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Packers playoff picture: How Green Bay can clinch No. 1 seed in NFC playoffs



Packers playoff picture: How Green Bay can clinch No. 1 seed in NFC playoffs

The Packers (10-3) going into Saturday’s Week 15 game against the Panthers in Green Bay as the projected No. 1 seed for the NFC playoffs after the 2020 NFL season. With the Packers beating the Lions in Week 14 while the Saints (10-3) were upset by the Eagles, the Packers hold a head-to-head tiebreaker with three weeks left.

Green Bay already has clinched a second consecutive NFC North title. Neither Chicago (6-7) or Minnesota (6-7) can catch up down four games. A game behind the Packers and the Saints are two teams from the NFC West, the division-leading Rams (9-4) and the second-place Seahawks (9-4).

With that all that in mind, here’s a look at how the Packers will or won’t get the top seed, which comes with home-field advantage and the NFC playoffs’ lone bye.

Packers go 3-0 to finish 13-3

Here is the Packers’ complete remaining schedule: vs. Panthers, vs. Titans and at Bears. Should they win out against that, they would match their 2019 regular-season record. That also would guarantee they keep the No. 1 seed, no matter what the Saints do. The Packers have that edge from winning at New Orleans in Week 3.

Packers go 2-1 to finish 12-4

This would open the door for the Saints to take back No. 1. The Saints, after hosing the Chiefs (12-1) in Week 15, also host the Vikings (6-7) and go to the Panthers (4-9) in Week 17.

The Packers’ most likely loss is to the Titans in Week 16, but they still will be favorites in that game and Saints are underdogs vs. the Chiefs. So the Packers still have a good shot to finish ahead of the Saints in this scenario.

Then the concern for losing No. 1 would be with the Rams or Seahawks, if either of those teams win out while the Packers go 2-1. The Rams host the Jets in Week 15 and host the Cardinals in Week 17. The Seahawks travel to Washington in Week 15 and go to the 49ers in Week 17. Seattle hosts Los Angeles in Week 16.

At 12-4 as NFC West champions, the Rams would have a 10-2 conference record. The Packers could fall to 12-4 by losing to the AFC Titans, which would also give them a 10-2 conference record. The Saints could also get to 12-4 with a 10-2 conference record if their loss is to the Chiefs. The Seahawks can finish at best 9-3 in the conference.

Luckily, there are four common games to help decide No. 1 should the Packers, Saints and Rams end up in a deadlock: 49ers, Eagles, Buccaneers and Bears. The Rams went 3-2 in those games. The Packers are 3-1 in those games going into a Bears rematch. The Saints are 4-1 in those games. The Packers, assuming they beat the Bears again, would separate from the Rams, along with the Saints. Then the Packers would still beat out the Saints for No. 1, with the Rams staying at No. 3.

Packers go 1-2 to finish 11-5

The Packers would be in real danger to drop down to No. 3 here with the Saints likely to go no worse than 2-1 and 12-4  and either the Rams or Seahawks having a good shot to win out for 12-4. There’s a big difference from having a bye and a free ticket to the divisional playoffs instead of immediately contending with the No. 6 wild-card team, likely the Buccaneers, who beat the Packers.

No. 2 doesn’t come with the bye, but the Packers should be comfortable hosting the Cardinals, Vikings or Bears in the wild-card round, knowing another home game vs. the Rams or Seahawks is coming. The Packers also were able to win the Superdome and can do it again if necessary in the NFC championship game.

The Packers can be OK with one loss perhaps even to keep No. 1. Two losses, however, would be disastrous in making the path to Super Bowl 55 considerably more difficult.

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Warriors’ Draymond Green ejected for yelling at . . . a teammate?



Warriors' Draymond Green ejected for yelling at . . . a teammate?

Warriors forward Draymond Green was on the receiving end of a horrible technical foul call Thursday night. To make matters worse, it was his second tech of the game, which meant he was ejected. 

Why was the call so bad? Because Green was yelling at a teammate, rookie James Wiseman, rather than an official or an opponent when he got T’d up.

Green was incredulous as he got the news during Golden State’s game against the Knicks.

Oddly, neither of the other two officials chose to confer with colleague John Butler and make sure the second-quarter technical was legitimate. They, too, had to have heard what Green was yelling inside the empty Chase Center.

MORE: Wiseman impresses Kerr with ‘Giannis play’

Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters after the game that one of those other officials, Ben Taylor, told him at halftime that Butler thought Green was yelling at him and not Wiseman.

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau was just happy to see Green gone.

“Draymond, we caught a break when he got thrown out,” he said postgame, per The Associated Press. New York won the game 119-104. 

The NBA can decide to rescind Green’s second technical once it gathers all the information about it. Based on the Warriors’ reactions and Taylor’s reported admission, expect that T to go away quickly on Friday. Too little, too late, but at least some justice will be done after Green was done wrong by the officials.

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NBA trade rumors: Cavaliers to send Kevin Porter Jr. to Rockets following outburst



NBA trade rumors: Cavaliers to send Kevin Porter Jr. to Rockets following outburst

The Cavaliers have found a taker for Kevin Porter Jr.

Cleveland is trading the second-year wing player to the Rockets, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Shams Charania of The Athletic and Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reported late Thursday. It will receive a protected second-round draft pick in return. The Associated Press reported the deal was pending NBA approval.

MORE: Cavs’ Sexton beats Nets’ Big 3 in double OT

The Cavs decided to move Porter after he threw a tantrum over the team giving his locker to newly acquired veteran Taurean Prince and moving him to another part of the locker room. The Athletic reported the Jan. 15 outburst included Porter throwing food and being “combative” during an argument with general manager Koby Altman.

Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff on Monday spoke of Porter as a soon-to-be-former member of the organization.

“We all want to see Kevin be successful,” Bickerstaff said, per The Athletic. “I still feel that way. So whatever it is that happens in the future for him, I hope nothing but the best for him. And it’s part of our responsibility as coaches to give everyone our all and try to make the best of every situation. I can say that we did that.”

Porter did not play for Cleveland this season because of unspecified personal issues. He was charged with weapon and drug offenses last November in Ohio following a car crash. Prosecutors later dropped the charges, ESPN reported. 

He played in 50 games (three starts) for the Cavs last season as a rookie, averaging 10.0 points and 3.2 rebounds. 

Houston will waive injured guard Chris Clemons to make room for Porter on the roster, Feigen reported.

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Blue Jays preparing to play home games in Florida if necessary, report says



Blue Jays preparing to play home games in Florida if necessary, report says

The Blue Jays are making contingency plans in the event the Canadian government prevents them from playing home games in Toronto at the start of the 2021 MLB season because of COVID-19 concerns.

The Tampa Bay Times reported Wednesday that the club is looking at its spring training facility in Dunedin, Fla., as a possible alternate site and that the Jays and Dunedin officials have held preliminary discussions about holding regular-season games at TD Ballpark.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Jan. 12 that the Canada-U.S. border would remain closed to nonessential travel through at least Feb. 21, and on Jan. 16 Ontario extended emergency measures within the province through Feb. 19 as the number of coronavirus cases continues to increase.

MORE: New stadium to replace Rogers Centre in Toronto, report says

“We would welcome the opportunity if they were to open their season here,” Vince Gizzi, Dunedin’s parks and recreation director, told the Times. “It would just be wonderful for our city, if they were restricted from going in and out of Canada, that they could play here.”

The Jays were forced to play their entire 60-game schedule last year in the U.S. after Canada prohibited them from playing at Rogers Centre amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The team played its home games at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, N.Y., the home of its Triple-A minor league affiliate, the Buffalo Bisons, beginning in mid-August. The Bisons’ 2020 season had already been canceled, making the stadium available to the Jays full time. 

The Bisons are scheduled to resume playing there next spring, although the exact opening date is unclear because MLB is still deciding when to begin the 2021 minor league season.

Dunedin is also home to Toronto’s affiliate in the Single-A Florida State League, but the Times speculated that any scheduling conflicts could be resolved by having the minor league team play on one of the fields adjacent to the stadium inside the Jays’ complex. The parent club’s home opener is scheduled for April 8. 

MORE: Blue Jays’ free-agent moves assure AL East respectability

The Times noted that MLB and the MLB Players Association would have to approve moving games outside Toronto. 

The NBA’s Raptors are dealing with a similar prohibition. They’ve moved their home games this season to Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla., home of the NHL’s Lightning. Dunedin is about 30 minutes west of Tampa on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

The Maple Leafs are playing their home games at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto but are not scheduled to leave Canada in the regular season. The NHL placed all seven of its Canadian teams in one division for the 2021 season and are having them play just each other, with games taking place entirely within Canada.

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