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The Predictions: Florida can’t score enough to stay with Bama

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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

The Pros

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

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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