Archive for October, 2009

NFC rankings: Saints to top, Falcons to fourth, Bucs to Div. II

Eli Manning congratulates Drew Brees for taking over the No. 1 spot in the NFC rankings.

That was pretty classy of Eli Manning to congratulate Drew Brees for New Orleans taking over the No. 1 spot in the NFC rankings.

The New Orleans Saints have played five games this season and have yet to trail. They’re outscoring opponents by 20 points a game. At the current pace, they will score 614 points and overtake Kazahkstan by early January. Anybody wonder who sits atop our weekly NFC rankings? Didn’t think so.

(Last week’s spot in parenthesis).

1. (2.) New Orleans (5-0): They just beat the Giants, 48-27. Drew Brees: 13 touchdowns, two interceptions. His only flaw: He’s not on my Fantasy League team. Something you really don’t want to think about right now: What will they do to the Falcons’ secondary?

2. (3.) Minnesota (6-0): The Vikings nearly blew a 27-10 fourth-quarter lead to Baltimore but held on to win by two (33-31). But that doesn’t overshadow the fact that Brett Favre, despite being sacked three times by the Baltimore defense, did not throw an interception …

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Countdown swaps: Braves, Falcons, MeAngelo and Marge

The Count answers to no blowhard

The Count prefers night games.

The Count always looks forward to baseball trade talks. He can never resist adding a new bat. (Sorry. It was sitting right there.) Anyway, I know the baseball offseason won’t officially start until the World Series, when hopefully the gluttonous New York Yankees choke and keel over like an over-sized mutant ATM machine that spits out one too many withdrawals during free agency. But since agent Scott Boras has begun his pimping duties, I figured Braves fans should know something early. Matt Holliday? Ain’t happening. We count down . . .

10. Boras: I’ve got your Holliday right here

If this makes you feel any better, it was Holliday, the solid hitting outfielder, who greased the skids for the Cardinals’ exit from their National League playoff series against the Dodgers. (Video below.) (UPDATE: The video has been deactivated, I’m guessing by Scott Boras’s secret police. So I’ve inserted a picture instead. So sorry.) You could say he kicked the entire …

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Vick a non-factor, Dungy uncertain what will come of him

Michael Vick left the sideline for only two plays in Philadelphia's loss at Oakland.

Michael Vick left the Eagles' sideline for only two plays at Oakland.

It’s only five games into Philadelphia’s season and three games back into Michael Vick’s NFL career. But it’s clear the Eagles still haven’t figured out what to do with Vick.

This news won’t crush the Falcons. The Eagles are another potential NFC playoff team  (or at least so we thought until they managed to lose at Oakland Sunday). The Falcons never would admit this publicly, but the last thing they want to see is their former quarterback make a significant contribution to a conference rival. But Vick played only two snaps at Oakland — and neither as a quarterback. He lost four yards on a run and was a decoy on another play.

Impressed?

Here’s something else interesting. I spoke Monday night to Tony Dungy, Vick’s post-prison, quasi-mentor. Dungy reiterated what most believe — that Philadelphia was a good organization for Vick to go to because of the organization’s long run of success and stability. He said …

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Falcons’ defense somehow getting most out of the least

Somewhere in the middle of this Falcons' gang tackle is Chicago running back Matt Forte. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

Matt Forte experienced the Falcons' version of the red zone. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

FLOWERY BRANCH — When he was 23 years old, immediately following his brief career as a scrappy defender for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Mike Smith worked as a part-time assistant coach for San Diego State.

“Made $600 a month,” he said Monday. “I’d leave there and go work from 10 to 2 as a security guard at a construction site.”

How much did he make?

“A lot more than the stipend I got for coaching,” he said.

If there is a lesson here, it’s that Smith learned early how to make things work with very few resources. Which brings us to the Falcons’ defense. On Monday, the team announced what most feared Sunday night: Cornerback Brian Williams is out for the season with a knee injury. That makes two starters lost in five games — rookie defensive tackle Peria Jerry being the other — from a defense that wasn’t all that great to begin with.

No problem. The Falcons should be able to find somebody else in …

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Why stop now? Here’s Tech’s checklist for BCS title game

After tearing down a goal post Saturday night, does Georgia Tech dare to dream? (Brant Sanderlin/bsanderlin@ajc.com)

After tearing down the goal posts following their upset of No. 4 Virginia Tech Saturday night, can't the Jackets dare to dream a little? (Brant Sanderlin/bsanderlin@ajc.com)

This is where the same team that you wondered about after the opening slumber against Jacksonville State, the  near collapse against Clemson and the full collapse at Miami may start to dream.

Paul Johnson doesn’t want to hear this, or read this. “Let’s beat Virginia next week,” he would tell you, and that’s probably a good place to start since the Jackets haven’t won in Charlottesville since 1990 (0-8 since).

But Tech fans tore down goal posts Saturday night after upsetting Virginia Tech. (See the photo above and the video below.) The win enabled the Yellow Jackets to take a huge leap in the polls Sunday. They also opened at 12th in the first BCS rankings of the season — rarefied air for a program in only its second season under Johnson, who runs that minor-league offense of his. (That was a joke.)

So why …

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Georgia Tech sends a message — loud and clear

As Morgan Burnett is indicating, everything is pointing up for Georgia Tech. (Johnny Crawford/jcrawford@ajc.com)

As Morgan Burnett is indicating, everything is pointing up for Georgia Tech. (Johnny Crawford/jcrawford@ajc.com)

You wanted a statement? This was it.

Something that screamed they’re a player in the ACC. Something that suggested that the faceplant in Miami last month was an aberration — “a perfect storm,” as Paul Johnson put it. Something that gave everybody reason to watch with at least some curiosity Sunday when the first BCS rankings come out, especially given the relatively soft schedule that lies ahead.

Georgia Tech is a team following its coach, a team following its quarterback, a team getting better every week — a team so unlike Georgia in every way.

You wanted a statement? Try this: The Jackets just drove Virginia Tech, the No. 4 team in the nation, into the turf. They danced on the sideline. They danced like they hadn’t danced since winning in Athens last season. And who would’ve thought after that dramatic victory over the Bulldogs that something could seem bigger …

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We’re live: Can Georgia Tech change the course of history?

1962_Georgia-Tech_vs_Alabama

In case you're wondering what the game program looked like in 1962.

Hello. Are you up for a little history lesson tonight?

Georgia Tech will battle more than just the No. 4 team in the nation when it meets Virginia Tech in a key ACC Coastal Division game. The Yellow Jackets will try to reverse a trend that began, well, during the Lyndon Johnson and Bobby Dodd administrations.

Tech last defeated a top 5 team at home in 1962. The Jackets were unranked when they stunned coach Bear Bryant and No. 1 Alabama, 7-6. Little did they know that would be Tech’s last home upset of one of the nation’s elite for a while. Ready? Tech has gone 0-17-1 at home against top 5 teams since. The most recent meeting was a 14-10 loss to Notre Dame in 2006 at Bobby Dodd Stadium.  (The lone tie, 3-3, in the 18-game streak came against Notre Dame in 1980.)

The flip side is Tech has beaten top 5 teams on the road more recently. The last coming only four seasons ago at No. 3 Miami, 14-10.

Here’s the list of …

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Yahoo! Falcons to Super Bowl; Richt hammered again

Three more games for the locals this weekend. You get one item for each. Don’t be greedy. . . .

FALCONS

Just a little "Dirty Bird" flashback.

Just a little "Dirty Bird" flashback.

This might come as a surprise, given that the Falcons have played only four games this season and they’ve never posted consecutive winning records. But there’s tangible evidence that Atlanta fans are thinking about the Super Bowl.

Just stumbled on a story on Yahoo!, which not surprisingly makes Yahoo! central to the story (and that’s the first time I’ve had to type an exclamation point twice in one sentence).

According to (wait for it) the “Yahoo! Buzz Index,” Atlanta and Chicago were the top two cities for searches for, “Super Bowl 2010,” coming off last weekend. Apparently, the Falcons’ 45-10 win over San Francisco prompted fans to let their minds wander a little bit. The Bears actually were off last week, so Chicago fans presumably just had a lot of time on their hands. Regardless, it’s ironic that the Falcons and Bears play each …

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Weekend Predictions: Bees, Birds and beer pong!

Pixx6 002

The stock market is up, I’ve had three straight winning weeks against the line and the world’s greatest minds, or at least those in upstate New York, apparently have found the primary cause for the spread of swine flu: beer pong!

Before breaking down this week’s big game between the two Tech’s, we head to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. RPI is the oldest technological university in the country. But it has adjusted to modern day traditions just fine. Too fine.

School officials have determined that the swine flu is being passed around on campus because too many students are playing beer pong (not yet a scholarship sport) and drinking from the same cups.

Beer-Pong-Poster-C10291999

So they’ve banned the game!

Seriously, what are campus police going to do? Arrest kids and check the ping-pong balls into the evidence room? This has People’s Court written all over it, right after, “The Case of Willie Martinez and the Uga-tinkled game-plan.”

Which brings us back to football. (See how I did that?)

Georgia …

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Limbaugh doesn’t get it: Idiots damage NFL product

Everybody's favorite potential NFL owner just opened his mouth. Again.

The NFL can't afford to have this guy a face of the league.

Rush Limbaugh will not be an NFL owner and it’s not because, to borrow the title of Al Franken’s book, “Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot.”

OK. It’s a little bit of that.

If Limbaugh and all of his “ditto heads” out there want to blame the liberal, bed-wetting, pantywaist, fruitcake media with the left-wing agenda — and THAT’S why this country’s going to hell in a hand-basket, mister! — for him being rejected by the NFL, well, they’re missing the point.

The NFL has a product. The NFL has the most sought-after product in professional sports. The NFL is all about protecting its product. It’s about cultivating an image and protecting the league shield. Why? Because that leads to fans, which leads to ticket sales, which leads to sponsorships and wealth and, most of all, power.

It doesn’t really matter that all NFL owners and many players are rich and therefore, logic dictates, probably lean to the right politically …

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