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New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick talk during the first half of Super Bowl LIII against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

NFL power poll

OK, we have become used to teams embracing the process. Of course, the process is acquiring as much draft capital as possible.

The process is tanking. Tanking is the process. Einhorn is Finkel. Finkel is Einhorn.

Miami is embracing the process, so Welcome to the tank, Fish.

Miami has dealt its two best players — tackle Laremy Tunsil and defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick — for first-round picks. Miami is bagel-and-2 with the third-worst point differential in the history of the NFL.

Heck, we even heard some folks say Miami is 0-and-Tua and used the Tanking for Tua alliteration.

But what about this scenario? What if Tua Tagovailoa, the junior Alabama quarterback and Heisman contender and all-around good dude, looks at the Miami debacle, scratches his chinny-chin-chin and says, "Uh, thanks but not thanks. I'll come back and wait a year."

Not saying that he would or he should, but tanking for Tua turns testy if Tua travels toward T-town for his senior year. Just a thought.

To the power poll.

Powerful

1. New England (2-0). Yes, the Patriots have housed the disastrous Dolphins and the stinky Steelers, and Antonio Brown gives them a special, match-up nightmare that can stretch a defense unlike any teammate Tom Brady has had since Randy Moss. But the truly scary thing for the rest of the league is the Bill Belichick-designed defense that has been overhauled and overwhelming in the first two weeks. Try these stats on for a moment: The Pats' D has been on the field for 22 possessions, forced five interceptions (two of which they returned for TDs), allowed one FG and had nine three-and-outs. So on 14 of the 22 times New England's defense has been on the field, it has either forced a turnover or did not yield a first down. Nevermind the combined scoring is Pats' D 14, opposing offenses 3.  

2. Kansas City (2-0). If Carson Wentz is worth $32-or-so-million per, a fact that many of us know because Dak Prescott wants more than Wentz got and has stated his case for it through two weeks, then what in the world is Patrick Mahomes truly worth? I believe his arm strength is on the short list of biggest offensive difference-makers in the modern NFL with Peyton's brain, Moss' size/speed correlation and Marshall Faulk's versatility. I loathe the phrase arm talent (it's right there with "quarterback position" and '"scoring the basketball" and a few other of these modern garbage word-salads that scream gas-baggers) but there really is not another way to describe Mahomes' ultimate gift. His ability — and the Chiefs' willingness to use it — to make you guard the entire width of the field and 70-plus yards down the field — is truly indefensible. (Unless you're Belichick, who has crafted more successful defenses than Matlock.)

3. Dallas (2-0). Speaking of the Cowboys and Prescott, the Cowboys have looked the part with a perfect start over two divisional foes. I believe Jerry Jones will fork over the ranch for Dak, who has been dazzling through two weeks. I have been hesitant to buy into Dak as a franchise guy, but considering that a) he's 34-16 as a starter, b) he's amazingly durable and has not missed a start heading into the third game of his fourth season in the league, and c) he's at 82.3 completion percentage for 674 yards and seven TDs in two double-digit wins, maybe it's time to rethink that. (Again, there's little doubt Jerry is going to write the check, I have just wondered in the past is it Dak and his rookie deal or is it the pieces?) Side question: If there is one owner in the NFL who would gladly do away with the salary cap, it's Jones, right? Dude would sign everyone. And do it with a smile on his face. Side question on the side question: How many owners do you think — and remember these are highly competitive billionaires in almost every case — are paying players under the table and outside the salary cap? Discuss.  

4. Baltimore (2-0). Wow, we mentioned this yesterday, but after Lord Brady and the Belichicks, the three next-best teams are led by young, black QBs with game-changing skill sets. And Lamar Jackson, who became the sixth player since 1970 to throw for 250 yards and rush for more than 100 in an NFL game. (Cam's done it three times, back when he was, you know Cam. And good.)

5. Los Angeles Rams (2-0). Narrowly ahead of the Green Packers and their revamped defense, the Rams are extremely balanced. (And yes, that's four of the top five teams in my mind with a QB on the rookie deal. Coincidence? Not even close, bud.) Had this conversation with Weston Wamp, who filled in swimmingly on Press Row on Monday, but the most valuable player in my mind that does not take snaps is Aaron Donald, and it's not even close. Today's modern NFL is about match-ups and value in a hard salary cap league. That's why the rookie quarterback pay scale is so important. For Donald, the fact that he requires at least two and sometimes three blockers is a mathematical equation of historic proportions. Donald's presence and required attention ranks right there with what was afforded Reggie White, LT, Derrick Brooks and Deion Sanders in terms of always being aware of where they were and what was required to not allow them to wreck the play. That's elite company, friends.  

Powerless

28. Washington (0-2). There are some pieces to like about this team — starting with an SEC-familiar front seven, especially for Alabama fans. On the 'Skins two deep at D-line and LB, see how many of these names you recall roaming around SEC stadiums on Saturdays of recent years: Jonathan Allen, Da'Ron Payne, Ryan Anderson, Shaun Dion Hamilton and Jon Bostic are all starters in the front seven. Montez Sweat, Josh Harvey Clemons and Cassanova McKinzey are among their back-ups.

29. Jacksonville (0-2). Jalen Ramsey wants out, and who can blame him? This one feels like the next train to run off the tracks, right? If the Dolphins are tanking for Tua, then the Jags should plan a year out and start losing for Lawrence. Does anyone else expect the Pats to deal a second and two thirds for Ramsey?

30. New York Giants (0-2). Here's hoping that the Giants deal Eli to Pittsburgh and give the Steelers, who are clearly not bagging the season since they have already dealt their 2020 first-round pick for Dolphins' cast-off Minkah Fitzpatrick, some hope. We know a lot of Steelers fans and feel sorry for a fan base that is already thinking this may be a lost year with Big Ben lost for the season. At least the Steelers will get a chance to see if Mason Rudolph is the guy when the time actually comes for Roethlisberger to hang it up. That said, the league is always better when the Steelers are in the mix. The Giants? Oh, they stink. And man, you have to wonder what Saquon Barkley and his wonderful skill set is thinking about this mess.

31. New York Jets (0-2). OK, call me crazy, but with all the QB shuffling going on between the Giants and these Jets, someone get Broadway Joe on the blower. Side question: If any quarterback in the history of kissing was going to contract mono, wouldn't Joe Namath be the overall No. 1 pick? The Jets are about to have a third different starting QB in three games because of injury and illness. The Jets ring in the Luke Falk era, and here's hoping he's as much fun as Gardner Minshew. (The LeBatard Show has already made the Minshew and his world-class 'stache a show favorite. In parlance of their "Looks like game" here are two offerings: Gardner Minshew sounds like the scrappy 14-seed that's about to upset Georgetown in the first round of the NCAA tournament. And, Gardner Minshew sounds like the veggie plate at your local Hibachi Steakhouse restaurant.)

32. Miami (0-2). The truly hard thing about tanking to this extreme in the NFL is how do you look the rest of the team in the face in the locker room on Sundays around 12:30 and get them to go on the field and take years off their lives for a chance to lose by only 17? Yes, Dallas is a 21-point favorite against the Fins this Sunday.



A red-letter day?

Last Friday night, there were millions of football players running through banners with words and slogans on them.

The bands played. The crowds cheered. It's part of the pageantry that makes Friday night so special.

Well, for Lake Hamilton High School in Percy, Ark., the current and sad life lesson that someone is going to be offended by everything was made perfectly clear.

The banner read "Make America Great Again Trump the Leopards!" in red, white and blue.

Of course, because Trump's name was mentioned, it has become a racial deal, sparked by Joyce Elliott, an Arkansas state senator.

Truth be told, Elliott is 68 years old, and to be a black women in Arkansas and the South, you would think that she more than anyone else would have a firm grasp of real racial strife and injustice.

Sorry folks, that banner seems like an attempt at being clever and word play to me.

And, as we have established around these parts, I am so over the social media morality mob that exists to band together and get everyone's panties in a bunch.

It has now moved to a height that folks are pointing out that Lake Hamilton's student population is 3.4 percent black and Malvern, the opponent on Friday, is 30 percent black.

You know the fallout drill by now. Every banner will have to be signed off by some assistant principal of social constructs, values and eternal indifference and never the twain shall meet.

Heck, how much longer before the term "Leopard" is going to deemed politically incorrect because we can't lower little Johnny's or Janey's self-esteem and compare them to some jungle cat?

Oh, the humanity.  



Game on

OK, we have had some issues with some of the college football schedules to this point.

This weekend, that changes.

No. 8 Auburn at No.17 Texas A&M is a big game for those programs. Huge. Lose that one, with the challenges before each team, and seven wins is a real possibility.

No. 3 Georgia hosts No. 8 Notre Dame in a big game for national conversation. Georgia could lose and still run the table and get a spot in the playoff because of the Alabama factor and the SEC title game. Notre Dame, however, has to view this one as must-have to get into the playoff.

Finally, No. 11 Michigan at No. 13 Wisconsin is a big game for the slow-of-foot, cheese-eating fans of each for clear reasons.

But how huge is it for Jim Harbaugh, who can count up the truly important wins in one pocket of his khakis?

With Penn State, Michigan State, Notre Dame and THE Ohio State on the horizon, it is impossible to overstate how much Harbaugh needs his team to play well Saturday at Camp Randall.  



This and that

— Speaking of controversy, here's the story about Shane Gillis, who was hired to be part of the next crew of "Saturday Night Live." He was fired four days after being announced as part of the crew for insensitive remarks on some podcasts in the past. I understand it, but man, oh man, the changes in stand-up comedy are drastic in this culture. Did anyone see Dave Chappelle's lament on the changing face of comedy in these politically correct times?

— I know we dropped the power rankings above, and there is no way all five of those teams will survive into next week unblemished. Chiefs and Mahomes vs. Ravens and Jackson on Sunday. Good times.

— More NFL, raise your hand if you had the NFC West as the best division in football after two weeks. Exactly. Now, raise your hand if you had the NFC South being the worst. Don't see this very often, but, despite being 3-5 after two weeks, all four of the teams in the NFC South have a negative scoring differential.



Today's questions

True or false, the Giants should deal Eli.

True or false, the Dolphins would be an all-star team from the rosters of Alabama, Clemson and Georgia.

True or false, your Atlanta Braves are World Series-bound.

As for today, Sept. 17, let's review.

On this day in 1972, "M*A*S*H" debuted on CBS.

Stan Musial made his MLB debut in 1941.

Hank Williams Sr. would have been 96 today.
Rushmore of singing parent/child tandems. Go.

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