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Chris Gay: No sign of Super Bowl hangover for Falcons

Posted: September 20, 2017 - 12:08am

A lot of things have happened in the past week. Let's go:

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What Super Bowl hangover? Some observers thought the Atlanta Falcons would just blow away like Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irma. Instead, Atlanta has shown staying power with a tough road win at Chicago and then another win over a likely playoff team in Green Bay.

While the Falcons have a new offensive and defensive coordinator, Atlanta also has the reigning MVP in quarterback Matt Ryan, future Hall of Fame wide receiver Julio Jones and star running back Devonta Freeman. And the young defense continues to improve.

You can't win ‘em all if you don't win the first two. So far, so good.

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Top-20 showdown: What appeared to be a bad matchup a month ago will be a premier Southeastern Conference showdown when No. 17 Mississippi State travels to play No. 11 Georgia at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Both teams are 3-0, with Mississippi State picking up a large win last week over LSU. These Bulldogs have scored 37 or more points in every game this season.

Meanwhile, Georgia took care of business against Samford. The Bulldogs are in a dangerous position, with a road trip to rival Tennessee lurking around the corner.

The SEC East is wide open for the taking. That's all a moot point, though, if Georgia falls at home Saturday.

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Hail yes!: I failed to buy a lottery ticket Saturday night after telling my buddy, Clay Hall, Florida was going to win on a Hail Mary right after Tennessee tied the game late. It just felt like something big was going to happen, and Jean Shorts U. came through.

The Champions of Life failed to learn from last year's game when they stole one in Athens, Ga., with their own Hail Mary. You can't let the quarterback run around half the afternoon and heave a pass downfield.

Tennessee did rush four guys on the final play, but they also dropped two defenders back about 15, 20 yards off the line of scrimmage. Those guys were as useless as pawns on a chess board. Had Tennessee rushed the quarterback with those two extra players instead of just dropping them into the middle of nowhere, they win the game.

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Prevent prevents nothing: Speaking of zone/prevent defense, I'll be honest - I'm a little worried about the Falcons' defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel. I worry he's going to want to drop the team back in zone coverage too much and rely solely on the front four to pressure the quarterback this season. That's my take from Sunday night's win over Green Bay. If he stays in a zone Sunday, Detroit's Matthew Stafford is going to throw for more than 300 yards.

Two words: Gritz Blitz.

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The b-word: Clay Travis, the Vanderbilt Law School graduate, radio host and founder of outkickthecoverage.com upset some folks Friday when he said ‘b**bs' (the word that rhymes with ‘moobs') on air. If you missed it, Travis made an appearance on CNN to discuss ESPN SportsCenter anchor Jemele Hill's off-the-wall, radical-left tweets about President Trump. (In case you missed the controversy, she stated on Twitter the president is a white supremacist surrounded by white supremacists.)

Travis pointed out ESPN's double standard - the network fired former baseball star Curt Schilling for his views on the transgender ban in North Carolina, while it did nothing to Hill. Travis said Schilling shouldn't have been fired. He also stated Hill shouldn't be fired. Why? Here's what he said on CNN:

"I'm a first amendment absolutist. I believe in only two things completely: the first amendment and b**bs."

CNN's anchor Brooke Baldwin shut down the conversation a few minutes later. Apparently, she's not a first amendment absolutist.

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For a good cause: With this mixing of sports and becoming a plague of bubonic proportions, Travis has found a way to poke the politically-correct bear.

Not only is he selling "First amendment and b**bs" shirts on his web site, he's donating all proceeds to breast cancer research.

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He's No. 1: The PGA Tour Player of the Year race will come down to this weekend's Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club.

On one hand, you have Justin Thomas, who shot 59 this year and won five tournaments, including the PGA Championship. On the other hand, you have Jordan Spieth. The young Texan leads the money list by a spot ahead of Thomas and owns three wins this year, including the British Open Championship. Spieth also leads the tour in stroke average.

A win this week for either player would likely lock up POY honors.

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Brave new world: While I'm being honest, I haven't kept up with the Atlanta Braves as much in recent weeks with football starting back. With roughly two weeks to go in the season, Atlanta is in position to select ninth in the first round of next year's Major League Baseball draft.

Atlanta is batting Ozzie Albies second in the order and has moved Dansby Swanson up to sixth, maybe a precursor for next year. If the power-hitting Ronald Acuna joins the club in 2018, three of their five youngsters will be hitting in impact spots in the order.

Another thing to watch is manager Brian Snitker's status. Recent reports say the Braves are "assessing" the situation for his 2018 return. Georgia Power also stated it was "assessing" the situation when the power was out for a day at my house, which could have been worse. (Good job to Georgia Power for the work it did getting power restored last week around Augusta.)

I thought the Braves whiffed last year when they didn't get Bud Black, who is now leading Colorado (currently one of the wild card teams). Will one of the longtime Atlanta fixtures, Terry Pendleton or Eddie Perez, become the next Braves manager? Or will the team go outside the dugout to find their man? The next few weeks, months should be interesting.

 

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