Week 9 reminds me of a recurring, oft-analyzed dream.
You probably know the one I'm talking about, don't you?
It's that dream where you're about to take a test, only to realize you haven't properly prepared for it.
In other words, you don't have the answers for what lies ahead.
That's the boat I find myself rowing heading into the Week 9 slate, even though I have prepared fully for these inevitable sort-out-the-mess-that-is-the-postseason contests.
And trust me, there's a lot to sort out.
In fact, think of this week's matchups as a genetically modified Rubik's Cube ... on steroids.
Before we begin, though, remember to cast your vote in "The People's Pick," a series of Twitter polls posted on my timeline (@winfreyjake) each and every Monday afternoon.
% Editor's Note: Oneonta at Good Hope and Vinemont at Holly Pond will take place on Thursday night. As of Wednesday afternoon, no other games had been moved.
Class 2A, Region 5
% Addison (5-4, 4-1) at Sulligent (2-6, 2-3): There are several scenarios that could unfold here.
The Bulldogs would secure the region title with a win and a Winston County victory against Aliceville.
Should Aliceville win, though, it would lock Addison into the No. 2 seed — regardless of its outcome.
If the Bulldogs lose and Winston County wins? Addison then falls to the No. 3 seed.
Got to love the playoffs.
The series is tied at 2-2, with the Bulldogs winning the most recent matchup in 2018 (56-6).
Sulligent is coming off an unexpected win over Lamar County, but Addison should be OK in this one.
% My Pick: Addison
% People's Pick: Addison (92 percent — 99 votes)
% Lamar County (3-5, 2-3) at Cold Springs (4-4, 2-3): This one isn't quite as complicated.
If the Eagles win, they're in the postseason. If the Eagles lose, they're out of the postseason.
Simple enough, right?
Lamar County leads the all-time series 6-0, including a 28-6 win in the most recent clash (2013).
Statistically, the Bulldogs have been a little bit better than the Eagles offensively and defensively.
They've also played the top-tier squads in the region a little bit closer than Cold Springs.
I wouldn't rule the Eagles out, though.
% My Pick: Lamar County
% People's Pick: Cold Springs (58 percent — 95 votes)
Class 3A, Region 6
% Vinemont (5-3, 4-2) at Holly Pond (2-6, 1-5): The Eagles punched their playoff ticket last week.
Now, they are looking for more.
The No. 2 seed is still in play for Vinemont, which needs a win versus the Broncos coupled with a J.B. Pennington loss to Susan Moore to make hosting a playoff game for the first time since 1993 a reality.
However, even with a J.B. Pennington win, the Eagles could still potentially host in the first round.
But we won't touch that scenario for now — cross only the bridges you have to — because it brings in tiebreakers, Week 10 outcomes and other programs' win-loss records.
First, Vinemont needs to get past Holly Pond.
The Eagles lead the all-time series 23-22, but the Broncos have won four consecutive against them.
I believe that streak comes to an end on Thursday night.
Vinemont is playing too well right now to be upended by its county rival.
% My Pick: Vinemont
% People's Pick: Vinemont (93 percent — 100 votes)
Class 4A, Region 6
% Oneonta (6-3, 4-1) at Good Hope (8-1, 4-1): Here's another simple one — on paper, at least.
If the Raiders beat the Redskins, they'll host a first-round playoff game for the first time since 2008.
If the Raiders fall short to the Redskins, they'll be the No. 3 seed and hit the road in the first round.
Oneonta leads the all-time series 6-0, including playoff wins over Good Hope in 2018 and 2019.
The Redskins kicked off the season with three straight losses — two COVID-19 forfeits and a Week 2 road loss to Etowah — but have since recorded six consecutive wins of at least 14 points.
The Raiders, meanwhile, enter this matchup fresh off a bye week and with a ton of motivation.
This is probably one of the toughest games — maybe the toughest — I've had to pick this season.
I think I'll just flip a quarter.
% My Pick: Oneonta
% People's Pick: Good Hope (79 percent — 119 votes)
Class 5A, Region 7
% West Point (3-5, 3-2) at Guntersville (8-0, 5-0): The Warriors are riding a three-game win streak, but they’ll need to deliver a terrific performance against the unbeaten Wildcats to make it four straight.
Guntersville has played seven games on the field so far this season — Week 0 was a forfeit win.
In those seven outings, the Wildcats are averaging nearly as many points offensively per game (49.4) as they've surrendered all season long defensively (52).
That's not bad.
Guntersville leads the all-time series 4-2, including a 21-0 victory in the most recent meeting (2005).
% My Pick: Guntersville
% People's Pick: Guntersville (84 percent — 109 votes)
Class 6A, Region 8
% Muscle Shoals (6-2, 5-1) at Cullman (6-2, 4-1): Here's another fun scenario.
The Bearcats can — almost assuredly — snag a region title with a win and an Athens loss to Decatur.
I say almost assuredly, because the Bearcats would still technically have to beat Columbia on Oct. 29.
But given Columbia hasn't won a game since 2015, it's probably safe to assume that happens.
Other scenarios — cross only the bridges you have to — could see Cullman in a number of seeds.
The Bearcats, though, are focused on Muscle Shoals.
The Trojans lead the all-time series 9-7, but they have won seven straight against Cullman.
If the Bearcats want to come out ahead this time around, the offense — it has scored 27 points in the past three games — must be better against a Trojans defense that just two weeks ago surrendered a season-high 35 points to Hartselle before rebounding to blank Buckhorn 42-0.
Slight lean to the road team here.
% My Pick: Muscle Shoals
% People's Pick: Muscle Shoals (53 percent — 143 votes)
% Section (5-3) at Hanceville (1-7): We've got a first-time meeting here.
The Bulldogs are in search of anything positive, having dropped six consecutive games.
Section, meanwhile, has reached the five-win mark for the first time since the 2014 season.
The Lions, though, are beatable if Hanceville can put a good one together on Friday night.
% My Pick: Section
% People's Pick: Section (77 percent — 117 votes)
% My Record: 47-10
% People's Record: 48-11-1