According to legend, my second favorite source after things overheard in presidential debates, the dark art of revenge dates back to “Nemesis,” who in Greek mythology was believed to be the goddess of divine retribution. Nemesis was considered a remorseless goddess but she developed a mischievous sense of humor later in life and invented the Cleveland Browns, the New York Mets and pushed an Arkansas football coach and his motorcycle off the side of the road.
This week, the Falcons, who centuries ago must have really ticked off Nemesis, probably when a real falcon pooped on her Chevy, open the season against Tampa Bay.
Nobody is quite sure what to think of the Falcons. They were a slightly more stable version of Sybil last season and have seen their Super Bowl odds balloon from 33-1 to 66-1 since February, as if Nemesis was overheard chortling an evil chortle while standing in the Caesars Palace sportsbook.
The Bucs are viewed as a team on the way up. They have a talented quarterback (Jameis Winston) who proved in college he could run play-action in the seafood aisle at a Tallahassee Publix, a head coach (Dirk Koetter) who knows offense and a former head coach (Mike Smith) whose specialty is defense.
Smith and Koetter used to coach with the Falcons. They were fired. They were not happy.
Smith was all psyched up for Thursday’s news conference in Tampa Bay.
“They’re very good,” he said of the Falcons.
Trust me: Underneath that vanilla exterior, there’s . . . strawberry.
The Falcons are favored by a field goal. Sounds about right. Assuming they’ve learned how to tackle Winston because that didn’t go too well last season. Birds cover 3.
A reminder of Jameis Winston’s 20-yard run on third-and-19
Easily his best moves since doubling back with crab legs (40-second mark)
We’re only one week into the contest, and yes you can still join for a chance to win great prizes, including two tickets to the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. Go to MyAJC.com/go/sackschultz2016 to register. Danny Long (15-0, Topeka, Kansas) and Jack Branscomb (14-1, Lilburn) were last week’s winners. I went 11-4. Not trying to show off yet. For more info click here.
Nicholls State at Georgia: Georgia’s opponent wants us to refer to it as “Nicholls,” I think because Harvard dropped “State” and look what it did for them. But it’s still “Nicholls State” in Wikipedia, the official research department of Weekend Predictions. The school has 5,500 undergrads, none of whom should be playing football in an SEC stadium, but administrators are getting $525,000 to watch this from a safe distance with a fruit platter. Nicholls State has been outscored 359-33 in its last six games vs. FBS opponents. This should go well. Dogs cover 49.
Mercer at Georgia Tech: Paul Johnson took responsibility for the Jackets’ sloppy play in the season opener in Dublin, so he only made his players walk across hot coals for three hours instead of four. Kidding. It was four. So this week isn’t well-timed for Mercer. But the good news is the Jackets have suspended two of their B-backs, which means … actually, almost nothing. Jackets cover 32½.
So many games this week remind me of . . .
Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee: Ever wonder what would happen if Tennessee football intersected with NASCAR? This game will be played at Bristol Motor Speedway. You’ve got no shot of getting a seat in Shoney’s within 60 miles. It would be great if the coaching staffs were dressed as pit crews. Given the near loss to Appalachian State last week, Butch Jones would be wearing a “Laughing Clown Malt Liquor” jumpsuit like Ricky Bobby. Vols win but take VaTech and 11½.
South Carolina at Mississippi State: Dan Mullen lost the opener to South Alabama. No worries. The schedule gets easier now. Mississippi State covers 7.
Jacksonville State at LSU: SEC and ACC opponents this week include Troy, Arkansas State, FAU, Prairie View, Charleston Southern, Wofford and Jax State. But good timing for Les Miles. LSU lost to Wisconsin in Lambeau Field. Now they’re back home, so the worst thing Miles has to worry about is being attacked by drunk boosters plotting his overthrow. Tigers cover 30.
Kentucky at Florida: The last time Kentucky beat Florida in football (1986), Ronald Reagan was in office and Bon Jovi sang, “Livin’ On A Prayer,” which should be Kentucky’s football theme song. Mark Stoops is 4-20 in the SEC. His team blew a 35-10 lead at home and lost to Southern Miss last week. Basketball practice opens Oct. 14. Gators cover 17.
Dear Lord, please forgive me for this . .
Georgia State at Air Force: That loss to Ball State doesn’t crush Trent Miles’ hopes of getting a contract extension but the Panthers may be looking at an 0-4 start with Air Force, Wisconsin and Appalachian State in the next three weeks. So much for bowl season afterglow. Air Force covers 18.
Western Kentucky at Alabama: Nick Saban warned his players not to let down after stealing USC’s dignity last week or they could lose this game. Of course they can. Because schools always pay $1.3 million to play teams they can lose to. Last two meetings: Alabama 76, Western Kentucky 7. Could be Saturday’s score. Bammy covers 29½.
NFL Six Pack
Giants at Cowboys: Dallas opens the season with three players suspended, so angering owner Jerry Jones that he blew out his entire scouting staff at Leavenworth. South America’s team. Giants cover 1..
Rams at 49ers: Colin Kaepernick likes to sit. He might as well get used to it. Rams cover 2½.
Vikings at Titans: Minnesota lost quarterback Teddy Bridgewater so it traded a first-round pick to Philadelphia for Sam Bradford. It was either that or buy a pair of $79,000 socks. Vikings cover 2½.
Patriots at Cardinals: There’s been media speculation that Tom Brady feels threatened by interim replacement Jimmy Garoppolo so he’s giving him the cold shoulder during his suspension. This seems as preposterous as a legendary but insecure quarterback feeling compelled to deflate footballs. Wait a minute. Cardinals cover 6.
Raiders at Saints: Drew Brees is guaranteed $44.25 million in his new contract, even if he plays only two more seasons. Something tells me this team is going to drop into a black hole in 2018. Or sooner. Oakland with a slight upset (take the point).
Last week: 6-3 overall, 4-4-1 against the spread.
Lilly’s pick: The mutt picked North Carolina last week and almost pulled it off. This week, I stuck cheese balls on pictures of former Falcons coach Mike Smith and his replacement, Dan Quinn. Lilly didn’t hesitate. She went right. Against the home team again: Smith and Bucs win.
- Mets sign Tebow but he looks more like ‘Sideshow Tim’ than player
- If Braves sign Tebow, it’s about circus and revenue, not baseball
- Georgia worthy of high expectations — but proceed with caution
- Digi-Blog puts a wrap on Georgia Tech’s trip to Dublin
- Justin Thomas rescues Georgia Tech — with his arm
- Short takes on Georgia Tech’s opening win (or escape)
- Game day: In any country, Georgia Tech needs to be better
- Weekend Predictions: Dogs, Jackets win (but Lilly pulls an upset)
- A solution to satellite camps: Hold them in Ireland
- Until there’s football in Ireland, I had a more important mission
- Foreign land couldn’t be worse for Georgia Tech than U.S. was last year
- Reading between the lines on Smart’s “No News For You” news conference
- Weekend Predictions: It’s ‘Sack Schultz’ time, suckers — win prizes
- Falcons reminding all: These games don’t count
- Predicting Georgia Tech’s season: game-by-game (from AJC special section
- Keanu Neal injury ‘minor’ but Falcons can’t afford any bad news
- (Full Q&A) Chipper Jones likes Braves’ future but says moves needed
- (Blog) Chipper Jones: Braves need moves but he likes future (and being back home)
- Eason will be Georgia’s best QB but that doesn’t mean he’s best now
- Will Turner Field be Eden for Georgia State football?
- Ryan Lochte wins ‘pariah medley’ — loses all 4 endorsement deals
- AP poll got it right but Dogs, Jackets will rise (and watch out for LSU)
- What does future hold for Braves’ starters — and Roger McDowell?
- Turner Field plans would be closer to ‘dream’ if they included Braves
- Preseason Overreaction, Week 2: Ryan, offense ease ‘fears’
- Part of Braves’ future (Swanson) arrives — everybody please breathe
- Can Falcons’ pass rush finally put Bryan Cox in a good mood?