Slant Pattern Mailbag

It's time for another edition of the Slant Pattern mailbag. As always, I do not receive questions myself, so I poach questions from other columns.

This week, we will start off with Brett Durland, who asks Albert Breer at SI, "For fun, if A-Rod went to Denver today, do you see them as being strong enough to actually compete with KC this year?"

On paper, no. Despite losing the Super Bowl, I still the the Chiefs are the best team in the NFL, and I think it would take more than this particular upgrade at quarterback to draw Denver close to Kansas City.

I love the fit, though. I am flagellating myself already giving such ridiculous intangibles (to put it kindly) the light of day but, it kind of feels like there's this mythos around the Broncos, like the universe won't allow them to stay bad for too terribly long. The salary structure of the NFL is as such that several teams will surprise us with how good or bad they are anyway. Why not the Broncos?

One word of caution is that Rodgers is 37, so he is going to hit a wall, whether it's this year or in 2027. I know Tom Brady has us thinking quarterbacks are good forever now, but he's the exception, not the rule.

Over at the Andy Staples column at The Athletic (here, I'm pulling from his submitted questions, not his final column), Gene W asks: "Every once in awhile, college football games are scheduled at 'neutral' locations that carry some a 'wow' factor for interest. For example, Northwestern and Purdue will play at Wrigley Field this year. Would you please list your favorite 'neutral' locations, past, future or dream, that carry a 'wow' factor for a college football game?"

Ooh, I like this question! As far as "future or dream" (and it's the latter, as this will never happen), let's have a college football game on an aircraft carrier. But not one docked in San Diego or Annapolis, oh no. Drive it out to the most remote patch of the Pacific. No fans, just the teams, staff, camera crew, and the of course the carrier crew.

How's that for a truly neutral venue with some possible character-building adverse conditions thrown in?

As far as real life venues, I will go with the Pinstripe Bowl in Yankee Stadium, because dammit, the snow-covered parts of the country deserve bowl games and Super Bowls too. I know sponsor bigwigs and Peter King want it to be a joint football-game/warm weather vacation, always, but the East and Midwest is much a part of the heart and soul of football as anywhere else.

Staying with the Staples' submission column, Steve W. asks, "Andy, if someone were to tell you that the expanded playoff proposal will be adopted, but with one significant change relative to what has been reported about it, what do you think that would be? For example, eight or 16 teams rather than 12? Guaranteed bids for P5 champs? No auto-bids for anyone for any reason? Neutral sites for all the games? Or for none? Something else? IOWs, what aspect of the current proposal seems most likely to be changed to you?"

It'd be automatic bids for P5 teams. As much as we hanker for a G5 place at the table, nothing happens without the P5 say-so, so whatever the next move is (if there is one on the heels of this proposal), expect it to be P5 friendly.

That said, I doubt we will see any significant changes to the new proposal before it is implemented. Longer term, I anticipate a further expansion to 16 teams at some point. That's what the powers that be do with playoffs, they expand them. Look at every major North American team sport in both the pros and college. I welcome this trend. It's better to dis the maybe-16th-best team in the the country then the maybe-4th.

We will close it out with this question from Brendan Quinn's golf mailbag at the Athletic. Diarmuid C. asks, "If you had to have another international major, where in the world would you put it and which existing one would you cancel? Or alternatively, can you see the tour moving to a fifth major in an attempt to counteract interest in the Premier League Golf project?"

First, I am skeptical the Golf Premier League is even going to succeed, never mind force the hand of the PGA and other golf governing bodies so drastically. In terms of eliminating a major and adding another somewhere else, as a thought exercise, here's what I'd do.

Eliminating the U.S. Open and the British Open are out of the question. I'd like to eliminate the Masters, both because they have to be dragged kicking and screaming into even the 20th century and it's less fun having a major at the same venue every year, but I will keep my politics out of my answer, I know how special the Masters is to a lot of people.

That leaves the PGA Championship. If you are not even among the top two majors in your own country, then you have to get the boot.

I'd add a major in Australia, as they seem the most deserving to me, given the number of successful golfers they have created. It would certainly not be the most profitable place to add a major — the European Tour has cut back on the Australian events, and the Australian TV networks have not been kicking and screaming for rights to Aussie tournaments — but fortunately, you didn't ask me the most profitable place to add a major.

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