Archive for September, 2010

Weekend Predictions: Falcons, Jackets win (Dogs? Feh)

update

Before we get to this week’s big issues — can Georgia win a game, and is Oregon being replaced on future schedules by Catawba and the flag football team from Bob’s Catfish And Such — we have this important news update:

A bear broke into a car this week in Colorado and went joy riding. According to a story broken by the BBC, because apparently there’s nothing interesting going on in England, the bear broke into the car when he saw a sandwich (maybe he just had a buzz), then knocked the gear shifter into neutral, causing the car to roll out of a driveway, down an embankment and into trees.

Impressed by the element of surprise in this attack, Mark Richt immediately signed the bear as his new offensive coordinator. (I might have made up that last part.)

This week, Georgia faces Colorado, which generally inflicts less damage than its Sprint Cup wannabe wildlife.

Good news: The Trembling Chihuahuas are undefeated this season when they don’t play SEC teams! Athletic director Greg …

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Falcons vs. Steelers is suddenly a hot Super Bowl pick

The Falcons were jumping for joy after their win over New Orleans and their bandwagon is filling up.

The Falcons were jumping for joy after their win over New Orleans and their bandwagon is filling up.

The Falcons didn’t just win a football game Sunday in New Orleans. They apparently won over the national media.

How about this? The team that physically took it to the defending Super Bowl champions — and yes, benefited from a missed 29-yard field goal atttempt by the Saints’ Garrett Hartley — is currently ranked as the best team in the NFC and as high as No. 2 in the entire NFL in various “power polls.”

One outlet already is projecting a possible Falcons-Steelers Super Bowl. Read on . . .

Adam Schefter of ESPN: (requires Insider subscription): 1. Pittsburgh; 2. Indianapolis; 3. Falcons; 4. New Orleans; 5. New York Jets. His comment on the Falcons: “There’s nothing like the momentum you get from beating the reigning world champs.”

♦ Don Banks of Sports Illustrated: His weekly power rankings of all 32 teams differs from Schefter’s top 5 in only one spot: 1. Pittsburgh; …

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Braves may get a helping hand to postseason — from Phillies

This was Roy Halladay throwing a five-hit shutout of the Braves back in April. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

This was Roy Halladay throwing a five-hit shutout of the Braves back in April. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Did the Philadelphia Phillies just become the Braves’ best friend?

The expectation of the season-ending series against Philadelphia determining the National League East champion obviously didn’t happen. The Phillies don’t care that much about the weekend series at Turner Field, and manager Charlie Manuel is setting up his pitching rotation with the postseason in mind. That means instead of facing projected Cy Young winner Roy Halladay (21-10, 2.44) on Friday night, the Braves will go against Kyle Kendrick (10-10, 4.76).

There’s more: Roy Oswalt said he doesn’t expect to pitch this weekend and there’s a feeling in Philadelphia that if Cole Hamels starts, he will throw a limited number of pitches. This series may be playoff life-or-death for the Braves but it’s spring training for the Phillies. There also could be an obvious ripple effect thr0ugh the lineup, with the Philly …

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Braves still upright despite losing Prado (and so many others)

Eric Hinske (three-run homer) and Brooks Conrad (RBI triple) led the Braves to another unlikely victory. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Eric Hinske (homer) and Brooks Conrad (RBI triple) led another Braves win. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

What exactly are the baseball gods waiting for? For Bobby Cox to scream, “Uncle?”

The question now isn’t just whether the Braves can drag themselves across the finish line of this regular season, the last spasm somehow getting them into the playoffs. It’s whether they’re going to bankrupt their HMO.

The clubhouse is a room of exploding body parts, and yet they endure. They are like Monty Python’s “Black Knight,” who had his two arms severed by King Arthur but responded, “‘It’s only a flesh wound. … I am invincible!”)

Are the Braves? They’ve received more than their share of flesh wounds. The latest came Tuesday, with the news that Martin Prado — who figured to be on the shelf for possibly the season any way with a hip pointer — suffered a torn oblique muscle.

Doctors have ordered Prado to not do too much more than sit on a couch for the next two months. So much for the post …

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LIVE: It’s time for the Braves (or is that the Black Knight?)

Do Omar Infante and the Braves have enough healthy bodies left to win the wild card? (AP photo)

Do Omar Infante and the Braves have enough healthy bodies left to win the wild card? (AP photo)

Welcome back to Turner Field for a game involving what remains of your Atlanta Braves.

To all of the injury issues the team has had in the season — not the least of which were losing Chipper Jones and pitcher Kris Medlen for the year and pitchers Jair Jurrjens and Takashi Saito for extended periods, we add this: Martin Prado is “definitely going to be out for a while” with a hip-pointer, manager Bobby Cox said after Monday’s game.

The biggest problem with that: There’s not “a while” left in the season. In fact, there are more letters in “a while” (six) than there are games left on the Braves’ schedule (five).

Prado might be toast, but the Braves aren’t, yet. They enter tonight’s game against Florida with a one-half game lead over San Diego and 4 1/2 over all-but-dead Colorado in the National League wild card race.

Prado is having an MRI and was not available for comment before the …

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Bust poll: Bobo (Georgia offense) vs. Groh (Tech defense)

Mike Bobo.

Mike Bobo (Georgia offense).

Al Groh (Georgia Tech defense).

Al Groh (Georgia Tech defense).

In the interest of full disclosure, here goes: When Georgia and Georgia Tech both hired new defensive coordinators in January, I had more confidence in Paul Johnson’s decision to bring in Al Groh than I did Mark Richt’s decision to hire Todd Grantham.

The reason was simple: While Groh was a disappointment as a head coach at Virginia, he was a proven commodity as a defensive coach in the NFL and college, working with the likes of Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick. I also believed that taking a college coordinator’s job at 66 indicated that he must be truly motivated to win again. Conversely, while Grantham came highly recommended, most recently as the linebackers coach of the Dallas Cowboys, he had been a coordinator only once before: with the Cleveland Browns, where he had mixed results (2005-07). Grantham was closer to an unknown commodity.

Who has done worse job: Al Groh (Tech defense) or Mike Bobo (Georgia …

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Poll time: Who deserves most blame for Georgia’s offense?

Mark Richt, Aaron Murray and Mike Bobo are wondering what happened to the offense.

Mark Richt, Aaron Murray and Mike Bobo are wondering what happened to the offense.

Before getting to the point of this blog, let me quickly weigh in on Georgia coach Mark Richt’s decision to kick Demetre Baker off the team for a DUI and underage drinking: kudos.

This isn’t to celebrate a foolish youth’s mistakes. Baker isn’t the first college kid to be involved in underage drinking and driving. But Richt’s only hope of getting through to players in his program — which has seen 10 arrests since the spring — may be a zero tolerance stance because clearly nothing else has been working.

Who deserves the blame for Georgia’s offensive problems?

  • Mark Richt. (It starts at the top.)
  • Mike Bobo. (He calls the plays.)
  • Stacy Searels (Plays don’t work if linemen don’t block.)
  • They share equal blame.
  • It’s not the coaches’ fault. The players need to be better.

View Results

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Baker will be fine. Public humiliation is a shock to the system but it can be …

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Falcons just turned into team we expected last season

The Falcons' sideline erupts after Matt Bryant's 46-yard field goal gave them an overtime win over New Orleans.

The Falcons' sideline erupts after Matt Bryant's 46-yard field goal clinches a win over New Orleans.

NEW ORLEANS –  The calendar screams that it’s too early for grand proclamations. Week three games in the NFL don’t decide division titles or playoff berths. They merely give us some sense of direction.

But we just learned something about the Falcons.

They won a game against the defending Super Bowl champions. They won a game on the road and in the Superdome, where they hadn’t won since 2002. They had a 19-play touchdown drive that tested their resilience. They had a field goal drive in overtime when the offensive line assumed control of the game.

More? They had a kicker, Matt Bryant, who had to try three times for a winning field goal because his first two attempts were negated by penalties. They had a defensive end, John Abraham, who came back into the game late despite being relatively blinded in one eye.

Is that a strong enough indication of direction?

The Falcons …

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LIVE from New Orleans, as Falcons go for the upset

If John Abraham is doing this to Drew Brees, the Falcons have a chance against New Orleans. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

If John Abraham is doing this to Drew Brees, the Falcons have a chance against New Orleans. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

NEW ORLEANS –Good morning. I’m looking forward to actually watching some football today since I really didn’t see any last night in Starkville.

The good news for the Falcons is that no matter what happens in today’s game against the New Orleans Saints — and I do believe they have a legitimate chance to win — they will be fine this season. That’s not the case at Georgia, which not only lost last night at Mississippi State but had yet another player — freshman linebacker Demetre Bakerarrested this morning for underage possession of alcohol and DUI. That makes 10 arrests for the Bulldogs since the spring to pair with a 0-3 record in the SEC.

By comparison, the Falcons are Camelot.

There obviously were some good signs in last week’s 41-7 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. The Falcons ran the ball effectively, with Jason Snelling having a breakout game (three …

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Georgia’s embarrassment grows more historical by week

Mississippi State's Arceto Clark leaps high to catch a touchdown pass over Branden Smith, one of many things to not go Georgia's way. (AP photo)

Mississippi State's Arceto Clark leaps high to catch a touchdown pass over Branden Smith, one of many plays to not go Georgia's way Saturday. (AP photo)

STARKVILLE, Miss. – Was this convincing enough? Georgia just made Mississippi State look like a major force in the SEC. It’s seldom a force even within state borders.

Last week the Bulldogs lost to Arkansas for the first time in 17 years. This time they lost to another conference opponent for the first time in 36 years.

Doesn’t that suggest this isn’t some aberration?

The Bulldogs are 0-3 in the SEC. They stand alone in the conference in that regard. Behind Mississippi State, behind Vanderbilt, behind the schools you used to joke about. They are no longer the team that can beat everybody except Alabama and Florida. They are the team that can lose to every team well below Alabama and Florida.

After a 24-12 loss to Mississippi State on Saturday night, Georgia is 2-7 in its past nine SEC games. That’s not trivial, and …

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