HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 06: Head coach Dan Quinn of the Atlanta Falcons reacts in the second half against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on October 6, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Photo: Tim Warner/Getty Images
Photo: Tim Warner/Getty Images

Weekend Predictions: Falcons finally win again, Georgia rolls, Tech loses 

The Braves were finished after a nightmarish first inning. The Falcons have been outscored by 50 points in the first half of five games. Georgia Tech has yet to score in the first quarter of five games. 

Welcome to Atlanta, where the players play, eventually. Just give them some time to get going, OK? 

Weekend Predictions isn’t one to talk. I finally got my Falcons pick against the spread right last weekend. It only took me four weeks to figure out they can’t be trusted even when getting points. 

I’ve been skeptical that the Falcons (1-4) are any good since before the season. They immediately provided evidence I was right. But give me points ATS and I’ll start making cases against my own opinions. 

» MORE: How to watch all 52 FBS games through Saturday

I’ve yet to learn the same lessons with Georgia Tech (1-4). Honestly, I have no idea what to make of the Yellow Jackets. Last weekend they couldn’t stop North Carolina on third down, known as “Money Down” at Tech. The Tar Heels took Tech’s cash and left town.  

Meanwhile, the Georgia Bulldogs (5-0) are kind of boring. They turned back a challenge from Notre Dame and have been an efficient machine in their other games. Kirby Smart is urging fans to arrive early for the noon game Saturday. At least their team doesn’t blow it from the start.  

Falcons (-2½) at Cardinals 

The Falcons are talking about simplifying Dan Quinn’s defense, which already is simple. The Falcons have been pretty good stopping the run. That’s hardly mattered because every QB has carved them up except for Kirk Cousins, who didn’t have to because the Vikings ran at will. Arizona’s defense is bad, too, so I’m living dangerously and picking the Falcons to cover as a road favorite. 

South Carolina (+24) at No. 3 Georgia 

Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp wore glasses during his team’s victory over Kentucky and still had them on when addressing media this week. Now he’ll have a clearer view of his team getting blown out by the Bulldogs. I’m just kidding. They are reading glasses, so Muschamp will have a clearer view of plays that won’t work. Seriously, Muschamp’s team has been pretty good on defense, so I’ll take the ’Cocks to cover. 

» MORE: 5 things to know about UGA-South Carolina

Georgia Tech (+17½) at Duke 

How is David Cutcliffe still coaching at Duke? The Blue Devils are 49-34 with three bowl victories since 2013, which seems impossible. Cutcliffe was SEC Coach of the Year at Ole Miss in 2003 after running Tennessee’s offense during the 1998 national championship season. Now ex-Duke QB Daniel Jones is starting as a rookie for the Giants. I’ll still take the Jackets with the points because eventually I’ll luck up and be right. 

» MORE: 5 things to know about Tech-Duke

Georgia State (+4½) at Coastal Carolina 

It hurt my soul to pick the wrong side when GSU beat Arkansas State as a home underdog last weekend. Now the Panthers are on the road against Coastal Carolina, which isn’t much better defensively than Arkansas State. I liked the Panthers in this one until the line made a late move one point in Coastal Carolina’s favors, so I’ll take the home team to cover. 

» MORE: Ground game keeps Panthers moving

SEC games of interest 

No. 1 Alabama (-17) at No. 24 Texas A&M 

The Advocate reports that Nick Saban and his wife, Terry, recently sold an apartment complex they owned in Baton Rouge. Frankly, the only reason I mention that is to note that Saban was head coach at LSU when they bought the property, Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher was his assistant, and Saban still hasn’t lost to a team coached by a former aide. Fisher owns two of the 17 losses by ex-Saban assistants against their former boss. This one makes it 18. Bama covers. 

No. 7 Florida (+13½) at No. 5 LSU 

Per ESPN, Florida and LSU are feuding about which school is the real Defensive Back University, based on NFL players produced. “We didn’t have to advertise it,” Panthers cornerback Eric Reid said. I suppose that’s why he and other ex-LSU defensive backs in the NFL wear “DBU” T-shirts. The expectation seems to be that LSU QB Joe Burrow will carve up the Gators, but this is the best defense he’s faced this season. I’ll take the Gators and the points. 

ACC games of interest 

Florida State (+27) at No. 2 Clemson 

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney dusted off his “ROY bus” mantra, which means “rest of ya’ll bus” because Clemson is among a pack of teams chasing Bama. Running back Darien Rencher told The State: “We thought we were done with it, but I guess he’ll probably make a new logo and give us a shirt soon like he always does.” Man, I didn’t want to make a Falcons T-shirt joke for a third consecutive week, and then Dabo just serves it up. I like FSU to cover. 

Louisville (+ 6½) at No. 19 Wake Forest 

Dave Clawson is kind of doing the same thing at Wake Forest that Cutcliffe is doing at Duke. The Deacons are ranked for the first time since 2008. As a Louisville alum, I didn’t expect the Cardinals to be playing competent football so soon after eradicating the Bobby Petrino virus. Cardinals cover. 

Other college games of interest 

No. 6 Oklahoma (-10½) vs. No. 11 Texas (Dallas) 

Texas safety B.J. Foster added some spice to The Red River Showdown when he issued a warning to Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts. “He’s gonna have to slide, or it’s not gonna be good for him,” Foster told media in Austin. But why should Hurts run when he can just stand in the pocket and pick apart the shaky Longhorns pass defense? I’ll take Oklahoma and give the points. 

No. 10 Penn State (-3½) at No. 17 Iowa 

Penn State is 5-0, good on offense and defense and will be in the College Football Playoff if it wins out. Nittany Lions fans must be feeling great about their team as it prepares for a big game against. ... oh, wait, what’s this? “It’s Okay to Be Confident in Penn State Football” read a headline at fan site blackshoediaries.com. I identify with the self-doubt, but I’ll take Penn State to cover.  

NFC South 

Saints (+1) at Jaguars 

Here’s a tidbit for any Falcons fans not sufficiently bummed out by this season: After three starts Saints backup QB Teddy Bridgewater has a better passing rating (99.5) than Matt Ryan (95.1). The value of that statistic may be dubious, but Bridgewater also has more yards per attempt than Ryan, a lower interception percentage and an equal TD percentage. New Orleans covers. 

Panthers (-2½) vs. Buccaneers (London)

The Panthers have won all three games with QB Kyle Allen starting in place of Cam Newton (foot). Regarding the notion that the Panthers are better with Allen, former Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams told ESPN: “This is not an offense geared toward a mobile quarterback like Cam.” So, the Panthers have coordinator Norv Turner running his preferred scheme for Allen, and Carolina is winning. I can’t see how this can go bad when Newton returns. Bucs cover.

Other NFL games of interest 

49ers (+3) at Rams 

Watching San Francisco’s offense outsmart the Browns in Week 5 made me flashback to how good 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan was as Falcons coordinator in 2016. Then the 49ers took a 28-3 lead, and I thought back to how badly Shanahan and Quinn botched the Super Bowl. At least Shanahan went on to rebuild the 49ers into a good team. San Francisco covers. 

Washington (-3½) at Dolphins 

This game is part of an unofficial round-robin elimination tournament for the NFL’s four winless teams. The Dolphins (0-4) play the Jets (0-4) twice. Washington (0-5) also plays the Jets. The Bengals (0-5) play the Jets and Dolphins. They all can’t go 0-16. The Dolphins are trying hard to do it, though, so I’ll take Washington and give the points.

Last week: 6-6 (45-28-3 season)

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About the Author

Michael Cunningham
Michael Cunningham
Michael Cunningham has covered the Hawks and other beats for the AJC since 2010. 
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