5-at-10: NFL power poll, UK hoops debacle, CFP TV numbers, Rushmore of car racing movies

Kentucky's Sahvir Wheeler (2) shoots while pressured by South Carolina's Hayden Brown (10) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lexington, Ky., Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023. (AP Photo/James Crisp)


NFL power poll

So the playoffs start this week. And yes, keep your head on a swivel and do everything in your power to find QBs to wager against.

Good times.

But before we get to our final power poll of the NFL season, arguably the most interesting part of Week 18 other than Aaron Rodgers' gag job was the Bears landing the top spot in the draft.

So a major market, big-named franchise that already has a young QB1 was gifted the top overall choice because Houston hit on a meaningless Hail Mary to beat the hapless Colts on Sunday.

(Side note: Ever noticed that the perpetually bad franchises win when losing would behoove them and almost always lose in the most meaningful moments? Yes, looking at you too, Falcons.)

But the long-term ripples of the Bears have pick 1 and Justin Fields on their roster have ridges, too. The current GM in Chicago did not draft Fields, so his lot is not tied to the former Harrison High-Georgia-for-a-season-THE-Ohio-State-for-two-more star. (Side question: How many titles in the last five years does Kirby have if he had had the gumption to bench the incumbent and give the reins to Fields? I say at least one more and maybe two.)

Anywell, so maybe the GM would rather deal Fields and start over with Bryce Young or CJ Stroud if he enters the draft.

My view would be to entertain all offers, deal the pick for capital and players and build around Fields, who is a true dual threat who would have set the QB rushing record this year. Yes, building around running QBs is tricky, but so would be building around Young, who is a wee fellow for the position.

Plus, it would be wise to observe history. Let's explore the last five drafts and look at who was the top pick -- the top-rated QB -- and the best player picked in round 1. And while no one would have picked Justin Jefferson 1 overall (well no one other than Vader, of course), dealing back and adding draft bullets increases the odds of successfully finding franchise-changing stars.

2022 draft -- Travon Walker, DE Georgia, went 1; Kenny Pickett of Pitt was the top-rated QB; cornerback Sauce Gardner (four overall) was the only first-rounder picked for the Pro Bowl.

2021 draft -- Trevor Lawrence, QB Clemson, went 1; Micah Parsons went 12 overall (one pick behind Fields) and is in line to be the defensive player of the year.

2020 draft -- Joe Burrow, QB LSU, fits all three categories.

2019 draft -- Kyler Murray, QB Oklahoma, went 1; Murray or Daniel Jones of Duke were the top-rated QBs; defensive linemen Nick Bosa, Quinnen Williams or Josh Allen likely are the best dudes from round 1.

2018 draft -- Baker Mayfield, QB Oklahoma, went 1; Mayfield or Sam Darnold of USC were the top-rated QBs; QB Josh Allen of Wyoming went 7 overall and will win at least one MVP before his career is done.

The lesson? Unless there is a clear-cut 1 like Burrow, QBs are like the devil, and the one you know is better than the one you don't.

Like a fireman when the bell rings, let's get to the poll.

1 Buffalo (13-3; 2 seed in the AFC): The NFL's solution for home field in the AFC after the cancellation of the Bills-Chiefs game was picking the best of several bad options. In the end a neutral site for the AFC title game -- provided Buffalo, K.C. or Cincy make the game and the imbalance schedule affects seeding -- was selected. OK.

2 Kansas City (14-3; 1 seed in the AFC). The good news is Patrick Mahomes is a Chiefs star and in between his filming schedule for StateFarm commercials, he's found time to author an MVP-type of season. The bad news is K.C. has the worst kicking game in the league and has missed eight field goal tries and five PATs this season.

3 Cincinnati (12-4; 3 seed in the AFC). Man, Joey B has the world in front of him right now, and another Super Bowl run firmly entrenches him in that top-shelf "best QB on the planet discussion" as well as opens the door for the Bengals as being a free agent destination for the immediate future. (Yes, I never expected to type the last part of the previous sentence. Ever.)

4 Philadelphia (14-3; 1 seed in the NFC). This is either too low if Jalen Hurts is 100% or too high if Gardner Minshew is going to be prominently involved. Sometimes it's just that clear cut.

5 San Francisco (13-4; 2 seed in the NFC). Another reason to be very careful about taking a flier on a QB high in the draft just because logic suggests is taking snaps for the 49ers. Brock Purdy, ladies and gentlemen, who was selected with pick No. 262 last spring and is QB1 in San Fran.

Powerless

28 Denver (5-12; wherever the 49ers' first-round pick lands). Man, Seattle with the 5 overall and a playoff trip? That's a fun run right there. And if you are Seattle and are playing with house money, could you deal 5 overall and 5 in the second round plus a first-rounder in 2024 to the Bears for 1 overall? That means you dealt Russell Wilson's disgruntled tuckus and his bad contract and a 2024 first-round pick for Bryce Young and a QB1 on a rookie deal. Thoughts?

29 Arizona (4-13; pick 3). Man, firing the coach that was the guy who wanted the current QB1 who has been signed to a $200-plus-million extension is not a blueprint for long-term success. That's not an endorsement of Kliff Kingsbury by the way; it's a statement of the dire situation in the desert.

30 Chicago (3-14; pick No. 1). I would wait for an offer to blow my cleats off and it did not come, be completely content with Will Anderson getting double-digit sack totals for the next decade.

31 Indianapolis (4-12-1; pick No. 4). If Jeff Saturday is the answer, well, I'm pretty sure the Colts will be asking that question again pretty soon.

32 Houston (3-13-1; pick No. 2). Nice win. Clowns.

UK debacle

Uh-oh, Cal. Things just got serious.

Somewhere Mark Wiedmer is rocking in a the fetal position, wondering what ever happened to Tubby Smith and if the spin doctors can come up with a way to introduce Rick Pitino as the next UK basketball coach without making everyone in the room need a shower.

(Kidding of course. Mark knows exactly where Tubby Smith is.)

And knowing Mark's knowledge of college basketball, he's well-aware of the quagmire his beloved UK Wildcats are mired in too.

Heck, I got an email from one of our regulars moments after the Blue Blooded Wildcats were bested by the cellar-dwelling Gamecocks on whether I still think UK makes the NCAA tournament.

It's a fair question considering the struggles and the blemish that a home loss to a South Carolina team that a) just experienced a historic beating at home against Tennessee and b) will lucky to finish .500 this season and c) has a 19-point loss to Furman on its résumé is not only fair.

It now seems factual.

Because that loss will age like dated sour cream left in a warm car for a long weekend.

Kentucky is now 10-6 and 1-3 in the SEC. Its best win is over an LSU team that lost last night to Florida. UK next has a Saturday trip to white-hot Tennessee as well as dates with five more foes who are currently ranked. (Side question: What's that line going to be Saturday in Thompson Boling Arena? Tennessee minus-12 maybe? More? Makes me curious to know what's the biggest underdog for the Wildcats in hoops.)

(Side note on the side question: UK is now 0-9-1 against the spread in its last 10 games. Yeah, I know. That would have been better intel before now. And if you are curious, UK was a 17.5-point favorite last night over Lamont Paris and Co.)

And while the boos were noticeable at the end of the game, a sign that got one patron ejected from Rupp Arena last night may have summed up the feeling for everyone.

"Please go to Texas" the sign read in reference to the job opening in Austin.

Who in a million years could have predicted John Calipari on the hottest seat in the SEC before MLK Day?

The numbers are in

Hey, I think Georgia just scored on TCU again.

So the Bulldogs' butchering of TCU was, I suppose, expected on some levels.

Teams that arrive pleased to be in the title game never fare well against those that have arrived at the title game knowing there's still work left to do.

Also to be expected was the terrible TV turnout for the TCU tail thumping.

A record-low 17.2 million watched the combined broadcasts of Georgia's 65-7 win, which was the most-lopsided outcome in the history of bowl games. ESPN proper had only 16.6 million viewers.

Those numbers were predictably dragged down by a fourth quarter -- when so many Georgia reserves were in the game, I thought Bearddawg was going to get a carry -- that averaged right at 10.3 million viewers for the final 15 minutes of the broadcast.

The numbers -- the lowest title game audience ever for a college football playoff or a BCS championship game -- were a 24% decline from last year's average TV audience for Georgia's win over Alabama.

That said, the three-game average audience was up 9% last year because of very strong semifinal numbers on New Year's Eve.

This and that

-- You know the rules. Here's Paschall on Kirby Smart smartly noting that "entitlement" will be a huge hurdle in the Bulldogs' bid to three-peat.

-- So the Golden Globes were last night. Allegedly. I know this because I saw a clip of Eddie Murphy, who a) is, for my money, the funniest son of a gun to ever walk the planet, and b) received the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award. Murphy's three tips for lifelong success, prosperity and all manners of peace of mind were 1) Pay your taxes, 2) Mind your own business and 3) Keep Will Smith's wife name out your (bleepin') mouth. And his delivery was perfect. Perfect.

-- Reading the details of the Golden Globes, it's clear I know more about youth sports and betting than the popular TV shows or movies these days. Did you know Short Round from the terrible Indiana Jones sequel is a front-runner to win an Oscar? Did you see that some comedian who I had never heard of stood up and gave an opening monologue that was all about how racist the Golden Globes are and have been? So, there's that.

-- Side question: Do you think you could get a hit off Nolan Ryan? Not Nolan Ryan with the Mets in the early 1970s or even the Rangers in the mid-1990s. Nolan Ryan this afternoon. He's 75 and I vote no.

-- According to this report, Vince McMahon sold the WWE to the Saudi Public Investment Fund, the multi-multi-billion-dollar kettle of cash that also funds the LIV golf tour. Wow, that could be interesting.

-- Well, a direct and short boasting because if I don't do it, who will. Hope you are following the afternoon email newsletter Plays of the Day. If not, you can go here to sign up. Monday we were all over the national title blowout. Tuesday we had Kansas State minus-5, Auburn minus-1.5 and Donovan Mitchell to score at least 25 with at least three made 3-pointers. That's check, check, check and checks please. Enough the high times because the low times are out there too. (Hope you made some coin last night, JTC.)

-- So Joe Biden's plan to fight illegal immigration is to make it easier for asylum seekers to legally get into America? Say what? Gotta hand it to Joe on this point though because in a time in which American politics has never been more divided, Joe found a plan both sides hate. Unity, people. Unity.

Today's questions

Which way Wednesday starts this way:

Which coach would you rather running your basketball program, John Calipari or Rick Barnes?

Which NFL team are you rooting for to win the Super Bowl?

Which QB takes the season opening snap for the Chicago Bears in September?

Which number surprised you more -- that the college football semifinals on New Year's Eve were strong or the the Georgia beatdown of TCU was historically bad on Monday night?

Which routine household chore do you dislike the most?

Which current working comedian is funnier than Eddie Murphy?

Answer some which ways and ask some which ways.

As for today, Jan. 11, let's review.

Famous professional wrestling heel Abdullah the Butcher is 87 today. Could the wrestling world trot out an Abdullah the Butcher or the Iron Sheik character in today's culture? Discuss.

Carroll Shelby -- the dude played by Matt Damon in "Ford vs. Ferrari" and an innovator in motorsports -- would have been 100 today.

Rushmore of car racing movies. Go.