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Monday night, Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes and Baltimore's Lamar Jackson, two of the best young quarterbacks since Peyton Manning was young and still a quarterback, duked it out in front of millions of viewers for, among other things, who is in line to be the face of the NFL.

Tuesday night, in front of tens of millions, two of the oldest political candidates we could pull onto the stage will duke it out and present their cases to voters for who should next occupy the White House and lead the nation.

Can you imagine the last-minute brainstorming that's happening as you read this? The 11th-hour tips and tidbits?

For Trump, tip No. 1 must be to avoid any tax talk. Nothing. Not even taxis or brass tacks. Trump's massive tax cut bill aside, a New York Times story shedding some light on the president's recent income tax returns — and how he was able to minimize his tax bill — opens another portal for debate jabs. Seriously, though, if you took a $70,000 business deduction for hairstyling, shouldn't it look way better than that?

But there are other issues for Trump heading into Tuesday night's debate.

Heck, if I were a Trump adviser, here are a few reminders I'd try to get POTUS to remember:

— Do not interrupt Joe, because the more Joe speaks, the better for Trump.

— Do not Tweet from the stage. Non-negotiable.

— If you get flustered, remember your favorite TV show no not "Celebrity Apprentice" and say 'law and order' whenever possible.

— If/when Joe starts to take a nap, let him.

— And once more, no tweeting from the stage.

All kidding aside — other than Biden and the nap, of course — the first major swing in this election — six weeks from today — is Tuesday night's debate.

Trump scored a lot of points in his debates against Hillary Clinton four years ago after he slaughtered a shell-shocked Republican field of contenders to earn the nomination.

So, if we had the former VP's ear as he picks through lunch brushing up on his final notes, here's his checklist:

— There are no teleprompters. This one is really important, Joe, so don't look around, and worse yet, don't ask about them.

— You can't out-entertain a reality TV host, so don't try.

— Drink lots of Red Bull.

Biden in his heyday was a renowned debater, able to be polite and politically aggressive in consecutive sentences. Eight years ago he wiped the floor with an overconfident Paul Ryan in a VP debate that was watched by relatively few and ultimately mattered to even fewer considering Obama rolled in his re-election run.

These are not Biden's heydays, though, and unlike his time on stage in 2012 in a vice presidential debate, which is akin to the commercials before the trailers before the movie (back, you know, when we actually went to the theater ) — there could not be more interest in Tuesday night's debate.

Trump will treat the debate like a barroom argument, down to the insults and volume; Biden assuredly would prefer to converse on political issues.

Like the football game, style and tempo will be every bit as important as subjects and talking points.

In fact, the Super Bowl-level hype has all of the major online betting sites offering different ways to predict what will happen when Trump and Biden face off.

You can bet whether they will shake hands or not.

You can bet if Trump will call his opponent "Sleepy Joe" (feels like a given, no?) and whether Biden will say "malarkey," which became the buzz word after his showing eight years ago against Ryan. (I'll call malarkey on "malarkey" because other than using a rotary phone and getting a busy signal when calling Blockbuster if "Red Dawn" is in stock, it's hard for two dudes approaching 80 to look more old than to use the word malarkey.)

You can bet if they wear masks on stage — go "yes" on Joe and "no" on Donald — and whether Trump will say "Fake News" or "China" more frequently.

That last one feels like a coin flip.

Just like the debate.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com.

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Jay Greeson
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