Heat Check: Division-winning Falcons are in cold storage

Carolina coach Ron Rivera is peeved, while Mike Smith is perplexed. (AP photo)

Carolina coach Ron Rivera is apparently peeved, while Mike Smith is perplexed. (AP photo)

Our weekly Heat Check arrives, perhaps inappropriately, on a chilly morning.

FALCONS: The good news — well, to some ears — is that they’re getting a new stadium. The bad news is that they stunk out Bank of America Stadium on Sunday, losing by 10 points to the last-place Carolina Panthers. Atmospheric reading: The Falcons are in a really weird place, and by this we don’t mean Flowery Branch or the doomed Georgia Dome. They clinched the NFC South with a month to spare, which essentially thrusts them into another preseason. They know they’re going to the playoffs and they know they’ll need to play well once there, but the reality is that these final regular-season games mean next to nothing.

HAWKS: Had a chance to nose ahead of the Miami Heat in the NBA Southeast. Didn’t do it, losing by nine after a pretty stout first half. This came two days after an eye-opening road victory at Memphis. Atmospheric reading: This team is actually quite good, and not in the way we (or at least I) would have thought. Check the HoopData numbers, and you’ll find that the Hawks are actually better at defending than scoring. How’d that happen?

GEORGIA: Is preparing to play Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl. Nebraska just yielded 70 points to Wisconsin, which prompted the Badgers’ coach to up and leave for Arkansas. Atmospheric reading: Usually it takes a Monday night loss to the Saints for a football coach to bolt to the Ozarks. (See Petrino, Bobby.)

GEORGIA TECH: Is preparing to play USC in the Sun Bowl. On talent, this is the biggest mismatch of this bowl season. Atmospheric reading: On coaching, this is a massive mismatch the other way. If the underachieving Trojans don’t pay attention — and if they were all that good at paying attention, they wouldn’t have underachieved — Tech could shock that small corner of the world that will actually pay attention to the Sun Bowl.

GEORGIA STATE: When I saw the release that was headlined, “Panthers hire Miles,” I was pretty impressed. Les Miles is an odd fellow, but he does have a national championship under his capacious hat. Then I read that the hire in question is Trent Miles of Indiana State, which is Larry Bird’s alma mater, which is a rather different sport. Atmospheric reading: Not to put too fine a point on it, but when you inherit a 1-10 team you don’t exactly have the toughest of acts to follow.

BRAVES: Re-upped Reed Johnson, who doesn’t fit many people’s notion of an everyday left fielder. And maybe that’s good. Atmospheric reading: Because I’m one of those few folks who’d rather see Martin Prado stay in left field and let Juan Francisco take a shot at third base. In case you missed it, Prado has become a terrific outfielder.

GEORGIA TECH HOOPS: Beat Georgia handily, which might have meant a bit more if Georgia were any good. Atmospheric reading: ESPN Insider calculates Tech’s RPI as 59th-best in the land, which ain’t bad. In fact, it’s 20 spots ahead of Kentucky’s.

GEORGIA HOOPS: The same ESPN Insider shows Georgia’s RPI as 238th-best among Division I programs, which is 87 spots below Georgia State’s. Atmospheric reading: Of the 14 SEC teams, only one has already suffered six losses. That’d be Georgia.

JOHNNY FOOTBALL: He’s the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. (Though some guy from Wrightsville deserved it back in 1980.) Atmospheric reading: There’s good luck, and then there’s SEC luck — the world’s best football conference adds Texas A&M just in time for an Aggie to claim the famous prize. We know all about the six consecutive BCS titles, but the SEC has also taken four of the past six Heismans.




94 comments Add your comment

5 yards short

December 11th, 2012
9:27 am

Floundering Fox Hounds Batman!

December 11th, 2012
9:28 am

Time to give the Tax accountant the pink slip Mr. Howdy Doody!

Mark Bradley

December 11th, 2012
9:32 am

And yet...

December 11th, 2012
9:34 am

…the Birds may not even get a first round bye – I see them finishing 12-4 (losing to NY and Detroit – road game), with SF getting the home field thru-out the playoffs at 12-3-1, and GB getting the other bye tiebreaker at 12-4 and winning the spot from ATL – then I see ATL losing to Seattle in the first round, per their usual end of season swoon – on the b-ball…

GT Insider

December 11th, 2012
9:38 am

UGA basketball is a dumpster fire. Enjoy losing mutts!

Paul in NH

December 11th, 2012
9:40 am

That’s quite a good RPI for GT – pity that it will drop when they start 1-4 in the ACC (the beginning of the conference schedule is brutal for GT). NIT this year.

Weyman C. Wannamaker Jr. (A Great American)

December 11th, 2012
9:52 am

My Packers are heating up quite nicely. Win this Sunday v. Chicago and they’re division chanps.

Sonny Jackson

December 11th, 2012
10:00 am

I still love UGA BB and wish Coach Fox the best… if he can get some of these young guys to focus, we’ll have a team in the next couple of years… plus, I love the Hoop Girls!

wes

December 11th, 2012
10:09 am

Another article where Bradley mentions Kentucky hoops!

DAMMMMMMMIT!!!!!

LOL

Giants fall to 8-6

December 11th, 2012
10:10 am

11-2 Falcons sweep the NFC LEast.

Joey

December 11th, 2012
10:11 am

MB, will Fox get it done at UGA? I’m having doubts.

The Hawks are the only team with road wins this season @ OK City and Memphis – and the big reason? Josh Smith. He is playing great ball at both ends of the court.

GT Dude

December 11th, 2012
10:16 am

With the Solomon Poole kid joining the GT Hoops team in January it might be the start of a special year for Jackets…
Time will tell

Juliooooo

December 11th, 2012
10:33 am

And yet…. the 49ers are playing at New England this weekend. They aren’t winning this one. Falcons take down the Giants and the Lions on the road. Get home field advantage and rest starters for the TB game.

Sonny Clusters

December 11th, 2012
10:42 am

We was thinking the Braves could let Prado tell them where he wants to play and fill in the other spot – even if he wants to play second base. Give the man some respect.

they are who we thought they were

December 11th, 2012
10:44 am

it would be interesting to see how the SEC supporters would have reacted to A&M still in the Big 12 with a win over the SEC champion and the Heisman!!

Joey

December 11th, 2012
10:50 am

I was wondering what Clusters thought of the “Playmate-turned-Buck Commander?”

GTT

December 11th, 2012
10:51 am

Time to give the Tax accountant the pink slip Mr. Howdy Doody!

Is that supposed to mean something?

Sonny Clusters

December 11th, 2012
11:13 am

Joey, we was never one to say Chipper was a “class act” like so many on here. He could hit the ball better than just about anybody we’ve seen come through here but he seemed to have venison in his head where his brains should have been. Now, some people might think that last week of the season while everybody was slobbering all over Chipper might have been a time to focus on baseball and the play-in game instead of retiring third base bags and singing kumbaya. We was thinking nothing much changed last season in terms of championship baseball and we was hopeful that Chipper can hunt deer with his new girlfriend and the Braves can set themselves on a course to compete and win in the post season.

Ryder

December 11th, 2012
11:16 am

@And Yet, so you really think that the 49ers will go into Foxboro and beat the Patriots who still have something to play for? Also, you think they will go into Seattle (whatever that stadium is called) and beat the Seahawks?

Yes, Atlanta’s going to get beat like a drum on Sunday against the Giants (28-13) yet will back into the second seed because the 49ers won’t catch them. As a matter of fact, I think Atlanta wins against Detroit and that’s it. The Falcons are a 6-7 team masquerading as an 11-2 squad.

The Deli is now closed.

December 11th, 2012
11:27 am

Falcons scored a garbage time TD. The score should have been 30-13. If…and that’s a huge if, the Niners squeak by the mighty Patriots, make Super Bowl reservations for them. The Falcons cannot afford to lose anymore games, as they may lose the top seed if the Niners keep winning.

bawbie

December 11th, 2012
11:43 am

Fire Dave Perno!

Peeved and Perplexed

December 11th, 2012
11:46 am

So was March Richt at the SECCG presser! Should have spiked the ball!

david

December 11th, 2012
12:04 pm

last I checked the W’s and L’s on the field count– 11-2 is 11-2 no matter how you cut it. Carolina has always played their best against us, they should have won the 1st game as well. 6-7 team “masquerading”? You’re probably the same person thats says if Adrian Peterson doesnt have all those long runs he would be an average back. Stupid logic.

DONNAN OF A NEW ERA

December 11th, 2012
12:04 pm

Every GA team is in cold storage. Always has and always will be.

The Deli is now closed.

December 11th, 2012
12:06 pm

Giants 31
Falcons 13
Falcons fans steal the landing gear off of the Giants plane at Hartsfield.

Concrete Cats

December 11th, 2012
12:06 pm

No love for GSU hoops? They’re having a good year after a gutsy start at Duke and beating some future Sun Belt rivals.

DONNAN OF A NEW ERA

December 11th, 2012
12:06 pm

Just read that Saban is going to leave Bama for the Browns. It truly must be a slow news day if people have to write about that. No way is Saban leaving Bama for Cleveland.

BWC

December 11th, 2012
12:08 pm

Mark,

Why is it you think Paul Johnson is such a good coach? His record with his own players is really quite ordinary (if not worse), he’s only beaten Georgia once, he’s got an offense that is so one dimensional that teams who have more time to prepare usually are able to shut it down, and worst of all his scheme alienates those athletes who believe in a dynamic offense that includes more than an occasional reliance on the forward pass to “keep the D honest”. The reality is I haven’t seen this Tech team mount a comeback from more than a couple touchdown deficit in the PJ tenure since, what, the Georgia win in his first year? I’d be surprised if USC wins by less than 20 points. I think what Tech football has become is pretty sad. And yeah, the Falcons are starting to look like frauds again. Let’s hope that Carolina game was an aberration.

Mike

December 11th, 2012
12:11 pm

For me, not one dime of taxpayer money for a new Falcons stadium.

ronhen24

December 11th, 2012
12:12 pm

Ryder, records or stats don’t lie. Every team Atlanta have faced with the exception of 2 Division rivals, they have beat. Do you think that any of the other 30 Head Coaches excluding Houston would love to be 11-2? They could care less about the margin of victory.It goes in the WIN column and the last time I checked there were 3 (Win, Lose and Tie). Barely and almost have never won in anything but horseshoes. So, get off the drum so Atlanta can play in harmony, while the Giants go home after loosing their division. Wait until you see Eli face this game. We OWE them. ATL Forever.

AlanFalcon

December 11th, 2012
12:16 pm

Falcon’s Game Plan: play as badley as you can since winning the division, the opponet in the first play off game will be neutralized into thinking that the falcons have lost their desire and direction and will keel over in desperation. The opponent will have forgotten how well the defense perform as well as the offense at the beginning of the season therefore the falcons will catch them off guard and make the run to the Super Bowl where they will revert to being unable to play offense or defense, but the playoff game win will have the monkey off of therir back.

ronhen24

December 11th, 2012
12:19 pm

Sorry for the misspelling folks (losing). Typing fast and trying to get my point across.

jeffrey d

December 11th, 2012
12:29 pm

Thanks Mark…welcome back!

oldmike

December 11th, 2012
12:31 pm

The Falcons look lost on both sides of the ball. So much for the new coordinators. Where is the vertical game? Establishing the run means we face second and 11 or 12 most series. Does anyone know what Turner’s avg per carry would be without the occasional loing gainer? Probably below football’s running mendoza line. Don’t see us even being competitive this Sunday.

ramblingbuzz

December 11th, 2012
12:43 pm

So the birds are going to coast thru the rest of the regular season and then start playing real ball for the playoffs.? Somehow I just don’t see this team being able to fine tune their performance that way.

Ted Striker

December 11th, 2012
12:46 pm

Good column, Mr. Bradley. May your family have a wonderful and safe holiday season.

DONNAN OF A NEW ERA

December 11th, 2012
12:46 pm

This was the best part of the Falcon/Carolina game on Sunday.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mYWAHOE9GI

captguitarman

December 11th, 2012
12:51 pm

This is the time of year that the Giants start to really pick it up, so good thing the Birds have them at home. New York is beatable if the Falcons play their best, and some how they need to figure out how to get into the end of the regular season mind set that you see with great teams – Super Bowl contenders and Super Bowl winning teams. They have the talent, and at this time of year, it comes down to a will to win and to figure out how to win even if you are having a bad game, like the great ones do.

ff they beat the Giants, that will be a great win and should get their heads straight and give them the momentum to win in the play offs. But watch out for the usual suspects. New England just clobbered Houston last night in a laugher, and Houston is a very good team. Off night – yes – but an off night + Brady, Belichek, and New England = loss+. And the Packers and the 49’s are are there lurking. All those teams, including the Giants start to get it together this time of year. If the Falcons don’t, it will be another bitter disappointment. This week, mental and motivational exercises might be more useful than field practice.

Joey

December 11th, 2012
1:10 pm

After watching the Giants, Seahawks, 49ers, and Patriots this week, I’m getting the feeling that the Falcons may be the 5th or 6th best team in the league, if that.

My perception could change if we somehow strong-arm the Giants Sunday.

bulldogbubba

December 11th, 2012
1:30 pm

The Falcon offense looks like the plays are being called by Mike Bobo. The last two games they act like what they are doing is all brand new to them.In other news Martin Prado is an ALL-STAR where ever he plays and that includes 3rd base.Play Ball and MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!!!!!!!!

Sonny Clusters

December 11th, 2012
2:18 pm

We was thinking about famous Braves who got mixed up with movie stars and we think David Justice got the best deal with Halle Berry for a short time and she was in much better movies than Dan Uggla’s girlfriend (porn) or Chipper’s new girlfriend that makes shower movies. Both those players made big errors in the play-in game and they acted like the ball was a wet bar of soap. We aren’t accusing anybody of anything but it sure looked slippery to us.

Vel Crow

December 11th, 2012
2:22 pm

Still wonder why the Braves didn’t try to sign Jeff Keppinger to play third base, and backup other infield spots. They still could have kept Francisco, and Keppinger can hit.

Mark Bradley GO AWAY

December 11th, 2012
2:26 pm

I’ll be glad when the AJC sports section gets new writers. Bradley and them just suck terribly. Are these guys even fans?

Joey

December 11th, 2012
2:48 pm

“but it sure looked slippery to us.”
*****************************
Hahaha. Justice DID get the best deal.

Wish you had time for some more zingers, SC, but, unfortunately you are merely minutes from a certain little feller getting out of his Chipper PJs and stalking somebody . . .

Realitycheck

December 11th, 2012
3:08 pm

Falcons will be one and done in the playoffs and it will be embarassing. Falcons could have had Randall Cobb instead of Julio and not have to give up ANY draft picks. Imagine how many O and D linemen we could have gotten with those picks.

Mr. Blue

December 11th, 2012
3:18 pm

Cornhuskers 42, Saint Mark’s Leghumpers 14

Stinger 2

December 11th, 2012
3:20 pm

Mark: I tell you what. The Braves have made some great moves this off season. They have put the team in good hands with the contract extension for Fredi. I liken it to the
“You are in good hands with Allstate’ theme. The trade of Hanson along with the signings of Reed Johnson and B.J.Upton are just the beginning of more good moves to come by Frank Wren.Stay tuned loyal Braves fans. Go Braves 2013!

dean

December 11th, 2012
3:58 pm

@ Mark Bradley Go Away….

If you want cheerleaders for reporters, watch MSNBC, CNN, et al and read the NYT. A man in Washington will attest to their abilities to baffle the masses with BS.

Mark Bradley GO AWAY

December 11th, 2012
4:22 pm

Dean how about you go jump off of the fiscal cliff.

dean

December 11th, 2012
4:37 pm

Ah ha! I was right. Some things are too easy.