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Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) throw a pass during the second half of an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)

NFL power poll

So, the GOATs played. It came and went and you know who the big winner was?

The Pats fans. Not only in the two decades that Bill Belichick and Tom Brady were together, but in how they handled themselves Sunday night.

It was the most expensive regular-season ticket since Jordan's farewell tour. It was pouring down rain. And they gave Tom a fitting tribute before the game and then tried to help the Pats every way they could during the game. Well played indeed.

Side note: And yes, I believe Belichick is the GOAT of NFL coaches. Just like I believe Nick Saban is GOAT of college football coaches, even though Saban's record outside of Alabama is good to really good at his various stops. The numbers tell the story more for coaches than anyone else, including QBs. And while I see BeardDawg's point, the GOAT is about legacy and resume.

Is Sean McVay or Andy Reid or Mike Holgren or whomever coach who was an offensive whiz kid a better Xs and Os guy than Belichick. Maybe.

But Belichick is closer to BOAT (best of all time) considering his elite levels of defensive acumen than Brady is in my opinion. Because I think I can name a half-dozen QBs who played the position better than Brady, they just don't have the longevity, the stats or the titles.

In their prime would you take Brady or Manning?

Brady or Rodgers? Brady or Elway or Steve Young or Montana?

Plus, let's not forget what he did with the Giants defenses for Parcells back in the day.

But, as we do on Tuesdays, we look at the power rankings across the league, and friends, it's still a QB-driven league. Period. Look at the top, where it's either all-timers, potential all-timers or A1 starters still on rookie deals, which remains the best asset in the (cue Ron Jaworski) NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE.

Like Admiral Byrd told his weary exploring mates, let's get to the poll.

Top 5

1. Arizona. The league's only unbeaten team has an MVP candidate pulling the trigger on a rookie deal. And the huge bonus of Kyler Murray's affordability? The bevy of pass catchers at his disposal.

2. Tampa Bay. Brady is the GOAT. But where does Gronk rank? Is he the Rodgers to Tony Gonzalez' Brady? Discuss. That said, Gronk's absence Sunday night was quite telling.

3. Green Bay. Hello Aaron Rodgers. Remember way back when we wondered if the Packers and Rodgers thing was already washed? No? Yeah, it was three weeks ago.

4. Los Angeles Chargers. Justin Herbert is legit, and has improved at a rate I certainly did not expect. But he's far from my worst QB draft analysis. I love the draft; you know this. No, my worst draft take on a current QB was on —

5. Buffalo. Or Tatanka as I like to call them. Oh you, Josh Allen, you fooled so many of us with your college completion percentage in the mid-50s and your 21 interceptions in two Mountain West seasons. And I thought it was going to be mea culpa time. But the breakdowns of the 2018 draft were not as bad as I thought. (And going into the draft, I was not as high on Allen as some, but I was higher on Lamar than a good number of folks.)

Bottom 5

28. Pittsburgh. Yes, the Giants and the Jets moved from the bottom rung to off the powerless poll entirely. That may be a bit much. But having a conversation about the Steelers is past due. And it all hinges on the quarterback. Because friends, Big Ben Roethlisberger is now officially Bad Ben Roethlisberger. And not in a good way.

29. Atlanta. Wanna guess which team has the worst scoring margin in the NFL? Nope, it's not the Canton Bulldogs. It's your Atlanta Falcons, who hold a narrow and improbable win over the also 1-3 Giants. Atlanta has allowed a league-worst 128 points (yeah that's almost 33 per game) and are negative-50 in scoring differential.

30. Houston. How many teams have two quarterbacks better than Texans starter Davis Mills? I'd say several, including the Texans, who are not playing Deshaun Watson for his off-the-field controversy and lost Tyrod Taylor to injury.      

31. Detroit. Between the Pistons, Tigers and Lions — never mind the Harbaugh disappointments at Ann Arbor — is there a cursed fan like the current Detroit sports fan? Discuss.

32. Jacksonville. Bagel-and-4 and now Coach Urban Liar is apologizing for being out at the dance club. Man, Jules knows Coach Liar be Fancy Like Applebee's on a date night.

 

Landmark win

NASCAR has been better this year than in recent years past.

At least that's what J-Mac shares with the group. This week, after a dreaded rain-forced Monday finish, the sport found itself in a moment in which history, irony and timing collided in the Terence Mann in "Field of Dreams," Cosmic tumblers sort of way.

Bubba Wallace became the first Black driver to win a NASCAR race since 1963.

He did it at Talladega, the track where a form of a noose was fashioned at the end of the pull rope on a garage door in the pits this time last year. He did it in a rain-shortened finish, but the soggy conditions did not dampen the moment or its magnitude.

In fact, almost everything was perfect about Wallace's landmark victory, including the even smaller details.

Like the act that it brought back the discussion of how Wendell Scott's historic win in 1963 was all but covered up and buried in the history books until well into the 2000s. Like the fact that it was by a Black man they call Bubba — a forever good ol' boy name — and whose last name is Wallace in the state of Alabama, where another man named Wallace likely was rolling over in his hate-filled grave.

Like the fact, that Bubba has handled a tumultuous year of needed and dramatic change in our country's most Southern sport with the class and dignity that demands a lifetime of respect.

And, like the fact that Wallace's historic win at the famed Talladega track allowed him to accept the checkered flag, and on this rain-soaked Monday, those intertwined black and white squares take on an added significance.

 

To 'Er' in baseball is divine

Regulars around these parts know how much I love the 'er' months — September, October and even November if needed — when it comes to baseball.

It's when the marathon becomes a sprint and then becomes a bare-knuckle fight to be the last one standing.

It starts tonight with the best rivalry in the sport in a one-game, win-or-turn-in-the-gear setting.

And it happens with legalized betting in Tennessee for the first time for the baseball playoffs.

Baseball bets are endless.

Gerrit Cole strikeouts.

Rafeal Devers over/under a wide-range of RBIs.

Winner in the first 5 innings. The first 7 innings. If you can think of it, you probably can bet on it.

So whatcha like friends? Well, here are some details that the smart money knows about the matchups between the hitters and Boston starter Nathan Eovaldi and Yankees starter Cole:

Aaron Judge is hitting .391 with a 101.7 exit velocity against Eovaldi. Gary Sanchez is on the opposite end of that spectrum with two hits in 17 at-bats (.118) and a paltry 84.8 EV.

For Boston, only one Red Sox regular with more than five ABs vs. Cole has an average north of .286. That's Enrique Hernandez, who is 5-for-11 vs. Cole. On the power side, Devers has three homers vs. Cole and J.D. Martinez has two. I'll take the Yankees tonight in a close one.

 

This and that

— Here's today's A2 column.

— You know the rules. Here's Paschall on a lot of ins and outs around the UT Vols.

— Speaking of college football, remember to nominate your pick for the most passionate rivalry in all of college football in this week's 5-at-10 Bracket Challenge.

— Also, should have mentioned it Monday, but that was a nice win for the Mocs on Saturday.

— Man, Mean Gene Hackman gave his first public interview in quite a while on the 50th anniversary of "The French Connection."

 

Today's question

True or false, it's a Tuesday. I say true.

Throwback — in one of the draft analyses above, I asked "True or false, Lamar Jackson will have a better career than Josh Allen." Is that, to this point, true or false?

True or false, you watched way, Way, WAY less of Monday night football without the Mannings.

True or false, Bubba Wallace is one of three current NASCAR drivers you can name (non-J-Mac division).

True or false, Yankees-Red Sox is the best current rivalry in American pro sports.

As for today, Oct. 5, let's review.

Steve Jobs died on this day in 2011. Rodney Dangerfield died on this day in 2004.

Kate Winslet is 46.

That said, with our earlier reference to show favorite Gene Hackman and "The French Connection," does Hackman's hat in that glorious flick make the Rushmore of movie hats, non-sports division? Discuss.

Go, and enjoy the day.

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