What are the Falcons planning to do at safety?

The Falcons have answered some questions this off-season thus far. They have signed NT Paul Soliai and DE Tyson Jackson to bolster the run defense and OG Jon Asamoah to start at right guard. They also re-signed DT Corey Peters, DT/DE Johnathan Babineaux, C Joe Hawley, and RT Mike Johnson. The recent addition of CB/KR Javier Arenas shows that the Falcons are still shopping, per recent reports that they are still interested in KR Devin Hester to provide a spark in the return game. One question still remains, what are the Falcons doing at safety? With the top targets coming off of the free agency board all within 24 hrs of the league year beginning, what options does that leave the Atlanta Falcons?

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Miami Dolphins

The obvious choice would be Chris Clemons, formerly of the Dolphins. He has the physical tools to  immediately help the Falcons in both run and pass situations. He has his flaws, but the value in that is his price has dropped since we are more than a week after the start of free agency. He could help bridge the gap for one of this May’s draft picks, to allow time to develop.

major wright

Another good option would be Major Wright, formerly of the Bears. This guy has the starting experience on a good defense and will be even cheaper than Clemons due to less name recognition. He quietly keeps the defense from breaking and will help bring along a young rookie that would be drafted this May.

james ihedigbo

There had been talk early this off-season that William Moore could return to his natural position at free safety and the Falcons could sign a strong safety like James Ihedigbo, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens. He has the big play ability close to the line of scrimmage. He could bring a mean streak and aggressiveness to this defense that could change its identity.

The NFL Draft:

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The Falcons could trade back from their 6th overall pick and draft either Ha Ha Clinton-Dix from Alabama, or Calvin Pryor from Louisville. Though this option seems less likely due to their huge need on the offensive line and need for elite pass rusher.

deon bucannon

The Falcons could also sit tight at 37 overall and take Deon Bucannon from Washington State, this is still less likely due to the prior response of greater needs on the team.

terrence brooks

Another option is in the third round at 68 overall. This is the last position where they would likely draft a starter. Florida State’s Terrence Brooks or USC’s Dion Bailey would both be good fits right here, a sleeper would be if Lamarcus Joyner slips to this pick and the Falcons want him at safety instead of corner.

120113 tech premium JC15

The last option in the draft would be to get a back up safety to groom along as the future starter behind a veteran that I mentioned before in free agency. This option could be a local player such as Jemea Thomas out of Georgia Tech or maybe Isaiah Lewis from Michigan State. Both of these players have potential, but may not be ready for a starting NFL role just yet.

The Prediction:

The Falcons will add a veteran safety in free agency and draft a back up/future starter somewhere in rounds 3-5.

Atlanta Falcons Offseason Outlook plus 2014 7-round Mock Draft

First things first, a 4-12 season shows that the Falcons have plenty of holes to fill. They started by maximizing their cap room by “trimming the fat” by cutting cost-efficient salaries and older players who don’t fit the future vision.  The following players have been cut:

CB Asante Samuel, Cap Savings $5.25 million Image

This move should speak for itself. Samuel is still a good player but not worth the $5+ million he’ll count against the cap, seeing as how he has already been replaced by two rookies this season.

LB Stephen Nicholas, Cap Savings $2 million 2014 and $5.5 million in 2015

Nicholas is the highest paid linebacker on the team with the least amount of production, this is a no-brainer.

G Garrett Reynolds, Cap Savings $1.329 million

An under-performing offensive line needs a complete makeover, enough said.

Others that could be cut:

DE Osi Umenyiora, Cap Savings $3.5 million 

I know he just came in this year, but this is a position in need of being upgraded and the birds will need every dollar they can to make the necessary improvements.

S Thomas DeCoud, Cap Savings $3 million in 2014, $4 million in 2015, and  $4.2 million in 2016Image

This move will save a small fortune over the next 3 seasons. It is affordable money if DeCoud’s production was that of his Pro Bowl 2012 season, but the Falcons have little time to wait and see if that returns. They need to use every dollar to see if they can capitalize on a veteran free-agent safety.

RB Jason Snelling, Cap Savings $1.375 million

With three running backs on the roster making more than 1 million against the cap this season, including incumbent starter Steven Jackson and flex back/return man Jaquizz Rodgers, unfortunately Snelling is the odd-man out. Antoine Smith has stepped up as well, making this move less risky.

Free agency is also where the Falcons could make some noise and turn around their fortunes. So here are a few of the options they could pursue:

DE Michael Johnson, Cincinnati

Michael Johnson 

He is a product of the home-town Georgia Tech and could be affordable as a run stuffing defensive end as well as a potential double-digit sack stud. His production in sacks last year was down, hopefully helping the Falcons land him.

FS Jarius Byrd, Buffalo Bills

The Bills now seem as though they will not use the franchise-tag on Byrd. He might be out of the Falcons price-range, but he is the best free safety on the market. If there is a bidding war for his services, it may leave the Falcons looking for another safety in free agency.

FS Antoine Bethea, Indianapolis Colts

antoine bethea

He is a more realistic candidate to be signed by the Falcons, seeing as how he is still an upgrade on DeCoud but he is much more affordable.

OLB Brian Orakpo, Washington Redskins

Of course this is assuming that he even hits the market. He is a candidate for a franchise-tag as well as maybe even an extension. He would be expensive, but it all depends on where the Falcons want to spend their focus within free agency and the draft.

C Alex Mack, Cleveland Browns

He would instantly change the whole dynamic of the offensive line. Mack has already made it clear that there is a slim to none chance that he returns to the struggling Browns. The Falcons may be in the market to really upgrade this position  in particular through free agency.

OT Branden Albert, Kansas City Chiefs

branden albert

The connection of new Falcons Assistant General Manager Scott Pioli being the former General Manager of the Chiefs helps this possibility. He is a former left tackle, right tackle, and also a guard in college. He can bring versatility to the offensive line that it has not seen in a while.

OT Michael Oher, Baltimore Ravens

He does not have any connection, but seems like a good fit at right tackle and would help immensely.

G Willie Colon, New York Jets

He was pursued by new Falcons offensive line coach Mike Tice while he was in Chicago, and he fits his scheme. He would also be a cheap addition who could start at right guard.

Others who didn’t make the cut: DE Greg Hardy-will probably be franchised, DE Michael Bennett-too expensive, OT Eugene Monroe-too big of a market, FS Louis Delmas-too many health concerns

And Now for the 7-round Falcons Mock Draft

Round 1 6th overall- DE/OLB Khalil Mack, Buffalo 

Khalil-Mack

This is assuming the highly coveted Jadeveon Clowney is off the board, and the Falcons would take the best player available which would be the versatile Mack. He has the NFL measurables and he is a clutch player, bringing in his best performances against top competition.

Round 2 37th overall- OT Antonio Richardson, Tennessee

He is a potential left tackle, but could play on the right side immediately as he develops.

Round 3 68th overall- DT Dominique Easley, Florida

He is a top 15 talent that slipped due to his torn ACL. He will be Babineaux’s replacement on the defensive line.

Round 4 99th overall- TE Arthur Lynch, Georgia

arthur lynch

He provides the ability to help in the passing game and as a blocker. Lynch will be a scheme-friendly pick for the Falcons, and should generate some home-town buzz.

Round 5 135th overall- S Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State

He is a tweener at sefety/corner, but his leadership and instincts make him valuable at the next level. He could play behind whoever the Falcons sign in free agency and make his living on special teams for the time being.

Round 5 compensatory- WR/RS Dri Archer, Kent State

He could be the Falcons 4th receiver, and speed demon return specialist. Sometimes it makes sense to take a flier on a guy who could make you look smart, he has gamebreaker potential.

Round 6 166th overall- G Wesley Johnson, Vanderbilt

The need for help along the line has been noted and here is just another body to use for competition in camp.

Round 7 197th overall- WR L’Damian Washington, Missouri

ldamian washington

If he is still here at this pick, the Falcons should jump all over it. He is a big-body receiver who can make plays in the red zone to help replace Tony Gonzalez.

Round 7 compensatory- CB Ross Cockrell, Duke

Talented corner who is underrated for his smooth transitions in coverage. He will help special teams and be a 4th corner.

Round 7 compensatory- QB Connor Shaw, South Carolina

connor shaw

The Falcons do not seem to be high on Dominique Davis, and that’s why they brought in Sean Renfree in the draft last year. They want to create competition behind Ryan. Shaw would provide that and he is originally from Flowery Branch, where the Falcons practice facility is, thus creating local buzz. He is a proven winner, and has great running ability which is also valuable as a backup in the NFL.

Round 7 compensatory- C Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma

This would be adding another guy to the mix in camp to push Peter Konz.

Why is this Richt’s time?

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Most of college football fans know about the success of Georgia Head Football Coach, Mark Richt, but he may be more well-known for what he has not done. Richt is the elder statesman in the SEC, as he has been at UGA since 2001, but Richt’s main critics point to his inability to get to the “big game”, as he rarely has his team in real contention for a national title by season’s end. The famous end to the 2012 SEC Championship game against Alabama, where the Dawgs found themselves just “five yards short” of the National Championship. The others seem to be less haunting, but in 2002 against Florida, the undefeated bulldogs saw Richt bring starting quarterback David Greene off the field to make good on his promise to DJ Shockley. Only, the stage may have been too big at the time for young Shockley he threw a game changing interception which left a blemish on an otherwise great season and the SEC Championship was not enough to propel them to the BCS Championship game.

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The good news is, that coming off of a disappointing season, this is where Richt seems to be at his best. He starts the season just out of the spotlight and slowly gets his team to believe over the course of the season. This season the Dawgs will be replacing the face of the program for the last four years in quarterback Aaron Murray. His replacement, who took over for the last two and a half games of the 2013 season, Hutson Mason is a fifth-year senior who has been Aaron Murray’s backup for the past four years, and in that time, he has created a buzz throughout Bulldog nation for his accuracy in practice and his knowledge of the offense.  In recent years, 4 out of the last 6 BCS National Championships have been won by teams win a first year starting quarterbacks. The defense on the other hand, is returning 9 of 11 starters off of a struggling unit from a year ago and under the new defensive coordinator, from the reigning National Championship defense, Jeremy Pruitt is ready to maximize this group’s sterling potential.

hutson mason

So, why is this Richt’s time? It’s simple, he doesn’t have to be in the top two this season, with the new college football playoff going into effect, all you need is to be in the top four. Now, I’m not saying that Richt would be incapable of leading his team to a Championship, but this format plays into his strengths. He usually has his team playing its best football by season’s end and with the new landscape of the SEC, having so many new quarterbacks, leaves the door wide open. Richt is a molder of men and it usually takes the growth of a season, so if there is an early loss, it will not derail this teams goals.

NFL Previw and Predictions

The NFL season is finally here and officially started with the Kickoff Special last night where the Denver Broncos took care of the Baltimore Ravens 49-27.  The main star of that one being a star of old, Peyton Manning throwing for 450+ yards and 7 TDs, showing everyone he has a lot longer left in the league and lot left in him.  Last night was a strong indication that the Broncos are for real this year but it still is only one game and there is a lot of football to be played.

This new season brings about hope for, well most every team, and just a new football season brings joy to everyone no matter how bad their team is.  There will be really good teams, really bad teams, frustratingly average teams and always a surprise team or two.  So what teams will win their division and who will go the playoffs and win the Super Bowl you might be asking?  Well your in luck because I’m going to tell you how it will all go down.

Division Champions

AFC East-New England Patriots

Tom Brady still there and the mastermind Bill Belichick still running things makes this an easy pick for the Patriots to retain their AFC East division crown.  There will be too much offense even without the weapons for the other teams in the division to matchup.  Their defense will be the unsung hero of the season, and their continued dominance of offense will be too much for division foes.

AFC North-Cincinnati Bengals

I am liking what Cincy has got going on.  They will have a formidable offense led by Dalton and A.J. Green and their defense is probably their strongest point actually.  Led by their star DT Geno Atkins and star cornerback Leon Hall, the Bengals defense will look to put the clamps on every one they play.  Matching up with their division opponents is very favorable considering it’s against all teams that aren’t known for their offense.  Cincy will edge out the Ravens and claim the division crown.

AFC South-Houston Texans

Texans are the most balanced team in the division, and they certainly have the best defense.  As long as Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, and Arian Foster can stay healthy, they will be able to take their division.  They will receive stiff competition from the Colts but it won’t be enough.  They will use their balanced offensive attack and their stingy defense to overmatch their opponents.  They will split with the Colts in the season but that won’t hurt them in winning the division.

AFC West-Denver Broncos

Peyton Manning will look to bring the Super Bowl Trophy back to the Mile High City Picture from sports-lite.com

Peyton Manning will look to bring the Super Bowl Trophy back to the Mile High City
Picture from sports-lite.com

As we saw last night, they are truly going to be a powerhouse this year.  Peyton looked better than he ever has, gasp!, and there are so many weapons for Peyton to throw too.  I mean he threw 3 of his TD passes to TE Julius Thomas and WR Andre Caldwell.  He didn’t even hit Welker, D. Thomas, or Decker for one until he finally found Welker for his 4th TD pass of the night.  Point being, they are loaded and their offense will be more than good enough to cover up for some holes on defense.  They will be way too much to handle for any of their division opponents.

NFC East-Dallas Cowboys

A surprise pick I would say, but something is telling me to not go with the obvious RGIII led Redskins.  I think Romo has been playing his best lately in his career and it will continue this season.  Only this time he will get some help from his defense.  The Cowboys will look to generate a lot of offense and hope to get a lot of it from their running back Demarco Murray, as long as he can stay healthy.  This division will be highly contested but the Cowboys will edge the Redskins out.

NFC North-Green Bay Packers

This will be another shootout of a division.  The Packers have to get better on defense and Clay Matthews will see to it that that does happen.  QB Aaron Rodgers will see to it that the offense doesn’t slow down one bit and look to continue his dominance in the league.  They will have to beat out other offensive power teams in their division but the Packers are the best overall team and take the division again this year.

NFC South-Atlanta Falcons

Matt Ryan will look to guide the Falcons to the Super Bowl. Picture from www.tumblr.com

Matt Ryan will look to guide the Falcons to the Super Bowl.
Picture from http://www.tumblr.com

Atlanta is the only sure thing in this division.  Although their offensive line looked soft in the preseason, they should be just fine when the real games get kicked off.  They have too many offensive weapons to not win the division and I think that their defense is an underrated one.  Their offense will carry them to the postseason though and the question will be if their defense can help them out enough in the postseason.  Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Roddy White, Steven Jackson, Tony Gonzalez.  That’s all you need to know to tell you whose going to win the division.

NFC West-San Francisco 49ers

This will be a tough, tough division for any of the teams to win a lot of games within.  The 49ers though have the best offense and best defense in their division, just by a small margin though over the Seahawks.  Kaepernick will be a stud again for them and he’ll get a full season, just think of the numbers he could put up and the excitement he can create.  Their defense will again be stoutly led by future Hall of Famer Patrick Willis.  They will survive their tough division and schedule but benefit from it mightily down the road.

Wild Card

AFC-Baltimore Ravens, Indianapolis Colts

Ravens will have enough offense and defense to propel them, their weaker division will help them too.  Flacco will once again make the playoffs and who knows once you get in, anything can happen.  The Colts will be led by their strong QB play of Andrew Luck and a manageable division schedule will benefit the Colts.  They will be improved on defense as well which will help them.

NFC-Washington Redskins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Josh Freeman will look to erase the critics and prove his worth as a franchise QB. Picture from borntocompete.com

Josh Freeman will look to erase the critics and prove his worth as a franchise QB.
Picture from borntocompete.com

RG III will not be denied a trip to the playoffs, they will fall short of the division to the Cowboys but this team will be a dangerous one.  Their strong defense led by London Fletcher will keep them in games and their explosive play from RGIII will propel their offense.  The Bucs are a sneaky, sleeper pick.  No one is giving them much respect but with their offseason additions and their nice rebound year last year, I just think they will do enough to get there.  Freeman will be much better resulting in their offense being dangerous and their defense will be better to help them edge into the playoffs.

AFC Champion-Denver Broncos

The Broncos will lock up home field advantage again this year and use that to their advantage and not let it go to waste again.  They are the most explosive AFC team and they will have one of the better defenses too.  It won’t be as good as Houston’s defense, but it will be good enough to compliment their offense.  Peyton will have record breaking numbers and look to get his second Super Bowl ring and they just might do it.

NFC Champion-San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers are no doubt the most balanced and strongest NFC team.  They can run, throw, play defense with all the same effectiveness.  They will be too much for anyone that opposes them, but it will not be an easy road.  Kaepernick will get them to the Super Bowl for the second straight season and would look like it could be their year.

Super Bowl Champion-Denver Broncos

Peyton Manning celebrating what he hopes to be another Super Bowl in his future. Picture from www.sportsmole.co.uk

Peyton Manning celebrating what he hopes to be another Super Bowl in his future.
Picture from http://www.sportsmole.co.uk

I have the Broncos beating the 49ers in the Super Bowl.  I have to go with my early, early pick of the Broncos being the best team.  Peyton and his endless list of weapons will be too much for any opponent.  Kaepernick and the 49ers fall short yet again, but they’ve got a lot of time ahead of them.  The 49ers defense is better but Peyton Manning is well Peyton Manning.  Peyton will get Super Bowl number two and not let his younger brother out do him.  Wouldn’t that be nice, to see Peyton light it up this year and get a second and much deserving Super Bowl ring this late in his career, post neck injury.  After the game John Elway will proclaim to everyone, “This one’s for Peyton.”

So there you have it, the NFL predictions in it’s entirety.  It should be another great season and I am glad it is already here.  I’m ready to kick back and take it all in.  Let us know what you think about the season right here and how you see it all playing out.  I wish your team well!

ACC Week 2 Picks and Preview

Boyd and Watkins will again dominate this week. Picture from www.orangeandwhite.com

Boyd and Watkins will again dominate this week.
Picture from http://www.orangeandwhite.com

Hey guys! Week 2 in the ACC is about to begin and I know I’m excited about it!  After a really good showing in week 1, the ACC will be looking to continue it’s early season dominance.  Let’s take a look at all the games and I’ll let you know how each one will play out.

Wake Forest at Boston College

This is the lone ACC Conference game of the week and it features two teams that not many people know a lot about.  Wake Forest should be average this year while BC is just not going to be any good.  It is conference play so who knows what could happen but Wake should have no problems moving the ball with their offense.  Wake Forest wins 31 -17.

12 Florida at Miami

Another SEC/ACC matchup and a hated rivalry at that.  They don’t play that much anymore nor will they in the future so for bragging rights, this one means a lot.  Florida will bring their hard nosed rushing offense and challenge Miami’s defense that way and use that ground game to open up the pass.  Miami will use their stud Duke Johnson any way they can to generate offense but it won’t be enough.  Gators win 27-17.

Middle Tennessee at North Carolina

Seemingly an over-matched game to the untrained eye but to the experts such as I, you can see clearly this will be a closer one than expected.  North Carolina will ride the arm of the QB Bryn Renner to victory in this one, but a late drive by the Blue Raiders will scare the Tar Heels as they will narrowly escape with a victory by sealing it with a turnover.  Tar Heels win 28-24.

South Carolina State at 4 Clemson

I know the FCS made a good showing in week 1 but no amount of “Clemson being Clemson” will make this an upset.  Boyd will continue building on his already impressive numbers and make me look smart yet again for picking him as the ACC MVP.  Clemson wins big 55-7.

Western Carolina at Virginia Tech

The Hokies have been known to have their share of early season slip ups in the past “ahem, East Carolina and James Madison”, but not this time.  They did some things to be encouraged about against the top team in the country and will build on those things to roll over this FCS weak opponent.  Hokies win big 41-13.

2 Oregon at Virginia

The most awesome uniforms take the field against the Cavaliers and one can’t wait to see what they run out this week.  Oregon’s offense is beyond explosive and that will continue this weekend.  Virginia had a good win against a tough BYU team but no amount of confidence will trip up the Ducks.  I mean Oregon’s uniforms already gives them 2 to 3 touchdowns before they even step on the field.  Oregon and their awesome uniforms smash Virginia 56-21.

Old Dominion at Maryland

A new FBS opponent in Old Dominion will take on the mighty Terrapins.  Maryland looked really good in their first game and showed they do have some sort of offense after all.  Their QB C.J. Brown was flawless in their first game and they will ride that into this one.  Terrapins manhandle Old Dominion 38-17.

Duke QB Anthony Boone looks to lead Duke to a 2-0 start. Picture from espn.go.com

Duke QB Anthony Boone looks to lead Duke to a 2-0 start.
Picture from espn.go.com

Duke at Memphis

Ooo Duke and Memphis, this will be an interesting one no doubt.  Duke was solid in their first game and Memphis is playing their first game of the year.  I think Duke being in a groove after playing one game will be the difference in this one as Memphis is trying to shake off the first game jitters and rust.  Duke wins 27-21.

Syracuse at 19 Northwestern

The Cuse and Northwestern will clash and the Wildcats mean business this season.  Syracuse looked good in their first game against Penn State, even with being over-matched.  Northwestern though looked much better in their win over Cal.  Northwestern is a sleeper in the Big Ten and will show why again this weekend.  Wildcats win easily 34-21.

Richmond at NC State

Another FCS opponent looking to do the unthinkable.  Although Richmond is a more formidable FCS opponent, just can’t go with an FCS team winning ever in a game.  NC State will continue to play solid on both sides of the ball and win easily.  Wolfpack win 45-17.

Bye: Florida State, Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh

There’s your game picks and preview of each game getting you ready for this weekend of ACC action.  I have the ACC going 7-4 this weekend which is a nice way to follow up an impressive week one.  Again, there are some games where they are just over-matched but most games are very winnable for the teams.  The ACC will look good again and prove it’s out of conference worth more this weekend.  Let me know what you think will take place in the ACC this week and how you feel about my picks.

ACC Makes Good First Impression

Well the first weekend of college football is in the books and upon review of the ACC, it was an overall good first impression.  They weren’t undefeated by no means but the conference as a whole produced a 10-4 record for the weekend and that includes one ACC conference game.  No ACC team lost in upset fashion and the ones that did lose were just over-matched by their opponent.  All the ACC victories were ones that certainly help the strength of a conference that desperately needs it.

Clemson QB Tajh Boyd led his Tigers to an impressive win over SEC power Georgia. Picture from msn.foxsports.com

Clemson QB Tajh Boyd led his Tigers to an impressive win over SEC power Georgia.
Picture from msn.foxsports.com

In the ACC’s biggest win this weekend, 8 Clemson defeated 5 Georgia 38-35 to really put them in great position to make a run at a national title.  Clemson’s offense was clicking but what was most impressive was the defense’s ability to handle the SEC caliber offensive and defensive lines throughout the entirety of the game.  My pick as Tajh Boyd as ACC MVP certainly looking good right now after finishing 18-30 for 270 yards and 3 TDs, and running for 42 yards and 2 TDs.

11 Florida State continued ACC dominance over new ACC member Pitt in a 41-13 rout.  The star is no doubt my predicted newcomer of the year Jameis Winston who was 25-27 for 356 yards and 4 TDs, he also ran for 2 yards and a TD.  His talent is unquestioned, although a weak opponent, a great first road win for him and the Noles.

Maryland, Miami, Georgia Tech, NC State, Wake Forest, and Duke more than did enough to take care of business this past weekend.  All these teams playing inferior opponents and all looked very good getting the job done, most so was Georgia Tech, my ACC Coastal sleeper pick, who won convincingly 70-0 over FCS opponent Elon.  Even though an FCS opponent, they dominated them with their triple-option attack and did not let up all game.  Not giving up any TDs looks good too.

Close wins over opponents were Boston College and Virginia squeaking out their opponents.  BC was against Villanova so there’s concern there but better than 7 teams this past weekend who lost to FCS opponents.  Virginia was over BYU which was a nice win for the Cavaliers and gets their season off on the right foot which is what they desperately need.

The losses included Pitt, Syracuse, North Carolina and Virgina Tech.  In fairness to these schools, all of them were over-matched in their games.  All teams showed as much as they could and had some bright spots but not enough to put them over the top.  The Cuse lost to Penn State 23-17, VT lost to 1 Bama 35-10, NC lost to 6 South Carolina 27-10 and Pitt lost to 11 FSU 41-13.

So in the end, I would say the ACC was very impressive in their opening weekend of college football.  The Clemson win highlighting the weekend of course and other top power FSU showing that they may have enough to challenge the Tigers in the Atlantic Division.  This past weekend showed the strength of the ACC from top to bottom.  It looks like it could be a good year in the ACC, but we’ll wait and see how it plays out because it is only one week.  Week 2 is ahead and we’ll see how it goes.  ACC Week 2 preview and picks coming soon and I’ll let you know how each team stacks up this weekend.  Let us know how you feel about the ACC in their first weekend of football.

SEC Football Preview

aaron murray2013

Keeping with the football spirit, here is the breakdown of the best of the best and greatest conference in college football history.  This is our annual SEC prediction which will show the picks for the championship as well as individual awards which will excite even the most cynical of fans.  These picks are as good as money, and you can say that you “heard it here first!”

Eastern Division Champion- Georgia Bulldogs 

With 10 of 11 starters returning on offense, the main question marks are on the defense. With how the defense disappointed last season, there could be a chance that even though there were major losses on the defensive side of the ball, the team could rank higher in total defense than last year’s squad. The main thing everyone will be watching will be quarterback Aaron Murray who needs to raise his big game poise for his team to take the next step.

Western Division Champion- Alabama Crimson Tide

I almost do not even need to write anything about our defending champions. It feels like this team is set up so perfectly to win 4 out of 5 National Championships this season. They are one of the best program dynasties that we have ever seen, and possibly the greatest. If they can get past Texas A&M and LSU, they could run the table yet again.

SEC Dark Horse- South Carolina Gamecocks

This team has the best player in the conference in Jadeveon Clowney, and a solid overall team. The Dual quarterback play has always scared me, but has become the way Steve Spurrier likes to run things. Dylan Thompson and Connor Shaw both have starter potential and the confidence to get it done. Mike Davis is a solid replacement for Marcus Lattimore, and this should fuel them to big places and potentially a BCS bowl game.

Eastern Division Surprise Team- Tennessee Volunteers

This team returns 4 out of 5 offensive lineman and the top two rushers from last season in Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane. Justin Worley is stepping in at QB and they have 8 starters returning on defense, this is enough for new head coach Butch Jones to work with. They will look more like the Tennessee teams of the past.

Western Division Surprise Team- Auburn Tigers

NCAA Football: Auburn-Spring Game

With the Gus Bus coming to town, this team can actually use the talent that new head coach Gus Malzahn actually recruited. He will be able to maximize their early potential, and I think he will build this program back to a championship level. Nick Marshall has transferred in to become a quarterback in this offense, and as a former defensive back at UGA it shows his athleticism.

Conference Champion- Georgia Bulldogs

SEC championship 2013

This probably shocked most of you, but this seems to be too perfect of a storm for Alabama to repeat, and you have to like this offense that returns everyone. The defense will be ready by this time in the season to contain the Tide enough for Murray and the offense to finish the drill.

Individual Awards:

Conference MVP- UGA QB Aaron Murray

If the Bulldogs are to win the championship, then Murray will have to be at this level and thrive. He has all of the tools and weapons to get it done.

Offensive Player of the Year- UGA RB Todd Gurley

Gurley is potentially the best running back in the nation, and his hard-nosed running could coax any deficiencies in the defense this season.

Defensive Player of the Year- South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney

jadeveon clowney2013

Possibly the best player in the nation, but Clowney is never satisfied, so he will stay hungrier than ever this season.

Coach of the Year- Tennessee HC Butch Jones

NCAA Football: Tennessee-Spring Game

The job of turning around the Volunteers is no easy one, especially with no SEC experience under his belt. He will take this team back to the rocky top.

Newcomer of the Year- Auburn QB Nick Marshall

This JUCO transfer played quarterback in high school and when he went to UGA they made him a defensive back and now he gets to play his desired position with the Tigers. He could have all the talent that Malzahn needs to make this unit go.

Full Conference Predicted Standings

This is how I see this conference playing out this season, with some usual suspects leading the way. There are 10 total bowl teams in this conference, by my calculation.

SEC Eastern Projected finish                                                 SEC Western Projected finish

1. Georgia  11-1 (7-1)                                                                   1. Alabama  11-1 (7-1)

2. South Carolina  10-2 (-2)                                                        2. LSU 10-2 (6-2)

3. Tennessee   8-4 (5-3)                                                                3. Texas A&M 10-2 (6-2)

4. Florida  9-3 (5-3)                                                                        4. Auburn  8-4 (4-4)

5. Vanderbilt 7-5 (3-5)                                                                  5. Mississippi 7-5 (4-4)

6. Kentucky 4-8 (1-7)                                                                    6. Arkansas 5-7 (1-7)

7. Missouri 4-8 (0-8)                                                                      7. Mississippi State 4-8 (1-7)

NCAA Football: Florida-Spring Practicejohnny manziel