Gang, get to smiling. It's Christmas time.
From the "Talks too much" studios, let's deck the halls. Fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la.
NFL Power Poll
There is so much that goes into crafting a winner in the NFL. (Cue Ron Jaworski... "The NATIONAL Football League" really seems to fit there.)
Look at the elite teams in the league. There is good-to-elite quarterback play. Notice we said quarterback play, and not merely a good-to-elite quarterback. There's a difference. Ask Kansas City, which is 11-3 and looming and lurking in an effort to sneak in and grab home-field advantage from the Denver Broncos. No one is ever going to say Kansas City starter Alex Smith is a good-to-elite quarterback, but he's playing at a good-plus level and that's enough. (And when you can throw screen pass after screen pass against Oakland and Jamal Charles turns them into TD after TD, well, that's a bonus. Do the Raiders even practice? Egad. It's not like the Chiefs ran some fancy set and called some play like "The Annexation of Puerto Rico." No they threw swing passes and screens.)
Good NFL teams also are tough. They're tough against pressure and injury and almost any situation. They deliver in moments that matter and they matter in moments in which they need to deliver.
They survive and recover from road bumps and avoid making them road blocks. Were the Week 15 struggles of the Broncos, Patriots and Saints hurdles to clear or obstacles that could derail the dream? We believe in each case those were the former because each of those clubs have the look of toughness.
What about the other fringe teams? What about the collections of stars in Dallas and Detroit and Cincinnati? The disappointments of late-season lost opportunities could be spring boards or anchors. Each of these sums appear to be less than the shine of their parts, and more times than not that's a lack of leadership, either from the coaching staff or from within, and frequently can be both.
That said, look at the two Super Bowl favorites from the NFC in Seattle and San Fran. Those teams headed East and handled inferior foes with a business-like approach and a toughness that portends good-to-elite things.
3) New England
5) San Francisco
Bottom five (with draft spot)
28) Jacksonville (No. 5 overall)
29) Atlanta (No. 3 overall — tied)
30) Oakland (No. 3 overall — tied)
31) Washington (No first-round pick; No. 2 overall pick would go to St. Louis)
32) Houston (No. 1 overall)
We are in the process of finalizing the bowl contest. We are going online and doing it through ESPN.com. We are also doing it in conjunction with Press Row, the 3-6 p.m. sports show that features SEC Rainman David Paschall and that-always-clever TFP sports editor, ole whoshispants.
We'll provide a link this afternoon. We're pretty excited and everyone is welcome to play. We'll post the results here.
That said, as we were doing our morning digging on the interweb, we noticed that tickets to the BCS title game between FSU and Auburn are pretty pricey. Sweet buckets, the parking passes are going for $300-plus on TicketCity.com. The tickets start at $774 and elevate from there, and yes there is a suite available with 24 tickets that, including tax and handling and FREE shipping, will run you a total of $175,343.
Thank goodness the shipping's free, huh? Heck, that would even make $7 million man Nick Saban wonder if it's worth it.
The other end of that spectrum is Central Florida looking at anything possible to move Fiesta Bowl tickets and that there are more than 400 Texas Bowl tickets available on the interweb for the cost of a Subway footlong.
Starting tomorrow, we'll rank the bowls and offer up tidbits on each so you can be smart at various holiday parties and events.
Guess who's coming to meeting
In arguable the most puzzling invite in recent college football, Lane Kiffin was asked to swing by the Alabama offices and review the Tide offense.
The man who invited the former UT and USC boy blunder? None other than Mr. Nick Saban himself.
What could those cats have in common, other than an intense love of Oatmeal Creme Pies (seriously, if you do not love Oatmeal Creme Pies, then the terrorists have won; you down with OCP? You know this) and a potentially blinding hate from every Johnny Vols Fan everywhere.
Still, wonder where Lane Kiffin will land? He has been rumored as a possible OC at Florida, but that seems like a huge risk for Will Muschamp who has the hottest seat in the country and needs a home run hire in regard to production.
This and that
— The junior college all-american team was announced Monday. Here's the link. Defensive tackle Owen Williams — a UT commit — made the second team.
— Good Monday night game with Baltimore beating Detroit on a 61-yard field goal. And was it us or did Calvin Johnson look old? Kidding, kidding. Mostly. And some of the headlines for Justin Tucker, the Ravens kicker who has made 33 consecutive field goals, including all six in last night's 18-16 win, were awesome. Legatron was one we saw retweeted by Kelley Smiddie which was especially good.
— From the tough night files, Cincinnati punter Kevin Huber lived the nightmare in Pittsburgh on Sunday night. First he dropped a snapped and was tackled at the 1 that led to an easy Steelers TD. Steelers return ace Antonio Brown ran back Huber's next punt for a TD and on that play Huber was lit up by Terence Garvin helmet to chest de-cleater. Huber broke his jaw on the play — he left the field with blood streaming from his mouth. Today we learned that Huber also broke a vertebrae. Tough times indeed. And amazingly, there was no flag on the play, which begs the question "Is the NFL concerned with player safety or stars' safety?" Discuss.
— Have you seen the video of Jason Dufner making the single worst birdie putt ever? Here it is and who said everything was going Auburn's way this fall?
There's a slew to discuss.
Is Nick Saban worth $7 million?
Also did you see that Google released some of it's most used searches: Most searched athlete in the U.S. was Aaron Hernandez.
If you still need a talking point, well, the newest additions to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame were announced Tuesday morning. Here's the list of the nominees:
The Paul Butterfield Blues Band
Hall and Oates
LL Cool J
Of that group, Nirvana, KISS, Peter Gabriel, Hall and Oates, Linda Ronstadt and Cat Stevens made the cut. Thoughts?
First, if you have 16 nominees and six make the cut, that's not exactly select is it?
And while the name is "Rock and Roll" Hall of Fame, if they are taking rap artists — and they are — there is no comparing the careers of LL Cool J and Cat Stevens. Sorry. And there's no comparing groups NWA — which included industry giants Dre and Ice Cube — and Hall and Flippin' Oates. Seriously? Maneater made the Hall and NWA got skipped.
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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We are still crafting the bowl contest and we are pledging a 60-percent rate against the spread. So there's that.