We are approaching the end of first semester. Since August, a lot has happened in Atlanta sports. Let’s review what has happened in each team.
The Falcons started off the 2015 NFL season with most experts picking them to be in the playoff hunt. With new head coach Dan Quinn coming in from leading the Seattle Seahawks’ treacherous “Legion of Boom” (their defense), expectations were for the defense to improve, and the offense to get even better. The season started off on Monday Night Football with a 26-24 victory. That win was followed by four other victories over the Giants, Cowboys, Texans, and Redskins. In this 5-0 span, wide receiver Julio Jones was setting receiving record for the first five weeks. In week 6, the Falcons went to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans to face the rival Saints on Monday Night Football. The Falcons received their first loss of the season 21-31. Since their loss to the Saints, the Falcons have lost 5 of the last 6 games. The blame coming mostly on the offensive output in the red zone. Matt Ryan has also thrown a career high in interceptions through 12 weeks. There have been some upside in the offense coming from rising star running back, Devonta Freeman who through week 10 was leading the league in rushing yards (until he suffered a concussion in week 11 after a bye week in week 10). Freeman is also tied for second in touchdowns scored. Julio Jones is also a bright spot in the offense, leading the league in receiving yards with 1,338 (through week 13) and emerging as one of the top receivers in the league. Dan Quinn has improved the defense, but it is still shaky. Hopefully, the Falcons will pull through and get a Wild Card spot in the NFC.
The Braves ended the 2015 season with the second worst record in the MLB behind the division rival Phillies. This was the result of the pre-season trading party by the Braves who traded stars such as Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, and Craig Kimbrel as well as many others for young players and prospects. During the season, the Braves kept trading and have declared to be in full on rebuilding mode. After the season ended, shortstop Andrelton Simmons was robbed of his third straight Gold Glove, but won Wilson Defensive Player of the Year. Quickly after that Simmons was traded to the Angels for two pitching prospects. It came as a surprise but not a shock because the Braves are trading everyone. Eventually, it was proclaimed that former All-Star Freddie Freeman was on the trading block as well as pitching ace Shelby Miller, but these rumors were soon denied. During the MLB Winter Meetings in Nashville, the Braves went against their word to trade Shelby Miller to the Arizona Diamondbacks for 2015 number 1 overall pick, Dansby Swanson (of Marietta), top pitching prospect Aaron Blair, and centerfielder Ender Inciarte. Most say the Braves definitely won this trade. The Braves prepare to play their final season in their beautiful ballpark of Turner Field. Many oppose the building of a new stadium, but nothing can be done.
The Hawks started the season coming off the best season in franchise history. It was a historic season that included 60 wins, a number 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals, coach Mike Budenholzer winning coach of the year, and a 19 game win streak that included 17 wins in the month of January. Bringing back four all-stars in Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap, and Al Horford, and adding pieces such as Tiago Splitter and Tim Hardaway Jr. They did lose a key piece in starting small forward Demarre Carroll to the Raptors. While Carroll was the only starter who wasn’t an all-star, he was considered the heart of the team. This summer, the Hawks also unveiled new uniforms as well as a new court design. Sports analysts and journalists predicted the Hawks to be good, but not as good as last year because of the loss of Demarre Carroll. They started the season winning 8 of their first 10 games and showing that last season was not a fluke. After injuries were suffered to key players such as Jeff Teague, Kent Bazemore, and Tiago Splitter (not all at the same time for the most part), the Hawks dropped a few. That included three straight losses, two of which were decided by two points or less. While the Hawks have not completely found their groove yet, they are still a team to look out for later in the season. Last season, the Hawks’ 19 game win streak started in late December and they were undefeated in January. Also, the Hawks have not been completely healthy for a lot of the season usually having one or two key players out at once for short periods of time.
There are a lot of upsides this season too. Some include the play of the Hawks’ starting big men, Paul Millsap and Al Horford. This offseason the Hawks resigned Millsap (instead or Carroll) and he is performing to his max averaging 18 points per game and 9 rebounds. Al Horford coming off of his third all-star season added a three-point shot to his arsenal of weapons and is looking like a top 5 center. He is averaging 15 points per game and 7 rebounds as well as shooting 50% from the field. The Hawks are looking to get stronger as a team and get into the heart of the season with a bang.
Georgia Bulldogs Football
The Georgia Bulldogs came into the season with high hopes. Ranked 9th to start the season, and having one of the top ranked offenses led by Heisman hopeful, running back Nick Chubb. They started off with four huge wins against the University of Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, and Southern. They eventually got up to number 7 in the country by week 3 with strong performances by Nick Chubb. Going into week 5, the Bulldogs were ranked 8th and preparing to play SEC powerhouse Alabama (who were ranked 13th at the time). This matchup was poised to be one of the best games of the year. The game ended in a massacre with the Crimson Tide winning 38-10. That brought Georgia down to 19th, and that would also be the last time the Bulldogs would be in the top 25 for the rest of the season. That loss was followed by a loss to the Tennessee Volunteers. The next week Georgia beat Mizzou, but the week after got killed by the rival Florida Gators. That was followed by four straight wins. Georgia underperformed again this season which led to the firing of longtime coach Mark Richt at the end of the regular season. Richt was eventually hired by the Miami Hurricanes. Soon after the Bulldogs hired Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart to replace Richt as head coach. The Bulldogs were picked to play in the TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville against Penn State.
Atlanta United FC
Coming in 2017!!!