Archive for September, 2009

Falcons, Dogs, Jackets each have questions to answer

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Ryan goes on road for first time since playoff loss.

It says right here that the Falcons, Georgia and Georgia Tech all have a good chance to win this week. Wait. What am I saying? I’ve already guaranteed all three are going to win in this week’s financial (though occasionally jammed) locks!

But I have questions. You have questions. Each team has questions.

In the interest of keeping this to another short-attention span blog, I’ve narrowed it down to one question each.

Falcons (2-0): Can they win on the road?

They’ve played two solid home games, defeating Miami and Carolina. The offense is improving — Matt Ryan was off the charts last week, save an interception — and the defense has been better than expected. But this week they go to New England. The Patriots are struggling but they still have an offense that starts with Tom Brady and Randy Moss. The rebuilt Falcons went 4-4 on the road last season. Three of those wins (Green Bay, San Diego, Minnesota) came over quality …

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Braves’ story: WC stands for wild card and woulda-coulda

If the Braves pull this off, even Chief Noc-A-Homa may come back.

If the Braves pull this off, even Chief Noc-A-Homa may come back.

This is the time of season when a fan sits back and thinks: “Wait a minute. You mean we could’ve made the playoffs if we just beat the Nationals, Marlins or Pirates?”

There are 10 days left in the season. As you may have noticed, the Braves are not dead again. The fingers continue to wiggle through the dirt at the grave site. Colorado blew a 3-0 lead and lost at home to San Diego, 5-4, Thursday night. The Rockies’ lead over the Braves in the wild-card race is down to 3 1/2 games.

When things get this close, you start to think of all the what-ifs. For example:

♦ What if the Braves hadn’t lost consecutive series to the Washington Nationals in April and June?

♦ What if they hadn’t been swept by Florida in April and had a better season record against the Marlins than 7-8?

♦ What if they weren’t 6-8 against the Pirates (56-95) and Diamondbacks (66-87)?

Even with the small deficit in the wild-card race, most of …

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Writers, coaches should dump early season polls

This was Paul Johnson's reaction when he was asked about early season polls, and I can't say that I blame him.

This was Paul Johnson's reaction when he was asked about early season polls, and I can't say that I blame him. (Johnny Crawford/jcrawford@ajc.com)

Damn, I’m good.

OK, so this hasn’t been the best financial start in the history of Weekend Predictions. But I’ve hit most of my major picks so far, and after nailing South Carolina’s upset of Mississippi Thursday night, I think I’ve finally stumbled upon the winning formula for this season: Just pick against one overblown  highly ranked team every week.

The Rebels began the season as an overrated No. 8. They rose to a really overrated No. 4 through attrition. But when they lost to the Gamecocks, 16-10, in Columbia,  it was the fourth straight week a top 5 team has lost since the preseason rankings came out. They have been, in order: No. 3 Oklahoma (to No. 20 BYU), No. 5 Oklahoma State (to unranked Houston), No. 3 USC (to unranked Washington), and No. 4 Ole Miss (to unranked South Carolina).

Overall, seven top 10 teams and 10 …

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Braves shouldn’t race to name Cox’s replacement

Here's Pendleton with one guy whose problems he couldn't fix.

Here's Pendleton with one guy whose problems he couldn't fix.

When the Braves announced that Bobby Cox will retire after managing one more season in 2010, it ended one mystery and started another: Who will replace him? But if the organization has learned anything from the mistakes of others, they won’t answer that until at least late next season, and preferably not until after the year.

I’ve never understood the whole coaches-in-waiting concept. It almost has become a fad in football, with Will Muschamp already getting the designation as Mack Brown’s replacement at Texas, and Jimbo Fisher sitting on deck behind Bobby Bowden at Florida State, and Jim Mora getting it written into his contract in 2008 before Mike Holmgren coached his final game with the Seattle Seahawks.

It’s easy to understand why it’s a great thing for the rising coach. He gets career and financial security — and without that nagging procedure of actually having to interview against other …

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Reid’s actions suggest Vick is back only as a gimmick

vick

Professor McNabb: "No Michael — not that way, this way."

After all of the previous Michael Vick comebacks – He’s out of jail! He’s working out! He’s giving a speech! He ate a Pop Tart! He signing! He’s in a preseason game! – everything could become a little more official Sunday when he is expected to play in a real NFL game against Kansas City.

There’s nothing official yet. Eagles coach Andy Reid won’t publicly commit to Vick playing, and I’m guessing he won’t before kickoff. But his suspension is up, and Donovan McNabb is injured, and messing with Kevin Kolb’s timing probably isn’t a major concern since he’s not that good, anyway. Even the Chiefs expect him to play.

There was an interesting column in the Philadelphia Inquirer today by Phil Sheridan. He wrote that the Eagles’ signing of Vick was less about Philly giving somebody a second chance or even Reid’s belief in him as a starting NFL quarterback than it was his seeming obsession with the “Wildcat” offense. …

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Weekend Predictions: Falcons stun the colonies!

Chalkboard contributions this week from Bob Beard (Whale sharks) and Stephen Buckner (Traitor Bowl). Got a suggestion. Drop it in the suggestion box below or hit me on Twitter or Facebook.

Chalkboard contributions this week from Bob Beard (Whale sharks) and Stephen Buckner (Traitor Bowl). Got a suggestion? Drop it in the suggestion box below or hit me on Twitter or Facebook.

For those who aren’t familiar with their history, the New England Patriots used to be called the Boston Patriots, until 1971 when they moved to Foxborough, Mass., and apparently decided to become the team for all English Pilgrims from the 1600s who might still be lingering in parts of

This is what happens when you try to take a picture of Tom and Gigi.

Sometimes they don't say, "Cheese."

Rhode Island, New Hampshire and possibly New Brunswick, since nobody else was really claiming them, anyway.

New England was the birthplace of American literature and free public education. Also clam chowder, the Cheers bar, Will Hunting, the concept of the world coming to an end at least three times a week, the drunk obnoxious sports fan, the unusual practice of firing bullets at wedding photographers and secretly filming opposing coaches’ signals to build a spy film library …

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Braves made the right call with Cox

See this old guy? Just because he's 68 doesn't mean he has suddenly forgetten how to manage. (AJC photo).

See this guy? Just because he's 68 doesn't mean he has suddenly forgetten how to manage.

He deserves another season. He deserves another chance to win with a rebuilt roster. He deserves another year to be recognized for a career that one day should and will be etched on a plaque in Cooperstown.

I know. Many of you disagree. You’ve screamed for new blood, younger blood — I guess any blood that will make you forget about the Dan Kolb experience and the Jeff Francouer career dive and the Mike Hampton exploding body parts. Anything to forget how Gary Sheffield and Mark Teixeira really didn’t do what they were supposed to do, when they were supposed to do it. Anything to forget about the budget cuts or the lack of a leadoff hitter or any semblance of team speed.

In less than two weeks, the Braves officially will have gone four seasons without a playoff game. Blame the manager. Blame Bobby Cox. It’s so easy, right?

Wrong.

The Braves have not been a great team for a long time. They …

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For Woods, Tour and FedEx Cup are consolation prizes

Tiger Woods posed with his latest trophy after winning the BMW Classic -- a minor, not a major. (Chicago Tribune photo)

Tiger Woods posed with his latest trophy after winning the BMW Classic — a minor, not a major. (Chicago Tribune photo)

There is probably something wrong when a golfer has won more tournaments and more money than anybody else on the tour in a given season and you still have to ask the question: Is something wrong? A guy finishes with three firsts and two seconds in his last six events, the next thought on your mind shouldn’t begin, “Yeah, but …”

“I mean, major championships are the biggest events, and unfortunately I didn’t win any of the four,” Tiger Woods said Wednesday. “But as far as the season, it’s certainly been one of my most consistent seasons I’ve ever had. To have this many high finishes, I think it’s pretty good.”

Yeah, but …

We define Tiger Woods differently. That’s his fault. From the time he won his first Masters in 1997, he created a new standard. A ridiculous standard. The whatever-element-is-worshipped-more-than-gold standard.

There is golfer good. Then there …

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Smith-Ryan now one of top 5 coach-QB combos in NFL

These two guys suddenly rank among the NFL's best. Who would've thought that a year ago?

This Falcons' pairing suddenly ranks among the NFL's best. Who would've thought that a year ago? (Curtis Compton/ccompton@AJC.com)

I’ve arrived at East Lake for a Tiger Woods press conference later this morning, but first I wanted to weigh in on the best coach-quarterback combinations in the NFL, which should not be confused with weighing in on the venue for the Georgia-Florida game, and  . . . wait, what day is this?

Right. Wednesday. In four days, the Falcons will play the New England Patriots. It’s another chance to watch Tom Brady play and Bill Belichick coach, and the two will go down as one of the top five coach-quarterback combinations in the Super Bowl era. My others (in no particular order: Bill Walsh-Joe Montana; Tom Landry-Roger Staubach; Chuck Noll-Terry Bradshaw; some other two guys I’ll think of later after I steal a danish from the hospitality tent here at East Lake.

In the NFL, great coach-quarterback combinations can compensate for deficiencies elsewhere. …

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Georgia-Florida game should take turns on campus

stadium

Yes, this is a cool scene. But it leaves me feeling half-empty. (Elissa Eubanks/AJC)

Just once I would like to see a decision made in college athletics that is based on something other than money.

I bring this up now because the UGA Athletic Association board is scheduled to hold one of its quarterly meetings Wednesday, and there is a familiar topic on the agenda: Where to play the Georgia-Florida game. The contract with Jacksonville runs through 2010, and given that everybody is making a lot of money — a factor at least as important as “tradition,” despite what you may hear — I suspect that’s where the game will stay.

But it shouldn’t. At least not every year. The Georgia-Florida game should be held every other year on the Georgia or Florida campus.

I know. What a novel idea, right? College football on an actual college campus.

This isn’t about some perceived home-field advantage the Gators have playing the game in Jacksonville. Florida has won most of the time in the past …

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