Mike Check

Michael Cunningham’s ramblings from the world of sports

Weekend Predictions: ’Canes clip Tech again, Georgia and Falcons win


Look who’s back, baby! Who said Weekend Predictions fell off?  

Last weekend was a first: I correctly predicted that Georgia, Georgia Tech and the Falcons all would cover the spread. That includes picking the Falcons to win as a road underdog, part of my 4-2 record against the spread in Week 9 NFL games. If you want expert football opinions, you’ve come to the right place. 

» College football: Week 11 TV times, streaming schedules

In no way was the preceding paragraph meant to deflect from the 1-5 record ATS with my other picks last week. I’m also not trying to avoid mentioning my 18-22-2 ATS record since stupidly bragging about my pick prowess three weeks ago. No. You’re lying. Shut up. 

Miami (plus-3) at Georgia Tech 

The Yellow Jackets say they are motivated to get revenge after blowing a lead and losing to the Hurricanes. I’m talking about Tech’s game against Miami last season, not the 2015 game, or the 2013 game, or the 2012 game. I shouldn’t be too snarky about squandering advantages, considering my recent picks trend, but I never learn.

We’ve seen Good Tech in three of the past four weeks, but I don’t believe that even Good Tech can break the hex against the ’Canes. The Hurricanes have lost three games in a row, but their defense remains elite, and they’ll use it to win as a road ’dog. 

Auburn (plus-14) at Georgia 

The Bulldogs are riding high after stomping Kentucky, but the worry in Athens is that they might overlook this game in anticipation of the showdown with UMass. Just kidding. Everyone knows the Tech game is the big one looming

Last week I declared Georgia would beat Kentucky and then have a “fairly easy” time with Auburn. That was before Auburn beat Texas A&M but the Tigers, as usual, didn’t look very good on offense while doing it. Meanwhile Georgia’s offense has found its footing, so the Bulldogs will score enough against Auburn’s elite defense and cover. 

Falcons (minus-5 1/2) at Browns 

As predicted, the Falcons have clawed back to join the list of indistinguishable NFC teams looking for a few breaks to make the playoffs. I know that’s not exactly stirring stuff but this is the NFL. I’m so pleased the Falcons made me look good that I give them a two-week pass to say “Brotherhood” as often as they like with no jokes about it from me. 

Gregg Williams should have never been allowed near an NFL team (or any other) after his role in Bountygate. Now he’s interim coach of the Browns, who are just barely an NFL team, but still. The advanced stats love the Falcons to cover big in this one, and so do I. 

SEC games of interest 

Mississippi State (plus-23 1/2) at Alabama 

I will not take the points against Bama. I will not take the points against Bama. I will ... talk myself into taking the points against Bama because I am a weak, weak man who cannot resist getting that many points backing a good team. 

South Carolina (plus-6) at Florida 

When he was hired, Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp said of his players: “It goes a lot further than Saturday afternoons. We're with them Sunday through Friday in the growing process of the future leaders of our country.” Asked Tuesday if he talked to his players about voting, Muschamp pretended he didn’t even know there was an election. I’m so sick of the unfair media holding public officials accountable for the things they say and obviously don’t mean. Gamecocks cover. 

Ole Miss (plus-13) at Texas A&M 

Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher says he’s “1,000 percent” behind struggling quarterback Kellen Mond. According to my calculations, that amount still is less than the the pay raise Fisher got to leave Florida State and lose four games for the Aggies. Ole Miss covers. 

ACC games of interest 

Clemson (minus-20) at Boston College 

After the Falcons won at Washington, quarterback Matt Ryan said he was “fired up” about his alma mater’s game against Clemson. Ryan said he expects some smack talk from his teammates who played at Clemson. The Tigers have won seven in a row over BC, so I doubt they’ll bother. But I’ll take BC and the points. 

Florida State (plus-16 1/2) at Notre Dame 

Last week, for the first time as a head coach, FSU’s Willie Taggart turned over play-calling duties to his offensive coordinator. “I think our entire football team needs me in other areas than where I was,” Taggart said. The Seminoles lost to N.C. State, but had their best offensive showing in weeks, so apparently the place Taggart is needed is far away from calling plays. Fighting Irish cover. 

NFC South 

Panthers (plus-3 1/2) at Steelers (Thursday night) 

Holdout Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell posted tweets that were written upside down. Bell’s message doesn’t make a lot of sense even when right side up, but he seemed to be saying people shouldn’t pay so much attention to him. “(I)f you’re really finding the time to figure out what I’m saying, you’ve proved my point,” Bell said, sounding like the people who post comments and send emails to tell me how much they don’t care about my opinions. Panthers cover. 

Saints (minus-5 1/2) at Bengals 

To those Falcons fans who believed their hatred for the Saints could not burn any brighter, I offer: Dez Bryant, Saints wide receiver. Bryant isn’t so bad, really. On some level you’ve got to like anyone who can so effectively troll Cowboys fans. I’ll take Bengals as a home ’dog. 

Washington (plus-3) at Buccaneers 

This week the Tampa Bay Times ran a Bucs roundtable article titled: “How Dirk Koetter can keep his job.” One way is not to have his punter pass on fourth-and-9 from Tampa Bay’s 26-yard line, but too late for that. That was a bad decision by Koetter against the Panthers last week, but the heck with it, he might as well go crazy before he gets fired. I’m taking Washington and the points.  

NFL games of interest 

Cowboys (plus-7) at Eagles 

After the Cowboys lost to the Titans to drop to 3-5, second-grader Rylan Wood penned a letter to team owner Jerry Jones. His lines included “I hope Coach (Jason) Garrett is clapping if this letter gets to you” and “See what happens when Dez (Bryant) is gone?” Man, even a 7-year-old could write this column better than me. Dallas covers. 

Seahawks (plus-9 1/2) at Rams 

The Rams lost their first game last weekend, and cornerback Marcus Peters took the blame. Some people gave Peters credit for being a stand-up guy, but did he really have much choice after Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas spent all day beating him like he stole something? I like Seattle with the points. 

Patriots (minus-6 1/2) at Titans 

New England signed defensive back Obi Melifonwu. He was an injury-riddled bust for the Raiders, who drafted him in the 2017 second round, which means he’s going to have perfect health with the Patriots and help them win the Super Bowl because that’s what they do and everything is awful. I’ll take the Titans and the points. 

Last week 

Against the spread: 7-7 (76-60-4 season) 

AJC pick ’em (straight up): 10-5 (93-55 season)


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About the Author

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