Before previewing chapter 5 of, “Sybil: My Life as a Georgia Bulldog,” we have a significant update from the former sports empire known as ESPN.
Amid a federal investigation into whether billion dollar geek websites “FanDuel” and “DraftKings” were guilty of insider trading, ESPN pulled advertising by “DraftKings” this week because it wanted to avoid any appearance (cough, cough) of a conflict of interest (cough, cough, cough — oh look, there’s my spine).
“It is a standard procedure for us pull these kind of sponsorships and integrations when we are covering breaking news,” ESPN’s Paul Melvin told USA Today. “We look to avoid any suggestion of influence on our coverage.”
I wonder if this is the same absence of conflict of interest that prompted ESPN to pull the series “Playmakers” when the NFL screamed … or when ESPN pulled out of the joint project with “Frontline” investigating NFL concussions … or this couldn’t possibly have anything to do with multi-million-dollar-sponsored segments on NFL pregame shows that have caused what used to be an entertaining and sometimes news Sunday morning escape to mutated into a series of 17-minute debates on whether to use Giovani Bernard over Ameer Abdullah as my flex receiver.
Yes, I just know that if ESPN could break this potential insider-trading story on a major sponsor, they would be all over it. Just like Fox and Time Warner and Comcast and Google would because, yes, the unofficial and unregulated gambling websites have suckered investors from almost every corner on Wall Street, as well as, and I’m not making this up: Jerry Jones and Robert Kraft.
Fortunately, Weekend Predictions can offer you unbiased coverage. Why? Because we don’t have any paid sponsors! Yeah! (Wait. Why am I happy?)
Hey, I just want my pre-game show back. And so ends this week’s, “Get Off My Lawn!” segment. Punks.
Now, back to the remains of Georgia. The season continues, even if the expectations were run over by an 18-wheeler last week: Alabama 38, Trembling Chihuahuas 10. Georgia has had its share of disasters in Knoxville. The doggies were favored and lost in 2007 (35-14), favored and lost in 2009 (45-19), favored and barely won in 2014 (34-31 in overtime), but lost multiple limbs, effectively submarining the season.
This week, the question is: How hung over are they? They are favored by 3. This is a game I walk away from in Las Vegas. But here, I have no choice. Tennessee struggles against the run, so there’s a good reason to not let Greyson Lambert throw. Closing my eyes, but here goes: Dogs win and cover 3.
“Poor Poor Pitiful Pups” (as I revisit my teenage crush)
Georgia Tech (Bugs) at Clemson (Windshield): I never looked at the fine print in Paul Johnson’s new contract, but does he get some kind of bonus for losing to Duke and North Carolina in consecutive seasons? Or did he just figure, “Hey, if Brian Gregory can do it, I can do it”? The Jackets have dropped three straight since two wins that don’t really matter (Alcorn State and Tulane). Johnson has a history of ruining Dabo Swinney’s day, but I’m just not feeling it. Tigers cover 6½.
Arkansas at Alabama: From Nick Saban, right on cue after last week’s leveling of Georgia, when asked by a media member about his belief in his team: “It’s not going to be for you! The fans, yes. Because if it was up to you, we’re six feet under already! We’re dead and buried and gone! Gone!” And then he spontaneously combusted. Bammy covers 16.
We now take you to Nick Saban’s news conference
Florida at Missouri: The Gators have to be considered the favorite to win the SEC East after upsetting Ole Miss last week. That clicking sound you’ve been hearing is Georgia fans going on StubHub to see how much they can get for their tickets in a few weeks. Gators cover 5.
Miami at Florida State: Miami’s social media person sent out Tweet requesting all FSU fans to post their comments on the website unsolicitedfsufancomments.com. When you click “send” on the site, the comments disappear into a hurricane. Clever. Whoever came up with that should replace Al Golden. Seminoles cover 9.
South Carolina at LSU: This scheduled South Carolina home game was moved because of the flooding in Columbia. which is the right thing to do, even though it’s obvious Steve Spurrier would mandate the game be played in Kabul before Baton Rouge if he really thought the Gamecocks had a chance of winning. Blowout: Tigers cover 18½.
New Mexico State at Ole Miss: New Mexico State is 5-35 in the last three-plus seasons, 25-102 since 2005 and 298-550-14 in 82 years. Question: Does this end better than the last big story in New Mexico (Breaking Bad)? Rebels cover 43½.
Appalachian State at Georgia State: The Panthers have a chance to go to 2-0 in the Sun Belt. OK, I can cross typing that sentence off my bucket list. App State wins but take GSU and 15.
Pros (or just faking it)
D.C.’s team at Falcons: The last two times the Falcons started 4-0 they went to the NFC championship game, so consider the rest of the season a mere formality. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and a bunch of other Falcons’ assistants used to work in D.C. until they escaped Dan Snyder’s Cuckoos’ Nest, kind of like when the “Chief” threw the sink through the window and made his exit (kids: Google). Falcons cover 7.
Patriots at Cowboys: Greg Hardy is back from a suspension after beating and dragging his ex-girlfriend across the floor and throwing her on his pile of guns and assault weapons. This week, he cracked jokes about how hot Tom Brady’s wife was, said he’d come out “guns a blazin'” in his first game and when asked if he felt any remorse or regret said, “I’m sorry I couldn’t be here for my teammates.” Yeah, he’ll be waaay south of here one day. Patriots cover 8½.
Saints at Eagles: Sean Payton and Chip Kelly plan to meet at midfield before the game, shake hands and exchange resumes. Philly covers 4½.
Jaguars at Bucs: Jacksonville has lost 11 straight road games but I’m guessing nobody goes to the games in Tampa anyway. Jameis Winston has seven interceptions, three fumbles and nine sacks in four games. This is as close as he’ll get to a Wake Forest game again, but: Jags win, take the 3.
Rams at Packers: St. Louis city officials announced a proposed naming rights deal for a new football stadium before financing for the stadium has been approved, not to mention the fact that the stadium would be empty because the Rams almost certainly are going back to Los Angeles. Does St. Louis get DeKalb’s rejects? Packers win but take the Rams and 8½.
Cardinals at Lions: Saw a stat: Matthew Stafford is 3-32 against teams that finish with a winning record. It’s probably why some fans to burn his jersey last week. But then, if you’re not burning a jersey or a car in Detroit, what’s the point of a weekend? Arizona covers 2½.
Georgia at Tennessee: Mighty Mutt (4-1) has won four straight. Maybe she should be starting for the Lions. This week, we upgraded with pieces of salami on pictures of two quarterbacks, Georgia’s Greyson Lambert and Tennessee’s Joshua Dobbs. Lilly went right … to Lambert. Dogs win.
Scorecard and Sack Schultz update
“A pack of cards is the devil’s prayer book.” — German proverb
Last week (yech): 6-7 straight up, 6-7 against the line.
Bottom dollars: 40-23 straight up, 32-30-1 against the line.
Sack Schultz update: I stunk last week: 8-7, dropping me to 487th place. I look at this as abbreviated indigestion. Last week’s winners: Christobal Lozano (12-3) of Marietta and William Maynor (14-1). Our overall leader is still “Hammer63” of Alabama with 62 wins. Enter for great weekly and end-of-season prizes including Chick-fil-A Bowl tickets, $2,500 Apple card and Kroger cards at AJC.com/go/sackschultz2015.
•Recent ramblings • Braves may have a plan but it will be a while before masses buy in • Here’s your Depressed Braves Fan viewing guide to the postseason • Overeaction Monday: Now is not time to make decision on Richt • Falcons 4-0, Freeman 7 TDs — who didn’t see that coming? • Short takes: An easy Falcons win, and this is a team to take seriously • Richt and Georgia fall off stage again when it matters most • Short takes: Georgia’s reality check — there’s a problem at quarterback • Georgia needs win over Alabama to alter perceptions • Weekend Predictions: Nothing sinister here – Dogs over Bama • Georgia hired Jeremy Pruitt for games like this • Nationals are a more attractive mess than the Braves • Overreaction Monday: Georgia may be 4-0 but season starts now • Georgia now can prepare for opponent that matters most: Alabama • Short takes on Georgia’s win over Southern • Weekend Predictions: Lilly takes the lead and likes Falcons • Falcons’ fourth-quarter fizzles absent so far under Dan Quinn • Braves have been more adept at building off field than on it • Overreaction Monday: Are things as they seem with Falcons, Dogs, Jackets? • Georgia chases away Spurrier demons with dominating performance • Short takes: Lambert says, ‘I just had to go through a rough patch’ • Georgia can’t blow game, Tech can’t blow chance • Tech over Irish, Georgia over South Carolina (but not by 17) • Tech has something Georgia would like — comfort at quarterback position • An impressive opening by Dan Quinn’s new Falcons • Short takes: Gruden praises Falcons’ defense after win • Georgia looks like a shaky 2-0 with its passing game • Short takes: Another Georgia win but QB issues continue • Weekend Predictions: I can’t block this Falcons’ upset from my brain • Poll: I say 9 wins for Falcons, national media mixed, what say you? • Falcons’ late roster scramble not a good sign • Fredi Gonzalez needs to make more of his losing hand • Lambert good but didn’t do enough to cement starting job • Lambert, lightning and the joy of Keith Marshall • Kennesaw State’s little startup off to a dazzling start • Weekend Predictions: Dogs, Jackets roll, Spurrier escapes, Petrino goes down • Falcons won Julio Jones trade but would like to forget 2012 draft