Weekend Predictions: Dogs over Alabama

Before we get to this week’s big game between Exxon and Fred’s Friendly Fillin’ Station of Athens, this update from the underworld of politics, finance and board meetings in darkened broom closets:

According to the bazillion billable hours of research and that old man strength of Mike Bowers, who used to be a state attorney general, kinda like the legal world’s version of Patton, but with a Mont Blanc and possibly and an ex-Playmate girlfriend, but that’s another story, DeKalb “interim” (or “very, very interim”) CEO Lee May presides over a government that is “rotten to the core” and has engaged in “sinister conduct.” That includes a cozy relationship with a vendor who arranged for $6,500 in repairs at May’s home for a sewage backup, and I believe the word you’re looking for is: irony.

The kicker to the DeKalb mess — I promise, I’ll get to football eventually — is that Lee hired Bowers for $850,000. “It was the biggest, “Thanks for the money, now watch me submarine your career” boomerang since Frank Wren signed B.J. Upton.

This week, Alabama, which seems to always win everything, plays Georgia, which seems to always win the Citrus Bowl. Georgia is favored. It’s the first time Alabama is an underdog since the 2009 SEC Championship game against Florida, and the Crimson Tide took that so well that they body-slammed the Gators 32-13.

There are a lot of reasons for Georgia fans to be confident. Nick Chubb. Sony Michel. Malcolm Mitchell. Defense. But there are two reasons to wonder: 1) Saban, the Dark Lord, doesn’t lose a lot; 2) Greyson Lambert, the Dogs’ quarterback, was Montana-like against South Carolina and Southern, but, well, yeah.

Confidence isn’t at a premium here. But at least Georgia won’t be wearing black jerseys. I’ll take the leap: Dogs win and cover 2 1/2.

Institutes of higher learning (class optional)

North Carolina at Georgia Tech: The Tar Heels excel at academic fraud. The Yellow Jackets have merely proved to be frauds on the field. Jackets cover 7 1/2.

Notre Dame at Clemson: The Tigers haven't played since a win over the remains of Bobby Petrino on Sept. 17. So Dabo Swinney has had extra time to work on his game plan, which normally would lead me to pick the other team. But I'm just not feeling the Fighting Irish's young quarterback in Death Valley. Tigers win a pick 'em.

San Jose State at Auburn: The pace of Auburn's formally sped-up offense now ranks as one of the slowest, 98th in the nation, according to Sports Source Analytics, where I'm certain no employee has a date this weekend. Getting outscored 62-30 in two SEC games won't matter against San Jose State. The 20 is covered.

Mississippi at Florida: Enjoy the ride, Rebels. There's trouble coming in October and November. Gators go down in the swamp, Missy covers 7 1/2.

Arkansas at Tennessee: Arkansas's Bret Bielema and Tennessee's Butch Jones are a combined 10-32 in games against Power Five conference schools since coming to the SEC (hat tip: ESPN's Chris Low). So this is kinda like the SEC's Boston College-Wake Forest game. Vols covers 6 1/2.

Louisville at N.C. State: The Wolfpack dismissed running back Shadrach Thornton after he hit a pedestrian with his moped and then left and also because he already had three suspensions and two arrests and assaulted a female. So N.C. State draws the line at scooter accidents. State wins, but take Louisville and 4 1/2.

Pros and Cons

Texans at Falcons: Julio Jones is on pace for 181 receptions, 2,347 yards, 21 touchdowns and 19 surrenders in the Middle East. If you need Roddy White, he'll be in the kitchen making a sandwich. Falcons cover 6 1/2.

Cowboys at Saints: New Orleans is 0-3 for the first time since 2012, when Sean Payton was suspended for BountyGate. Payton has a similar incentive program this season, but so far nobody has collected the $50 for making a tackle. Saints win, but take Dallas and 5 1/2.

Raiders at Bears: The 0-3 Bears began their strong playoff push this week by trading Jared Allen and Jonathan Bostic. They also would've traded Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, Evan Gattis and Craig Kimbrel, but the Braves beat them to it. Atlanta feels your pain, Chicago. Raiders cover 3.

Packers at Phony Niners: San Francisco is 0-3, Colin Kaepernick threw for 67 yards, four interceptions and two pick-sixes with two sacks last week and some 49ers fans are trying to sell their $2,000-to-$80,000 PSLs to other suckers at a discount. Everybody was so much happier when players were just getting arrested. Green Bay covers 8.

Jags at Colts: Andrew Luck has worse statistics (5 touchdowns, 7 interceptions) than Blake Bortles (5 touchdowns, 3 interceptions). Well. It's clear SOMEBODY screwed up their first-round pick. Market correction: Indy covers 9.

Eagles at Natives: Update from Washington: Robert Griffin III still hasn't dressed for a game. Update from Philadelphia: Chip Kelly still hasn't coached one. Going with the upset: Washington (take the gift 3).

Scorecard

Lilly The Greek: After nailing the Falcons' pick last week to move to 3-1, Lilly showed up for work this week with agent Scott Boras on her leash, demanding a new contract and a full column takeover. I countered with a Milk Bone and reminded her winter is around the corner. She settled. This week, Lilly's choices were cheese'd pictures of Nick Saban and Mark Richt. She went to Richt's picture first, sniffed, then went left. UPSET! Lilly picks Bama.

Last week: 8-5 straight up, 9-4 against the line (big money).

Bottom dollars: 34-16 straight up, 26-23-1 against the number.