Why I believe UGA, Tech and the Falcons are bound for glory

`

When next these teams collide, they'll both be division champs. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

When next these two collide, both will be division champs. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

As best I recall, I’ve never picked Georgia, Georgia Tech and the Falcons to win their respective divisions in the same season. As some might have noted, I’ve done so this time. In the attempt to disprove the notion that I’ve gone completely (as opposed to partially) insane, I’d like to offer a few words in the defense of my mental health.

There was no grand design to my three-fer. I didn’t sit down and say, “Boy, wouldn’t it be neat to pick everybody to win something?” For the record, Georgia was the easiest choice and Tech the hardest. For the record, I would not have picked the Bulldogs to win the SEC West or Tech to take the ACC Atlantic, but at last check neither is switching divisions anytime soon.

Not to get all grandiose about it, but I’d like to think there’s a method to my madness. Why do I think these three locals — sorry, Georgia State, but I couldn’t stretch my bound-for-glory theme quite that far — will do what I foresee them doing? Here goes.

Good team + bunny schedule = SEC East title. If you’re looking for a team that has a real chance to do something, you start with one that has either a seasoned quarterback or a shutdown defense. Georgia has both. And it did win its division last season, and with an even easier schedule I see no reason why it can’t again.

The reach is in picking Georgia to win not just the East but the whole SEC. Memories of the Bulldogs’ 42-10 loss to LSU in the 2011 SEC title game are fresh and raw, but for 24 minutes the Tigers seemed the side more apt to be routed. Georgia held LSU to no first downs in the first half and should have led by 17 or even 21 points. There’s no reason a more experienced band of Bulldogs can’t upset LSU or Alabama this December, and is there any way a 12-1 SEC champ wouldn’t play for the BCS title? Confidence level: I’m comfortable with all aspects of this pick.

Big early game + big-game coach = ACC Coastal title. I’d be lying if I said I think Georgia Tech will be a great team. I see it going 9-3, which falls under the heading of “pretty good.” But it also has a kind conference schedule — it doesn’t play Florida State or North Carolina State — and its chance to win the division will hinge on what happens Labor Day night.

Beating Virginia Tech in Blacksburg isn’t easy, but the Yellow Jackets under Paul Johnson have come close twice. I see these Jackets as a team with a point to prove. Georgia Tech had a losing season in 2010 and lost five of their final seven games last season. Being so-so is not what Johnson has in mind, and he’s among the best tacticians extant. If Virginia Tech expects to win simply because it’s playing at home,  it won’t win at all. Confidence level: This pick could look silly come 11 p.m. Monday, but I’ll take that risk.

The Falcons will get a leg up on their rival. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

In 2012, the Falcons will scramble ahead of their rival. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Rebooted team + retreating rival = NFC South title. I’d have liked the Falcons’ chances even if Sean Payton hadn’t been suspended for the season, but I can see no way in which the Saints will be nearly as good without one of the two men (Drew Brees being the other) who made them what they are, or at least were until Roger Goodell got hold of them. The Saints are so messed up they’ll need an interim coach for interim coach Joe Vitt, who’s suspended for four games himself.

Which of Bradley's picks is the shakiest?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

It isn’t quite now-or-never for Dimitroff/Smith/Ryan, but the Falcons will never have a better chance than this. Their schedule is tough but not oppressive. Their new offensive and defensive coordinators surely will be more adventurous. Like you, I wonder about the offensive and defensive lines, but I see few teams than can match the Falcons at the skill positions. I like them to go 12-4, win their division and then take the NFC title. Confidence level: Very high.

Oh, and before you say, “Way to go, Wrong-Way Bradley — dooming three teams in one fell swoop” … please note the following. When last I picked Georgia to win its division, it did. (Last year, it was.) When last I picked Tech to win its division, it did. (In 2009.) When last I picked the Falcons to win their division, they did. (In 2010.) Far from being a jinx, I consider the MB imprimatur a stairway to heaven.

By Mark Bradley

260 comments Add your comment

Newspaperman

August 29th, 2012
12:46 pm

HUH?????

August 29th, 2012
12:49 pm

Mark, I’m not sure if you’re brain is fried or perhaps you have an early case of alzheimer’s but every year you go and make predictions that never come true. Last year you made a statement that the Braves would make the playoffs. You made the statement that the Falcons would beat the Giants. You made the statement that the Bulldogs would win their bowl game.

In 2010 you made the statement that Auburn would lost to SC and Oregon.

See where I’m going here, Bradley?

Robert Pants

August 29th, 2012
12:51 pm

Division Championships •and• Led Zeppelin references.

At the very least, reading this column made me feel good.

Can’t wait til toe meets leather!

kerryb

August 29th, 2012
12:51 pm

Who is going to unseat a one loss SEC team from a BCS birth? A one loss ACC team? Get real. Besides that I don’t think at the end of the season UGA will have a loss.

FalconUGAFan

August 29th, 2012
12:52 pm

I like all 3 picks…Well to be honest, I don’t care about Tech.

K Conway

August 29th, 2012
12:53 pm

Georgia is the best shot. The other two have too many “if’s.”

Big Mone

August 29th, 2012
12:53 pm

I like the picks. I agree that Tech is toughest of the 3, but a win in Blacksburg should pave the way for the ACC Costal title. As a Falcons fan I hope you are correct about a trip to the big game. That would be great to see. And I don’t see the Dogs winning the SEC title. Give them the east, but not the title. If they do find a way to win the title, then you should pencil them in for the BCS Championship as well.

Paul in NH

August 29th, 2012
12:53 pm

Is the famous Bradley curse just reserved for the Braves or does it apply to all of the local teams?

WDE

August 29th, 2012
12:55 pm

Mark it could happen.I think the Tech pick is going to be he hardest given I see no way they beat VT at home Monday night, but I hope I’m wrong.

Columbus Dawg

August 29th, 2012
12:57 pm

If Tech wins, I will be the first to congrat. I hope you are right, Mark. I have always been a big pre season optimist as far as the Dawgs go, Falcons not so much. Georgia realistically has a chance to do something it has not done in decades, and I hope to goodness that the player’s talk meets their actions this time around. Murray’s interviews sounded as if he was playing off his turnovers at times, but as long as he corrects the problem I will give him some slack. For the record I ain’t skeered of Mizzou!

Goldenrod

August 29th, 2012
12:57 pm

Smart man, MB – Georgia Tech gonna win it all this season, kick the puppies rumps in November and head into Miami to shock Herbstreit and the world!

We WILL Run This State!

Steve

August 29th, 2012
12:59 pm

Goldenrod, you are kidding right???

Bobo is Not the Problem

August 29th, 2012
1:03 pm

Are you crazy? I see 8-4, 7-5, and 7-9 respectively. The Falcons have done zero to upgrade, other than Samuel, and have lost some players and stayed stagnant at key positions.

WDE

August 29th, 2012
1:03 pm

EDSBS

August 29th, 2012
1:04 pm

Georgia Tech @ Virginia Tech: Fans are evacuated when an errant pass pierces Paul Johnson’s exoskeleton, releasing the flying ants which fill his body. Your bites will swell with Paul’s apathy, fools!!

@ Huh

August 29th, 2012
1:09 pm

It’s your brain is fried not you’re brain is fried…….That’s like saying you are brain is fried……Guess that makes you the one with the fried brain.

Golden Rod on Crack

August 29th, 2012
1:09 pm

Yes this is tech’s favorite time of year…undefeated for a few more days…..

robodawg

August 29th, 2012
1:13 pm

The division title picks look pretty good. Each race should come down to one key game. But my Dawgs 12-1 and headed for the BCS championship looks like a tall order to me. 11-2 but squeaking in to the SEC game is more likely, and then we’d need a huge upset to win.

One small point of clarification: our “bunny schedule” is relative. It’s an easy schedule for the SEC, but not a cupcake schedule compared to the wider world of college football.

TybeeDawg

August 29th, 2012
1:14 pm

Not sure which of the above post is more hysterical – Goldenrod’s or EDSBS’s! Either way tech is a loser!!!

Mark Bradley

August 29th, 2012
1:17 pm

Kudos, Newspaperman.

glacialspeed

August 29th, 2012
1:19 pm

Mark, come on, you do this every year for the local teams. I suppose no sportswriter ever went broke hyping the local side, but it’s like parents building up Santa Claus in December. Every. Year.

Mark Bradley

August 29th, 2012
1:20 pm

For the record, I never picked Oregon over Auburn. Never. If you’re going to list my bad picks, there are enough real ones. You don’t need to invent any.

Oh, and I compile a record of misses (and hits) at the end of every year. It’s called the Accountability Scoreboard.

Hillbilly D

August 29th, 2012
1:20 pm

One of these teams bound for glory? Maybe. All these teams bound for glory? Ain’t no way.

Greg

August 29th, 2012
1:22 pm

Mark’s good fan. Which means he has a blind spot about the Falcons. I’m a fan, too, but I’ve got my prescription glasses on today. Here’s my take: no dominant player on the O-line; no dominant player on the D-line; no dominant LB; no dominant RB. No arguments there, right? Might get some arguments here: no dominant player at any position except WR, where Julio is clearly going to be the next Megatron. So I don’t see us as a play-off team, without some real help from the teams in our division. I couldn’t disagree more about New Orleans…they have something to prove and they will bring it, just like they always do. And they have us beat both on talent and scheming (although the jury is out on our new coordinators). And given what I just saw in the Panthers a few days ago, they aren’t so far away from being really competitive. They are MUCH improved. Can we really say that about our Falcons? I don’t think so.

Paul

August 29th, 2012
1:22 pm

“Mark, I’m not sure if you’re brain is fried or perhaps you have an early case of alzheimer’s but every year you go and make predictions that never come true. Last year you made a statement that the Braves would make the playoffs. You made the statement that the Falcons would beat the Giants. You made the statement that the Bulldogs would win their bowl game.
In 2010 you made the statement that Auburn would lost to SC and Oregon.
See where I’m going here, Bradley?”

Sure, kick a man BEFORE he’s down.

john

August 29th, 2012
1:23 pm

whoa whoa whoa, Falcans have done plenty to upgrade, and are far from stagnant at any position. I think this will be the best falcons team to ever take the field come september. Falcons win it all, uga makes it to the sec champ game and gt wins the acc

dawgfan

August 29th, 2012
1:25 pm

9-3 season = “bound for glory”

I’m sorry. I’m just always amazed at what unbelievably low standards Georgia Tech is held to. I don’t necessarily disagree with the prediction (I’ve got them going 8-4 so obviously 9-3 is plausible), but there is absolutely nothing glorious about going 9-3 in the Mickey Mouse ACC. That’s just all there is to it.

Thanks.

Stinger 2

August 29th, 2012
1:29 pm

Mark: Agree wholeheartly about UGA. Should be no problem with their schedule. Falcons not so sure.
GT: Since I have been a fan since 1952, nothing much could be better
than to see them win the Costal. The big if is the VT game as everyone knows. I just hope they can play their best and we will see what happens.

ViningsDawg

August 29th, 2012
1:35 pm

Thoughts on the Alabama – Meeeeeeeechigan game? Will Big Al crush the little quarterback who thought he could worse than the whupping up of UGA on Blackout night?

Stinger 2

August 29th, 2012
1:39 pm

Mark: UGA: Yes without a doubt. Falcons: Maybe GT: I hold much hope.
Have to wait until Monday to agree or disagree.
TybeeDawg: Have a nice day.

JB

August 29th, 2012
1:41 pm

Lining up on Saturday’s against Mizzou, A Tenn. Team with 18 starters back and a real good QB, SC, and a top 10 team, Fla, a team loaded with 5 star players, AU, a roster full of pretty good SEC talent, and Finally Tech, who dreams of beating us and we have to have a perfect game to beat them……………………All that said, lot’s of toe’s that could be stumped. No that cupcake.

norman

August 29th, 2012
1:41 pm

Your “predictions” columns are always my favorite reads.

Bradley you bum...

August 29th, 2012
1:44 pm

Quick questions…

Didn’t the Colts make the Superbowl with 1 lame duck coach Jim Caldwell after Tony Dungy left? Didn’t the Cowboys win a 3rd Superbowl with another lame duck coach (Barry Switzer)? Is anyone going to really say George Seifert was the mastermind behind the 49ers last 2 Superbowls, oh that’s right it was that other guy Bill Walsh who built that team.

Now the circumstances behind the above reference coaches and Sean Payton leaving are completely different, but the point is still the same. A talented team can get by a season or 2 before cracks start to show from a turnover in the coaching. They didn’t win 37 regular season games and a Superbowl the past 3 seasons because Sean Payton was coaching up 5th graders. The Saints still have plenty of talent.

I am not saying the Saints will win the Superbowl, but they are a team that has lost very little to FA and they are going into this season with the same offensive coaching staff they have had the last 4 yrs. If you think the Saints are going to fall off a cliff, you are going to be sorely mistaken.

harold

August 29th, 2012
1:45 pm

UGA GOES 13-0 AND WINS THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP THIS YEAR.

A CAKEWALK SCHEDULE.

Losersville

August 29th, 2012
1:46 pm

With those predictions looks like someone has been in the Kool-Aid again

GTBob

August 29th, 2012
1:51 pm

is there any way a 12-1 SEC champ wouldn’t play for the BCS title?

Lets say that USC, Oklahoma, and UGA are all 12-1 and won their conference. USC’s loss was to Oregon, Oklahoma lost to West Virginia, and UGA lost to South Carolina. Who plays in the BCS title game?

BobDawg

August 29th, 2012
1:51 pm

Like the picks…. I don’t know why I’m thinking this but me thinks Vandy is in position to make some noise this season?! If they beat Chick Fil-A Columbia in the first game… watch out!!!

Dawg Fan

August 29th, 2012
1:51 pm

I think the Dawgs are going to WIN it all! That’s right the National Championship! They will beat LSU in the SEC Championship and then beat USC in the National Championship! Let’s go Dawgs!

GIVE ME A BREAK

August 29th, 2012
1:51 pm

Couldn’t care less what overrated UGA does. GT is going to surprise everyone. Atlanta should be much improved.

GIVE ME A BREAK

August 29th, 2012
1:51 pm

Couldn’t care less what overrated UGA does. GT is going to surprise everyone. Atlanta should be much improved.

BobDawg

August 29th, 2012
1:54 pm

GTBOB… interesting scenario…. The SEC Chmpship game carries a lot of weight so the Dawgs would be in at the very least…

Jacket Fan

August 29th, 2012
1:54 pm

VT is replacing 4 O-line starters and most of its skill players. Our WRs are a big question mark, but otherwise our offense should be ready to go (hopefully with V. Lee ready to pass if needed). If we can not beat them, we obviously will not win the Coastal, and would not deserve to.

God Outdid Himself When He Creaetd the Mighty SEC

August 29th, 2012
1:55 pm

“It’s an easy schedule for the SEC, but not a cupcake schedule compared to the wider world of college football.”

Yes, it is.

GSU Panthers

August 29th, 2012
1:57 pm

Thanks for nothing, Mark.

juvenal

August 29th, 2012
1:57 pm

bound for glory, as in, going to die?

jobro

August 29th, 2012
1:57 pm

I think the dawgs and the birds will both have great years i predict georgia to go 12-0 in the regular season and to end up in the national championship game and to bring a championship back to athens as far as the birds go I think the birds will go 12-4 and win the south. the D should be much more improved under nolan and as far as tech goes I hope they go 0-12 hahahhahaha GO DAWGS AND GO BIRDS!

More like...

August 29th, 2012
1:58 pm

UGA goes 10-2, makes the SEC title game because the East is trash again this year, then all the fans will puff out their chest because they beat 10 high school teams and think they can win the SEC title. They will then have their dreams once again brought crashing back down to earth by getting embarrassed in the SEC title game and losing to Michigan (the Wolverines this time) in the Capital One bowl. As for 2013, rinse, wash, repeat… same nonsense next August from the same delusional fans

Starters returning or not, that didn’t look like a shutdown defense against Michigan St

Dawg Fan

August 29th, 2012
1:58 pm

I think the Dawgs could beat the Falcons this year!

BIG UGLIES

August 29th, 2012
2:00 pm

Paul Johnson will punch you in the face! AFTER he gets beat by the DAWGS again.

BIG UGLIES

August 29th, 2012
2:02 pm

Paul Johnson will punch you in the face!