I’ve known Peter King for 30 years, or since he was at the Cincinnati Enquirer and I was working in Lexington. There’s not a nicer guy or a harder worker in the biz. But I feel truly sorry for Industrious Pete today. Because he picked the Falcons to go 10-6 and win the NFC South — same as I did! And we know what that means, don’t we?
Pete’s SI.com colleague Don Banks sees it differently. He picks the Saints to win the South and the Falcons to miss the playoffs. And Clark Judge of CBSsports.com likewise picks New Orleans. Of the Birds, he writes: “I’m not sure why, but I don’t see it happening again. Maybe it’s because I trust history, and history tells us that when the Falcons go to the playoffs they fizzle the following season.”
I won’t lie. I was utterly underwhelmed by the Falcons’ preseason. (I was appalled by the defensive non-showing against the Chargers.) But it was only preseason. And there’s enough offense here to provide enough points until the defense comes around. Which it will. I think.
Y’all know my buddy Gregg Doyel of CBSsports.com. He hates everybody. Well, except the Georgia Bulldogs. Even after witnessing their loss in Stillwater, Doyel figures they’ll wind up a Top 15 team. He thinks Richard Samuel will play in the NFL. He thinks Joe Cox will be just fine. He even thinks the defense is OK. (Does Willie Martinez still coach Georgia’s defense?)
Speaking of Georgia’s D … Bruce Feldman of ESPN.com’s Insiders believes Reshad Jones was harshly done, as they say in Britain. Writes Feldman (link requires registration):
“The game featured the worst call of the day when UGA safety Reshad Jones was flagged for unnecessary roughness for drilling Justin Blackmon across the middle just as he was about to catch the ball on a big third-down play. It was a big hit, but Jones didn’t lead with his helmet or hit Blackmon in the head.
“What was Jones supposed to do to the receiver? Clap his hands to startle him? Scream to try to distract him from making the catch? The only way that was ‘unnecessary”is if the pass isn’t anywhere near the receiver.”
One final word about the men of Martinez, this from OSU quarterback Zac Robinson via Dave Curtis of Sporting News Today: “It’s probably the best defense we’ll play all year.”
The Thrashers open camp Saturday — first practice is Sunday — and Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun lists Vegas odds that have them at 50-1 to win the Stanley Cup. Which doesn’t sound all that high, truth to tell. Especially when you consider that six teams are listed at 60-1 or worse.
The Sporting News Hockey Yearbook has the Thrashers the 27th-best team in the 30-team NHL. But, on a happier note, The Hockey Writers offers 10 reasons Ilya Kovalchuk will remain a Thrasher. (Thanks again to faithful reader Wayne Brown of Tuskegee, Ala., for the tip.) The best of the 10: “Little White Russian” — the proposed nickname for a Kovy-Bryan Little-Todd White line.