5-at-10: Weekend winners (the NFL) and losers (the Falcons) and some NFL weekend review

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) looks to pass against the New York Jets during the first quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) looks to pass against the New York Jets during the first quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Weekend winners

NFL TV partners. Seriously, do you know anyone who was not glued to seven straight hours of NFL conference championship game drama. Smart move by the PGA to finish their Torrey Pines event on Saturday.

Speaking of golf, War Stephan Jaegar, who clocked his first career top-five on Tour with a T-3 at Torrey. That earned the former Baylor School and UTC star $477,000. (Side note here for balance: Uh, the PGA Tour's lack of recognizable star late Saturday afternoon was glaring. The last names of the top five were Pavon, Højgaard, Lashley, Knapp and Jaegar. And if the last one had not went to high school and college in the 423, I would not be able to tell you a first name of any of that quintet.)

Zach Edey. The Purdue center has been a one-man wrecking crew for the highly regarded Boilermakers. He had 26 of his team's 68 in a slugfest Sunday at Rutgers. Edey has scored double figures in every game and is averaging almost 24 points per on close to 63% shooting. Dude is a handful.

Speaking of handfuls, Dalton Knecht is torching SEC foes. He poured in 32 against a spunky Vandy crew as UT moved into first in the SEC standings.

Weekend losers

Auburn hoops. Hey, the loss at Alabama in that environment in the middle of last week was, if not expected, at least excusable. Playing with that little fire Saturday in Starkville was odd and one of the first times in recent memory I can recall a Bruce Pearl team getting physically whipped on the glass and in the effort category.

The PGA side in the LIV squabble. Now Tyrell Hatton is headed to the LIV. And we referenced the noticeable lack of big names at an historic venue like Torrey Pines this weekend.

Bill Belichick and the NFL hiring structure. Seriously, no one wants Bill Belichick and his six Super Bowl titles, yet, the openings are going to coordinators who have never been an HC and folks who were failed HCs like Raheem Morris. Don't kid yourself, friends. Bill Belichick has forgotten more football than Raheem Morris — and whoever else comes in on his staff — will ever know. This is a general indictment to losing cultures and a direct indictment to the Falcons front office in my mind, because no matter how feeble the arguments were of "Belichick is tired; Belichick is out of gas," were — (side question: Didn't those same arguments get made about a 40-plus-something Tom Brady, who won a Super Bowl in his short time in Tampa?) — this is only about the ball-less existence of Rich McKay and the rest of the Falcons front office folks. This entire search was fraudulent. Otherwise, why even interview Belichick a second time. He is Coach Hoodie and has more on his resume than Gibbs and Andy Reid combined. This was about McKay and the rest of the flawed decision makers who have found the postseason all of seven times in McKay's 20 years of leadership in the A-T-L, protecting their desks and guarding their turf. If you have leaders who clearly do not want to hire excellence — and I don't know if this version of Belichick qualifies as excellent, but I do know this version of Belichick certainly checks more boxes than Raheem Morris — because they are threatened by the presence of excellence, well, sounds like the pilots of an NFL front office that is forever destined to 7-10 and will be looking for the next mediocre candidate in three years when they pass the blame to Raheem Morris.

Michigan football. Detroit choked. More on that in a moment. Sharrone Morris deserved the Michigan job after Jim Harbaugh's NFL vamos, but Morris is going to be Juwan Howard than Howard Schnelleberger in my view. Hey, at least, Coach Khaki landed the natty before the NCAA comes calling.

Tennis. Name one thing you actually know about any of the finalists in the season's first major, which concluded over the weekend. I'll wait.

Be who you are

Sadly, we are a sports culture and a sports fandom filled more with the desire to blame than praise.

Heck, we likely are that way in almost every avenue of life, be it kids or family, work or hobbies, activities or casual pursuits.

The good is rarely good enough, but the bad is always the worst. So that translates to so many of the extended avenues of our lives.

But as we rise on this post-Championship weekend Monday, the good was better than we realized, and the bad from the Ravens' and Lions' gag-fests are more unified than maybe we realized.

As for the good, and let's make it a point in 2024 and beyond to try to always start with the good:

— Patrick Mahomes is him. For real. That's six AFC title games in six years as a starter, and now he has four Super Bowl trips in five years. If I started a Rushmore of the best QBs of my football-cognizant lifetime, I'd only list Mahomes behind Brady and Manning, and ahead of Rodgers and Montana and everyone else. Yeah, that qualifies as good.

— Andy Reid has become a fav of mine since I love the commercial in which he says, "Explain it again, but using those nuggies," because I am 100% certain that Andy Reid is the only top-10ish all-time head coach that would and could pull off using "nuggies" in an insurance ad. That said, a third Super Bowl crown changes everything for Reid — maybe more so than anyone in the game.

— Bemoan Taylor Swift all you want, but the reason the Chiefs won was because Travis Kelce controlled the game from start to finish — physically and mentally. He caught everything, especially when it mattered most, and more than that, he was in the heads of every Baltimore defensive player not named Kyle Hamilton from the very start. Travis Kelce quashed more Ravens on Sunday than an itchy-fingered Macon redneck trying to the blackbirds from his oak trees.

— Finally in the winners category, the 49ers perimeter people are the bee's knees. The offensive dudes break tackles, make plays and make each other better. The back seven defensively are sure-handed tacklers, deflect passes and are rarely out of position. The Super Bowl should be grand.

As for the NFL losers, well, without getting too deep in the narrative, the list should be clarified by a clear line.

It's impossible for me to call, say Dan Campbell, a loser this weekend because the national parrots are clamoring that he should have kicked field goals when Dan Campbell could well be NFL coach of the year of being Dan Campbell.

And being Dan Campbell means going for it. It means when you kick and settle and look scared, your team feels it, too.

Hey, I love DC's aggressive nature and would love, love, LOVE to have him in the ATL. But ride or die, right?

Ride or die.

The other side of that is Todd Monken needs to step forward for what was the worst play-calling performance since the Rockmart Muni Theater went with "Showgirls" over "MacBeth" a dozen-plus years ago.

The Ravens were the most physical team in football, but a small halftime hole made all the Ravens coaches panic, and the outcome — despite having a core collection of defensive dudes like Roquan Smith, Patrick Queen and Kyle Hamilton — was shocking.

And while we're here discussing who we are and who we expected, Lamar Jackson may very well win the MVP.

Lamar Jackson had a tremendous regular season leading a tremendously deep and talented team.

Lamar Jackson proved again Sunday that he is who we thought he has always been.

And before all the bellyachers turn this into a race thing: Josh Allen is behind close to the same 8-Ball as Lamar, even though Lamar is about to win a second MVP. (Side question: Want to know how many two-time NFL MVPs don't have a Super Bowl? Yep, it's Lamar.)

Lamar played like butt Sunday.

He took sacks. He was emotional when he needed to lead, and he was stoic when he needed to be emotional. And that pick in the end zone was one of the plays on his NFL eulogy in my mind.

Love them for what they are.

Hate them for what they failed to do.

But here's hoping the vitriol in the aftermath of two emotional conference title games has more fairness than fluctuation.

This and that

— I wrote this last week in some form, but now that it is official, the NFL has to be finding a way for Usher to work Chiefs Fan Numero Uno Taylor Swift into the halftime show. Let Usher play his big three, then let the music die down and let the ever-rising hum of "Shake it Off" or of Taylor's other monster hits blare through the speakers. Then, spotlight on her singing from whatever luxury box she is visiting. Monster numbers.

— Speaking of music, friends, when I get the privilege of taking the 5-at-10 tots to school, well, we turn it into a dance party. And yes, on some random friends, I put the F-150 into park and have been known to dance in the street. Hey, the Humpty Dance is your chance to do the hump. Well, the kids have put together a "dance party" mix for the ride to school, and my oldest, Lee, connected it and the first song on the track was "Pour Some Sugar on Me" by Def Leppard. His 13-year-old sister immediately said, "This song is sweet." Gang, I feel like I'm raising them right, all things considered.

— Some internal business. First, we will have our Super Bowl Super Prop contest, but we may have to wait a moment for the lines to settle. Deal? Deal. Second, I told a slew of you I would post my eulogy for my high school basketball coach last week. I eventually did, but it was later Friday afternoon. You can find it atop the comments of Friday's 5-at-10.

— Also, nice weekend on the picks. Yes, Auburn laid a stinker, but hit both sides of the NFL games — and hinted at both totals — as well as an NBA side.

— You know the rules. Paschall explored some of the Vols' primary contributors from the portal.

— More golf. Luke List finished T-50 and made a smidgen more than $21,000 this weekend in SoCal. Harris English was T-64 and got a check for $19K and change. Keith Mitchell missed the cut.

Today's questions

Weekend winners and losers. Go.

As for multiple choice, who ha the worst Sunday in the conference championship games:

— Lamar Jackson.

— Todd Monken.

— Dan Campbell.

— Lions WRs.

— Other.

As for today, Jan. 29, let's review.

Oprah is 70 today.

Tom Selleck is 79, and yes friends that's an all-time mustache.

So Romeo and Juliet allegedly first performed in Shakespeare's classis on this day in 1595.

Rushmore of movie lovebirds. Go.

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