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Dustin Johnson hits out of the rough on the third fairway during a practice round for the Masters golf tournament Monday, Nov. 9, 2020, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

NFL power poll

So the Pats have to escape to avoid a five-game losing streak and being the Jets' first victim.

And the Chargers may be the most exciting two-win team halfway through a season in a generation.

And Christian McCaffrey is the running back version of the Glass Joe character in Mike Tyson's Punch Out.

And the Dolphins and Cards played on Sunday and each team looks set at QB for a decade. (Side context: Since Brady took the reins atop the Pats dynasty, the Cards and the Dolphins have had 20 starting QBs, which is tied for fourth most in the NFL over that span behind the Browns, Bears and Football Team, who have had 26, 23 and 21 respectively.)

Exactly what you expected, right? Of course.

So as we hit the halfway point, the power poll does not offer style points. It does not balance "what ifs" or "what had happened was" or what happened back when the only Corona breaks we knew of happened when Tony Romo was pitching beer in-between TV timeouts.

Like Batman and firefighters and Bubbles on the main stage, let's get to the poll.

1 Pittsburgh. Question for the group: Why does unbeaten Pittsburgh get an avalanche of doubt because of a come-back, five-point win over hapless Dallas on the road, while the talking mouthpieces — looking at you Keyshawn — are hyping the one-loss Chiefs who held on for a two-point home win over almost as hapless Carolina? And remember that one game is a monster in a playoff scheme that offers one bye, one bye only Vasili.

2 Kansas City. The Chiefs' offense is dynamic and fast and is a schematic marvel, considering the metrics challenge you vertically with Hill and Hardman down the sidelines and Kelce through the middle and Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Le'Veon Bell on the edges. And all of that is great, and all of those pieces are valuable, but they are interchangeable across a league filled with world-class athletes in body-builders bodies. The difference is the guy pulling the trigger and that Patrick Mahomes can deliver any throw with those five dudes running a slant, a 9, and skinny post, a wheel and a swing route. That's the difference.

3 New Orleans. The dangerous thing about a weekly poll is the variations and the human error brought by intricate details. The Saints were banged up to Laager and back for most of October, and the turmoil behind the scenes was building. (Remember Michael Thomas was suspended for a week as well as all the injuries.) But now they are returning close to full strength, and with Thomas, they are a different bunch. Why? Because other than an electric quarterback, Thomas is the difference-maker who demands a double team and that creates instant value in a hard salary-cap sport.

4 Green Bay. We said this before, and we'll certainly write it again: Aaron Rodgers plays the toughest position in team sports better than anyone I've ever seen. Period. Better than Peyton? Yep. Brady? Easily. Better than Elway? Without question. Sure Rodgers' résumé screams for a second title, but watching him move pieces, slide in the pocket, drop perfectly placed passes, all of it, he's the best to ever do it. Side question: Is there a more arbitrary argument than "weapons" around the conversation of a QB? Seriously. It's something people used against Peyton, which is worthless because how are we to know whether Reggie Wayne or Marvin Harrison would have been what they were or Wallace Franics and Alfred Jackson if they played with Steve DeBerg pulling the trigger. Because if we are going to discuss weapons, compare the pieces Mahomes has and the DaVante Adams and the collection of FCS all-stars Rodgers is moving around the board. Thoughts?  

5 Buffalo. Yes, it was a long fall for the Bucs, who dropped from the poll after that disaster against the Saints, and now will have questions about what Bruce Arians had to say about his Canton-Bound QB. And while the Bills are a fun story, they are the modern text book for building through the draft. Check this: Seven picks (and no first-rounder) in the 2020 draft, five have played multiple games, and one of the ones who has not is Jake Fromm who is a developmental QB; eight picks in 2019, six have played more than 20 career games, including star defensive tackle Ed Oliver; eight picks in 2018, with four full-time starters and seven playing more than 20 career games, including MVP candidate QB Josh Allen; six picks in 2017, including All Pro corner Tre'Davious White and five have played 45 or more games. So in the last four years, the Bills have made 29 draft picks, and 24 of them are on the Bills roster.

Powerless

28-30 Dallas, Washington and New York Giants. This trio is interchangeable — and still in playoff contention. Now picture this group and remember that the QB1s are Alex Smith, Andy Dalton and Daniel Jones. How about this stat for the absolutely dreck of these three in the most dreck-tastic division since the merger: The Football Team, the Cowboys and the Giants are 1-14 outside the NFC East. Read that again. And now remember that 1 is the onside kick game that allowed Dallas to beat Atlanta.

31 Jacksonville. You have to wonder how much longer the Jags will stay competitive. They are one-game back in the Trevor Lawrence race with the Jets. They have lost seven straight. They have turned to someone named something close to Juice Newton as their QB Angel in the Morning, and there next three games are at Packers, vs. Steelers, vs. Browns.

32 New York Jets. Man, now it's just comical, right?

 

Masters week

Giddy up, and we'll have some Masters chat at some point every day this week.

I love the Masters. It's an American classic, and it's the rarest of all sporting events in which the venue is every bit the star as the competitors.

We love the course because we know it through the years, through the passing of time. Not unlike what Terrence Mann said about baseball, America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers, its history has been written and erased like  a blackboard.

We can mark the linear moments through our sports history by Super Bowls or Heismans.

Some can cross-reference it through elections or movies or current events.

And a lot of us will go through the years at Augusta.

My dad graduated high school when Art Wall won in 1959. I was getting ready to drive when Nicklaus made the magic in 1986. I got married after Mickelson won his first, and I bought my then-unborn son some Masters gear in 2007 when Zach Johnson survived the sloppiest weather-related Masters I can recall.

Sure, I can go on. I was there when Tiger chipped, and I longed to be there when he returned last April.

So as we watch from home this week, know that the legal sports betting apps offer a slew of sports bets gang. Seriously, check them out.

And around these parts, you can play for free. Send me your five golfers, the top four scores count and you get points for your players' finish. For example, if you pick the winner, the runner-up and two guys that tied for sixth, well, that's (1+2+6+6) 13 points and almost assuredly a winner.

Like Bluto asked, "Who's with me?"

 

Masters headache

More on the Masters? Sure.

We'll start with the big picture — think of everything that has happened since the last time we gathered at this venue? Dang.

And for the first time since 1997, when Tiger introduced the nuclear length that forced the oxymoronic approach of Tiger-proofing (which actually heightened the edge of length rather than downplaying it) Augusta National is under siege.

And it's way worse than we even pondered earlier this summer.

Sandy Lyle played a practice round with Bryson DeChambeau earlier this week, and the details are eye-popping. And tear-worthy.

On a course that has next-to-no rough and prides itself on its pristine conditions, DeChambeau has a chance to bring the place to its knees.

Check what DeChambeau hit for his second shots in that practice round with Lyle, who won in 1988 with arguably the best fairway bunker shot in the history of the game:

No. 1 (Par 4, 445 yards): Sand wedge

No. 2 (Par 5, 575 yards): 8-iron

No. 3 (Par 4, 350 yards): Flew the green with 3-wood off the tee

No. 8 (Par 5, 570 yards): 7-iron

No. 9 (Par 4, 460 yards): Sand wedge

No. 10 (Par 4, 495 yards): Pitching wedge

No. 11 (Par 4, 505 yards): 9-iron

No. 13 (Par 5, 510 yards): 7-iron (hit 3-wood off tee)

No. 15 (Par 5, 530 yards): 9-iron

No. 17 (Par 4, 440 yards): Sand wedge

Seriously.

Off the cuff that turns the place into a very quick par-68 because all of the par-5s are reachable with nothing more than a 7-iron.

Know this: If DeChambeau runs away with this (or if some of his fellow length hunters like Brooks or DJ or Rory) the talks for distance-controlled clubs or restricted golf balls will be the talk of the weekend friends.
 
 

This and that

— You know the rules. Here's Paschall on Georgia's QB concerns, Jeremy Pruitt wanting the Vols to be more aggressive offensively, and Alabama replacing an injured five-star with some other five star.

— While we are here, if Jeremy Pruitt wants the offense to take more shots, well, correct me if I'm wrong, but he's still the head coach right? And he likely should know where the OC's office is and/or when the offensive planning sessions are held, right? OK good.

— Falcons released Takk McKinley. Don't let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya.

— Touching tribute to Alex Trebek before last night's Jeopardy! airing.  

— The SEC is getting ravaged by Corona as we speak, with Arkansas, A&M, LSU and Mississippi State dealing with outbreaks. The Auburn-Miss State game has already been PPDed.

— Love stories like this one, in which a $4,000 parlay becomes almost half-a-million bucks.

— Here's today's A2 column written more than a little sarcastically, but hey, hate mail going to get sent, right? Buckle up for Friday friends.

 

Today's questions

True or false, it's Tuesday after all.

True or false, Stetson Bennett will be your Georgia starting QB comes Saturday.

True or false, Augusta National should curb length off the tee.

True or false, Aaron Rodgers is the best QB ever to play. (Not the greatest or most accomplished, the best.)
As for today, Sesame Street debuted on this day..
Rushmore of 'Streets" and be creative.

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