NFL power poll
We can pose and posture. We can search and study. We can think we know and know we don't.
But simply put, supremacy in the NFL is decided by checking three boxes.
Do you have a QB you trust?
Can you rush the passer without blitzing on every play?
Are you relatively healthy?
Check those three off the list and you have a shot at winning any Sunday, be it in the ''er'' months or all the way into the ''uary'' parts of the calendar.
And if you're thinking, "What about coaching?" well, what about it?
Arizona smoked the injury-riddled Browns on Sunday with its head coach COVID-ing. Matt LaFleuer is on pace to be the winningest coach since John Madden traded his Sansabelt slacks for a CBS sports coat. Bill Belichick is still Bill Belichick, but the Pats are beat up and his Hall of Fame QB is catching some sun in Tampa.
So with those caveats - QB play, getting to the QB, and keeping your dudes on the field - let's take Batman's advice to Robin, and get to the poll.
1. Arizona. Unbeaten still, the Cards are making believers of the so-called experts by coloring all three of the above boxes in bright red. They are fifth in sacks per game, lead the NFL in completion percentage, and of their six players on IR, tight end Maxx Williams is the biggest cap hit. And the Cards traded for Zach Ertz to fill that void.
2. Green Bay. How many Super Bowl titles does Aaron Rodgers have left? How many more Super Bowl titles does Aaron Rodgers need to be in the GOAT conversation with Brady?
3. Baltimore. Somehow, someway, the Ravens are 5-1 despite a string of early injuries, especially in the secondary and at running back. That's a testament to the Ravens' ability to find contributors throughout the draft annually. Is it fool's gold for Baltimore? Maybe. But 5-1 is 5-1 and a game clear of everyone else in the AFC. Side question: Put your Ravens GM hat on for a second; would you be willing to give Lamar a nine-figure monster deal and destroy your biggest strength - your depth - beyond the 2023 season?
4. Dallas. The Cowboys won in Foxboro, in a game that Dallas has traditionally gagged on over the last decade-plus. And while we're here, Dallas corner Trevon Diggs has seven picks in six games and right now is the odds-on favorite to be defensive player of the year.
5. Tampa Bay. And this may be low, considering the Bucs still have Brady and he still has all those toys on offense. And, considering this is leaving the 5-1 Rams out of the top five, how much fun is the NFC postseason going to be?
28. New York. Both of them. The Jets actually check one of the boxes above - Gang Green can get to the QB - but the rest are as empty as a college student's checking account. As for the Giants, one of their players said this week, the fans booing has a negative impact on the team's psyche. Somewhere in the clouds Vince Lombardi just punched an angel in the ear. Hard.
29. Houston. This may be too high for the Texans, who are minus-80 in scoring differential. If the Titans do not win the AFC South by four games, then Mike Vrabel has some splainin' to do.
30. Jacksonville. Urban notched his first NFL win. If I set the over/under on career Urban wins at 8, you going over/under?
31. Miami. The above checklist kind of devalues the role of head coach in the NFL, but still when a team with expectations craters like the Dolphins have, the coach is still the one to get the axe. That said, how this roster lost to the Jags and Urban Liar is not going to help Brian Flores' cause much. True or false, Tua will sign a nine-figure deal at some point in his career.
32. Detroit. Hey Motor City sports fans, at least you can look forward to the Pistons. Wait, strike that. What about the Tigers? Ugh. Detroit sports fans, you have my permission to start abusing your liver. Side question: If you are a Lions fan, if Matt Stafford leads the Rams to the Super Bowl are you happy or angry or indifferent? Or drunk?
The ball is tipped
So, we don't have the paradoxical answer about the tree falling and no one there.
But if the NBA actually never stopped playing would anyone notice? I say no, not really.
Because the league gets back in gear tonight to celebrate its 75th season and, no, Vince Carter only played in about half of them.
So, let's project some NBA storylines, shall we? I think we shall.
The Lakers grab the best record in the West and LeBron is the third-leading scorer on his team.
The Nets surge without Kyrie out of the gate on their way to the best record in the East by the slimmest of margins over the defending champion Bucks.
The Hawks use depth and a Trae Young MVP push (he finishes second) to finish third in the conference.
The story about Ben Simmons continues to bore me, and until the 76ers can find a reasonable deal for the versatile 6-foot-10 point guard who can do everything but shoot (which is kind of important in the grand scheme of things) it will annoy the stuffing out of Philly fans.
I'm curious to see how long Kyrie will be comfortable not getting paid and not taking shots because he refuses to take the shot.
Luka wins the MVP and becomes the third player to lead the league in scoring and assists in the same season (joining Russell Westbrook and Tiny Archibald).
Cade Cunningham is the rookie of the year, but Hawks draft pick Jalen Johnson will be an all-rookie selection and be hailed as the steal of last summer's draft.
Lakers over Bucks for the title.
Braves' big shot
If you had to put money on the NLCS right now, no odds, are you taking Braves or Dodgers?
Yeah, even with the 2-0 lead, it's a tougher question than you'd originally guess.
Yes, I'd take the Braves, too, but would any of us be shocked if the Dodgers rally?
That's why tonight could be so, So, SO huge for Atlanta, which sends Charlie Morton to the mound with the chance to grab the all-but-certain 3-0 lead.
I tend to lean toward the under tonight. So there's that.
And if Morton can continue his recent run of consistency - since the last time he faced L.A. on Aug. 31, he has not allowed more than three earned in any start - a win tonight seems doable.
This and that
- So the SEC fined Tennessee $250K for the trash tossing from Saturday night. Whatever. That's a cosmetic answer to a real issue across the league, because if the league continues to embrace the "It just means more" then a) money from the school does not deter unruly fans when it just means too much, and b) this does not address the issues with officiating and the perceptions of bias a lot of fans feel. A good start for Sankey and Co. would be to find a way to be more transparent in its dealings with the officiating, good and bad.
- Gang, we're taking nominations for the next 5-at-10 Bracket Challenge, and considering the antics from Saturday night in Knoxville, the suggestions could be interesting. Fire away with your nomination for which college football stadium has the best gameday atmosphere. Whatcha got?
- You know the rules. Here's Paschall on UT sliding down the depth chart in the backfield before heading to T-Town for a date with the Tide.
- Kudos to Spy's BoSox, who continue to swing some mighty lumber and lead the Astros 2-1 in the ALCS.
True or false, it's Tuesday.
True or false, you have more confidence in the Bulldogs winning it all than the Braves.
True or false, college head football coaches are more important to success than NFL head coaches.
True or false, this Hawks nucleus can get to the NBA Finals.
True or false, you are a fan of regular-season NBA.
True or false, rushing the field is more dangerous than throwing things on the field.
True or false, the SEC has an officiating problem.
As for today, well, let's review.
Jon Favreau is 55 today. Solid career he's crafted for himself.
"Dances with Wolves" premiered on this day in 1990.
Rushmore of movie Native Americans. Go, and enjoy the day.