NFL power moves, Power Poll
I am all for the NFL trade deadline becoming a thing.
But is the league?
Sure, the added publicity in a sports culture that loves the transaction as much as the action is appealing.
But does the league need more publicity?
In truth, today's 4 p.m. trading deadline magnifies the most-hidden treasure in the league, defies the league's most overarching principle and reveals the value inside the league of the league's most popular offseason entity.
Let's explore, and we will incorporate some specific team needs and goals heading into today's NFL trading deadline in the Power Poll.
The deadline magnifies the ultimate value of high-quality head coaches and coaching staffs in this league. We discussed Bill Belichick's all-timeness a little bit Monday after he recorded his 300th career win.
But this is true across the entirety of the league, and it's not just about scheme or process or play-calling.
If you are an NFL player and you are risking at the very least your long-term quality of life every Sunday, Monday and Thursday, how much are you willing to subconsciously put on the line for Matt Nagy in Chicago or Dan Quinn in Atlanta, knowing that the future is hollow? Yes, tape don't lie and every play is your next line on your résumé, but if you are pushing your chips and playing for chips, well, that has to make a difference.
For example, look at linebacker Jamie Collins, who was drafted by New England, became an All-Pro, got disgruntled and sent to Cleveland and struggled, returned to New England and is playing at a Pro Bowl-level again.
A trade frenzy also cuts at the core of the NFL's legislated goal of parity.
In a perfect world every team in the league is hovering between 8-6 and 6-8 heading into Week 15. Everyone deals with the same salary cap and restrictions. Even the draft is slotted to reward stinking.
Well, the trading deadline has already given an NFC contender a defensive difference-maker when the Rams added Jalen Ramsey earlier this week and another NFC front-runner in San Fran added a No. 1 WR in Emmanuel Sanders. What happens if the Pats or Saints get AJ Green or the Packers or Ravens get Patrick Peterson?
Finally, it's pretty clear that the better teams in the NFL are happy to move draft capital for established NFL players if there is a championship window before them.
Even if those deals are short-term rentals.
So if those teams realize that the draft is the crap shoot the rest of us realize, well, there you go. (I still love the draft; you should still know that.)
Like Bubbles on the main stage, let's get to the poll. (Wait)
1. New England (8-0). The 67-year-old Belichick has said he's open to coaching in his 70s. Man, the conversations about the future and what Bill and Brady will do and where they will do it are way more intriguing than any other storyline in the AFC. The Pats already have a 2.5-game lead in their race for home field in the AFC playoffs, and do we really believe any team in this AFC is going into Foxboro and coming out victorious?
2. New Orleans (7-1). Yeah, I said. Yeah, I believe it. Tell me where San Fran is clearly better than these Saints, who have won six straight and whose only blemish was at L.A. in the game Drew Brees broke his thumb. QB? Brees > Jimmy G. WR? Michael Thomas > Emmanuel Sanders. RB? Kamara and Latavious Murray > Tevin Coleman and Matt Brieda. As for defense, well, yes, the 49ers are No. 1 in yards allowed per game at 224.4, but a big part of that is the collection of QB stiffs they have faced. The San Fran defense is great, but the Saints defense is right there in the conversation, too, of the best in the league not in New England.
3. San Francisco (7-0). Another doubting game, another dominating performance. Now the 49ers get a chance to swarm Arizona on a short week.
4. Green Bay (7-1). Wow, this just in, Aaron Rodgers is pretty good at that football thing, huh?
5. Seattle (6-2). The Seahawks get the edge over the other two-loss teams in the league because of two things: First is style, and when the weather turns colder and Seattle continues to give you dose after dose of Chris Carson, well, good luck with that; Second is the trust factor in Russell Wilson. Yes, Patrick Mahomes has earned our trust in K.C., but it's not a surprise that four of the five best teams in the NFL — with K.C. right there on the cusp — have QBs you know you can trust. (And have Super Bowl rings.)
28. New York Jets (1-6). Yawn. Seriously, what's the highlight moment for a Jets franchise since the Butt Fumble?
29. Atlanta (1-7). Dan Quinn is a defensive guy. His team is a defensive disaster, allowing 31.2 points per game, second-worst in the league behind the Dolphins, who are actually trying to lose. Quinn said thinking about his job security is a waste of his time. That makes sense, because watching his football team and expecting Atlanta to play well is a waste of my time.
30. Washington (1-7). This feels like a broken record, but regardless of record, if the Redskins do not spend the rest of this season seeing if Dwayne Haskins is the guy, then they are more poorly run than we could have even imagined. Case in point: The Cardinals played Josh Rosen last year, realized he was not the guy and moved on to Kyler Murray.
31. Cincinnati (0-8). In terms of yards allowed, the Bengals are the worst team in the NFL at 435.8 yards per. And there's the conversation about whether the Bengals are worse at football (or maybe better at tanking) than the Dolphins.
32. Miami (0-7). The Dolphins have played 28 quarters. The Dolphins have not scored in 18 of those quarters.
The NCAA bigwigs are meeting in Atlanta.
They are going to hear pitches from ADs and interested parties on ways to craft new rules concerning college athletes making money off their names, images and likenesses (NIL).
In truth, the onus is now squarely on the NCAA to make this happen, and to make it happen as soon as possible.
That fault does not fall on the California Legislature that passed the terribly-named-but-well-intentioned "Fair Pay for Play" act. This is not the fault of the Florida state House, which is looking to do the same but start it as soon as 2020.
This is the fault of the ostrich-like leadership of the NCAA that has put its head in the sand for far too long on far too many issues. In fact, Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., has said that the NCAA has failed and he's prepared to introduce federal laws as soon as 2021.
"We feel like they've given us no choice," Walker said. "We have to drag them to the table because they have promised year after year to address such an egregious situation, but they've refused to do that."
Now it must act so that there is at least some form of commonality and fairness across the landscape of college sports.
Here are some more details, and it will be interesting to see what — if anything — the NCAA will do.
World Series, world-class stakes
Game 6 of the World Series is tonight. Couple of guys with a lot on the line tonight.
(Got to tell you, I think Houston ends it tonight in a low-scoring affair, but with the way my picks in everything other than the NFL are going that means Nats 10, Astros 9.)
OK, the first dude with a lot on the line is Justin Verlander, the Astros starting pitcher.
Shouldn't Verlander, who takes the mound tonight with an 0-5 World Series record and is winless in six World Series starts (which is the most WS starts without a win ever) send Clayton Kershaw some "Thank You" notes and maybe a Jelly of the Month Club membership?
Kershaw has worn the "Best pitcher of his generation who has been a postseason gagger" but Verlander is a Hall of Famer, too, who has been historically bad in the biggest possible moments. Hard to overstate what this start means for Verlander and his legacy in the prism of "Do it in the Finals/championship" that defines our current sports culture.
That said, it's not hard to overstate what a Houston win either tonight or Wednesday means for Jim McIngvale.
The Houston furniture-store owner has been on a crazy ride over the last month. His store offered a deal that if the Astros win the World Series, customers who spent more than $3,000 in his stores would have their bills wiped clean.
Well, Mattress Mack, as he's known, is no dummy and he started in late September making large legal wavers on the Astros to win the World Series to offset the costs. He continued to increase the amounts of wagers even after the Astros fell into a 2-0 hole. How about this run, and I am surprised dude has not been on more TV and radio platforms.
If the Astros win either tonight or in Game 7, Mattress Mack is in place to win $22 million — on roughly $12 million wagered — with the title. He has already won more than $2.1 million, including monster one-game bets on Game 3 ($500,000), Game 4 ($500,000) and Game 5 ($135,000).
As for his winnings, McIngvale has told reporters that he has a special place for them — he's hiding them under his mattress.
This and that
— Amid all the negative headlines — fair or not — that Donald Trump has generated during his presidency, want to know why folks like me believe he's going to be hard to beat come November 2020? Headlines line this one: "The Democratic Plan for a 42% national sales tax." Let that set in for a moment. Want to bankrupt those of us firmly in the middle class, incorporate a 42 percent national sales tax on everything, because state sales tax and income taxes are not going anywhere? The estimates to pay for the big socialist wants of the leading Democrat candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, the guess is it will take $3 trillion in new taxes. That's roughly double the tax revenue generated currently. Yes, I want to cut into the national debt, and that may be my biggest policy disagreement with the Trump regime — he's far from a fiscal conservative, friends; yes, the economy is booming, but our debt is exploding. But a 42 percent national sales tax. Wow, talk about seriously looking at different living options. They would have to build a wall to keep the middle-class folks IN the country.
— Have to realize the scope, but MGM and Yahoo looking to partner-up for online gaming is the biggest scale we've seen in the growth of legalized sports gambling.
— How about some NBA truths? Russell Westbrook said when he is on the court, he has no friends other than the ball. Somewhere Kevin Durant was just smiling and nodding.
— The Golden State Warriors won their first game of the season Monday night and led from the first basket. Now know that the Warriors have not had a lead change in any game this season. So, through three games, the Warriors have played 144 minutes of "First bucket wins."
— Speaking of the Warriors, Draymond Green got a triple-double last night and Golden State is unbeaten in the regular season when Draymond goes for a triple-double. At this point, with Durant in Brooklyn and Klay likely out for the season, shouldn't that offense run through Draymond as frequently as possible?
It's a Tuesday, so time for a little true or false. (True.)
True or false, you expect the NCAA will make a meaningful and wise change on the rules for players and their NIL rights.
True or false, if you had $500,000 on any sporting event like Mattress Mack, you would watch that sporting event.
True or false, the one-loss Saints are better than the unbeaten 49ers.
Bonus (We had this on Monday's Press Row): True or false, Bill Belichick is the best professional sports coach of all time.
As for today, well, let's explore Oct. 29.
Richard Dreyfuss is 72 today. He's got a pretty strong Rushmore that starts with "Jaws" and likely would include the criminally underrated "Stand By Me."
It's also the anniversary of Black Monday, the day 90 years ago that triggered the Great Depression.
Paul Orndorff is 70 today. Hope my Uncle Stephen has a "clean" day, and in honor of "Mr. Wonderful," what's the Rushmore of best nicknames ever in professional wrestling?