Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) works in the pocket against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

NFL power poll

Man, gotta tell you guys, getting into the fall routine feels great.

There's a little bit of a nip in the air this morning when I took the dogs out. There was football highlights on the TV as we made breakfasts and lunches. We reviewed the MNF games and see that the Titans played a tight game filled with kicking woes with the scores in the teens.

Happy fall everyone.

With that — and here's hoping you played my picks Monday from Press Row, with Steelers minus-6 and Denver plus-3 (buy the half) — Tuesdays in the NFL season means power time.


Power poll

Kansas City. Want to know what has two thumbs and overpaid for Clyde Edwards-Helaire in his fantasy league? This guy. It's hard to find a weakness in the Chiefs offense from a top-three QB, to a nice collection of pass catchers with the best tight end in the game, an all-time play-calling staff with Andy Reid and Eric Bieniemy, a cohesive and familiar offensive line and now a promising rookie in CEH. Look out.

New Orleans. As we try to slot teams in a league that has 16 team that are 1-0 and 16 more than are 0-1, finding dividing line items beyond score is important. The Saints defeated a much-hyped foe in the Tompa Brady Bucs. The Saints did it with Michael Thomas, their best player — and arguably the best non-quarterback in the league — catching all of three passes. The Saints did it with Drew Brees playing below expectations, with 18-for-30 for 160 yards.    

Seattle. The numbers were staggeringly good for Seattle, which allowed a late score to the pass-happy, defensive-allergic Falcons. Russell Wilson had the second best statistical showing of any QB in week 1, right behind.

Baltimore. He was far from alone in wondering how Lamar Jackson would work in the NFL, but Bill Polian truly has to hate this high-revving Ravens offense right? Polian, the NFL Hall of Fame executive became the face of the "Jackson will be a great WR" in the NFL during the draft process a couple of years ago. Jackson, last year's unanimous league MVP, picked right up Sunday against a Browns team that was, well, the Browns. In the convoluted QB rating system, Jackson's 152.1 (out of 158.3) was the best in large part because of his willingness to strike downfield efficiently. Jackson averaged 11 yards on each of his 25 pass attempts and threw three scores in the 38-6 win over Cleveland.  

Green Bay. So Aaron Rodgers is still Aaron Rodgers. Who knew? Cue the Dennis Green I know I preach the importance and the impact of good QB play, but look at the opening week of the power poll and those sentiments get even more power-packed. (Side Rushmore of 'power' folks: Kenny Powers, Georgia Power, Girl Power, Flower Power? Tough leaving former Hart to Hart Stephanie Powers off, but so it goes. Whatcha got?) Anyhoo, with the possible exception of DeShaun Watson for Drew Brees, it's not a shock that the best teams have the best QBs, is it?  


Atlanta. Yes, that's an offense loaded with firepower and 10 former first-round picks, and if you are a fantasy football player, try to deal for as many Falcons as you can get. But that defense put the A in A-trocious gang. Yes, Russell Wilson is excellent. But these Falcons made him look like Joe Montana mixed with Mike Vick. And if memory serves, isn't Dan Quinn a defensive guy? Hmmmmmm. How bad is this Atlanta defense and coaching staff? Well, since the Super Bowl meltdown, this team is 14-19 with a Hall of Fame quarterback and one of the 10 best wide receivers ever to put on cleats.

New York Giants. Yes, there are a lot of folks who wonder how much I know and how stupid I can be, but here's a little math that I believe will be forever undefeated. If Ben Roethlisberger has more rushing yards than Saquon Barkely, the Giants are going to lose.

Miami. DaVante Parker getting injured is crippling for a team that had high hopes after a strong finish to 2019. Man, we're going to need to add another 'B' to the list of items that helped New England create the greatest dynasty in professional sports in the free agency era. There is Belichick. There was Brady. And there continues to be really Bad teams in the AFC East.

New York Jets. Speaking of that, hello New York Jets. Yes, Buffalo's defense is salty and right there with Pittsburgh as the best in the league, but the Jets are rotten. Rot-TON. In a conversation that is going to be asked in a lot of places, do the Jets have a franchise QB in Sam Darnold?

Cleveland. Browns gonna Browns friends. Re-cue the Dennis Green. I know there are a lot of overreactions on the Monday and Tuesday following the opening week of the NFL season, but the questions about Baker Mayfield being a franchise dude or not are real, and pertinent. Because I certainly do not know. And worse yet, neither does Cleveland nor Baker himself.  


US Open

Let's open the Open with an Open contest to win stuff. Who's with me?

The rules are easy and familiar. Pick five players in this week's U.S. Open — there are two local choices in Baylor School grads Stephen Jäger and Harris English, who has been as steady as your grandfather's work ethic — and count the four best scores.

If your picks finish first, third, seventh and tied for 10th, that would be 21 points (1+3+7+10) and a great score.Low score wins, who's ready to roll, or as Blue Duck said in Lonesome Dove, "Let's gamble." (Side note: Lonesome Dove, wicked, Wicked, WICKED underrated. For real talk right there.)

And while we're talking about a golf major at famed Winged Foot, let's review a couple of very fun stories that made me smile this week.

First the details of a significant bet placed on Phil Mickelson this week to win his first U.S. Open. For arguably the first time since Tiger introduced himself to the world in Augusta in 1997, Woods winning is not the clear No. 1 best storyline at a major.

With six runner-up finishes at the U.S. Open — including the memorable embrace with Payne Stewart and the wreck at Winged Foot 14 years ago — Mickelson holds that spot completely and totally. And it was long before news of a Vegas bettor putting $45,000 down on Lefty.

This is Buckner strolling into Shea, Napoleon walking back to Waterloo, Custer hauling back to the Horn considering that Mickelson hit his driver into a trash can and made a double-bogey to lose on the 72nd hole in this event on this course in 2006.

So Mickelson took to Twitter and offered this gem: "Heard someone place 45K on me to win the open at 75-1 (pays 3.3 mil). Hoping for both of us I have a 3 shot lead on 18 tee."

The other smile-inducing story from the practice rounds came courtesy of Danny Noonan (aka actor Michael O'Keefe), who was toting a bag for a couple of practice rounds to help raise some money for others.

Good stuff.


From good stuff to potentially great stuff

The assassination attempt of the two L.A. deputies was downright evil.

The videos that show witnesses all-but laughing about it and the protestors chanting "Let them die!" "Let them die!" outside the hospital are despicable.

And in my view, the comparative coverage of that to the awful and eye-grabbing police brutality against Blacks in today's media climate is sickening. And sad.

And as millionaire players wonder which of the next protests will have the most impact, I think the L.A. Sheriff had a glorious idea, calling on Lakers superstar LeBron James to match the $150,000 reward being offered for details leading to the capture of the shooting suspect.

Think of the good will and the support that would buy — it would be far greater than what amounts to 16 minutes of game time of his $38.3 million annual salary for playing basketball.

Think of the scene, even in a 'Justice' or 'Who Killed Breona Taylor?' T-shirt or whatever social message he wanted to send. James walks to the podium and delivers something along the lines of this:

"We all know there are changes that must happen for better relations between the police and the Black community. And we should all find ways to help in that noble, needed and basic goal.

"We also know that while the fight to expose, remove and prosecute those cops involved, protecting the brave law enforcement officers and agents who work to protect us is something that our society must have, regardless of color, age, orientation or income."With that, I completely agree with the Sheriff, and here's a check to match the reward. "We must fight this evil together. From both sides of the badge. Stay safe everyone."


This and that

— Speaking of Breonna Taylor, Louisville has settled the wrongful death lawsuit with Taylor's family.

— We will double check the names and folks still alive in our Intimidator Pool tomorrow, but the carnage after a collective Blitzkrieg in Week 1 is significant.

— You know the rules. Here's TFP college football honcho David Paschall on UT all-purpose back Ty Chandler.

— Monday football with Fowler and Herbstreit was good. Also, most folks who regularly visit these parts know that I am extremely bullish on the skill set of Louis Riddick. He made his Monday Night Football  debut in the nightcap between Denver and Tennessee. I thought he — with Steve Levy and Brian Griese in the three-man booth — was pretty good. Not great. Not bad. But they did show promise.

— Speaking of MNF, yes, it was tough to leave the Steelers off the list because of that defense, which is scary good. Side stat: After last night, Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Tomlin are now tied for third all time in quarterback-coach wins with 116. That matches the total of Dan Marino and Don Shula

— In our divided times maybe I shouldn't be surprised by how much this anti-mask protest in Utah looked like an SNL parody, but there you go. And as I wrote today on A2, I'm not sure if there's anything left in 2020 that could truly shock me anymore

— So now the Pac-12 is eyeing a Thanksgiving return. Cool. I guess.


Today's questions

Hey, it's Tuesday, true or false time.

True or false, the Big Ten will start football Oct. 17.True or false, Dan Quinn will be the coach of the Falcons at the midseason point.True or false, Bill Polian cheers against the Ravens.

True or false, LeBron should match the reward money.

True or false, Baker Mayfield is a franchise quarterback.

Answer some T or Fs, leave some T or Fs.

As for today, Sept. 15, let's review. was registered as a domain name on this dame in 1997.

Whoa, the Lone Ranger premiered on this day in 1949.
Dan Marino is 59 today. Marco Polo would have been 766 today.

Does the "Playing Marco Polo with Marco Polo" Gieco commercial make the Geico commercial Rushmore.