5-at-10: NFL power poll, NCAA's next portal possibility, Braves' clincher delayed, T or F Tuesday

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) jukes his way past Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David (54) during an NFL football game, Sunday, October 2, 2022 in Tampa, FL. The Chiefs defeat the Buccaneers 41-31. (Peter Joneleit via AP)

NFL power poll

Do you need great QB play to win in today’s NFL?

I am not asking rhetorically. I am asking realistically.

Look around, and of course you would rather have Patrick Mahomes than Mitchell Trubisky, but a quarter into the season, the Marcus Mariota-led Falcons have the same record as the Tom Brady-paced Bucs.

Plus, with the perpetual crosshairs and the rotating injury B-I-N-G-O that lands on any number of QBs weekly, keeping a QB healthy is every bit as critical as finding a QB to begin with.

So I’ll ask again: Do you need great QB play to win in today’s NFL? I think the default answer is obvious — and to win in January when the ‘ry’ months come calling for the NFL all-timers the answer is still ‘yes’ — but the analytical discussions through autumn could surprise you.

Speaking of surprises and confusing QB corollaries, care to guess which team leads the league in yards, yards per play, points scored and shares the lead in TD passes through four games?

Your Detroit Lions and Jared Goff.  

1 Philadelphia (4-0). Jalen Hurts, MVP frontrunner? Yeah that’s where we sit. Side note: The Eagles ability to stay calm despite a 14-bagel hole Sunday against Jacksonville was the mark of a contender. Side question: Did you see the Philly crowd, a collection of folks so bitter they gladly embrace their reputation as the fans who booed Santa, give a nice ovation to Jags coach Doug Pederson? Remember Pederson led the Eagles to their only Super Bowl win, and he also replaced Urban Meyer in Jacksonville, and while only Philly boos Santa, everyone hates Urban.

2 Kansas City (3-1). The Chiefs and Mahomes are the Rory McIlroy of the NFL. They may not win every week, but their A-game — like Rory’s — is better than everyone else’s A-game. And that will be true as long as Patty Mahomes is slinging it and doing StateFarm commercials. Side question: Speaking of commercials, has there ever been an athlete who did a commercial that made you want to patronize that service or product? I thought back in the day in those Hertz commercials, O.J. killed it. (Too soon?) 

3 Buffalo (3-1). The Bills are good. Like really good. And are still the consensus pick to win the Super Bowl in February. Buffalo is plus-400 (bet $100, win $400), followed by the Chiefs (plus-650), the Eagles (plus-750) and the Packers (plus-900).     

4 Green Bay (3-1). Yes, the QB play of the top four teams in the power poll kind of refutes the question asked above. But the Packers, more than any other 3-1 team in the league, are winning ugly and paced by defense and a dual-threat running game. Fellow StateFarm pitchman Aaron Rodgers is 12th in passer efficiency, a spot behind Cooper Rush and just ahead of Ryan Tannehill.

5 Miami (3-1). To balance the scales of the QB debate, this is the second team in the top five that has a QB on a rookie deal, so the Eagles and the Fins were able to bring in huge offseason WR additions with AJ Brown and Tyreek Hill respectively. Hmmmmmmmm.


28 Pittsburgh (1-3). Yeah, there are some new faces in new places on the weekly powerless poll. Welcome to the Steelers, an erstwhile contender for the better part of the last half century. In the rebuilding season as the Steelers look for Ben Roethlisberger’s long-term replacement, their 1-3 start heads into a Sunday as a 14-point underdog against Buffalo. If that sticks, according to ESPN betting reporter David Purdum, if that line remains at 14, it would be the first time the Steelers were a two-TD ‘dog since the NFL/AFL merger in 1970. 

29 New England (1-3). Yeah, the thing about chickens is that they almost always come home to roost. So, after two decades of B&B dominance, the Pats are likely turning to someone named Bailey Zappe for the foreseeable future at QB in a division filled with improving teams more than happy to show the Pats to the basement.

30 Washington (1-3). Death, taxes and the Washington football team being irrelevant post-Joe Gibbs has been a pretty reliable trio.

31 Carolina (1-3). Matt Rhule is the betting favorite to be the first NFL coach fired this season. I can see that. Of course, then Rhule, who had a bunch of success in college, could be hired to replace Bryan Harsin at Auburn, and then would be the betting favorite to be the first college coach fired next year. 

32 Houston (0-3-1). Gross. Hey, at least the Astros are good. 

S-M-oving right along

OK, “The Muppet Movie” was excellent. Not the spin-offs or sequels. The original, with the classic, 

“Moving right along, in search of good times and good news,

“With good friends you can’t lose, this could become a habit.”

Sing along in the back. I know you know the words.

So Kermit and the crew took a road trip. College football’s “moving right along” has taken a harsh turn this week.

OK, there has been more than a little hand-wringing about the trend of players sitting out bowl games to a) stay healthy and b) get ready for the NFL draft process.

Well, the next chapter has landed at SMU. A season of much promise has been derailed and the Mustangs — a bunch, not unlike Fresno State, that had whispers of following Cincinnati’s path of a Group of Five playoff crasher — are looking out for me over we.

Four SMU players — including three starters — have called it a season as they get ready — and rested — for the transfer portal.

And their timing is not by accident. Since they have played just four games, the players can view this season as a redshirt year and have an extra year of eligibility at their new locales. 

This could become a habit indeed.

Waiting game

So the Braves played. The Braves lost.

It happens.

So Atlanta’s magic number stayed at 1, meaning a Braves win either of its final two games or a Mets loss in any of its final three games — Mets were rained out Monday — gives Atlanta the NL East title and the all-important 2 seed in the NL playoffs.

It’s just a matter of time. Heck, they even had the plastic curtains up in the Miami visiting locker room last night.

But, as a couple of you noted, including a well-structured letter from Bicycle Bob about the decision, hardly seems fair that the Braves turned around after a night game on Sunday, got on a plane and landed in Miami at 4 a.m. and played later that night.

Yes, it’s a first-world professional problem because we all know that business travel for MLB, NBA or NFL dudes is not like the business trips you, me and Spy take.

It’s still a hurdle, magnified by the Mets getting a rain-out to catch their collective breaths after the emotional sweep by the Braves in the A-T-L over the weekend.

Will it matter in the long run? No, not even with Jake Whojusthitahomer pitching for the Braves tonight. No way the Mets sweep the final three from the Nats.

And even if the Braves lose today and the Mets sweep their doubleheader today, the Braves can (and would) clinch on Wednesday by making sure every pitcher since Rick Mahler was loose and ready to roll. 

This and that

— So Albert Pujols hit homer No. 703 last night and the fan who caught the ball is waiting to see what the souvenir could fetch. If it turns out to be Pujols’ final HR — he has two more games in his Hall of Fame career — and/or the ball that moved him past Babe Ruth into second on the all-time RBI list, it could bring a pretty penny. Even from Pujols. 

— You know the rules. Here’s Paschall on the looming LSU-UT match-up that has Fat Vader’s complete attention this week. 

— Not sure anyone loves the NFL draft more than I do. Maybe former UTC football coach Russ Huesman, who still texts me on that Thursday of the first round of the draft. Good times. So of course I’m going to click on almost every mock draft out there. This from CBSsports.com has UK QB Will Levis going 1 overall and Florida’s Anthony Richardson going 3 overall to the Falcons. To be honest, I think there are multiple QBs across the country better than those two dudes.  

— Herschel Walker continues to make a push for ‘worst candidate in modern politics’ and that is truly saying something. His son blasted him on Twitter about how the family begged him not to run and even saying, “I’m done” at the end of the post. Now comes a report that the anti-abortion Walker paid for an abortion in 2009. Walker denies the report, but it’s the latest in a litany of allegations and claims that are far from flattering for the former Heisman winner. And the power of the R outside of the A-T-L in Georgia is so great, Walker’s running pretty close to even with Raphael Warnock in their race for U.S. Senate.

— Second political head-scratcher: Saw last week that several Democrats were asking the Biden administration to examine taking Kamala Harris off the ticket for the 2024 election. At first, I thought, “Huh? Who would do that and is that even possible nevermind fair?” But then I also thought it was an interesting idea in an appeal to moderates who, like I am, are worried about Biden’s health and terrified about the idea of Harris sitting in that seat. Then I see stories like this one in which Harris says relief and support in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian should be ‘equity’ based. Gang, if we’re making a hurricane racist — and the support after said hurricane a racial talking point when it should be based first and foremost on need — then I’m not sure what to do with that.         

Today’s questions

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

True or false, you need elite QB play to win in the regular season of the NFL.

True or false, “The Muppet Movie” is underrated.

True or false, the dude who caught Pujols’ homer last night should have taken the $100K offered to him by a souvenir collector in the stands.

True or false, the Patriots and the Steelers will finish with losing records.

True or false, you would rather Hendon Hooker over Will Levis.

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

As for today, Oct. 4, let’s review.

The first U.S. Open golf tournament was held on this day in 1895. Spy, did you enjoy that one?

On this day in 1927, the sculpting of Mount Rushmore began.

So, in honor of Rushmore, let’s do a Rushmore of Rushmore-esque must-see tourist things in these United States of America.