Category Archives: Playoffs

The Nerdy Approach to Super Bowl LI

Anyone who knows me knows that if I’d spent 1/3 the time studying in school that I do studying sports, who knows what I could have accomplished in life. But the past is the past, and what’s present and future is this pretty big football game on Sunday night.

So of course I decided to delve deeper into the numbers. I don’t just wanna know who scored the most points and who allowed the fewest, and vice versa. I want to know how. More specifically I want to know how what we do matches up with what they do. I don’t want to just look at blanket rushing yards and yards allowed, I want to know what is likely to happen if we run over the right tackle, based on our success doing it, and their success stopping opponents. So I’ve done the homework, probably much to my boss’ chagrin, and have put this together for you.

For those unfamiliar with DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) it takes into consideration things like an opponent, down and distance, field position, and score. For a more complete and accurate explanation, check the guys out at Football Outsiders where they explain it all here. It’s a far better way of looking at a team than raw counting stats. Is it perfect? No, but it paints a lot more realistic of a picture than say, the stats that tell you the Patriots defense has been the league’s top unit. Psssssst, it hasn’t, and it’s not even close.

So I’ve taken the numbers and matched them up so you can get an idea of what to expect when we have the ball, when they have it, and how the special teams might shake out. If you see red lettering, it means it’s something that’s a Falcons advantage. If it’s blue, then that particular stat and trend would favor the Patriots. If both are colored, then it’s one of those pivotal swing match-ups that will likely determine this game. And if they’re both still the standard text color, then it’s not something either team excels at, or is bad at, but, if one team does get an edge there, it could be vital.

Obviously this is no guarantee of what will happen, or even close. They still gotta strap em up on Saturday night, but I think it can give you a good idea of what to expect. Take these and do what you may, closer to game time I’ll break it down in to what I expect to see Sunday night, and where the Pats will exploit us, but also where we can return the favor.

 

Overall

Atlanta – DVOA 19.6% (3rd), Weighted DVOA 19.8% (4th), Schedule 0.1% (16th)

New England – DVOA 25.3% (1st), Weighted DVOA 34.0% (1st), Schedule -8.0% (32nd)

 

Atlanta Offense – DVOA 25.3% (1st), Weighted DVOA 24.8% (2nd), Schedule -2.5% (2nd)

N.E. Defense – DVOA -1.5% (16th), Weighted DVOA -6.0% (11th), Schedule -7.1% (32nd)

Difference – 23.8%

 

Atlanta Defense – DVOA 8.1% (27th), Weighted DVOA 5.6% (22nd), Schedule -2.0% (24th)

N.E. Offense – DVOA 21.1% (2nd), Weighted DVOA 25.0% (1st), Schedule -0.7% (10th)

Difference – -29.2%

 

Atlanta Net Yards Per Drive – 6.02 (2nd)

New England Net Yards Per Drive – 6.66 (1st)

 

Atlanta Net Points Per Drive – 0.77 (2nd)

New England Net Points Per Drive – 1.11 (1st)

 

Atlanta Net Drive Success Rate – .037 (4th)

New England Net Drive Success Rate – .080 (1st)

When we have the ball:

Running Game –

Atlanta Run Offense – 1.7 % (7th)

New England Run Defense – -23.7% (4th)

 

Devonta Freeman – DYAR 147 (12th), DVOA 6.3% (14th), Success Rate 50% (12th)

Tevin Coleman – DYAR 86 (18th), DVOA 9.7% (12th), Success Rate 45% (25th)

 

Atlanta Adjusted Line Yards – 4.09 (10th)

New England Opponent Adjust Line Yards – 3.69 (11th)

 

Atlanta Power Success – 61% (17th)

New England Opponent Power Success – 63% (14th)

 

Atlanta Stuffed – 22% (23rd)

New England Opponent Stuffed – 17% (21st)

 

Atlanta 2nd Level Yards – 1.3 (7th)

New England Opponent 2nd Level Yards – 1.03 (7th)

 

Atlanta Open Field Yards – 1.2 (3rd)

New England Opponent Open Field Yards – 0.27 (1st)

 

Atlanta Left End ALY – 3.77 (22nd), 16% of 379 runs

New England Opponent Left End ALY – 3.00 (5th), 8% of 323 runs

 

Atlanta Left Tackle ALY – 4.41 (10th), 12% of runs

New England Opponent Left Tackle ALY – 4.09 (17th), 14% of runs

 

Atlanta Mid/Guard ALY – 4.26 (4th), 42 % of runs

New England Opponent Mid/Guard ALY – 3.76 (13th), 57% of runs

 

Atlanta Right Tackle ALY – 4.78 (4th), 13% of runs

New England Opponent Right Tackle ALY – 3.08 (6th), 7% of runs

 

Atlanta Right End ALY – 3.15 (21st), 16 % of runs

New England Opponent Right End ALY – 3.73 (20th), 13% of runs

 

Passing Game-

Atlanta Pass Offense – 53.0% (1st)

New England Pass Defense – 13.9% (23rd)

 

Matt Ryan – DYAR 1918 (1st), DVOA 40.2% (1st), 83.4 (1st)

 

Julio Jones – DYAR 458 (1st), DVOA 31.8% (2nd), Catch Rate 64.3%, DPI 6/132

Mohamed Sanu – DYAR 124 (43rd), DVOA 6.7% (34th), Catch Rate 73%, DPI 1/1

Taylor Gabriel – DYAR 189 (24th), DVOA 36.6 % (1st), Catch Rate 70%, DPI 1/25

Aldrick Robinson – DYAR 90 (55th), DVOA 24.1% (NA), Catch Rate 63%, DPI 0/0

Justin Hardy – DYAR 70 (59th), DVOA 14.8% (NA), Catch Rate 68%, DPI 0/0

 

Austin Hooper – DYAR 107 (11th), 47.1% (2nd), Catch Rate 70%, DPI 1/11

Levine Toilolo – DYAR 84 (16th), 56.8% (NA), Catch Rate 68%, DPI 0/0

 

Devonta Freeman – DYAR 140 (5th), 24.5% (6th), Catch Rate 83%

Tevin Coleman – DYAR 135 (6th), 48.5% (1st), Catch Rate 78%

 

N.E. vs #1 WR – DVOA 3.8% (20th), PA/G 8.4, YPG 73.1 (League Avg 8.4 & 69.8)

N.E. vs #2 WR – DVOA 6.6% (8th), PA/G 6.3, YPG 45.6 (League Avg 6.4 & 49.4)

N.E. vs Other WR – DVOA 5.4% (19th), PA/G 7.0, YPG 50.6 (League Avg 6.8 & 50.6)

N.E. vs TE – DVOA 3.1% (14th), PA/G 8.6, YPG 49.6 (League Avg 7.4 & 54.3)

N.E. vs RB – DVOA 5.7% (20th), PA/G 7.8, YPG 50.3 (League Avg 6.7 & 40.2)

 

N.E. vs Left – DVOA -21.2% (3rd) (Avg -1.3%)

N.E. vs Middle – DVOA 19.3% (17th) (Avg 12.8%)

N.E. vs Right – DVOA 9.8% (29th) (Avg -6.8%)

Deep – DVOA 20.8% (16th); Left -44.5%, Mid 97.6%, Right 39.8% (Avg, 13.0%, 48.3%, 15.1%)

Short – DVOA -4.7% (15th); Left -14.3%, Mid 2.8%, Right -1.2% (Avg, -5.1%, 5.7%, -11.9%)

 

Atlanta Opponents Adjusted Sack Rate – 6.5% (23rd), Sacks Allowed 37

Patriots Adjusted Sack Rate – 5.1% (26th), Sacks 34

Drive Stats-

Atlanta Yards Per Drive – 40.53 (1st)

New England Yards Allowed Per Drive – 28.82 (8th)

 

Atlanta Points Per Drive – 3.06 (1st)

New England Points Allowed Per Drive – 1.42 (1st)

 

Atlanta Drive Success Rate – .778 (1st)

New England Opponent Drive Success Rate – .662 (5th)

 

Atlanta Turnovers Per Drive – .066 (2nd)

New England Forced Turnovers Per Drive – .119 (17th)

 

Atlanta Interceptions Per Drive – .042 (6th)

New England Opponent Interceptions Per Drive – 0.73 (17th)

 

Atlanta Fumbles Per Drive – .024 (3rd)

New England Opponent Fumbles Per Drive – .045 (17th)

 

Atlanta Avg LOS – 28.52 (13th)

New England Opponent Avg LOS – 24.87 (1st)

 

Atlanta Plays Per Drive – 6.15 (13th)

New England Opponent Plays Per Drive – 5.79 (11th)

 

Atlanta Punts Per Drive – .289 (1st)

New England Opponent Punts Per Drive – .452 (6th)

 

Atlanta 3 & Outs Per Drive – .145 (1st)

New England Opponent 3 & Outs Per Drive – .249 (7th)

 

Atlanta Pts/Red Zone – 5.24 (6th)

New England Opponent Pts/Red Zone – 4.55 (6th)

 

Atlanta Avg Score Differential – 4.92 (2nd)

New England Opponents Avg Score Differential – -9.76 (1st)
When they have the ball:

Running Game –

Atlanta Run Defense – 2.5% (29th)

New England Run Offense – -3.4% (17th)

Difference – 0.9%

 

Legarette Blount – DYAR 132 (14th), DVOA 1.5% (18th), Success Rate 44% (28th)

Dion Lewis – DYAR 74 (19th), DVOA 21.1% (NA), Success Rate NA

 

Atlanta Opponent Adjusted Line Yards – 4.16 (25th)

New England Adjust Line Yards – 4.15 (9th)

 

Atlanta Opponent Power Success – 63% (16th)

New England Power Success – 59% (22nd)

 

Atlanta Opponent Stuffed – 19% (18th)

New England Stuffed – 20% (16th)

 

Atlanta Opponent 2nd Level Yards – 1.29 (26th)

New England 2nd Level Yards – 1.10 (21st)

 

Atlanta Opponent Open Field Yards – 0.64 (13th)

New England Open Field Yards – 0.60 (21st)

 

Atlanta Opponent Left End ALY – 3.56 (12th), 13% of 303 runs

New England Left End ALY – 4.88 (7th), 10% of 409 runs

 

Atlanta Opponent Left Tackle ALY – 3.66 (13th), 14% of runs

New England Left Tackle ALY – 3.53 (23rd), 13% of runs

 

Atlanta Opponent Mid/Guard ALY – 4.24 (27th), 50% of runs

New England Mid/Guard ALY – 4.12 (7th), 59% of runs

 

Atlanta Opponent Right Tackle ALY – 4.99 (32nd), 15% of runs

New England Right Tackle ALY – 4.01 (12th), 13% of runs

 

Atlanta Opponent Right End ALY – 3.99 (24th), 9% of runs

New England Right End ALY – 5.48 (3rd), 4% of runs

 

Passing Game-

Atlanta Pass Defense – 11.6% (19th)

New England Pass Offense – 50.5% (2nd)

Difference – -62.1%

 

Tom Brady – DYAR 1295 (5th), DVOA 33.8% (2nd), 83.1 (2nd)

 

Julian Edelman – DYAR 48 (65th), DVOA -8.7% (69th), Catch Rate 62.0%, DPI 1/12

Chris Hogan – DYAR 145 (35th), DVOA 18.1% (11th), Catch Rate 66%, DPI 1/8

Malcom Mitchell – DYAR 131 (39th), DVOA 19.5% (7th), Catch Rate 67%, DPI 2/78

Danny Amendola – DYAR 84 (57th), DVOA 26.8% (NA), Catch Rate 79%, DPI 0/0

 

Martellus Bennett – DYAR 200 (3rd), 34.6% (3rd), Catch Rate 75%, DPI 2/7

 

James White – DYAR 161 (3rd), 19.8% (10th), Catch Rate 70%

Dion Lewis – DYAR -25 (49th), -31.1% (NA), Catch Rate 71%

 

Atlanta Vs #1 WR – DVOA -4.0% (9th), PA/G 8.4, YPG 61.3 (League Avg 8.4 & 69.8)

Atlanta Vs #2 WR – DVOA 6.6% (8th), PA/G 7.6, YPG 58.8 (League Avg 6.4 & 49.4)

Atlanta Vs Other WR – DVOA 5.4% (19th), PA/G 7.2, YPG 55.1 (League Avg 6.8 & 50.6)

Atlanta Vs TE – DVOA 3.1% (14th), PA/G 8.9, YPG 61.4 (League Avg 7.4 & 54.3)

Atlanta VS RB – DVOA 16.7% (26th), PA/G 9.1, YPG 53.5 (League Avg 6.7 & 40.2)

 

Atlanta vs Left – DVOA -8.6% (25th) (Avg -1.3%)

Atlanta vs Middle – DVOA 12.0% (14th) (Avg 12.8%)

Atlanta vs Right – DVOA -6.5% (18th) (Avg -6.8%)

Deep – DVOA 15.2% (12th); Left 19.5%, Mid 69.8%, Right -11.3% (Avg, 13.0%, 48.3%, 15.1%)

Short – DVOA 0.3% (26th); Left 5.5%, Mid 3.8%, Right -5.5% (Avg, -5.1%, 5.7%, -11.9%)

 

Atlanta Adjusted Sack Rate – 5.4% (24th), Sacks 34

Patriots Opponents Adjusted Sack Rate – 4.7% (6th), Sacks Allowed 24

Drive Stats-

Atlanta Yards Allowed Per Drive – 34.51 (26th)

New England Yards Per Drive – 35.48 (7th)

 

Atlanta Points Allowed Per Drive – 2.29 (27th)

New England Points Per Drive – 2.53 (5th)

 

Atlanta Opponents Drive Success Rate – .741 (28th)

New England Drive Success Rate – .742 (5th)

 

Atlanta Opponents Turnovers Per Drive – .117 (18th)

New England Turnovers Per Drive – .046 (1st)

 

Atlanta Opponents Interceptions Per Drive – .070 (19th)

New England Interceptions Per Drive – 0.012 (1st)

 

Atlanta Opponents Fumbles Per Drive – .047 (14th)

New England Fumbles Per Drive – .035 (8th)

 

Atlanta Opponents Avg LOS – 26.08 (3rd)

New England Avg LOS – 30.66 (2nd)

 

Atlanta Opponents Plays Per Drive – 6.29 (29th)

New England Plays Per Drive – 6.23 (7th)

 

Atlanta Opponents Punts Per Drive – .386 (25th)

New England Punts Per Drive – .416 (18th)

 

Atlanta Opponents 3 & Outs Per Drive – .205 (21st)

New England 3 & Outs Per Drive – .238 (27th)

 

Atlanta Opponents Pts/Red Zone – 5.69 (31st)

New England Pts/Red Zone – 5.23 (7th)

 

Atlanta Opponents Avg Score Differential – -8.23 (2nd)

New England Avg Score Differential – 7.41 (1st)
Special Teams

Atlanta – 2.4% (8th)

New England – 2.7% (7th)

 

Atlanta Kickoff – -3.0

New England Kick Return – -2.8

 

Atlanta Kick Return – -1.5

New England Kickoff – 11.8

 

Atlanta Avg LOS after Kickoff – 25.6 (8th)

New England Opponent Avg LOS after Kickoff – 23.46 (3rd)

 

Atlanta Opponent Avg LOS after Kickoff – 24.49 (11th)

New England Avg LOS after Kickoff – 27.10 (1st)

 

Atlanta Punt – 2.2

New England Punt Return – -7.7

 

Atlanta Punt Return – 3.5

New England Punt – 12.2

 

Atlanta Field Goal/XP – 10.9

New England Field Goal/XP – 0.1

 

Atlanta Hidden ST Yards – -4.3 (23rd)

New England Hidden St Yards – 11.2 (4th)

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Filed under Falcons, NFL, Playoffs, Sports

Post-Season Performance In American Pro Sports in the 21st Century

Where does your team rank? If they’re from Atlanta, particularly if they play baseball, it’s not good.

Games/Series Won Conf Final Title Game Championships
1 LA Lakers 29 7 7 5
2 New England Patriots 21** 9 6 4
3 San Antonio Spurs 29 8 5 4
4 Miami Heat 20 6 5 3
5 San Francisco Giants 12* 4 4 3
6 Chicago Blackhawks 16 5 3 3
7 Boston Red Sox 11 5 3 3
8 St. Louis Cardinals 16* 9 4 2
9 NY Yankees 13 7 4 2
10 New Jersey Devils 16 4 4 2
11 Pittsburgh Steelers 12** 5 3 2
12 Detroit Red Wings 18 4 3 2
13 Baltimore Ravens 15******* 4 2 2
14 NY Giants 10** 3 2 2
15 LA Kings 11 3 2 2
16 Seattle Seahawks 11**** 3 3 1
17 Detroit Pistons 16 6 2 1
18 Indianapolis Colts 12***** 4 2 1
19 Boston Celtics 14 4 2 1
Pittsburgh Penguins 14 4 2 1
21 Anaheim Ducks 13 4 2 1
22 Dallas Mavericks 13 3 2 1
23 Tampa Bay Lightning 10 3 2 1
24 Philadelphia Phillies 6 3 2 1
25 Carolina Hurricanes 3 3 2 1
26 St. Louis Rams 6* 2 2 1
27 Boston Bruins 10 2 2 1
28 Green Bay Packers 9**** 3 1 1
29 Colorado Avalance 11 3 1 1
30 LA Angels 5 3 1 1
31 New Orleans Saints 7*** 2 1 1
32 Arizona Diamondbacks 4 2 1 1
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4 2 1 1
34 Golden State Warriors 6 1 1 1
35 Miami Marlins 3 1 1 1
36 Chicago White Sox 3 1 1 1
Detroit Tigers 6 4 2 0
38 Cleveland Cavaliers 11 3 2 0
39 Brooklyn Nets 10 2 2 0
40 Texas Rangers 4 2 2 0
41 Philadelphia Eagles 10*** 5 1 0
42 Philadelphia Flyers 12 4 1 0
43 Indiana Pacers 11 4 1 0
44 San Francisco 49ers 6** 3 1 0
45 NY Rangers 10 3 1 0
46 Oklahoma City Thunder 9 3 1 0
47 Carolina Panthers 6*** 2 1 0
48 Tennessee Titans 5** 2 1 0
49 Oakland Raiders 4* 2 1 0
50 Orlando Magic 6 2 1 0
Dallas Stars 6 2 1 0
52 NY Mets 3 2 1 0
Houston Astros 3 2 1 0
Chicago Bears 3 2 1 0
55 Arizona Diamondbacks 4** 1 1 0
56 Tampa Bay Rays 3* 1 1 0
Kansas City Royals 3* 1 1 0
Denver Broncos 3* 1 1 0
59 Ottawa Senators 7 1 1 0
Vancouver Canucks 7 1 1 0
61 Philadelphia 76ers 6 1 1 0
62 Edmonton Oilers 3 1 1 0
63 Colorado Rockies 2 1 1 0
Calgary Flames 2 1 1 0
65 San Jose Sharks 12 3 0 0
66 Phoenix Suns 8 3 0 0
67 LA Dodgers 3 3 0 0
68 NY Jets 6**** 2 0 0
69 Minnesota Vikings 4** 2 0 0
70 Atlanta Falcons 3* 2 0 0
71 Montreal Canadiens 8 2 0 0
72 Buffalo Sabres 5 2 0 0
73 Seattle Mariners 2 2 0 0
74 San Diego Chargers 4*** 1 0 0
75 Baltimore Orioles 2* 1 0 0
Jacksonville Jaguars 2* 1 0 0
77 Atlanta Hawks 5 1 0 0
Chicago Bulls 5 1 0 0
Sacramento Kings 5 1 0 0
Utah Jazz 5 1 0 0
Toronto Maple Leafs 5 1 0 0
82 Memphis Grizzlies 4 1 0 0
St. Louis Blues 4 1 0 0
Minnesota Wild 4 1 0 0
85 New York Knicks 3 1 0 0
Houston Rockets 3 1 0 0
Portland Trailblazers 3 1 0 0
88 Milwaukee Bucks 2 1 0 0
Denver Nuggets 2 1 0 0
Minnesota Timberwolves 2 1 0 0
Arizona Coyotes 2 1 0 0
92 Atlanta Braves 1 1 0 0
Chicago Cubs 1 1 0 0
Milwaukee Brewers 1 1 0 0
Cleveland Indians 1 1 0 0
Minnesota Twins 1 1 0 0
Oakland A’s 1 1 0 0
98 Dallas Cowboys 2** 0 0 0
Washington Redskins 2** 0 0 0
Miami Dolphins 2** 0 0 0
101 Houston Texans 2* 0 0 0
102 Pittsburgh Pirates 1* 0 0 0
103 LA Clippers 4 0 0 0
Washington Capitals 4 0 0 0
105 Washington Wizards 3 0 0 0
106 Charlotte Hornets 2 0 0 0
Nashville Predators 2 0 0 0
108 Toronto Raptors 1 0 0 0
New Orleans Pelicans 1 0 0 0
122 Washington Nationals 0 0 0 0
122 Cincinnati Reds 0 0 0 0
122 San Diego Padres 0 0 0 0
122 Toronto Blue Jays 0 0 0 0
122 Detroit Lions 0 0 0 0
122 Cincinnati Bengals 0 0 0 0
122 Cleveland Browns 0 0 0 0
122 Buffalo Bills 0 0 0 0
122 Kansas City Chiefs 0 0 0 0
122 Florida Panthers 0 0 0 0
122 NY Islanders 0 0 0 0
122 Columbus Blue Jackets 0 0 0 0
122 Winnipeg Jets 0 0 0 0

* denotes wins in “wild card rounds”

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Filed under Baseball, Basketball, Braves, Falcons, Hawks, Hockey, NBA, NFL, Playoffs, Sports

Just Who is my Favorite Sports Team?

Someone asked me recently, of my favorite teams, which is actually my true favorite. My immediate answer was, “Chase Elliott”. But as I sit and think about this question, and how I’d answer if asked again, I think I might reconsider. As I thought, it got me thinking, just which teams ARE my favorite. Which teams would winning a championship mean more for me? And which ones is a championship so unfathomable that perhaps, it falls down the list simply because imagining it occurring is too far fetched for me to even attempt to wrap my arms around how I’d feel. So I’ve thought a lot about this, and I’ve come up with a list, in order, of the 25 things I’d most like to see occur in sports during my lifetime.

1. Atlanta Falcons win Super Bowl- I know I said Chase Elliott was my favorite team/driver, whatever you want to call it, and he is. However, I get to watch him 30 to 36 weekends a year. He’s also young, it’s his first year in major NASCAR racing. There’s going to be plenty of time for that.

The Atlanta Falcons however, are not young. The Falcons are nearing 50 years old, and still no championship. They were instilled as my favorite team growing up because they were my dad’s favorite team. It didn’t hurt that of the stick and ball sports, football is my favorite, and it’s not close. But not only that, the Atlanta Falcons are, besides the Elliotts, the only TRUE professional team based out of Georgia, and the only one based out of Atlanta, the Dream notwithstanding. Yes, the Braves and Hawks call Atlanta home now, but they didn’t originate here.

The Atlanta Falcons are Atlanta’s and Atlanta’s alone. We share no history (though at times, pawning some of this history off on another city wouldn’t exactly stink) with another city, no records, no uniforms, no logos, no anything. They’ve always been, the ATLANTA Falcons.

The day that this team brings a championship to Atlanta is one, that truthfully, I can’t even begin to describe the way I even think I’d feel. And I know what I’d ultimately actually feel would reach far, far beyond what I can conjure up in my mind.

2. Chase Elliott win a Sprint Cup Championship- As mentioned, Elliott is my “favorite”. If this question was posed 11 years ago, I would have put Bill Elliott winning a championship at 1, the Falcons winning a Super Bowl at 2. As much as I loved the Falcons as a kid, they didn’t compare to how much I loved “Awesome Bill”. And now that his son his here? I love the Falcons, but not like I root for this kid. The investment is deep. The history is deeper. The personal meaning, deeper than both together.

Through all the ups and downs of my relationship with my father, there is one constant. An Elliott in a racecar. There’s always an Elliott that we can come together over. Whether it was reminiscing about the good ole days of Bill’s hey day, or even his not so stellar moments, or it’s talking about the incredibly bright future of his son Chase, we will always have an Elliott. And for that, nothing can replace that. And that’s not saying the Falcons aren’t a “me and dad thing”, but it’s not close to our connection to the Elliotts, as I mentioned in a post nearly four full years ago.

So the day Chase Elliott hoists that championship trophy above his head, I’ll remember being there in 1988 at Atlanta International Raceway to watch his dad hoist one, and I hope, when it happens, I’m with my dad.

3. Georgia Tech College Football National Championship- This one is one I almost dropped lower, simply because of the improbability. Not to mention, I was alive for one of these, and despite being only five years old, I actually have vivid memories of Shawn Jones and William Bell running all through Nebraska’s defense in Orlando. However, it’s that improbability that ranks it so high on the list. Everyone knows I pull for Georgia when they don’t play Tech, and because I wasn’t alive for Georgia’s national title, and because there are so many other rabid SEC fans around here, I almost put them higher than Tech on this list. Then I thought, not only does a Tech title put it in the face of THOSE SEC fans, it does it to the Georgia fans I’ve heard nothing but ridicule from for almost the last quarter century. But alas, it’s not going to happen. But I can dream, right?

4. Georgia College Football National Championship- Like I mentioned above, I almost put this above Tech winning one, but it comes in a step below. I know some Tech fans may disown me for that thought, and some may even disown me for having them here, but that’s fine. I like all my home teams. When a team from Georgia plays a team from another state, I want the local boys to whip their ass. Every. Single. Time.

Beyond that though, I love Mark Richt. He’s everything right about college football and receives far, far, FAR more flak than he deserves. Whether it’s people incredulously going on about how he’s, “lost control of the program”, or the players, or to the even more asinine arguments about his lack of a national title, he receives unjust criticism.

The national title argument in particular irks me because it’s so stupid. Because the argument is so ignorant. I’m not here to get into details about that. But, if Richt could win one in Athens, it would shut those people up. And for that reason alone, them winning a national title makes the top four.

5. Chase Elliott Winning the Daytona 500- See above for the reasoning. The Daytona 500, in many ways, is almost the equivalent to a championship, so if Chase can pull that one off, it’s going to be one very, very special day.

6. Atlanta Braves World Series- Yes, we have one. And I was plenty old enough to enjoy and appreciate it. But not as much as I’d enjoy and appreciate it now. All the World Series losses as well that have added up over the years only add to the need for a championship. Hearing it from all these teams who over the past 25 years have made the playoffs, maybe 2 times, maybe three, or even five or six, but have two World Series rings, about how much greater an organization than the Braves they are (though currently employing Fredi Gonzalez gives these claims merit) gets old. A second trophy would shut them up.

7. Chase Elliott Nationwide Championship- It might seem high, seeing as how the Nationwide Series, or Xfinity Series, or whatever it will be next year, is basically the AAA minor leagues of NASCAR. However, unlike other minor leagues, they’re on major TV every week, they’re a multi million dollar sport, and, they’re the second most popular form of motorsports in America. So it’s not your typical minor league circuit. Throw in the fact that for Chase to win one, he’d have to do so at age 18 or 19…. It’d be pretty cool. Plus, with the way sports are around here in Georgia, it might be the closest we get to a championship in the next few years, well, until Chase goes and wins one at the Cup level.

8. Georgia Tech Basketball National Title- They’ve been closer than any other team in this state over the past 15 years when it comes to winning a title, though, you could argue that the 2012 Georgia football team was pretty dadgum close as well. They actually have played for a championship in this century. Nobody else say can say that. So there’s that. But, while I love my Jackets, and am an ardent follower and supporter, basketball just isn’t there with football, NASCAR, and even baseball. Notice, I still haven’t gotten to the Hawks yet. Being a Georgia Tech fan however is hard. We’re outnumbered, and the good times are becoming fewer and farther between. Something to cheer about, period, would be nice. But if Tech is going to win something, while I’d pick baseball first, the odds are much, much better in happens on the hardwood than on the Flats.

9. Kasey Kahne Sprint Cup Championship- Kasey Kahne is here because of Bill Elliott. When Elliott retired following the 2003 season, Kasey Kahne was tabbed to be his replacement in the no. 9 car, and immediately, I became a fan. At this point, there was no sign of a future Elliott coming into the sport, so I had to find a new guy to pull for. That Kasey was a contender off the bat, with so many agonizingly close runner-up finishes (much like Elliott) in his rookie year, pulling for him became easy, and difficult at the same time. Kahne is a guy with a lot of talent, that’s yet to put it all together. Watching him will his way into the chase (NASCAR’s version of the playoffs) this year with a gutty drive at Atlanta was pretty cool. Watching him finally put everything together and win a championship would be downright awesome. For ten years I’ve been a Kahne fan, but he better hurry. Once Chase Elliott arrives on the Sprint Cup circuit, he’s no longer going to be my top dog. Maybe he can pull it off this year, who knows?

10. Atlanta Hawks NBA Championship- I probably dropped them below Georgia State simply because of how infuriated and frustrated I am with the mess this organization is right now. And it’s probably because it’s been such a frustrating and infuriating disaster for so long, that they have fallen so far. Nevertheless, they’re still my team.

11. Georgia Tech Baseball College World Series

12. Kasey Kahne Winning the Daytona 500

13. North Carolina Basketball National Championship

14. Georgia Southern Football Being Ranked

15. Georgia State Basketball Final Four

16. Georgia Basketball National Championship

17. Atlanta Dream WNBA Championship

18. Georgia Tech Basketball ACC Tournament Championship

19. Georgia State Football Conference Championship

20. Kennesaw State Basketball NCAA Tournament Bid

21. Kansas City Royals World Series

22. Detroit Lions Super Bowl

23. North Carolina Football National Championship

24. Buffalo Bills Super Bowl

25. Cleveland Browns Super Bowl

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Atlanta’s 10 Most Heartbreaking Sports Moments #7

So I’ve put this one off for far too long now, and well, I”m ready to just get to number six, so here goes.

Frankly, I really don’t want to talk about it yet. It’s still too fresh in my mind to go back into in depth. That should give a hint as to what it is. If you haven’t figured it out, here’s a couple more.

Second best regular season in franchise history, ends in……..

I hated cheese for a while, still might.

Now I can get to working on number six, and I’ll be bringing a better effort for that one. I just can’t discuss this one at length yet.

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Things That Died in the 2011 NFL Playoffs

Matt Ryan’s sense of invincibility at home

The Atlanta sports fan renewed hope that this could really be the year, or that any year could be the year

That home field advantage really means too much of anything

The myth that this Ravens defense is still a top flight and intimidating unit

Tom Brady’s playoff aura, perhaps it’s time we start recognizing Ben Roethlisberger’s

Jay Cutler’s respect league wide, however much he had

Prevailing thought that Mark Sanchez was holding the Jets back

Any belief that Jim Caldwell has any business being a head coach

Any notion that Mike Tomlin just rode the coat tails of Bill Cowher built teams to success

The notion that the loss of Brett Favre would cripple the Packers or Jets.

Rex Ryan’s fetishes with feet, he probably can’t be enjoying the taste of his in his mouth, or the feeling of the Steelers foot in his ass

Jay Cutler’s life of free drinks in downtown Chicago

 

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A Boy And His Team; From the Beginning

I don’t remember the date, nor the year, nor many of the players, but I remember the trip.

It was in 1989, and it was my first ever sporting event besides a NASCAR race. My dad put me in his red, conveniently enough, 1987 Dodge Ram, long bed version, pick-up truck and off we went to Atlanta Fulton County Stadium.

History will show that the date was November 5th, and the pitiful Atlanta Falcons were a mere 2-6. Marion Campbell was on his way out of head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, as this was a team that had lost 11 or more games in 4 of the past 5 years. This wasn’t exactly a trip a 49ers or Broncos game.

But that didn’t matter. It was a football game. It was pro sports. It was my city. It was my home. And quickly, it became my team.

The opponent that day happened to be the 6-2 Buffalo Bills coached by the soon to be legendary Marv Levy. Not only were they Bills 6-2, they were also getting starting quarterback Jim Kelly back from injury. The Bills, as you well know, spent the next four years playing in the Super Bowl in January.

So there you had it, a 2-6 Falcons team considered one of the worst professional franchises in sports, facing a 6-2 Bills team on the way up to one of the more unprecedented runs professional sports would ever see.

No chance for the good guys, right?

Down 21-20, late in the game, Chris Miller (who would go on to become a favorite of mine thanks to Tecmo Super Bowl) led the Falcons on 61 yard drive culminating in the go ahead touchdown with 1:22 left. The Falcons were going to pull a stunner. I was hooked. I loved this stuff.

2-6? Who cares. We were going to win that day.

Then Don Bebee took the ensuing kick-off back to the Falcons 8 yard line. Typical Falcons. THIS was why this was a laughing stock not just in NFL circles, or in the sports world, but throughout the nation. What a joke.

The Bills would run the ball in for what seemed the winning touchdown with 29 seconds left. Apparently my father, a Falcons fan his entire life, and since the team played their first game in 1966, had seen enough.

To the truck we went.

Back in those days, seats for Falcons games weren’t hard to come by. In fact, if you looked hard enough, probably not even very hard, you would probably find people trying to give you tickets.

So parking too was not an issue. It didn’t take us long to find our way back to the truck, disgruntled and disappointed. Being merely 5 years old at the time, I really wasn’t capable of the passion that exists today, so while I knew the Falcons had not won the game, that wasn’t why I was mad. I just knew that whatever had taken place on that football field really disappointed my dad. And at that age, a disappointed dad is never a good thing.

As per the usual after attending any sporting event, upon getting in the car to go home, the radio goes on for the post-game coverage. Well, here’s the thing, it wasn’t quite yet to post game coverage.

Apparently Chris Miller connected for 41 yards on a hail-mary type pass to Stacey Bailey. Bailey, mind you, only caught eight passes all year. In fact, Bailey would only catch five more NFL passes in his career. But somehow he caught this one over All-Pro cornerback Nate Odom.

The Falcons still had a chance. My dad seemed shocked. Yet, he was convinced that Paul McFadden, who who had already made a 54 yarder earlier in the afternoon, would miss. This was from 50 yards, absolutely no gimme, but makable.

McFadden drilled it. Falcons win. Dad yells. I yell. A love affair is born.

Rise up tonight Falcons. I’ve been rising up with you every day since November 5, 1989. Let’s rise a little bit higher tonight.

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Apparently Falcons Are Lucky, Packers Are Good

Well, that’s what seems to be the foregone conclusion among some of the so-called experts who are going to spend the next few days telling all of us what to expect during the NFL playoffs this weekend.

Alas, these “experts” have apparently chosen to not allow facts and reality to get in the way of them tooting their own horn, and continuing to doubt the Atlanta Falcons.

Supposedly the fact that the Atlanta Falcons have won several close games means they aren’t really that good, and are due for a playoff loss. Never mind the fact that the Falcons did what you’re supposed to do, find ways to win. These “experts” conveniently seem to forget that while Atlanta only lost three games, and Green Bay found a way to lose twice that many, of the Packers 10 victories, many of those could have been losses.

Apparently these people forget this is the NFL, where any given Sunday any team can beat anyone else (how else do you explain the Patriots losing to the Browns?). Winning is the name of the game, just getting victories is hard enough. When talking about the health of the game, they love to refer to this as parity. When talking about the Atlanta Falcons, they try to refer to it as weakness on part of the Falcons.

I imagine when examining the Packers schedule and results, they just decided it was parity there too. Sure, Atlanta’s 13-3 could have easily been 10-6, or 7-9. It also very easily could have been 15-1. Just as Green Bay’s 10-6 could have easily been 6-10. But people forget that, don’t they?

The Eagles opener? Could’ve just as easily been a loss (as I’ve heard people refer to the Bengals game as one Atlanta could have lost, so, this qualifies too). I seem to recall the Eagles having the ball, down 7, in Green Bay territory with less than 2:00 to go in the football game. But I guess Green Bay just dominated that game though, right? Had this been the Falcons we’d only hear about how fortunate they were that Vick hadn’t come in the game earlier? Or how fortunate they were that Andy Reid can’t manage a clock or appropriately call plays in short yardage situations.

Detroit, at home, a few weeks later? The Packers win this one by a paltry two points, at home, over the Lions. Detroit, like Philadelphia, had the ball, with a chance to win, in the middle of the 4th quarter. But alas, this wasn’t the Falcons, so it’s a case of a win being a win, who cares how it happened, right? Had it been Atlanta, we’d be hearing about how pitiful it was for the Falcons to squeak by such an inferior opponent.

Minnesota, three weeks after that? Down just four, inside the Green Bay 20 late in the 4th quarter. The Vikings actually scored the go ahead touchdown, but had the play reversed. Minnesota wasn’t able to get the points back. But obviously, this wasn’t a game Green Bay could have lost, was it? Had it been Atlanta, we’d have been hearing about how lucky they were the play was overturned.

In the season finale against Chicago, Jay Cutler and the Bears were marching their way towards a tying touchdown when Jay Cutler had a relapse into the Cutler of old. To hear the experts, it was Green Bay’s defense making a play and rising up. Had this been the Falcons, we’d be hearing about how lucky they were that Jay Cutler made a bad decision there.

Let’s also keep in mind that the three teams Atlanta lost to all made the playoffs this year, two of them won their division and the other would have been the number two seed if not for having to play in the Falcons division. One of those losses came by a field goal, and the other came in overtime.

Keep in mind that Green Bay had losses to the Miami Dolphins, Washington Redskins and Detroit Lions this year. Such losses to such teams don’t exist on the Falcons resume.

Now don’t take this as me undermining what Green Bay has done this year, or to suggest they didn’t deserve those wins, not at all. What Green Bay did this year was make enough plays to win 10 games, not 11, not 9, but 10. Atlanta made enough plays to win 13 games, not 14, not 12, but 13.

*Also keep in mind, 5 of the Patriots victories this year came by single possession margins, but to suggest this would be complete blasphemy*

It’s funny though, Green Bay was scrapping out wins, and doing just enough to get in the playoffs, and apparently showing us how great they were. Or at least that’s what we are led to believe. The Falcons meanwhile were just the beneficiaries of some lucky bounces and advantageous officiating decisions, or so we’re told.

We hear how Green Bay was the hottest team coming into the playoffs. I’m sorry, didn’t they lose HALF of their last six games? Didn’t they manage a total of 13 points against the Lions and Bears in two of their final four?

I know full well how good a football team Green Bay is. They have an elite quarterback. They have a tremendous attacking defense. They play good special teams. They’ve won quite a few football games. The thing is, the same can be said of the Falcons, only, they’ve managed to win a few more, including one over these same Packers.

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