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FILE -Duke's Jahlil Okafor (15) and Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky (44) battle for the ball at the tip off during the first half of the NCAA Final Four college basketball tournament championship game in Indianapolis, in this Monday, April 6, 2015, file photo. The NCAA announced Monday, Jan. 4, 2021, that all 67 men's basketball tournament games including the Final Four will be played entirely in Indiana in a bid to keep the marquee event from being called off for a second consecutive year because of the coronavirus pandemic.(AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

NFL power poll

It's playoff time. Giddy-up.

So the power poll must be flipped, and the powerless are left behind. Oh, we'll have plenty of draft conversation in the days to come. I love the draft. You know this.

But as we look longingly to the weekend and six wildcard games — including one on Nickelodeon, so start checking the stations now — the question is which teams have a chance to win it all. In truth, there may be a record 14 playoff teams, but barely half that number has a chance to win it all in Tampa next month.

Like an EPB lineman after a blizzard, let's get to the poll.

1 Kansas City (Odds according to VegasInsider.com to win it all — plus-200, which means you win $200 if you bet $100). Super Bowl favorites all year, the Chiefs are certainly the front-runner now.

2 Green Bay (plus-450). Yes, home-field is different without fans, but Lambeau and the elements are ever-present.

3 New Orleans (plus-700). The Saints have been among the best all year and now consider the injuries this group has overcome, especially Michael Thomas being an afterthought for most of 2020 after being the best player in the sport in '19.

4 Buffalo (plus-700). Arguably the hottest team in sport right now, the Bills appear to be the only legitimate threat to the Chiefs in the AFC.

5 Tampa Bay (plus-1000). Maybe my favorite of all them considering the playoff edge Tom Brady gives the Bucs at the most important position. And in truth, after the Bucs, every other option feels like a reach.

Here are the rest of the odds, and just three weeks ago, how much higher would the Steelers have been on this list:

Baltimore (plus-1200), Seattle (plus-1300), Pittsburgh (plus-2200), Tennessee (plus-2800), Los Angeles Rams (plus-3000), Indianapolis (plus-4000), Cleveland (plus-5000), Chicago and Washington (plus-8000).

 

All in Indy NCAA hoops

OK, news came Monday that finalized the NCAA's plans to play March Madness in a centralized, semi-bubble in Indianapolis and surrounding gyms.

It came a few hours before Villanova announced it will shut down it's program because of COVID for the next week or so.

If your eyebrows are raised at the juxtaposition, well, that's understandable.

But if you are surprised by this announcement, well, that's on you.

In fact, as we look around at college football and the sacrifices they have made to get the season in — and cash those much-needed TV revenue checks — know this: The NCAA faces financial calamity if March Masked-ness does not happen.

Seriously. Here's hoping the teams and coaches and officials get vaccinated by then, but shots or not, there will be shots in Indy come March.

Bank on that.

 

Radio waves

First, loved the decision by the media company that has the broadcast rights to the Cubs to hire Boog Sciambi, who is one of the best baseball play-by-play guys in the business.

That said, the realization that Monday was the last day of the Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz on ESPN Radio hit me a little harder than I expected.

That show is the best there is, and I do not think there is a close second to be honest.

It had a magical gift — and not for a second do I think that gift was luck, it was a goal and a destination that was cultivated by design — that allowed the listener a seat at the party and an understanding of the inside jokes.

As for me, I will miss it. Badly. Radio is a weird connection, because I felt like I knew those guys by spending time with them on my radio and/TV, and that was part of their greatness too. And again, that trait is not an accident; it's an asset. 

I know some folks believe LeBatard drifted into controversial waters in terms of race or social issues, but I find that interesting. In truth, I likely won't listen to the replacement show that Mike Greenberg will host, and that's not a knock against Greenie, who is a pro's pro and one of the best to ever sit behind a sports mic. 

But it's boring, and by the time 10 a.m. hits — and we've had ESPN or another morning show on in the background for most of the morning — I don't need another round of scores and stats.

As a listener, I want to laugh and to think and LeBatard and his misfit crew he called "a marching band to nowhere" did that better than anyone.

Ever.

And they will be sorely missed, because let's be honest the platform ESPN offers is ginormous and while the digital age offers more and more listening and broadcasting options, LeBatard will be harder to find. Heck, do you even know what channel Colin Cowherd resides on, and when he left, he was arguably the best show around at the height of his ESPN run.

 

This and that

— You know the rules. Here's TFP sports editor Stephen Hargis telling us the return of high school sports may come next week. 

— You know the rules. Here's Paschall on Alabama replacing assistant coaches before taking national title swings.

— Here's today's A2 column on a variety of things, but mainly on being grateful that the Georgia Senate race ends today. Yay. In my column is the NPR number that $500 million was spent by the campaigns and outside interest groups on ads for the two Senate races.

— The Heisman is tonight. It is virtual. DeVonta Smith is a huge favorite. He's at plus-500 (bet $500 to win $100). 

— In what may be the most interesting coordinator offseason in recent memory, here's a report that Will Muschamp turned down Steve Sarkisian's offer to be his DC at Texas. This comes as news has been rumored that Saban may look at former NFL head coaches like Adam Gase or Bill O'Brien to replace Sark in T-Town. And that's with the knowledge that Tom Herman and Gus Malzahn are out there, although I'd have to believe that both of those dudes may take the year off — cash those hefty buyout checks — and look around for a HC gig next year. That is unless Pruitt gets fired.

 

Today's questions

True or false, it's Tuesday. Hi, Ernie.

True or false, the Falcons should take a QB at 4.

True or false, UT would be better off with Malzahn or Herman instead of Jeremy Pruitt.

True or false, Democrats sweep tonight in Georgia.

True or false, you liked the LeBatard Show.

You know the drill. Answer some T or Fs, leave some T or Fs.

Today is Bradley Cooper's 46th birthday. What's on Cooper's Rushmore, and yes, Wedding Crashers is an absolute must.

Go, and enjoy the day friends. And if you live in Georgia, go vote.

 

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