5-at-10: NFL Power Poll, GACA and MLB Hall of Fame thoughts, UT's playoff path

Tennessee tight end Jacob Warren (87) makes a catch as Georgia defensive back Javon Bullard (22) defends during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022 in Athens, Ga. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

NFL Power Poll

So it’s Election Day. War America.

And before we get to the only poll anyone is interested in today — the NFL power poll of course — let us all say a simple word of prayer for a controversy-free election.

And for everything decent and holy, please no run-offs. I am ready for the political ads to go the way of 8-track tapes for a few months.

Deal? Deal.

With that, let’s make like your Aunt Sally on Signal and beat feet to the poll.

Powerful

1 Philadelphia (8-0). How’s this for balance — and domination — for the unbeaten Eagles? They are third in total offense, second in scoring offense, third in total defense and fourth in total defense. Add those together and it clearly equals 8-0 friends.

2 Minnesota (7-1). OK, raise your hand if, at the halfway point, you had the Vikings as the safest bet to make the postseason. I’ll wait. Minnesota has won six straight and leads the NFC North by five games in the loss column with nine to play. Not even the Mets could blow that kind of lead.

3 Kansas City (6-2). Yes, the Chiefs passed the Bills atop the rankings among the AFC teams. Why? I think I trust Andy Reid and that K.C. staff more than I trust the Bills leadership.

4 Buffalo (6-2). Inexplicable loss to the surprising Jets aside, Josh Allen is the MVP leader at the turn. And know this, that regular-season win over K.C. could be critical when we are discussing home-field advantage come Christmas time.

5 Dallas (6-2). If Dak Prescott rounds into form — and that defense stays healthy — wow, the fight for the NFC East is going to be salty. And while we’re here — and speaking of late December — how about a quick visor tip for the schedule-maker who delivered us Philly at Dallas on Christmas Eve? Nice work Santa.

Powerless

28 Las Vegas (2-6). Yes, Frank Reich got fired by Indy, but he has to wonder, “Why did I get the pink slip and Josh McDaniels still has a gig?” Seriously, I know he gets washed in the cleansing Belichick Baptismal waters, but McDaniels stinks at this. How is a team with Derek Carr, Josh Jacobs, Darren Waller and DaVante Adams — a stocked QB1-RB1-TE1-WR1 gang — a two-win crew? The answer: Josh McDaniels.

29 Detroit (2-7). How can these Lions beat those Packers? Anyone? Bueller? Who’s legacy is being tainted the most this season, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan or Matthew Stafford? Because that’s three projected Hall of Famers on three three-win teams.

30 Pittsburgh (2-6). Count me among the people who think finding a quarterback is an annual first-round search until you know. And when you know, you know. So keep playing Kenny Pickett, Mike Tomlin, because we don’t yet know. But if pressed, we’d have to say no. No?

31 Carolina (2-7). The Panthers are in last place in a terrible NFC South. How bad is the division? Well, not only are the Falcons tied for first — Panthers host Falcons on the Amazon Thursday night stream — but every team in the division has a negative point differential. That takes some doing right there.

32 Houston (1-6-1). Way to go Astros. And maybe Mattress Mack can loan the Texans a few bucks.

Hall of Fame

OK, two Hall of Fame conversations I'd like to have. 

First, I am overjoyed to share that my high school basketball coach, David Boyd, was elected to Georgia Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

He’s certainly deserving — I have openly wondered why he was not in before now — considering his resumé.

In his 30-year career, he won more than 600 games — easy Auburn math tells me that’s more than 20 per — and played for 10 state titles. Yes, 10. In 30 years. He won six titles at four different schools, and three of those schools — Campbell, Milton and Berkmar — were in the highest classification in the state at the time.

I was overjoyed for him because I know how much this means to him. I was just as overwhelmed and humbled when he asked me to present him into the Hall next June. Know this: I really can never recall being nervous speaking before groups or people. Ever. But I am already excited — butterflies maybe? — about this honor.

As for the other Hall of Fame, whatever the former Veterans Committee is known as these days released their list of names of candidates. And it’s a doozy. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Albert Belle, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Dale Murphy, Rafael Palmeiro and Curt Schilling.

Those guys need 12 of the 16-person committee to say yes, and they are in.

We knew from early on that the voting writers were not going to support the PED-tainted superstars like Bonds and Clemens. Will the committee?

Hard to know, but it could be the way the PED folks find their way to Cooperstown. 

And while we’re here, unless it’s because of PEDs and ethical decisions, isn’t every player listed above better than Ted Simmons or Harold Baines, two of the recent inductees into baseball’s Hall by the Veterans crew?

Discuss.

Rankings that matter

So tonight the college football playoff folks will update and reveal their next set of rankings.

Safe to assume Georgia is 1. And THE Ohio State will be 2.

If we had to guess, Michigan and then still-unbeaten TCU will be 3 and 4 respectively.

Those feel relatively elementary, even if 9-0 TCU is a 7-point road underdog at 6-3 Texas this Saturday.

If Tennessee falls into the fifth spot — and you have to believe they will, right? — the path to the playoffs is simple for the Vols.

Win out. Beat Missouri — UT is favored by 20.5, and you better take it now, because it will be 23 or so before kickoff — this week, win at South Carolina and at Vandy in the following weeks, and wait.

Because Michigan and THE Ohio State play each other and there’s a very real chance TCU could lose this Saturday and next at Baylor.

If the latter happens — TCU stumbles — and Michigan and THE OSU play a donnybrook, could we possibly see two SEC and two Big Ten teams in the playoff?

In truth, since UT will be at least a 17-point favorite in each of its final three games, the biggest threat to the Vols getting a playoff invite could be UGA losing in the conference title game.  

This and that

— College hoops started last night. UT won. UTC did not. It happens. We had UTC plus a couple (loss) and the Ravens minus-1 (winner) in our "Plays of the Day" on Monday afternoon. 

— From 247sports.com, the big weekend showings have behooved the recruiting efforts for Georgia and LSU. Here’s more. 

— So Jeff Bezos has to be the front-runner to buy the Washington Commanders right? Bezos and Jerry Jones in the same division would be a laugh riot at parties. Well, there’s another name circulating, and it’s alright, alright, alright by me. Matthew McConaughey, a professed lifelong Washington fan, has tossed his cowboy hat in the ring. Know who else is a huge Washington fan with half a billion in his checking account? Dale Jr.   

— An update from a regular last night, apparently the Manning cast was up and running for the Ravens running roughshod through New Orleans like drunken frat boys prepping for the Sugar Bowl. And it’s with great sadness to report that the Manning cast included a quarter with Luke Bryan. Egad. I would rather spend an entire quarter having a root canal while my taxes were being audited rather than listen to anything coming out of Luke Bryan’s pie hole. I truly think he’s everything wrong with this modern-day hick-hop version of country music. 

— We referenced the Colts firing Frank Reich, and dude deserved it considering the underwhelming showing the team had at the end of last year and at the beginning of this year. But right when you think the Colts are making a move to take positive steps, they name former center Jeff Saturday as the interim coach. Saturday, who is a fine analyst with the four-lettered WWL, has been a head coach before. At Hebron Christian Academy. So there’s that. (Side note: My spell check tried to turn "Hebron" into "Hebrew," and somehow I’m pretty sure the curriculum at Hebrew Christian Academy would send more than a few mixed signals. Oy vey.)

— You know the rules. Here’s Paschall on Hendon Hooker and the Vols looking to get back in their offensive groove this weekend after a tumultuous trip to Athens, G-A. 

— So Ted Cruz showed up at the Astros’ victory parade and was booed and hit with a White Claw. (Spy, how do those White Claws taste?) I know it should be, but Cruz getting hit with a hard seltzer struck me as a funny visual. Did the old-school comedy teams have the seltzer bottle routine? And here’s the next thing, why waste a perfectly fine cocktail on Cruz? Does he even make the Cruz Rushmore? There’s Tom, Penelope, José, Terry and a slew of others, right? 

Today’s questions

True or false, it’s Tuesday. Morning, Ern.  

True or false, you voted (or plan to) today.

True or false, UT will be 5 in the rankings tonight.

True or false, UT makes the college football playoff.

True or false, the Veterans committee will vote Barry Bonds into the Hall.

True or false, Luke Bryan is everything wrong with country music.

You know the drill. Answer some T or Fs, leave some T or Fs.

As for today, Nov. 8, let’s review.

Alex Trebek died on this day in 2020. 

Bobby Bowden would have been 93 today.

Ester Rolle would have been 102 today. She was J.J.’s momma in “Good Times.”

Does “Good Times” make the Rushmore of TV shows centered on Black families?

Go and go vote.