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FILE - In this Dec. 29, 2019, file photo, Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) breaks away for a 53-yard touchdown run during the second half of an NFL football game, in Houston. The top-seeded Baltimore Ravens (14-2) bring a 12-game winning streak and the most productive offense in the NFL into Saturday's AFC playoff game against the Titans (10-7), who advanced by beating New England 20-13 last week. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke, File)

NFL edge

We have frequently discussed our theory here about QBs and rookie deals and maximizing championship windows.

It's not uncommon, but we have talked openly about finding value, especially at QB, in a hard-cap league.

In truth, the most important word in that theory is not "quarterback," it's value.

Believe it or not, the far left of the value scale in football is not position or specific person.

It's a plausible plan.

The utmost value in today's NFL is creating mismatches, and if you look at the teams left and how they do it, it's not a shock that these are the teams left.

There are two teams that have Hall of Fame tight ends, and those dudes bring a match-up nightmare that few defenses can solve. (Heck, Travis Kelce was double-teamed last week against the Texans and still caught three TDs.)

The Chiefs also have two other dimension-changing pieces on offense. First and foremost, Patrick Mahomes' arm allows them to test defense from each sideline as well as 60-plus-yards down the field. Combined with that, Tyreek Hill gives the Chiefs a home-run possibility on every snap.

In addition to George Kittle, one of the aforementioned monster tight ends, the 49ers have a couple of match-up issues defensively, too. They create pressure with four — four vs. five, which mathematically frees up another defender — and Richard Sherman has been able to blanket and erase the other team's top WR. (Sherman vs. Davante Adams may be the best match-up of the weekend.)

For the Titans, Derrick Henry may be the ultimate mismatch walking these days. How many dudes must you commit to stop Henry? I'm asking for a friend in Baltimore. And one in Foxboro.

The Packers? They have the old-school, universal mismatch.

They have a quarterback that changes everything.

Will it be enough? We'll see Sunday.  

 

College hoops eye openers

Well, now that college football has ended, basketball kind of snatched us into attention last night, no?

First, the Mocs delivered an impressive double-digit home win over perennially strong Wofford. Nice job, Coach Paris and Co. (Although I did not see in the box score a technical foul for Coach. Hmmmmmm. We'll certainly ask him about that.)

Then there was the much ballyhooed and severely disappointing debut of 7-foot Uros Plavsic in the Tennessee Vols' lackluster walkthrough that led to an 80-63 whooping at Georgia. (Side note: The game was actually more lopsided than the score. Side note, part II: Anthony Edwards is the truth when he plays in Athens.)

Few were expecting the Bulldogs to blast Barnes' boys that badly, but it was far from the lone surprise across the SEC.  

First there was Kentucky, which led most of the game before succumbing to a frenzied atmosphere and losing at South Carolina on a buzzer beater.

And of course there was the Iron's Unkind Bowl for visiting — and previously unbeaten — Auburn, which went to Tuscaloosa, missed enough shots to make known-anti-vaxxer Jenny McCarthy happy, and got run out of the gym.

Let the games begin.

 

Big picture

By now most of you know that I think the commissioner stopped short — way short — in terms of the discipline handed out in the Astros and Red Sox sign stealing.

Players have to be disciplined, otherwise what is the true deterrent? Because if the players steal signs and cheat and win it all and the only thing that happens is a manager or GM gets canned, then why not?

Simply put, the risk is worth the reward.

It also leads me to a few perspective questions:

The first one is something I have discussed before, but what happens on the field for a cheating scam of this magnitude? Because if a pitcher is going to let loose a heater high and tight for a guy admiring a 450-foot homer for a few extra seconds, does this mean that every Astros player gets one in the ribs every day until July 4?

Second, why are we so flippant in other sports about cheating? In college sports, it's a shrug of the shoulders and "Everyone else does it." In football, we barely blink when someone gets caught for PEDs. NASCAR? Heck, that's the originator of the "If you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'" mantra. Other than golf, do we really even care anywhere else other than baseball?

Finally I'll set the over/under on half the league of teams involved in something like this. Will all of them be this big? No. And that these teams used it to win World Series titles matters, too. But I'll bet one of the reasons MLB wants the lid on this is because there are way more cockroaches behind the wall. Truly.

Speaking of that, here's TFP all-around ace David Paschall's story about Rick Honeycutt, who joined us on Press Row on Wednesday and discussed the sign-stealing controversy that potentially could have cost Honeycutt and the Dodgers two World Series titles.  
   
 

This and that

— College hoops picks went 1-1 last night — missed Kentucky on the road, hit Mercer at home — so we're 16-13 against the number.

— Joe Burrow was happy to share that OBJ was actually handing out cold, hard cash after the title game. Yeah, we thought so.

— I am all for making education more affordable, but this is one of the dumbest ideas ever. Liz Warren says she'll cancel every student loan in the country on Day 1 in office. Yeah, because we're not already trillions in debt. Point 1: We can't afford this in this country. Period. Point 2: This truly feels like vote buying to me. Point 3: What's going to happen for those of us who paid our way through school? Point 4: What will the narrative be for the folks that claim NCAA athletes are getting paid with an education? If everyone's bill is comped, then that means that's not payment at all, no?  

— Alabama and Georgia Tech will play in 2030. Gang, that used to be one of the most heated rivalries ever. Here's Paschall's report on it because, well, if it happens in college football, Paschall is there to report on it.  

— Here's today's A2 offering about Stephen King's scary walk into the diversity crossfire.

— The expanded NFL Hall of Fame class to celebrate the 100th year of the NFL did not include Drew Pearson, the former Dallas star receiver who remains the only member of an all-decade offense of the 1970s, 80s or 90s not to be inducted. His reaction shows how much it truly meant to him, and is emotional.  

 

Today's questions

True or false on a Thursday. Why not?

True or false, Nick Saban will be catching the Tide when they play Georgia Tech in 2030.

True or false, Tennessee is an NCAA tournament team.

True or false, Derrick Henry is the biggest match-up problem in the NFL right now.

As for today, well, did you know it's National Nothing Day? Rushmore of nothing. And be creative.

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