Hard Truths: Falcons, Dawgs and Jackets

Here are a few hard truths about where each of these teams sits right now in their respective seasons.

FALCONS

Right now you are barely a Top-10 team the league.

Actually you might not even be that. Since (here’s that old ‘if the playoffs began today’) you are not in the playoffs for the NFC right now. It’s not just the fact the Falcons are currently in 3rd place of the NFC South it’s that they have played like a 3rd place, non-playoff team. They have a lot to prove to themselves, their fans and the league.

Matt Ryan’s MVP good will is already gone.

Let’s be clear, not everything misfiring on offense is Ryan’s doing or fault. His protection has been spotty at best and his receivers have not help with dropped and tipped balls. Still his current QBR (quarterback rating) among QBs who have thrown at least 100 passes so far this season ranks him 20th in the league. 20TH! He rates behind players like Case Keenum and Josh McCown. Additionally ‘Matty Ice’ has melted in late game heroics in the last two losses. Ryan is still a great player and has it within him to post eye-popping numbers in an elite attack it just hasn’t happened yet this season.

You might miss the playoffs.

Yes it is still early. Right now the Falcons are in 7th place in the NFC (and tied with Seattle and Washington in the loss column for 8th and 9th). It also appears the NFC South will be a hotly contested division between 3 teams (and maybe all 4) and the race for the two wild card spots in the NFC could involve as many as 7-8 teams until the final two weeks. It does help this club already has 3 conference wins. The first division game is in three weeks. It’s a road game against a resurgent Panthers club and that game in Carolina is at the end of a back-to-back-to-back three game road trip slog. That it might be a must win down the line is problematic.

You aren’t even the hottest act in your own new stadium.

Nope. Right now that belongs to an expansion team in Major League Soccer.

GEORGIA

Odds are you are not winning the national title this season.

Let’s play out the national title theory for a moment. It’s not a question of whether the Dawgs are an extremely good team, they are. They have 7 wins. Only one of those so far has been over a team that’s a lock to be in a bowl (Notre Dame). To win the title UGA would have to:

– Win 8 straight.

– Win 8 straight over 8 teams that will all be bowl teams.

– Win 8 straight that includes ONLY 2 home games.

– Win 8 straight against possibly 4 Top-10 teams and maybe a run of beating #1, #3 and #1 back-to-back-to-back.

That’s a heavy lift. Also I would not count on losing the SEC Title Game as a 12-0 #2 and still making the playoff. The odds of that happening are slim.

That ‘G’ on your helmet is now an even bigger target.

Your success combined with your back loaded schedule means that your three biggest rivals (Florida, Auburn, Georgia Tech) have even more fuel to seek to not just beat you but ruin your run. Also, none of those three games is in Athens.

You might still have a controversy at QB.

Jake Fromm has exceeded expectations but now comes the hard part. Jacob Eason is healthy and the defenses ahead (Gators, Will Muschamp, War Eagles, etc.) are just slightly better than Missouri and Vanderbilt. By ‘slightly’ we mean ‘100 miles ahead’. If HC Kirby Smart needs an offensive spark at some point he won’t hesitate to make a switch. And then…..

GEORGIA TECH

You wanted ‘Special’ not ‘Salvage’.

Those two dreaded words no team anywhere ever wants to hear. ‘If only…’. The Jackets are two plays away from wins away from home against Tennessee and Miami. Two plays from being 5-0. Two plays from being ranked no lower than #12 in this week’s AP poll. Two plays from starting to wonder if this would turn out to be a special season. It can still be a great year but now there’s a ceiling that does not include playoff dreams.

The ACC Title Game is now out of reach.

The Miami loss means a lot of things and none of them are good. If Tech wins its final five conference games (and all of them are against teams that will make a bowl and three of those are on the road) Miami needs to go 4-1 against an easier slate of opponents. Lose just one more league game (like at Clemson in two weeks) and not only would Miami have to lose twice, so would Virginia and you have to make sure that additional loss you have is not to Virginia Tech. Tech’s only real road appears to be to win out and pray.

And… THE GOOD

The Falcons have 11 games to go…. that’s an enternity. And the Packers just lost Rodgers. Just start playing better, please! If they do and go on a little run the pressure drops and could well again be considered the team to beat in the NFC.

Georgia has a defense that, alone, can carry the club as an unbeaten into the SEC Title Game. Even if the Dawgs don’t make the playoffs, this season can be a rousing success with an East title and a major bowl. There are big years coming under Kirby.

Tech has exceeded expectations (well at least those of the outside ‘experts’) and The Jackets have a potential major star in RB-turned-QB TaQuon Marshall and 8-9 wins plus a solid bowl will be a succesful season.

More from John Fricke
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