published Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

5 at 10: NFL power poll, Sandusky and Tyler Bray

From the "Al Davis Studios," here we go...

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    Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers waits to come onto the field before an NFL football game against the San Diego Chargers Sunday, Nov. 6, 2011 in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

NFL Power Poll

It's officially OK to start talking about the Green Bay Packers and perfection. After last night's thorough trouncing of Minnesota — granted the Vikings are bad, but truly great teams handle their BID-ness and move against dregs like that — the Pack and perfection can now be tossed around in the same sentence.

And if you believe nine wins is still too few to discuss running the table, think about it this way: Green Bay is the defending Super Bowl champ, it has the league's MVP in quarterback Aaron Rodgers, it has two of the league's top eight defensive players in Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews, it has the deepest receiving corps, it has a legit home-field advantage and four of its final seven games are at Lambeau and a true difference maker returning kicks in Randall Cobb. Let the discussion begin... perfectly.

Top 5

1) Green Bay: See above, and know the Pack's average margin of victory is 15 points.

2) San Fran: Yes, Alex Smith is still the QB, but the record is 8-1 and 8-1 is pretty stout.

3) Pittsburgh: The Steelers enter the bye week with the toughest part of their schedule in the rearview mirror and tied for the best record in the AFC. Here is your front-runner for home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs.

4) New England: The Patriots trucked the Jets on Sunday night in the easiest NFL bet in more than two years. In a pick 'em game, the only way take Mark Sanchez and Rex Ryan over Brady and Belichick is if you're going to a keg party.

5) New Orleans: Elite quarterback and elite coach always give the Saints a chance (having the opposing coach go for it on fourth down inside his 30 in overtime also helps).

Bottom 5

28) Washington: Hey isn't that the coach formerly known as Mike Shanahan? When your quarterback controversy is between Rex Grossman and John Beck then that's not a debate, that's desperation.

29) Carolina: Are the Panthers better with Cam Newton? Yes they are. Are they still bad with Cam Newton? Yes they are.

30) St. Louis: The Rams had high hopes before injuries to their starting QB, best RB and top WR left them punchless.

31) Miami: The Dolphins have won two straight games, but the teeth of their schedule is in front of them. Ouch.

1,348) Indianapolis: What else is there to say at this point? Friend of the show Jomo remains a big Colts fan, so there's no doubting his loyalty.

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    Former Penn State football defensive coordinator Gerald "Jerry" Sandusky, center, arrives in handcuffs at the office of Centre County Magisterial District Judge Leslie A. Dutchcot. (AP Photo/The Patriot-News, Andy Colwell)

He said WHAT

Here we were, the 5-at-10 going to call it an early night Monday. Kids were in the bed, we had finished our Cinderfella chores and the Packers were rolling on Monday Night Football. (Quick side notes about the MNF telecasts: Jon Gruden seems angry in the pregame clips, and if we had that awful haircut, we probably would be too. And does Ron Jaworski get paid extra every time he says the word "football." As in "We are watching football players make football plays and that's the great thing about the National Football League." He may have Tourettes but instead of cuss words he tosses out, "football.")

Anyhoo, so were about to call it a night and then we see on NBC that Bob Costas is interviewing Jerry Sandusky over the phone on NBC. Sweet buckets of unbelievability, it almost made the 5-at-10's head pop clean off. Costas is talking to the current face of evil in the country and Sandusky is professing his innocence. And yes, every one is due his or her day in court and everyone is granted the truly American assumption of innocent until proven guilty, but egads, the interview was like something out of a Hannibal Lector transcript.

And while the 5-at-10 is proud to be an American — cue Lee Greenwood — and embraces the "innocent until proven guilty" rule, Sandusky may be the exception. There's no other way around it, we think he did it and should be punished to the full extent of the law. And while Sandusky said "No," when Costas asked him point-blank if he was a pedophile, the New York Times reported on its website that authorities have found 10 more victims making claims that Sandusky sexually abused them.

Here are some Sandusky quotes:

From the AP story on the interview with Costas and NBC: "I am innocent of those charges," the 67-year-old Sandusky said. "... I could say that I have done some of those things. I have horsed around with kids. I have showered after workouts. I have hugged them, and I have touched their legs without intent of sexual contact."

Asked whether he was sexually attracted to underaged boys, he said "Sexually attracted, no. I enjoy young people, I love to be around them, but, no, I'm not sexually attracted to young boys."

Asked if there was anything he had done wrong, Sandusky said, "I shouldn't have showered with those kids."

To make matters worse, here's a quote from Sandusky's attorney, Joe Amendola, who professed his belief that Sandusky is innocent and even said he'd allow for his kids to be around Sandusky, who has been ordered by the court to avoid being unsupervised around Sandusky's grandkids: "Jerry Sandusky is a big overgrown kid," Amendola said. "He's a jock, and for anybody who's ever played sports, you get showers after you work out."

Wow. Just flippin' wow. The 5-at-10 has been called a big overgrown kid and we've played a lot of sports. We've even been called a jock in good ways and bad, but where in that code does showering with 10-year-olds fit into the equation, never mind the other stuff that Sandusky has been charged with.

One more from Sandusky, this one on the now famous incident in the shower that then-PSU grad assistant Mike McQueary saw and shared with Joe Paterno which was collectively ignored by the higher-ups at Penn State, including Paterno: "We were showering and horsing around, and he actually turned all the showers on and was actually sliding across the floor, and we were, as I recall, possibly like snapping a towel -- horseplay," Sandusky said.

Two quick points: First, after all the grief and angst this has caused Joe Pa and Penn State — and deservedly so, mind you — if there was a single shred of possibility that Sandusky was not the monster we envision him to be, is it not reasonable to believe that someone at Penn State would have said, "Hey, we looked in to it and don't think Jerry did this," at some point along the way.

Second, when Sandusky gets put in GenPop at a maximum security facility somewhere in the great state of Pennsylvania, and shower time comes rolling around, do you think the term "horseplay" is going to be used?

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    Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray takes the ball against Buffalo in October.
    Photo by Jake Daniels /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Bray to play?

Our UT ace Downtown Patrick Brown shares the news of the day in Knoxville here http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2011/nov/15/bray-possible-to-face-vandy/ that University of Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray has been cleared to practice and could play Saturday against Vandy.

Bray broke his thumb late in the loss to Georgia, and the results without the lanky 6-foot-6 sophomore have been less than pretty for the Tennessee offense. The Vols are 1-4 in the five games since Bray was injured and are 0-4 in SEC games. UT has scored a grand total of 47 points in those five games, and 24 of them came in the win over MTSU. Ouch.

So Bray's return simply has to be a jolt of enthusiasm for the fan base and for the offense in general, right? Right? It's hard to remember a time that Johnny Vols Fans everywhere were this downtrodden. Our frinds at SportTalk have noticed it, there's not a lot of energy and buzz right now, and that's understandable considering the struggles of the last 36 months — it was three years ago this month that Phil Fulmer was fired and the Vols then lost to Wyoming.

But now Vandy comes to Knoxville favored to win the game. Read that again. Yes, we talked about it some yesterday, but it's still hard to fathom, right?

Our man Downtown Patrick Brown believes a healthy Bray makes the Vols a much, Much, MUCH better team, and we trust Downtown's view. But let's assume that Bray plays and he is not rusty. The defense is still struggling. Special teams are less than good. And the next time UT has a productive running game will be the first this year. So yes, Bray definitely helps (if for no other reason than a 75-percent Bray has to be better than what the Vols are getting from Matt Simms and Justin Worley), but is it enough?

—————

This and that

— Your UTC Mocs play at Butler tonight, and by now everyone know that the Butler Bulldogs a) are the mid-major superpower that has made back-to-back NCAA title games and b) play their home games at Hinkle Arena, the venue that served as the backdrop for the state title game when the barely big enough for three syllables Hickory Huskers topped the mighty Bears of South Bend Central, enrollment 2,800 in "Hoosiers." Seems like the Mocs are ready to play according to UTC hoop ace David Uchiyama's story here http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2011/nov/15/mocs-play-in-national-landmark/. There's no word whether UTC coach John Shulman had Chris Early lift Keegan Bell up on his shoulders to measure the height of the rim at Hinkle or whether Omar Wattad screamed "Hixson" into the rafters.

— One of the friends of the show has passed along the tip that Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn and North Carolina are doing some heavy flirting right now. There are three big jobs open — Penn State, UNC and Ole Miss — and Malzahn will be a hot name again this offseason. We'll see.

— The NBA players rejected the owners offer. The players felt insulted. NBA commissioner David Stern said the league is about to enter nuclear winter. OK, nuclear winter does not sound like a good thing when it comes to sports leagues. The 5-at-10's thought on this is simple: Out of sight, out of mind. NBA, you've been warned.

— Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel was chosen as the NL rookie of the year. It was the correct choice, and if Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez had not over-taxed the bullpen by mid-August, Kimbrel's numbers would have been historic.

— The Tennessee Titans' playoff push just got a shot in the arm when it was announced Houston quarterback Matt Schaub will miss the rest of the season. The Titans are 5-4 trail Houston by two games in the AFC South. Either way, Mike Munchak and his staff have done an amazing job — far better than the 5-at-10 expected. In fact, five wins is more than we expected out of that bunch in 2011 and 2012 combined and here we sit. Mike Munchak, please accept the 5-at-10's apology. We were wrong (and the stupid TFP Sports Editor made us write all that negative stuff, anyway).

————

Today's question

We talked about it a bit up top, but let's go a round deeper.

If Tyler Bray plays, is Vandy still the favored team, even though Bray has not played since early October? Can UT score 21 points against a Vandy defense that has been tough all season and especially good against the pass? Is this the low point for UT football (of course a loss to Vandy would mean Sunday would be the low point)?

What say you Johnny Vols Fan, are you worried, anxious, irritated that anyone thinks Vandy is coming to Knoxville and will win? Does Bray mean that much to the team in general?

Bring it.

Discuss.

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

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Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
jharvey1984 said...

I am seriously concerned...we need this win. I conservatively give us 3 points if Bray plays. Even without. We will see.

November 15, 2011 at 10:28 a.m.
Salsa said...

Tennessee football hasn't been this far down since Johnny Majors took over as coach. People tend to forget how bad the first 4 or 5 seasons under Majors were. As I recall, Johhny only won 4 games in his first season and only won 5 game the second year.

November 15, 2011 at 10:45 a.m.
jgreeson said...

jharvey —

Your concern is valid on a lot of fronts, especially in regard to the buzz Franklin is creating in Nashville. UT does need this win. BIG. And that's not even mentioning the bowl hopes are on the line.

Salsa —

The first few years of Majors were bad, and you're right about the win total those first two years.

But, Majors had a national title on his resume with Pitt before coming home to Knoxville and you got the feeling those Vols were getting better. Can you say the same about Year 2 of Dooley's Vols?

— 5-at-10

November 15, 2011 at 11:39 a.m.
memphisexile said...

I have watched a few Vandy games this year, and while they seem vastly improved, Vanderbilt always seems to find a way to lose in crucial games. I think UT wins a close one.

November 15, 2011 at 12:09 p.m.
chas9 said...

Right now, in an early start, two of the top three men's college basketball teams in Tennessee are locked in a close game at the half. Vandy's not playing. I'm not sure who the state's 4th best team is.

November 15, 2011 at 1 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Exile —

Concur 100-percent. Vandy is better — and Jordan Rodgers is playing like an upper-tier SEC QB (especially this year since other than Arkansas and Georgia, everyone is shuffling QBs because of stinky-ness or injury) — but will they pull a Vandy?

If Bray plays, we think UT wins. But only if Bray plays.

9er —

No doubt Belmont and Memphis can play. We may learn who is the state's fourth-best team early next month when UT and UTC play.

Giddy-up.

— 5-at-10

November 15, 2011 at 1:23 p.m.
fechancellor said...

Vandy comes into this contest needing one win with two possibilities remaining to become bowl eligible. For Vandy on Saturday, taking care of business in Neyland Stadium is much preferred than a fight against Wake Forrest at home.

For the Orange, each game is an elimination game; since Vandy and Kentucky must each go down to get the Vols to whatever sundry bowl that will have them. Doubtful anyone at Vandy entertains any thoughts to making its stand with Wake Forrest next week win this week, the first of two bowl eligible games,

With or without Tyler Bray, the Vols average on the ground limps in at 2.72 per rush, 919 total yards, 91.9 yards per game. Tennessee rushing offence is abysmal, and no freshmen quarterback sitting on the side lines for several games will change this fact in one game.

Vandy’s overall Rushing Defense all clocks in at an impressive 129.9 per game. At home the Commodores are a stellar 106.86 against the rush. The only crack in the Commodores’ rushing defense totals 160 yds. on the road.

Bottom line: Vandy has some reasons to swagger this year with every chance to stop Tennessee’s anemic efforts on the ground and limit opportunities in the air just like everyone else has done.

The Vols, instead, are 0-6 in the SEC bucking for 0-7 in conference, setting yet a new record for failure at Tennessee.

Vanderbilt -4

November 15, 2011 at 1:36 p.m.
chas9 said...

Maybe we'll have a 4th best this evening. UTC could beat Butler, MTSU could upset UCLA, or Peay could take down Cal (not John). It's basketball time in Tennessee!

November 15, 2011 at 1:39 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

As implausible as any of Sandusky's excuses are, if he's truthful about joepa (he's lost the capital letter privilege) never discussing the matter with him, even after joepa was made aware of inappropriate behavior, then every penn state fan bellowing about joepa being dumped should shut their piehole.

November 15, 2011 at 1:44 p.m.
Livn4life said...

Agreed that if Bray plays and does not get injured/reinjured, the Vols win. If he doesn't we sort of know how it will go based on how it has gone in every game except the MTSU one which went similar to all the bad ones in the second half. Packers look solid. I am amazed they have kept up the pace and do not see anyone stopping them in the playoffs barring injuries or just a stinky game. Kudos to the 9-ers who have already shown a lot.

November 15, 2011 at 1:45 p.m.
jgreeson said...

FE to the C —

What are you doing going off and getting stats and bringing in logic? How does that help?

Seriously, those points are well made and lead us to ask — Is this the worst running game ever at UT?

9er —

Great idea. You're charge of keeping stats and we'll have a state poll every Monday. Deal?

Spy —

Here's another point about Sandusky — when asked whether he was sexually atracted to young boys, he needed 17 seconds before telling Costas no. How long would it take you to answer that question — about 0.0004 seconds, right?

joepa is not welcome here anymore.

Livin —

Concur on every point, and the Packers success and the 49ers rebirth shows the value of a great head coach in the NFL.

— 5-at-10

November 15, 2011 at 2:03 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Can we talk about just how really weak the SEC East is? Vandy is the second best team for crying out loud. We're not talking Quiz Bowl (Emory and Berry were both really good, by the way). We're talking college football. How lucky is Georgia that its SEC West foes do not include LSU, Bammie or Arkansas this year?

They're going to back into the SEC East title game, then Arkansas is going to pull off a Hail Mary miracle to beat LSU and your SEC championship game is Arkansas and Georgia. I guess the best subplot is Bobby Petrino coming back to the Georgia Dome. If the earth was ever going to open up in one spot and swallow one dude whole, Bobby Petrino at the Dome would be my first pick. Or Brian VanGorder.

November 15, 2011 at 2:51 p.m.
Walden said...

The prospect of a Fall/Winter/Spring without an NBA season is too joyous for words!

November 15, 2011 at 4:10 p.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

Your UGA Bulldogs certainly caught a break facing the Bumbling Mississippi brothers and the worst Auburn game not involving Tony Franklin in the last decade.

Which earns more coin Bobby Petrino in dunk booth filled with lava in the ATL or BVG in the same dunk booth in Statesboro?

Walden —

Got to admit, have not heard from many folks who are concerned about not getting their NBA fix.

— 5-at-10

November 15, 2011 at 4:48 p.m.
mack11 said...

@Blspby4 If Ark beats LSU, Bama will go to the SEC title game, not the razorbacks (given that Bama beats Aub on the plains).

November 15, 2011 at 5 p.m.
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