Predictions for the 2014 sports year

sports@macon.comDecember 31, 2013 

Is it really 2014? My how time flies when you’re having fun, or when you’re just getting older. We hope the New Year will be good to you and your favorite sports teams.

Let’s offer up a few predictions for 2014.

Auburn will win Monday over Florida State and keep the SEC’s national championship streak alive. No, I’m not one who pulls for the conference, so it’s not that. I just believe Auburn has “it” this year. The Seminoles might be more talented, but after the past three games for the Tigers, don’t you have to wonder if it’s just their year?

The Super Bowl will have Seattle and Indianapolis in an interesting matchup. The Colts will shock Denver in the AFC championship game and force Peyton Manning to watch his old team in the Super Bowl. But the Seahawks’ defense will be too tough on Andrew Luck, and Pete Carroll will win a championship with a lower payroll than he had at USC.

In February, we’ll hear how great the Georgia recruiting class is on paper. That’s not going out on a limb. We hear that every February when National Signing Day rolls around. But how will those players do once the season starts?

Georgia will fire basketball head coach Mark Fox after another miserable season. Who knows who athletics director Greg McGarity will choose as the replacement, but maybe it will simply be someone who can recruit Georgia and the Atlanta area.

McGarity would be wise to call Bob Hoffman at Mercer and interview him for the job. Hoffman’s men’s team will win the A-Sun tournament and finally get into the NCAA tournament.

The Atlanta Hawks will finish fourth in the Eastern Conference but will be bounced out in the second round. Then in June, they will get a good draft pick courtesy of the Brooklyn Nets. Atlanta will take a significant player who could actually get people excited -- for a change.

Speaking of drafts, the Falcons will trade down from the sixth spot in the first round and get more picks. At some point, Atlanta will take an offensive lineman, and then the Falcons will take another one and then hopefully one more for the heck of it. Can a team use all seven picks on offensive linemen? Atlanta might need to.

The Braves will have Dan Uggla start at second base once again. They really have no choice, since no one else wants a guy who hit .179 last season. Here’s a shocker. Uggla will rebound and hit a respectable .225 with 30-something home runs. All right, I don’t really believe that, but if it happens, remember I was dumb enough to predict it on Jan. 1.

Atlanta will fight with Washington for the NL East title and come up just short. The Braves will win the wild card but lose again to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first round. After the season, the Braves will trade Jason Heyward once they realize they will never re-sign him to a long-term contract. Instead, Craig Kimbrel will get the big money deal from the Braves, as he should since he’s the best closer in the sport.

The Falcons will rebound and go 9-7 but miss the playoffs. Mike Smith will get another year but will be on the hot seat in 2015 if the team does not do something special. If the Falcons do not have a winning season, Smith will be fired, and Arthur Blank will bring someone else in to get them over the hump.

Georgia will be 9-3 and once again have an excuse -- a new quarterback. The defense will be better but still not great, and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham will leave to coach somewhere in the NFL.

Georgia Tech will do what it always seems to do -- win seven or eight games and the fans will be satisfied. But the Yellow Jackets will still not beat Georgia.

South Carolina and Alabama will meet in Atlanta for the SEC title, and how can you go against Alabama? No, Auburn fans, you won’t repeat.

You know, if I could only prove to you that last year I predicted Auburn and Missouri would be in the SEC championship game. ... I don’t think Kreskin could make that bold of a prediction for something that outlandish for 2014, so these will have to suffice.

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at www.foxsports1670.com. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and e-mail him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.

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