Our weekly Heat Check finds that a warm front has settled over the area. With certain exceptions.
FALCONS: There are three unbeaten NFL teams. This is one. I’d argue that this has been the most impressive one, but sometimes I get carried away. Heat Index: How many times does a team fly across country on a short week and win a game by 24 points on a day it was slotted as a three-point underdog?
MATT RYAN: Leads the NFL in passing efficiency. Just presided over victories in which the opposing quarterbacks were Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers. Heat Index: Yeah, it’s early. But he’s looking a bit like an MVP candidate, is he not?
GEORGIA: Beat Vanderbilt by 45 points and looked great doing it. And it’s not always easy to beat Vandy — ask South Carolina — or look good in the process. Heat Index: The comprehensive nature of Saturday’s victory recalled the Georgia teams of 2002-2004, when great talent was buttressed by attention to detail.
BRAVES: Magic number to clinch a wild card is two. Have crept within 4 1/2 games of Washington, which is the closest they’ve been to first place in the NL East since August. Heat Index: No collapse — epic or otherwise — this time, folks.
MIKE MINOR: Remember when he looked like the worst starting pitcher in baseball? He’s 3-0 in September with an ERA of 1.09. Heat Index: He might just start Game 2 of the Division Series, assuming the Braves get there.
TOMMY HANSON: He’s 0-4 since returning from the disabled list. His ERA in September is 4.57; in August it was 5.74. Heat Index: Not sure he’ll make the postseason roster.
GEORGIA TECH: It’s difficult to score 36 unanswered points in a game and not win it. But the Jackets just did. Heat Index: It’s likewise difficult to yield 609 yards to a Miami team that managed only 262 in a 39-point loss at Kansas State. Leave it to Al Groh, though.
GEORGIA STATE: Lost to Richmond by three touchdowns before the smallest announced crowd in Panther history. Heat Index: If GSU doesn’t win at William & Mary on Saturday — the Tribe is also 0-4 – Bill Curry’s final season could end without a victory.
DREAM: Finished third in the WNBA East after their usual slow start. Will open the playoffs at Indiana on Friday. Heat Index: It hasn’t been a smooth ride — after the month-long Olympic break, the Dream fired their coach and suspended their best player — but they have a track record of showing up in the postseason.
By Mark Bradley