5-at-10: Rankings NFL playoff teams stats, UT hoops excellence, College football HoF head-scratchers, Rushmore of athletes after 40

5-at-10: Rankings NFL playoff teams stats, UT hoops excellence, College football HoF head-scratchers, Rushmore of athletes after 40

January 9th, 2019 by Jay Greeson in Breaking News

New Orleans Saints outside linebacker Demario Davis (56) in action against the Carolina Panthers during an NFL football game between the New Orleans Saints and the Carolina Panthers, Monday, Dec. 17, 2018 in Charlotte, N.C. (Photo by Chris Keane/AP Images for Panini)

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

NFL rankings

OK, during the regular season, we have a power poll.

During the playoffs, let's do a confidence poll. We will morph the original system hatched by Bill Simmons based on belief on and in the remaining teams' coach and quarterback. 

I'll rank the remaining eight quarterbacks on this season, past experiences, and playoff resume, like this: Brees, Brady, Luck, Mahomes, Foles, Rivers, Prescott and Goff. 

The coaches, in terms of in-game adjustments, playoff resume, and overall chutzpah, in my view are here: Belichick, Payton, Pederson, McVay, Reid, Garrett, Lynn, Reich.

We'll add two statistical measures: Instead of points differential, which can be swayed by one 48-7 game — looking at you Philly — we will rank the teams on plus/minus in sack differential and yards gained/yards allowed per play differential. Deal? Deal.

Sacks differential (sacks recorded/sacks allowed)

New Orleans 49/20 = 29

Kansas City 52/26 = 26

Colts 38/18 = 20

New England 30 /21 = 9

Rams 41/33 = 8

Philly 44/40 = 4

Chargers 38/34 = 4

Dallas 39/56 = -17

(Side note: Want a sneaky revealing stat about success in the NFL over a season? The 11 teams that allowed the fewest sacks ((Denver and L.A. Chargers were tied for 10th)) were the Broncos, the Chargers, Chicago, the Rams, Carolina, Baltimore, KC, Pittsburgh, New England, New Orleans and Indy. That list includes eight playoff teams, six of which are still playing, and the combined record of that 11 was 115-60-1.)

Yards per play +/- (yards gained per play/yards allowed per play):

KC 6.8/5.9 = 0.9

Chargers 6.1/5.4 = 0.7

Rams 6.4/6.0 = 0.4

Colts 5.8/5.4 = 0.4

Saints 6.0/5.7 = 0.3

Patriots 5.9/5.7 = 0.2

Dallas 5.4/5.4 = 0.0

Eagles 5.6/5.8 = -0.2

(Side note: Potential outlier here is that KC and LA Chargers got multiple games against Oakland, which was by far the worst defensive in yards per play in the league at 6.3.) 

So here are the combined rankings (measures done 1-8 with 1 being the best score) for QB, coach, sacks +/- and yards per play +/-:

Saints — 1-2-1-5 = 9

Chiefs — 4-5-2-1 = 12

Pats — 2-1-4-6 = 13

Colts — 3-8-3-4 = 18

Rams — 8-4-5-3 = 20

Eagles — 5-3-6-8 = 22

Chargers — 6-7-7-2 = 22

Cowboys — 7-6-8-7 = 28

Are these measures accurate? Of course not because the coach and the quarterback rankings are arbitrary through my prism. But beyond that, look at the comparisons of tightness in these games and the way Vegas views these matches (first is 5-at-10 Confidence numbers; second is VegasInsider.com point spread):

Colts at Chiefs (Chiefs -6; Chiefs -5.5);

Cowboys at Rams (Rams -8; Rams -7);

Chargers at Pats (Pats -9; Pats -4.5);

Eagles at Saints (Saints -13; Saints -9).

Maybe that's much ado about nothing, but we'll see. (And yes, Big-Boned Vader, we will have our NFL picks on Thursday. After last week's 2-1-1 showing we are 14-5-1 on NFL picks against the number.)  

From left, Tennessee basketball players Jordan Bone, Jordan Bowden, Kyle Alexander and Admiral Schofield celebrate during the Vols' win at Memphis on Dec. 15. The Vols are 10-1 with their nonconference schedule nearly complete and could rise to No. 1 in the national rankings today.

From left, Tennessee basketball players Jordan Bone, Jordan...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Tennessee hoops

Every basketball player at every level views himself or herself as a scorer. Coaching 4/5th graders, the number of those kids launching 26-footers thinking they are Steph Curry is almost funny. (And yes, if they hit 1-of-20 they are confirmed that they are a 3-point bomber.)

It's true through high school. Another one of those maxims has always been the juxtaposition that point guards want to post up and power forwards want to play on the perimeter.

Which brings us to an eye-catching quote from UT senior Kyle Alexander. The 6-foot-11 center was not delivering on his — and especially his coach's — expectations in terms of work inside on the glass and on the defensive end. Alexander had 17 boards — 10 defensive — and three blocks in Tennessee's overwhelming 87-63 road win over Missouri on Tuesday.

"He's telling you everything you don't want to hear, but you need to hear," Alexander told the AP of his talk with coach Rick Barnes. "Those are kind of like the father-son meetings, the talks with your dad. They're beneficial, but you don't always want to hear what he has to say."

Wow. Great answer. And even more impressive is a culture of success, expectation, critical and positive feedback in the most productive ways possible.

Sure, you can look at the box score and see clearly that Grant Williams — the SEC leading scorer — played only 22 minutes before fouling out and had his worst game of the season. (He finished 1-for-8 and scored four points with one rebound.) 

And the Vols did not miss a beat. How many teams can have their best player have his worst game and still win by two dozen? On the Road? In conference?

We understand the questions about the overall ceiling of these Vols in terms of growth and athleticism. But even if this is the ceiling of these Vols, it's an awfully high level of production friends.

College football Hall of Fame

OK, we miss college football.

More than we expected. Even the casual highlights and random studio shows during the season are more entertaining than those that just feature the hoops or the details of the spring sports being around the corner. Sigh. Hey, it's only 234 days between this morning and Saturday, Aug. 31, which is the first full Saturday of the college season.

(Side point: We understand the criticism of our too-early college football poll. We have a couple of emails on it ready for Friday. But we did want to admit that last year we completely whiffed on UK, which finished 12th in the final AP poll, and its completely possible that we completely whiff on the Wildcats again. But reading this story that fairly notes that as many as 12 UK players could have their name called in the NFL draft screams to me that no program in America has as many holes to fill. And considering that three of those dudes are Josh Allen, Benny Snell and Mike Edwards, who were huge parts of UK's success and will not make it past the second day of the draft, those holes are big in quantity and quality.)

But this morning's rant is more about stars of previous generations in the game we love.

During the pomp and Clemson-stance of the national title game, the 2019 class of inductees for the College Football Hall of Fame was announced.    

We'll start with the honorary selection of the the Goodyear Blimp. What's next Larry Culpepper? The Chick-Fil-A cows? (Side note: Les Miles getting electrocuted was a fitting conclusion to an ad campaign that got somewhat tiring. Good night, Fansville.)  

As for the rest of the class, there were 13 players and two coaches inducted. Kudos to those folks.

But, the questions outnumber the congratulations.

How was Vince Young not already in? How did Dennis Ericsson get in? (You are eligible 10 years after your final college season.) 

How is Kevin Faulk at LSU, Tony Gonzalez, Craig Hayward, Steve Hutchinson, E.J. Junior and Ray Lewis not already in? 

Bobby Majors was left on the ballot, too. Jake Plummer made it over Carson Palmer? David Pollack didn't make it for Pete's sake. Pollack was a three-time All-American and arguably the most-decorated defensive player in the history of the SEC. (Yes, Reggie White included in terms of college production and honors.)  

Ray Lewis has already made the NFL Hall of Fame, and Tony G and Steve Hutchinson likely will get into Canton before they get into Atlanta. And yes, this should be about their college excellence, but those dudes were dudes at The U, Cal and Michigan too.

This and that

— Well, the long awaited search for an OC in Knoxville has ended. Jim Chaney is the dude. Looks to be a good hire. The results will be known down the road of course. Thoughts on the big man returning to the 865?

— Speaking of college football, the overnight TV numbers are back from the title night and they are awful. The 14.6 overnight number was down 13 percent from last year, 5 percent from these teams two years ago, and nine percent from the first time Alabama and Clemson played in January 2016. The 14.6 number was the second-lowest for a college football title game in the last 15 years. (Only Alabama-LSU in in January 2012 was lower over that span at 13.8.) The bottom four title game overnights since the inception of the BCS were LSU-Alabama, LSU over Oklahoma (14.4), Miami over Nebraska (14.3) and last night.

— This is pretty awesome. Goose Island Brewery this weekend is offering any armchair kicker the chance to kick a 43-yard field goal to win a case of beer each week for a year. At first the stunt was going to be a shot at Cody Parkey, the Bears kicker who doubled clanged a game-winning kick last Sunday. (Yes, it was tipped.) But then the brewery decided to do it in support of Parkey and the Bears and case the challenge in a "So you think you could do this?" mode. Kudos — on the gesture of support, and the stroke of marketing genius.  

— Speaking of college hoops, UNC and Duke each looked the part of title contenders with impressive road wins Tuesday night. This just in: Zion Williamson is fun to watch. Zion had 30 points, 10 boards and five assists in the 22-point win at Wake. Even with all the exceptional players that have come through Coach K's salt mine, Zion's was Duke's first 30-10-5 since 1961.

— Speaking of Duke and UNC, I thought this stat was pretty cool. When UNC played at N.C. State last night it was the 41st time the Tar Heels and Wolfpack when in each team was ranked in the AP Poll. That moved the Heels-Pack past Syracuse-Georgetown for the second-most games when each team was ranked. UNC-NC State has a ways to go to catch UNC-Duke, which has played 82 times when each was ranked.

— Dallas owner Jerry Jones bought a 357-foot yacht over the holidays. Hey, we enjoy an afternoon on the water as much as anyone, but sweet buckets, 357-feet? Jones wrote a check for a cool $250 million.  

— Boogie Cousins announced he is looking to make his Warriors debut on Jan. 18. 

— Several NFL coaching dominoes fell in the last 24-to-36 hours. Kliff Kingsbury to Arizona. Matt LaFleur to Green Bay. Bruce Arians to Tampa Bay (with Todd Bowles as his DC is a nice combo).

Today's questions

Let's go this way on a which way Wednesday.

A day after Vince Carter — quick where is Vince Carter playing this year — dunked last night in Toronto, which is more impressive, a 41-year-old quarterback playing like Tom Brady or a 41-year-old dunking in an NBA game like Carter did? (Carter is playing with your Atlanta Hawks.)

Which way Wednesday, which was more of a college basketball rock show: Zion Williamson or the Fab Five at Michigan? Discuss.

Which way would you lean: You can make a 43-yard FG or you'd rip a hamstring trying a 43-yard FG?

Which is more impactful, Jim Chaney helping UT or the fact that UGA has now lost both coordinators hurts Kirby and the Bulldogs?

On this day — Jan. 9 — the iPhone was announced in 2007. Game-changer.

"Rawhide" premiered on this day 60 years ago. Yes, 60. And Clint Eastwood, who just starred in "Mule" was in that first episode of "Rawhide."

On this day in 1991, Pete Rose was officially banned from being elected to the baseball Hall of Fame.

Richard Nixon would have e been 106 today. Bob Denver would have been 89. Bart Starr is 85. Jimmy Page is 75, Dave Matthews is 52 and Kate Middleton is 37.

In honor of Vinsanity, let's go with the Rushmore of best seasons for an athlete 40 or older. Go, and remember the mailbag.

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