (2-1): Relax Pats fans, Brady throwing four picks (like he did in Sunday's loss at Buffalo) is football's version of Halley's Comet

5) New Orleans (2-1): Drew Brees and a bunch of weapons have Saints rolling

Bottom 5

28) St. Louis (0-3): Injuries (especially to RB Stephen Jackson) have the Rams looking for help for quarterback Sam Bradford. That search has been less than pretty.

29) Miami (0-3): Is it a bad sign if when Dolphins coach Tony Sparano enters the stadium, clips from "Dead Man Walking" are shown on the Jumbotron?

30) Minnesota (0-3): The crack 5-at-10 investigative branch has uncovered this secret (and fake) note:

Hey Adrian Peterson,

Good luck being a superstar back on a really bad team for the next decade. Enjoy it - if you can,

Love and respect,

Barry Sanders

31) Indianapolis: Injured Colts QB Peyton Manning spent Sunday night in the coaches' box trying to help the league's worst offense. His presence did help a little; his appearance on the field would help a lot. That said, here's saying Manning should sit out the season; neck injuries are not like high ankle sprains or ligament tears. Quick returns from most injuries mean life-long limps or aches and pains. Coming back too soon from a neck injury could lead to a lifetime in a wheel chair.

32) Kansas City (0-3): The Chiefs, who won the AFC West last year, have lost three straight, have their best player (Eric Berry) on the IR with an ACL injury and have a coach on the hot seat. Ouch.



Philadelphia Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz (51) chases Atlanta Braves' Dan Uggla (26) after dropping the third strike in the sixth inning of a baseball game In Atlanta Monday, Sept. 26, 2011 in Atlanta. Philadelphia won 4-2. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Braves new worry

TFP ace columnist Mark Wiedmer nails the Braves' woes here (Wiedmer: Team melting like Mayfield's Braves ice cream). And Weeds asks a great question about why has no one asked about Larry Parrish's job security. It seems like the last productive out by a Braves hitter was by Jeff Blauser. Sad indeed.

That said, the Braves still cling to a one-game lead and have already faced Phillies stud Cliff Lee. This is a good thing Johnny Braves Fan. Seriously.

Plus, you can follow the 5-at-10's lead and become a huge Astros fan this week. For the sweet love of J.R. Richard, Enos Cabell (he may not be the ugliest MLB player ever - thanks, Willie McGee - but ol' Enos is in the team picture for sure) and Jose Cruz, c'mon Astros because this Braves offense has officially flat-lined.

And if it seems silly to you to want the Braves to back into the playoffs, well, do you know what they call backing into the playoffs? Yep, it's called being in the playoffs, and that's every team's goal.

Jon Jones, left, of Endicott, N.Y., kneels in the center of the ring after knocking out Rampage Jackson, right, of Irvine, Calif., during the fourth round of their UFC Light Heavyweight title bout, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011, in Denver. Jones won the fight with a knockout in the fourth round. (AP Photo/ Jack Dempsey )

This and that

- The Wall Street Journal reported that Bud Selig is looking into options to kick the Dodgers out of the MLB if embattled owner Frank McCourt does not sell the club. This seems like posturing at best and grand grandstanding at worst, but if the Dodgers can't field a major league team, does that mean Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw and the rest of the L.A. stars could be with the Lookouts next year? Awesome.

- If you want to feel better about the Braves' collapse, just look at the month the Boston Red Sox have endured? E-Gads. The stock market in October 1929 was more upbeat than these Red Sox, who are 5-17 in their last 22 games and are tied for the AL wildcard lead with Tampa with two games to go. Boston has been either atop the AL East or the wildcard standings everyday since May 24. Plus, the Red Sox have not won back-to-back games since August. Ouch-standing.

- We've had an EC sighting and he's informed us that the MMA hugfest last weekend was outstanding. OK, great. He also informed us that the winners this weekend will set up a title match between Jon "Bones" Jones and "Sugar" Rashad Evans. Bones vs. Sugar for the light heavyweight title, or Bar-B-Que bragging rights of Chattanooga. Let's get it on! Who's hungry?

- Let's say the 5-at-10 has a friend named Weena who occasionally makes a wager or 22. Let's say Weena knows some folks who know some things about betting. Would you believe that in FBS games in the month of September, Vegas is 129-128, according to RJ Bell of pregame.com? That means the favorite has covered 129 times and the underdog has covered 128 times (that's not counting pushes or the three games that had lines of zero). That's hard to fathom, huh. Two quick things, Vegas is good. Period. But they aren't 14-3-1 like the 5-at-10's Fab 4 (plus 1), though.

Atlanta Braves' Michael Bourn, left, and Chipper Jones, top right, run on the base paths after Jones' reached on a fielder's choice as Washington Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa, center, points towards Chris Marrero (14) during the ninth inning of a baseball game on Friday, Sept. 23, 2011, in Washington. Bourn scored and Jones was tagged out in a rundown during the play. The Braves won 7-4. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Today's question

No big build up or hocus-pocus or 5-at-10 theories or charts. It's a simple question today gang:

Which teams win the wildcard spots in the AL and the NL?

And today's question comes with a bonus, if you get them both right - be it on the comments or in the e-mail - we'll set you up with some Mocs tickets for Saturday. Deal? Deal.

Discuss.