The way analysts talk about the Alabama Crimson Tide, you don’t know whether they are preparing for the College Football Playoffs or the ones reserved for the NFL.
They may be the best team ever, say some analysts. They are so No. 1 that their second-string may be No. 2. They are bulletproof and can stop speeding trains.
On the other hand, Alabama beat Ole Miss by five.
They beat LSU by 10.
So are they are unbeatable? Of course not. No one is. For Florida, which plays them in today’s SEC title game, that’s something.
Alabama had to rally from a 24-3 deficit to beat Ole Miss this year. They barely got to the end zone against LSU.
The keys to beating Alabama, of course, are to hit them early and often. It is to match their greatness on defense. It is to get turnovers and dominate field position. It is to put them into a rare dogfight and hope you can make the final play.
That may be hard for the Gators, who rank only 114th in total offense. Still, it would help Florida to try to strike early. It doesn’t want to get into a field position battle with the Tide, who have worn down most teams. They’ve scored 384 points this season.
With their No. 1-ranked defense, it’s doubtful if Florida can score enough to stay in the game for very long.
Prediction: Alabama 31, Florida 13
Broncos at Jaguars
This was supposed to be a turnaround season for Gus Bradley and the Jags. Instead, the critics are asking for Bradley’s job. Unless the Jags can go 3-2, they won’t even equal last season’s totals. And playing the defending Super Bowl champions won’t help.
Prediction: Denver 24, Jacksonville 17
Dolphins at Ravens
Both teams have found their way after early season struggles. The Dolphins are in the playoff hunt at 7-4. The Ravens are tied in the AFC North with Pittsburgh. The thought here is that the Ravens will be able to control Jay Ajayi just enough to win at home.
Prediction: Baltimore 34, Miami 28
Tampa Bay at San Diego
The Bucs have been playing their best football in several seasons. Still, this one will be a chore with the diverse attack of the Chargers against their defense. Still, San Diego doesn’t play as well on the other side of the ball.
Prediction: Tampa Bay 23, San Diego 21