Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) fires a pass against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first half of an NFL football game Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan Ebenhack)

From Jamie

Jay, I'm glad I'm too scared to seek entertainment opportunities while watching these #Titans. Should they pull a #Dolphins and tank for Tua or Trevor or am I'm panicking?? I'll hang up and listen.


Jamie -

No, the Titans should not be in tanking mode. (Before we go on, a) the Titans looked disinterested last night, which is kind of strange for a Mike Vrabel-coached team, and the game was totally unwatchable with a litany of penalties — including one of the worst roughing-the-passer calls I've seen in a while. When Tom Brady is tweeting about turning it off, and NFL water-carrier Troy Aikman and the guest referee expert in the Fox booth are bashing the officials, then you know it was epically bad.)

As for the Titans, the questions I have been asking about Marcus Mariota now will only grow louder. As they should.

Compare the numbers from last night's QB's:

One guy was 23-for-40 for 304 yards with no TDs; the other was 20-30 for 204 yards and two TDs.

The former was Mariota, a No. 2 overall pick making more than $20 million and vying for a nine-figure extension. The latter was rookie Gardner Minshew, a sixth-rounder making $500K and looking the part of energizing leader. (And Minshew's numbers in the Jags 20-7 win over Mariota and the Titans would have been noticeably better if DeDe Westbrook had not dropped three passes.)

Yes, the Jags sacked Mariota nine times, and the offensive line was dreadful. (Calais Campbell is a fine player, but when he looks like Reggie White, well, what we had there was a failure to communicate.)

Some of that needs to fall on the play-calling, too. And Mariota started looking at the rush first, which is a sure sign of doom for a QB.

The simple question every Titans fan has to ask themselves — and in truth, every NFL fan of teams without sure-fire star QBs — is simple: Can Marcus Mariota take this team to a Super Bowl?

That's the question you have to ask before handing out the four-year, $100-million (or bigger) deal. Because to give the franchise QB contract to a non-franchise QB a) can kill a franchise (ask the Lions), b) is the ultimate testament to gutless leadership (ask the Jags, who extended Blake Bortles, and c)is the tired status quo that good teams and great organizations eventually free themselves from.

Look at the guys still on rookie deals and ask the only questions that matters — can he get you to the Super Bowl?

Dak? Yes. And he will get paid.

Patrick Mahomes. Duh. And he will reset the salary structure.

Deshaun Watson. I say yes. And it's early, but I say yes to Lamar Jackson.

Now the first-round guys in Year Two or less — Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, Kyler Murray, Daniel Jones, Dwayne Haskins, the 'stache that launched a thousand sips Gardner Minshew  — still have time.

Beyond the established stars across the league, there are three dudes and teams facing the biggest NFL question.

Can Jameis Winston, Mitchell Trubisky or Mariota take their teams to the Super Bowl?

I think no. Sure, there are numbers to spin across a lot of metrics about this analytic and that accuracy stat.

But in some ways, franchise QBs are best defined with the phrase Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart used to legally define pornography. "I know it when I see it."

Exactly, and last night the franchise QB looked like the rookie with the mustache and not the former No. 2 overall pick with a Heisman.  


From Kirk

I can't remember your stance on paying college players but how do you think they can get around paying the guys who are gonna be on "College Hard Knocks"?


Kirk -
This started an interesting exchange we had on Twitter, and it brings several topics to the table.

Right now, I'd be willing to bet that schools on "Last Chance U" do not get paid and treat the opportunity for exposure. So in that instance, players getting a share of the TV revenue is not an issue.

But something I have not heard addressed in the growing wave of NIL (names, images and likeness) bills that state governments are passing is how TV rights will be shared if they are going to be shared.

Think of it this way: When the NCAA and CBS were running a commercial every 10 minutes for March Madness last spring, you could not go through one CBS show without seeing Zion Williamson. Will he be able to be compensated for that?

As for the "Hard Knocks" campus version, the schedule is here. The Florida Gators will be Oct. 2; Penn State will be Oct. 9, Arizona State will be Oct. 16 and Washington State and the Fighting' Leachs will be Oct. 23. All shows air at 10 p.m. Eastern on HBO.  

That said, after watching a very limited "Hard Knocks" on the Raiders and the lack of access on that episode with professional players, knowing the control freaks that are college coaches, it will be interesting to see how inside these "inside" looks into these programs actually will be.

Well, the programs other than Washington State, because we all know Mike Leach will let it all hang out. Never change coach. Never change.


From Michael P

Has there ever been a time you were as excited for a movie as I am for Joaquin Phoenix in "The Joker"?

Thanks, and loved your interview with Will Healy this week.


Michael P. -

Thanks Michael, Coach Healy is excellent and has been great to us at the show and at the TFP since he was at Boyd-Buchanan.

Quick Rushmore of the movies I can remember being the most excited about (and the common trend here is that I was pretty disappointed in almost each case):

"Fletch Lives." (Back story: A bunch of us in high school watched "Fletch" a lot in the mid-to-late 1980s. I mean a whole lot. So when news came that a sequel was coming, we were stoked. Compared to most comedy sequels, "Fletch Lives is pretty good." Compared to the pedestal we held "Fletch" on, well it was a let-down.)

"Black Sheep." After the excellence of "Tommy Boy" — and friends, "Tommy Boy" was truly excellent — high hopes again dashed.

"Red Dawn," remake. Shut up Spy.

And the far-and-away winner, for me, was "The Empire Strikes Back." I was seven when the first "Star Wars" dropped.

That said, yes, I am stoked for "The Joker," too. That movie looks AWE-some.


This week's Rushmores:

Rushmore of actors as Superheroes: Christian Bale as Batman, Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Tom Holland as Spider Man and Christopher Reeve as Superman. (Although that beefcake that played Aquaman was pretty stout, and Gal Whoseherpants was a great Wonder Woman, too.)

Rushmore of HBO Show characters: Omar Little, Tony Soprano, Selina Meyer and Tyrion Lannister. (And for those of you wondering who is Omar, well, he is the gay, shotgun-toting boss from "The Wire" who offered some of these amazing one-liners: "A man's gotta have a code." "The game's out there. And it's either play or get played. That simple." "Come at the king, you best not miss." "Money ain't got no owners, only spenders." "Boy, you got me confused with someone who repeats himself.")

Rushmore of parent/child singing combos: Hank Williams Sr. and Jr., Natalie Cole and Nat King Cole, Rosanne and Johnny Cash, Frank and Nancy Sinatra, barely ahead of John and Julian Lennon.

Rushmore of TV shows with a city in the title: "Dallas," "L.A. Law," "NYPD Blue," "Beverly Hills 90210." (This one got sneaky hard, because I loved the "Streets of San Francisco" suggestion too. And "Miami Vice.")


From You SUCK!

I knew your picks before was a bunch of luck!!! You are tanking and I am loving it.

It won't be long until you are at 30 percent against the spread and then your NFL games will start sucking like your college games and then you are going to have to get another job to pay off all your gambling debts.

I am going to bet against every pick you make for the rest of the season and retire because you suck that bad.

Signed You SUCK!


You SUCK! —

Tough break about that name. Your parents — Mr. and Mrs. SUCK! — did you no favors with that one.

This was the only hate mail we got this week, so we decided to share it as a lead to our NFL picks.

And we've got five more NFL picks for you this weekend.

We also need to share some interesting odds and betting changes/details that we have observed over the last week. (Side note: And gang, please feel free to use any or all of these as your own factoids so you can dominate the pregame/tailgate at your locale. You're welcome. Yes, even you, You SUCK!

Heisman odds from Four QBs are leading the way. Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama (7/2); Jalen Hurts of Oklahoma (4/1); Joe Burrows of LSU (7/1) and Justin Fields of Ohio State (14/1) have emerged as clear favorites while Clemson's Trevor Lawrence who opened the season at 11/2 has fallen to 25/1 and Jake Fromm of Georgia who was available at 16/1 is now being offered at 35/1. (As for the Heisman odds, I love my long-shot pick of D'Andre Swift right now, and you can get him at 45/1 right now. Another flyer? What about Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor at 14/1? 

On anything but friend of the show Urban Meyer returning to college football, again from Odds of which team Urban Meyer will coach in 2020:  USC: 7/2; Tennessee: 5/1; Florida State: 9/1; Nowhere: 3/2; FIELD: 8/1.  Additionally, he 's being offered at 14/1 to be the new athletic director at USC. 

Odds on first college coach to be fired: Willie Taggert at FSU 4/1 (was 19/1 before the season started); Randy Edsall at UConn 6/1 (8/1); Charlie Strong at USF 7/1 (not listed before the season); Jeremy Pruitt at Tennessee 8/1 (not listed before the season).

Some other interesting tidbits about "first coach fired" lines: Gus Malzahn was at 18/1 before the season and is 150/1 now. Going in the other direction, Chip Kelly at UCLA was at 150/1 before the season and is 40/1 now. Of the coaches ranked by odds to be the first fired, you have to believe that BC (Steve Addazio is eighth right now at 20/1) vs. Rutgers (Chris Ash is fifth at 12/1) sets up as a "Loser turns in his keys" kind of game.

As for NFL oddities, this from David Purdum of, a Vegas bettor placed a sizable bet on a money-line parlay with the historic odds for the Patriots (-5000, meaning you have to bet $5,000 to win $100) over the Jets and the Cowboys (-4000) over the Dolphins. The bet was for $89,000 and will pay $4,050.

On the other side, SuperBookUSA has taken six bets on the Dolphins to win the Super Bowl in the last week. The odds are a tidy 20,000/1.

There also is this bettor who is happy to lay a lot of points this weekend. They have Alabama minus-38.5, Georgia minus-14, Patriots minus-23 and Cowboys minus-21. The $10,000 bet would pay $110,000.

(Couple of other crazy stats that have caught my eye: Yankees won the AL East for the first time since 2012, and that seven-year 'drought' is the third-longest in franchise history; Josh Rosen will start for the Dolphins and becomes Miami's 21st different starting quarterback since 2000 when Dan Marino retired; Braves' magic number to clinch the NL East is 1; Notre Dame is 1-18 in the last 20 years against top-five foes; When the Colts-Falcons play this week, the two oldest players in the NFL will kick it out — Adam Vinatieri is 46 and Matt Bryant is 44 — and the Falcons have four players on their roster who were not born when Vinatieri made his NFL debut in 1996; speaking of that game, did you know that of NFL teams with at least 15 meetings the Colts' 14-2 domination of the Falcons is the most one-sided match-up in the Super Bowl era?; The Pats are 0-4 under Belichick against the spread when favored by 20 or more points, and yes, they are laying 22 to the Jets this weekend and NFL underdogs of at least 20 points are 5-0 against the spread in the last 15 seasons.)


The NFL Fab 4 picks:

Green Bay minus-7 over Denver. The Packers are improved. Greatly. The Packers have arguably the biggest edge at quarterback of the entire weekend, and that's with Tom Brady playing against Luke Falk. Seriously, Aaron Rodgers vs. Joe Flacco covers the complete spectrum of Super Bowl winning QBs, no? On physical skills and talents made for the position, if we held an all-time draft of Super Bowl winners, I'd more than likely go Rodgers, Elway, Manning, Unitas and maybe Steve Young or Staubach as the five or six best to do it. (Easy Spy, Brady is the GOAT because of the resume, but being the best ever does not mean you were physically better than Rodgers. I promise that made sense in my head.) The five worst of the 32 QBs to start and win Super Bowls likely is some mix of Brad Johnson, Nick Foles, Trent Dilfer, Jeff Hostetler and Flacco, right? (Yes, buy the half here.)  

Kansas City-Baltimore over 52. I know the Ravens were as good as any defense anywhere against Patrick Mahomes last year. This is not last year. Both teams in the 30s.

Seattle-New Orleans under 46. Seattle runs the ball more than any team in the NFL. Clock runs. New Orleans is about to randomly chose between Taysom Hill and Teddy Bridgewater. (Is there an option c?)

Los Angeles Rams minus-3 over Cleveland. The Browns have a lot of pieces and shiny parts. The Dawg Pound will be lit on Sunday night. But Cleveland's biggest hole is its offensive line, and well, Aaron Donald is a dude.

Washington-Chicago under 42. This Monday night stinker has the feel of 16-13, right? Cool. Because if my Auburn math holds up, 29 is less than 42.

Last week: 2-2-1 against the spread (50 percent)

This season (including preseason): 22-11-1 against the spread (66.7 percent)

(And for what it's worth, my career record on college picks entering this season was right at 60 percent against the number. Are we stinking right now? Yes, You SUCK!, we are stinking on the college picks right now, but we've been doing this against the spread since the start of 2011, so "luck" is a bit of a stretch, no? Also, if you have followed my football betting advice on every game I have picked around here since Aug. 1, well, 34-26-1. So even with that 12-15 college start, we're at 56.7 percent against the number. That's highly entertaining, You SUCK! Oh yeah, have a nice day.)