Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) calls a play during an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints, Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman)

NFL power poll

Before we get started today, know this. The 'T' on my keyboard is working about 50% of the time. Or 50% of the ime, depending on whether spellcheck on our crack editing team catches it.

So there's that.

Want to know what else works close to half the time? Trying to figure which of these NFL teams are good. Yes, one crazy Sunday in November does not mean the Cowboys are going to fold or the Bills are going to bench Josh Allen.

(Side question: Early true or false — it is a Tuesday, right Ern? — Josh Allen getting sacked by Josh Allen is cooler than Will Smith hitting a home run off Will Smith. Discuss.)

What is crazy though, is that the Chiefs went from Super Bowl contenders to fringe playoff team in a matter of weeks and without a significant injury to a significant piece.

With that, let's make like an EPB lineman and get to the poll.

1 Arizona. Speaking of awards and kudos, how about Arizona GM Steve Keim as the executive of the year. The Cardinals plowed through a COVID outbreak among its coaching staff and won. Last week with Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins on the shelf, the Cardinals kept winning with an impressive showing of depth.  

2 Tampa Bay. We asked this Monday, but it feels more pertinent here: Is Tom Brady the MVP right now? And if that holds true at the end of next month, would this be the greatest accomplishment for a post-40-year-old athlete ever? I say yes and yes to that. And add this scary fact to those looking to unseat the defending Super Bowl champs: The Bucs have only two opponents left on the schedule with better than .500 records — New Orleans and Buffalo — and both of those games are in Tampa.

3 Green Bay. What's the over/under on the scorched Earth Aaron Rodgers performance Sunday at home against Seattle? This feels like a 350-passing yards, five-TD showing and then a Marshawn Lynch-like postgame presser waiting to happen, right?

4 Tennessee. Feels a little high considering the injury to the Titans most important player. But dang, that defense is built around the fundamental brilliance of pressuring the quarterback with just four.

5 Los Angeles Rams. Hey, how about that Cooper Kupp? Seriously. Heading into the second half of the season, Kupp is posting mind-bending numbers. He leads the NFL with 1,019 receiving yards and 10 touchdown catches. In nine games, mind you.


28 New York Jets. You have to wonder if the Jets will follow the Cardinals lead. Remember, it was not that long ago that the Cardinals took Josh Rosen in the first round with a top-10 pick in the 2018 draft. I love the draft; you know this. Well, the Cardinals realized Rosen was a mistake and took Kyler Murray No. 1 overall the following year. If Zach Wilson is not the guy, in this day and age and the importance of maximizing a rookie QB contract, the Jets may go QB again.

29 Jacksonville. Man, Urban Liar needs to send Aaron Rodgers a thank you card. Since the Packers QB has taken the league's Pinnochio honors for the time being the Jags quietly toppled the Bills. So there's that.

30 Miami. So, the Dolphins are finding success with one former Alabama star while the jury is still out on another Tide alum. Jaylen Waffle is on track to catch 112 passes this season, which would break the rookie mark of 101 set by Anquan Boldin. As for the guy throwing a majority of those passes, Tua continues to have trouble staying on the field.

31 Houston. I'm pretty sure that if you can't beat a 2-7 Miami bunch when the Dolphins are turning to their back-up QB, well, the season is all but done, right?

32 Detroit. So the Lions are speeding to the No. 1 overall pick in a year when there's not a true No. 1 overall contender. Yep, that's life as a Lions fan.


Calling all cars

OK, the NFL week ended with an enjoyable Monday game. (Yes, it would have been more fun if the Mannings had been involved, but that's the truth whether we're talking NFL, Cornhole or making cornbread for that matter.)

But the biggest call of the game was not a fourth-down try or a trick play.

The Steelers benefited from a controversial taunting call against a Bears defensive player after a late fourth-quarter sack. The call — which was made because of something said and not because of gestures or antics — moved the Steelers into field goal range and allowed them to take a 26-20 lead in a game they eventually won 29-26.

(Yes, for those of us on the Bears and the over, it was a fun time all around.)

It feels like the calls are getting worse. And the missed calls — like the missed facemask call near the end of the UK-UT game Saturday night — are more pronounced.

Not sure if that's fair, since it could very well be that we now have more and more replays from a variety of angles. And we, in no way, could hear what the Bears player said to get the taunting flag Monday night.

But, as we get ready for the ever-souring world of college basketball officiating to take center stage tonight, the consensus is pretty clear: The officiating has never been as bad as it is right now.

And with the huge stakes of sports betting becoming more and more mainstream and commonplace across the country, the appearance of impropriety is almost as bad as the presence of impropriety.


Ball is tipped

OK, we offered college hoops storylines on Monday.

Let's roll with some predictions today. Deal? Deal.

UTC wins 25 games and the SoCon tournament. That's the good news. The bad for the Blue and Gold brigade: Lamont Paris becomes one of those names on the search scene and will be offered a couple of bigger jobs. (Side note: Gene Henley's story on UTC transfer Silvio De Sousa is worth your time this morning.)

Eight SEC teams dance.    

Duke loses in the Elite Eight. To Kentucky. On a buzzer beater, almost 30 years to the day after Laettner's shot in 1992.

UT also falls in the Elite Eight, losing to the other UT.

Gonzaga makes the Final Four but does not win it all. Again. The Zags lose to UK, which loses to your national champion Purdue Boilermakers, who eliminated the Mocs in the second round in a 2-10 match-up.



This and that

— Gang, we need nominations for this week's 5-at-10 Bracket Challenge, which is veering from football this week. So, after the memorable run to the crown, we're looking for who is the most popular Atlanta Braves player ever. Thoughts? Nominate here.

— And while my homerish self would have voted for Auburn, the voting held pretty true and accurate for the best college stadium atmosphere in the most recently completed Bracket vote. The winner? Vader's Tiger Stadium at LSU.

— How about some crazy NFL stats that popped off the page during my morning poll research? Cool. Did you know that the Patriots are 5-4 and 0-4 in Foxboro? Did you know that the Steelers are 5-3 but have a minus-8 point differential? Or that the Falcons are at .500 and have a negative-45 point differential?

— Speaking of the Mannings, the entire family signed a deal with Caesars Sportsbook. So there's that. Bet they are getting some sizable coin, no?

— Also, speaking of the Monday night game, it was a loss, yes, but Justin Fields sure looked the part leading the Bears back from an early 14-3 hole.

— Here's Paschall's prose on the QB success stories in K-town and Athens.


Today's questions

True or false, UTC is tournament bound.

True or false, you are already tired of the Catch K farewell.

True or false, Tom Brady is going to win the MVP.

True or false, Chipper is the man to beat in the most popular Atlanta Braves player voting.

As for today, well David Duvall is 50. Thought he would have had a better career.

Also, Lou Ferrigno — aka TV's Hulk — turns 70 today.

Rushmore of TV superheroes. Go.