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AP photo by John Amis / Atlanta Braves reliever Will Smith pitches against the Miami Marlins on Sept. 7. Smith and fellow relievers Chris Martin and Mark Melancon both pitched on back-to-back days as the Braves swept their NL wild-card series with the Cincinnati Reds this past week.

NFL's ultimate power

The dividing line of the NFL is unlike just about any other league, college or pro.

The gap between the Patriots at the height of their powers and a dreadful team like the Jets at the nadir of theirs, is still relatively thin by comparison. And that's in the moment if not over the course of an existence.

Sure the murals of the existence of those franchises over the last two decades are as similar as a 'Whistler's Mother' and 'Dogs Playing Poker,' and in this age of being politically proper, that is neither a vote of support or a hint of indignation at either fine work of art that appeals to plenty.

(Side question: If Whistler's Mother, a one-of-a-kind work of art for sure, is insured for $30 million pounds, or roughly $39 million dollars, and this canvas work of 'Dogs Playing Poker' goes for $40 on Amazon, which is greater: The value of Whistler's momma or the amount of money generated from sales of our canine card sharks? Discuss.)  

Anyhoo, the power of one can be the difference between a collector's item or the carousel of idiocy. Look at the Pats and the Jets, and that power of one is multiple by two, which goes to the power of infinity, because of the coach and QB combo.

The power of one QB, Brady or the names of the Jets single callers since Tom came into the league two decades ago. (Since 2000, this list is some kind of scaryTestaverde, Pennington, Quincy Carter, Brooks Bollinger, Kellen Clemes, Brett Favre, Mark Sanchez, Greg McElroy, Geno Smith, Mike Vick, Ryan Fitz Patrick, Bryce Petty, Josh McCown, Sam Darnold, Luke Falk and Trevor Siemian.)

I know what you're mumbling right now, "Is it really that easy, Jay?"

Sometimes it is, and if Occam's Razor — the principle that when you account for all the facts, the simpler explanation is more likely the correct explanation — teaches us anything, it's not to overthink it.
 

Because that power of one resonates in the locker room and across the practice field and into the pregame meetings. And, as they run onto the field to spend 60 minutes potentially trading months off their lives for the acquisition of a few extra yards which means the world in a game of inches, that power of one covers the entire crew with energy.


And more importantly, confidence.

How many games did the Pats win through the years because the defense knew — not expected, not wanted, not hoped KNEW — that Brady would make a play and convert or Belichick would call something to create and extra possession?

The confidence that comes from those ones, those truly great ones, are worth more than points. They bring the power of belief.

Saban delivers it. Dabo has found QBs who have it in spades with Clemson. Heck a decade ago, after three weeks, everyone around Auburn believed — the same way everyone around Gainesville did with Tebow — that Cam would simply not let the Tigers lose.

Are there others? Sure, there are.

It's one of the ultimate hidden powers of psychological inertia and how the narrative can direct and even redirect that story.

 

Because Peyton was great long before he became a Super Bowl winner, and without question had the power of one. But the narrative of losing in the big moments became part of his conversation too.


And while this may be a too nuanced discussion of the the most important position in sports — I'd rank the most valuable position in team sports 1) Quarterback, 2) College football head coach, 3) NHL goalie, 4) College basketball head coach, 5) NFL head coach thoughts? — but the power of one gets a true galvanization when looking at the best teams in the current NFL amid unimaginable circumstances.
 

To the Power poll

Wow that got long, right? And please forget that we are using long and poll in the same context in this... nevermind... and shut up Spy.

John Paul II (the truly powerful poll)

1 Kansas City. Yes they got a bogus call that changed the complexion of last night's win over the Pats. (And an inexplicable Jarrett Stidham pass that went through Julian Edelman's hands for a Honey Badger pick six covered the number.) But we can all agree that Patty Mahomes (sorry, Patrick Mahomes, all apologies to Momma Mahomes) has the power of one right? In fact, there actually are tiers of the power of one, divided on age and experience and duration of greatness. Sure Mahomes — the youngest NFL player to have a league MVP AND a Super Bowl MVP — is in our power pack, but sculpting this power over a few more seasons and through a few more pressure-packed moments will only elevate his power of oneness.

2 Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers is the Prince of the Power right now. Did you see the collection of grocery baggers he had around him last night as he carved up the Falcons? (Yes, it was the Falcons, but still.) Rodgers ranks No. 2 in the power of one poll across the league right now. No, Mahomes is not one.

3 Seattle. No Russell Wilson and his 12 billion TD passes is not No. 1 in one either. And the Seahawks had better clean up some of those defensive issues, because while I know it was hot, if you're winning one score games at Miami, you're going to have to score 50 to beat the Packers right now.

4 Buffalo. Yes, I have been late to this party, and while I'm not sure where Josh Allen ranks in terms of the power of one — although with each passing week, the confidence around the Bills continues to swell and that can exponentially increase the incubation period of the power of one — dude has been aces for the since about Week 6 of last year. Through 4 games this year, he's right at 71 percent completion with 1,326 yards, 12 TDs and just one pick. In his last 15 regular-season games, Allen has 27 TDs and four picks.

5 Tampa Bay. Here's your No. 1 in the power of one. Tom Brady does not have the same skills. Tom Brady never had the cannon Mahomes does or the complete bag of tools Rodgers did/does or a slew of other comparable physical skills. But dude is the Yoda of the power of one. He's the all-time Jedi, and that skill set is forever coveted and never to be revealed at a combine or a throwing session or a 7-on-7 comeptition. Sure, Brady has excellent football skills — you can't get into the league without them no matter how strong you are in the power of one — but he's the GOAT because of the power. And know this: The Tampa Bay offense is banged up and not as good everywhere else as it was a year ago, but because Tom is the One in the Power of One pyramid, do any of us want to bet against them to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl?

Stripper pole (powerless)

28 Washington. Yes, there are a lot of one-win teams from which to choose for this spot, but the Redskins are the worst, despite being in second place in the NFC East. (Seriously.)

29 Atlanta. Hey, I've said it for two weeks now. Heck, going back to the middle of last season, we're approaching 10 months in time that I have begged the Falcons to cut bait with Dan Quinn. Will it happen? Not sure. But if the power of one is the best thing you can have in your locker room, the opposite end of the spectrum is also true. And considering what we witnessing in Atlanta, are devastatingly close to calling it the quotient of Quinn. Whereas the power of one, transmit a belief that anything is possible and every game is winnable to the rest of the locker room the quotient of Quinn is a looming cloud of doubt that Murphy's Law is always watching and that every game is losable, no matter the foe or the fourth-quarter lead.  

30 Houston. I believe in the right scenario, DeShaun Watson can reclaim the one-ness he had at Clemson and at Gainesville High in Georgia. Dude was special like that. But maybe this is part of the growing process of one-ness in some ways, and how broken systems can break even those strong in the ways of the power of one. I believe that Watson should be among the first three calls from Houston ownership about the new head coaching vacancy after the Texans terminated Bill O'Brien. And then the first three calls should be Eric Bieniemy, Lincoln Riley and, if/when Watson suggests it, Dabo Swinney. Say what you want about the college dudes, who has more 'power of one' potential working with Watson right now: Those three cats or the guy running the Steelers D (Keith Butler) or the guy running the Packers O (Nathaniel Hackett)?  

31 Giants. Phil Simms was a great ambassador of one back in the day. Sure, he was not the most powerful one among the ones in those dominant 1980s and 90s Giants teams; that was Big Tuna. But the one still existed, which means the QB had to have some one in his system. So these Giants have to wonder if Daniel Jones has one. He has a one-level nickname, but nicknames are cheap; championships are expensive.

32 Jets. Wow, this whole Jets thing is bad. That said, there is more than one NFL pundit suggesting that Bill O'Brien could come to NYC and fix Darnold. Could he? No idea, but a coaching change can dip a QB into the baptismal waters of the pool one, but you only get that chance a couple of times then everyone realizes it's not the coach, its the powerless one taking snaps.    

 

And here we go

Braves-Marlins in the NL divisional series, just like we all had planned when pitchers and catchers reported in February, right?

Maybe, in this craziest of crazy years of all of our lifetimes, the Braves-Marlins is the perfect microcosm.

It's surprising considering the lack of non front-line starting pitching on either side.

It's a contrast considering it's arguably the best regular-season team in the modern division era (post 1990) and the only team to never lose a postseason series. (That's right, the Marlins have made the playoffs twice before this year, and won the World Series both times.)

It's also two teams that are finding ways without the overflow of monster TV money and making ends meet with smarter deals on younger players. And critics will also point to the fact that both clubs are pinching pennies like a tete-a-tete between the Grinch and Ebenezer Scrooge considering both got tax-payer-aided ballparks and are still micromanaging salaries and signings.

So who wins? Well today's 2 p.m. start to game 1 will go a long way to determining that considering the best-of-five series will happen in five straight days.

I like the Braves today, straight up. The money line is Atlanta minus-200 (bet $200 to win $100), and I like the under 7.5 even more.

It's the 'er' months friends. Let's do this.    

 

This and that

— You know the rules. Here's Paschall powering through pigskin prose with purpose and precision. UT's Cade Mays excited to face former mates. Stetson Bennett, everyone's favorite quarterback at law, making the most of his chances. And — surprise — a former Saban assistant and Alabama's next whipping post believes Saban may have his best Tide team to date. (Total team? Not sure. But that offense would score 30-plus against everyone in college football and almost every all-conference team you could assemble.)

— Last week's Intimidator Pool survivors: Mike R., Jason G., and Ted P. with the Broncos; Fat Vader, JTC, Danny P, Shawn W and Terry T with the Ravens; Larry L and Brent R with the Packers. We lost Peter W and Mike L, who thought the 49ers were going to prevail. Chris O, executive ruling you are still alive in the age of Corona with the Steelers; Danny P and Intern Scott, did I get an entry from you guys last week?

— Our NFL picks went 3-1 against the number this week and are 10-9 against the spread on the season.

— In terms of the theme of the power of one, LeBron and the Lakers need to grab Game 4 tonight or they run the risk of transferring that power to a spry and deep underdog with absolutely nothing to lose.

 

Today's question

True or false, it's Tuesday.

True or false, Saban would succeed in a second run in the NFL.

True or false, Dabo would leave Clemson fro the NFL.

True or false, my fantasy team lost by less than two points because Matt Ryan and the Falcons passing game payed terribly Monday night. (That one is true friends.)

True or false, the Braves win today, and true or false, they beat the Marlins to get to the NLCS.

True or false, Trevor Lawrence has the power of one that will translate to Sundays.

You know the drill. Answer some. Leave some.

As for today, Oct. 6, well, let's review.

Elisabeth Shue is 57 today. That was a gang-busters start to her career. Karate Kid — she was 21 at the time — which led to the supremely underrated Adventures in Babysitting as well as Cocktail and the anything but rewatch able Leaving Las Vegas.

True or false, Elisabeth Shue has a strong Rushmore.

As for the rest, well, Spartacus was released on this day 60 years ago. In 1882, Game 1 of the first World Series was played in Cincinnati as the home standing Red Stockings beat the Chicago White Stockings 4-0.

The Cubs' goat curse was cast on this day in 1945.
Rushmore of 'curses' and be creative — and try not to do what I did last week. Not cool.

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