NFL: Week 14 -- Seahawks at 49ers
It might be too late for the 8-4 San Francisco 49ers to challenge the 11-1 Seattle Seahawks for the NFC West title. But the defending NFC champions can make a statement -- which might be needed after Seattle thrashed San Francisco 29-3 in their Week 2 meeting.
Will Peyton struggle in the cold?
Peyton Manning is one of the finest quarterbacks to play the game -- that is, at least, until things get a bit nippy. Manning denied that he's a worse quarterback in cold weather, but when the temperature drops to freezing, he's tended to struggle, throwing 11 touchdowns to 12 interceptions in 10 such games. The Broncos may be favorites to make the Super Bowl in the AFC, but considering this year's game is outdoors, fans in Denver might have reason to be concerned about their franchise savior.
Brighter outlook -- Knicks or Nets?
The New York Knicks weren't supposed to light up the league this season, but their floor seemed like a low playoff seed in the Eastern Conference. And yet, heading into Thursday night's game at the Brooklyn Nets, Carmelo Anthony & Co. find themselves with the NBA's 29th-best record (3-13). The Nets, meanwhile, aren't as bad -- but that 5-13 mark is a far cry from contention, which is where most analysts saw Brooklyn this season. And it's not as if Gotham is now Tank City; neither franchise owns its 2014 first-round pick, and they're the Association's highest paid teams (Nets No. 1, Knicks No. 2). In other words, things are ugly in the Apple. Which franchise's outlook is better, if ever-so-slightly?
The Clippers have a problem common to teams that approach offense with a fanatic's zeal: They can't stop other teams from matching them point-for-point. Los Angeles is giving up 102.1 points per game, the sixth-worst mark in the league, and is in the midst of a two-game losing streak in which it allowed the Hawks to drop 107 points on it. Chris Paul thinks the Clippers need to find a defensive identity, but when you're coming off a game in which the opposing team shoots 52.2 percent from 3-point range, it might simply be that you don't have the personnel to do the job.
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What's the real North Carolina?
They lost to Belmont and UAB. Sandwiched between those games was a win over defending champion Louisville. Then, on Wednesday night, the North Carolina Tar Heels took to the Breslin Center to face No. 1 Michigan State -- and, you guessed it, won. By 14. Which is the real UNC? How far will Roy Williams' team go come postseason time?