on Henrique’s goal.

Toate discuţiile referitoare la următorul patch al echipei intră aici.

by chenyan94 » Mon Oct 08, 2018 4:11 am

Recent history would indicate that the NFC South is among the NFL's strongest divisions.

Three of its four teams 鈥?New Orleans Riley Nash Jersey , Atlanta and Carolina 鈥?made the playoffs last season. The Falcons are only two seasons removed from an overtime loss in the Super Bowl.

Yet, in today's NFL, fortunes have been known to vacillate widely from one year to the next.

"Obviously, there is parity in our league," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "What I mean by that is, teams very quickly can improve themselves in the division. You see that each year."

Payton has urged his players to take the approach that they are "starting from square one and it's an entirely different year."

But it's tough to entirely drown out the expectations surrounding a club that won 11 of its last 14 regular-season games and beat the Panthers in the playoffs before nearly advancing to the NFC title game. Only an unlikely 61-yard touchdown pass play by the Vikings as time expired prevented the Saints from going to Philadelphia.

Much of New Orleans' success stemmed from young players 鈥?namely running back Alvin Kamara and cornerback Marshon Lattimore, the 2017 offensive and defensive rookie award winners. Many other key players鈥?Pro Bowl receiver Michael Thomas, right guard Ryan Ramczyk, safeties Vonn Bell and Marcus Williams, defensive tackles Sheldon Rankins and David Onyemata, cornerback Ken Crawley, and linebacker Alex Anzalone 鈥?have been in the NFL two or fewer years.

That gave the Saints the luxury of approaching the past offseason with the mission of refining rather than overhauling.

"We probably feel like we have fewer holes," general manager Mickey Loomis said. "Overall, we've got a young team ... and I'm anxious to see how those guys develop and get better 鈥?and I think we feel good about that."

Here are some other NFC South story lines in 2018:

ELDER STATESMAN: For all of the Saints' promising youth, their most important player still might be their eldest: 39-year-old Drew Brees.

There's little evidence of a drop-off yet. Last season he completed an NFL-record 72 percent of his passes and his eight interceptions were his lowest since throwing seven with the Chargers in 2004.

But he might have to throw more this season than last 鈥?at least early on. Pro Bowl running back Mark Ingram is suspended the first four games for use of a banned substance.

The good news for New Orleans is the entire offensive line is intact after strong showings in both the running and passing games in 2017.

"If they're playing well Womens C.J. Mosley Jersey , then you're able to open up the offense in a way that makes us very dangerous," Brees said. "This group is one of the best we've had."

Brees also has two of his top receivers back in Thomas and Ted Ginn Jr., along with two promising new targets in free-agent acquisition Cameron Meredith and rookie Tre'Quan Smith.

STAR TREATMENT: The Falcons have taken measures to make sure two key playmakers, wide receiver Julio Jones and running back Devonta Freeman, are healthy to start the season. Neither played in a preseason game.

Jones said he was focused on his health when he missed mandatory minicamp. He had minor surgery on his left foot after the 2016 season and had two ankle injuries, plus injuries to his back, ribs, thumb and knee last season. Even so, he had 88 catches for 1,444 yards and three touchdowns.

Last year, Freeman had two concussions and was slowed by a knee problem.

The Falcons led the NFL in scoring in their 2016 Super Bowl season but fell back to the middle of the pack last year.

Quarterback Matt Ryan doesn't sound worried whether Jones or Freeman will be in form when it counts

"Not with those two," Ryan said. "They both have played so much football and they both practice so much that I don't really see them missing a beat."

ANOTHER GEAR: The Panthers sought to get faster in the offseason to compete with the Saints, who beat them three times last season, including in the wild-card round. They've added speed at wide receiver, trading for Torrey Smith Justin Braun Jersey Kids , signing free agent Jarius Wright and drafting D.J. Moore from Maryland in the first round. Coach Ron Rivera is also hoping 2017 second-round pick Curtis Samuel can stay healthy, unlike last season. Those receivers and versatile running back Christian McCaffrey could give QB Cam Newton a lot of reasons not to run himself.

Carolina also went in the Saints' backyard to get help on defense, drafting LSU cornerback Donte Jackson 鈥?considered one of the fastest players in college a year ago 鈥?in the second round.

TAKING ON WATER: The Bucs lost 10 of 13 following a 2-1 start a year ago, missing the playoffs for the 10th consecutive season. Their chances of escaping the division cellar and ending the long drought will be impacted by how they play without QB Jameis Winston, who'll miss the first three games while serving a suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.

After opening on the road at New Orleans, home games follow against defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. An 0-3 start could be difficult to overcome, even if Winston plays well when he returns.

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH: Saints, Falcons, Panthers, Buccaneers.

AP Sports Writers Fred Goodall, Charles Odum, Steve Reed contributed to this report.

With a win in the regular season finale, the Anaheim Ducks secured home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs and finally know who they’ll face: the Pacific Division-rival San Jose Sharks.

Rickard Rakell had a goal and assist, and Ryan Miller made 31 saves to lead the surging Ducks to a 3-0 win over the Arizona Coyotes Saturday night, helping Anaheim clinch second place in the division.

Rakell scored for the 12th time in his last 19 games. He led the Ducks with a career-high 34 goals and 69 points this season.

”We know they have a good power play and they’re strong around the boards Youth Pavel Zacha Jersey ,” Rakell said of the Sharks. ”They have four good lines working really hard, so we’re going to have to match that.”

Miller earned his fourth shutout of the season and 43rd of his career. It was also his 370th career win, moving him past Tom Barrasso for second place on the all-time list among U.S.-born goalies.

”Definitely somebody I looked up to,” Miller said of Barrasso. ”Just happy to still be playing meaningful hockey and getting some wins.”

Adam Henrique scored his 24th of the season for Anaheim and added an assist, and Hampus Lindholm scored an empty-netter before the final buzzer.

The Ducks (44-25-13) won their fifth straight to finish 10-1-1 over the final 12 games.

The Coyotes (29-41-12) finished last in the Pacific, but went 17-9-3 in their last 29 games in a season they started 1-12-1.

”I thought we got better from October, so there’s some good positive things,” Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said. ”We just ran out of gas tonight. For the most part, the last 25, 30 games, we beat some good hockey teams and I thought some of the young guys really progressed, which is nice.”

The two teams combined for 26 penalty minutes.

Arizona goalie Antti Raanta appeared in his first game since signing a three-year, $12.75 million contract on Friday that will keep him from free agency. He stopped 24 shots.

”Anaheim, they played a strong game,” Raanta said. ”Everyone left everything on the ice but sometimes puck luck isn’t on your side.”

An altercation between Coyotes defenseman Luke Schenn and Ducks forward Nick Ritchie in the first period resulted in minor penalties for both. That was followed by another confrontation involving Arizona’s Brad Richardson and Anaheim’s Derek Grant Josh Sitton Jersey , with Richardson sent to the penalty box for two minutes.

The power play for the Ducks helped when Henrique muscled in a backhand for a goal at 10:54 of the period, giving Anaheim a 1-0 lead. Rakell got an assist, his 35th.

Richardson and Anaheim’s Corey Perry served five minutes for fighting early in the second period. The Ducks missed a chance to add to their lead when Jakob Silfverberg hit the post with a shot at 13:07 of the second.

Rakell scored off a pass from Ryan Getzlaf with 3:43 left in the second. Getzlaf picked up his team-leading 50th assist of the season.

Perry earned his 400th assist on Henrique’s goal.

Anaheim logged its fifth consecutive 100-point season as a team.

”We had a plan. We tried to execute the plan. I’m not standing here saying it was perfect by any means, we had a lot of speed bumps on the way,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. ”We’ve got our group together here over the last six weeks and we’ve played good enough to gain points.”

NOTES: The Coyotes brought up D Joel Hanley on emergency recall from Tucson, their AHL affiliate, in time for Saturday’s game. … C Clayton Keller, a rookie and the team’s leading scorer this season, was voted Coyotes Most Valuable Player for the season as voted on by local media. … Ducks C Antoine Vermette and F Troy Terry played Saturday, Vermette’s first game since March 23 and Terry’s second of the season. F Jason Chimera and F J.T. Brown were scratched. … A moment of silence was held in remembrance of lives lost in the fatal bus crash involving a junior hockey team in Canada Friday night.

UP NEXT

Ducks: Western Conference playoffs vs. San Jose

Coyotes: Offseason.

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