Hello and welcome back to the season’s final episode of Weekend Predictions, or as we like to call it, “Other than those times when I said Alabama will win and cover the spread and crush your soul and make even your children look at you the way your mother looked at you the first time you mixed blue and green Play-Doh with peanut butter and said with great enthusiasm, “Look mom! I made dinner!” and unfortunately you were 17, forget everything else I said.
Because there has been only one constant this college football season: Nick Saban. He is Zeus.
Alabama is favored by 24 over Florida in the SEC Championship game.
I’m not sure if that’s points or major organs.
The line opened at 21, and people still thought, “Come on. Challenge me.”
Georgia fans are upset their team didn’t make it to the game this week, despite the fact that in college football, the SEC East is like the Iceland of world powers.
Alabama is going to have to start paying SEC East opponents in this game the way they would a Sun Belt team.
No, the Bulldogs are better off being in Athens this week, a safe distance from flying shrapnel and limbs. Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney had a hard enough time trying to match wits with Nicholls State and Vanderbilt.
Back to Saban. He’s 65 going on Hulk. Somebody dared to broach the subject this week that Alabama could afford to lose this game and probably still make it into the four-team playoffs. Upon hearing this scenario, Saban’s head started rumbling like Mt. Vesuvius. It was like that scene from the 1980s science-fiction classic, “Scanners,” when the guy’s head explodes, and a stunned audience flees the theater.
“It’s never OK to lose a game!” Saban said.
And then lasers shot out of his eyes and took out two bloggers in the first row.
Then the line went up another two points.
Alabama has won 24 straight. It has won its past three games by a combined score of 112-18. The point differential in the Tide’s 12 wins this season was 336 (473-137). Florida’s total output: 265 points.
Florida has no chance.
The Gators were the last East team to win the conference title. That came in 2008, two head coaches and one Tim Tebow ago.
Enjoy the little participation trophy, pizza and juice boxes for winning the East. Gators are going down. Bama covers a billion.
ACC: Clemson vs. Virginia Tech: Deshaun Watson threw six touchdown passes in less than three quarters against South Carolina before coach Dabo Swinney pulled him. He would’ve left him in, but Steve Spurrier wasn’t coaching, and it’s just not as much fun piling on Will Muschamp. The Tigers should enjoy this: It might be their last win of the season. Clemson covers 10.
Visualizing Spurrier last week
Pac-12: Colorado vs. Washington: If the Huskies lose, the Left Coast will be shut out of the playoffs for the second straight year, and angry fans will march on NCAA offices, armed with lattes and EXTRA hard biscottis. Of course, none of this changes what matters most: 99 percent of the world would rather live in Seattle than Tuscaloosa, and the other one percent eat at Golden Corral. Washington wins, but take Colorado and 7.
Big Ten: Wisconsin vs. Penn State: Regardless of who claims this title game, there’s a chance if Washington loses (or wins unimpressively) that two Big Ten teams (Ohio State, Michigan) make the playoffs and neither would be the conference champion. That’s my preferred scenario. Because, duh, chaos. Everybody leaning toward Cheese, I’m going the other way: Take the gift 3 and the Nittany Lions in a mild upset.
Baylor at West Virginia: Liberty hired Baylor’s former disgraced AD, Ian McCaw, who was fired for failing to respond to several sexual-assault cases involving athletes. Welcome to selective Christianity. There’s not enough Hail Marys in the world to salvage the remains of Jerry Falwell’s soul. West Virginia covers 17 over the nation’s grease spot.
NFL Snack Pack
Chiefs at Falcons: The football analytics site Football Outsiders gives the Falcons an 82.5 percent chance of winning the NFC South and an 88.5 percent chance of making the playoffs, which of course leads every Falcons fan to project, “Crushed by that 11.5 percent chance again.” But seriously: four major defensive injuries — not good. The offense will have to row this boat. Falcons win, but take K.C. and 4.
Falcons are hard at work to fix the holes
49ers at Bears: Chip Kelly said he’s not going back to Oregon. I don’t blame him. That’s a big step up from the 49ers right now. Bears cover 1.
Lions at Saints: In 20 games since Detroit fired offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, Matthew Stafford has thrown for 5,279 yards, 39 touchdowns and nine interceptions with a rating of 101.9. Lombardi is now New Orleans’ quarterback coach. Funny. He hasn’t seemed to screw up Drew Brees. Saints cover 6.
Rams at Patriots: Rams coach Jeff Fisher told one of the greatest players in franchise history, Eric Dickerson, to cool the criticism or he couldn’t stand on the sideline. I have a question: Since he hasn’t won a playoff game since 2003, how is it that Fisher is still standing on the sideline? And what in the world did he do to Todd Gurley? Patriots win, but take L.A. and 13½.
Browns (0-12): Bye week. Good time for a parade.
Bills at Raiders: Remember all of those people who wanted Rex Ryan as the Falcons’ head coach? Whatever happened to them? Raiders cover 3.
Texans at Packers: Green Bay ended a skid with a win over Philadelphia and coach Mike McCarthy acknowledged, “It’s hard to have people not like you. Hell, we’re the Green Bay Packers.” Not at 5-6, you aren’t. Packers cover 6½.
Sack Schultz update
Congratulations to Jack Branscomb of Lilburn, who I will be contacting in the near future for suggestions on stocks and mutual funds. Jack (cheater) swept both grand prizes in “Sack Schultz 2016” with 141 wins this season. He wins both the AJC grand prize of two tickets to the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl playoff semifinal, as well as the national grand prize, a $2,500 Apple Vacation card or $2,500 in cash. Thanks for playing everybody. All be back next season with a new set of darts.
Last week: 10-5 straight up, 9-6 against the line.
Bottom dollars: 122-56-1 straight up, 88-87-4 against the line.
Lilly’s pick: The mutt hasn’t had a great season, but looks to finish off with a win. It didn’t seem right to have her pick a straight winner in the SEC title game, so I told her Florida came with 24 biscuits. I put up cheese’d pictures of Albert (Florida’s mascot) and Big Al (Alabama’s mascot). Lilly darted right: to Big Al. Bama covers 24.
Subscribe for free to the, “We Never Played The Game” podcast with Jeff Schultz and WSB’s Zach Klein on iTunes. All episodes can be downloaded and heard on iTunes or here via WSBRadio.com.
- Paul Johnson was never Tech’s problem, but new AD has other things to fix
- Falcons bucking odds but poor defensive teams have won Super Bowls before
- After Alabama, SEC has been left in dust by Big Ten
- Reader poll: Has Georgia’s 7-5 season caused you to lose faith in Kirby Smart?
- Georgia blows a game, and that’s on Kirby Smart
- Bar might’ve been too high but Kirby Smart has a ways to go
- Weekend Predictions: Dogs over Jackets, NCAA over Notre Dame
- Giving thanks on this day, at least to those who deserve it
- Brian VanGorder’s return to Georgia makes a lot of sense
- Will Falcons be ready this time for season’s finishing kick?
- Credit to Georgia for trying to make something of this season
- Chubb, McKenzie, among factors in Georgia’s favor vs. Georgia Tech
- Podcast blog: Pastner says Tech will be ‘championship level program,’ recalls tough times
- Weekend Predictions: Dept. of Bankruptcies suggest taking Georgia
- For Georgia State, building a winner is only half the challenge
- Is it right time for Braves to deal assets — for Chris Sale, perhaps?
- Falcons go into the bye week the wrong way
- Keanu Neal can expect fine but Falcons’ biggest issue is injuries
- Georgia Tech does something nobody expected (again)
- With upset win, Georgia Tech suddenly has chance to go 9-4
- Weekend Predictions: Some things are easy to predict (Dogs lose)
- Dan Quinn may have fixed what ailed Falcons
- Podcast: Smoltz says Clemens, Bonds shouldn’t be in Hall of Fame
- Falcons give Dimitroff three-year extension — and yes, I agree
- Georgia Tech’s defense is a trainwreck, and that’s on Johnson
- Georgia Tech’s defensive problems: Is it players or coaching?
- Weekend Predictions: In an upside down world, it’s Kentucky over Georgia
- Will SEC get two teams into college football playoffs?
- Hawks needed a spark but Dennis Schroder brings a blowtorch
- Podcast blog: Hawks’ owner says, ‘I want a (bleepin’) parade’
- At 4-4, Georgia’s bowl eligibility suddenly isn’t a certainty
- Dogs dumped, and rebuilding projects shouldn’t look this bad
- Weekend Predictions: Surprise from underworld — Dogs upset Gators
- Podcast blog: If you don’t know Jesse Itzler, you want to know Jesse Itzler
- Hawks are taking the leap on Schroder, rest is up to him
- Florida has defined Georgia’s failures. Can Kirby Smart change that?
- No suspension for players? Welcome to new world at Georgia
- Quinn’s decision might’ve been right but everything else was wrong
- Throwback performance: Falcons blow 27-10 lead and lose
- If Howard can help Hawks, he’ll change how his story is written
- Weekend Predictions: Dogs, Jackets hibernate; Falcons, Bama roll
- Paul Johnson on critics, future; will Jackets finish better than Dogs?
- Georgia’s makeover looks more like a decline
- Georgia playing to level of opponents — and against Vandy, that’s bad
- Weekend Predictions: Votes for Dogs and Jackets, but Falcons’ run ends in Seattle
- Podcast blog: Braves should have done a little more for Snitker
- Brian Snitker, a 40-year temp, finally gets his shot
- Braves’ Snitker an unusual choice but not necessarily wrong choice