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2021 NFL Divisional Power Rankings entering Week 17: NFC West reluctantly back on top after poor week

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The NFL regular season is winding down with 24 teams remaining in contention for the Super Bowl heading into Week 17, the most teams the league has in contention at this point in the season in 15 years. While there’s plenty of parity in the NFL, the eight divisions can’t be included in that conversation.

The NFC West, AFC West, and AFC North have separated themselves from the pack, ranking amongst the elite divisions in the league. The NFC East, AFC East, and NFC South have been stuck inn the middle of the pack while the AFC South and NFC North are trying to avoid becoming the worst division in football. 

The final ranking for the divisions are starting to take shape as each division is starting to make a push to move up from their current spot. This week, none of the contenders for the top spot helped their resume. 

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8. AFC South

Last week’s ranking: 8

The AFC South had a surprisingly good week as the division states its case to not be the worst in football. The Houston Texans upset win over the Los Angeles Chargers was a huge boost for the division, especially after the Tennessee Titans beat the San Francisco 49ers and the Indianapolis Colts defeated the Arizona Cardinals. Yes, the AFC South went 2-0 against the NFC West this week!

The AFC South is 15-25 in out-of-division matchups (.375) and 25-35 overall (.417), both are the worst in football. 

7. NFC North

Last week’s ranking: 7

The Green Bay Packers usually spare this division from being the worst in football, yet the Chicago Bears had an upset over the Seattle Seahawks with Nick Foles at quarterback. The Minnesota Vikings continue to lose one score games and the Detroit Lions have the worst record in the conference. A 2-2 week isn’t actually bad for this division.

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The NFC North is 17-24-1 in interdivisional games (.417) and 26-33-1 overall (.442). 

6. NFC East

Last week’s ranking: 6

Another week the NFC East just played each other, as the Dallas Cowboys crushed the Washington Football Team and the Philadelphia Eagles did the same to the New York Giants after a sluggish first half. The NFC East has two out-of-division games this week with an opportunity to finish at the .500 mark in interdivisional play for the season. Dallas faces Arizona and New York travels to Chicago.

The NFC East is 20-22 in out-of-division games (.476) and 29-31 overall (.483).  

5. NFC South

Last week’s ranking: 5

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers clinched the division this week, likely the only team from this division that will go to the playoffs this year. Injuries ravaged the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons remain alive for a playoff spot, but need a lot of help in order to sneak in. The Carolina Panthers are a mess as their season continues to spiral south. 

The NFC South isn’t a good division, yet they aren’t near being the worst division in football either. The division is 21-21 in interdivisional play and 30-30 overall, right at the .500 mark. 

4. AFC East

Last week’s ranking: 4

The AFC East is also sitting right at the .500 mark with two weeks to play, yet have three teams in position to qualify for the postseason. This division now has three teams over .500 and went 2-0 in interdivisional games this week with the Miami Dolphins beating the New Orleans Saints and the New York Jets taking down the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Buffalo Bills showcased their division supremacy with a win over the New England Patriots, yet the division is set to be determined in the final week. This division can get over .500 in interdivisional play with a 3-1 week. 

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The AFC East is 20-20 in out-of-division games and 30-30 overall. 

3. AFC North

Last week’s ranking: 2

The top divisions did not have a good week, starting with the AFC North. The Pittsburgh Steelers were blown out by the Kansas City Chiefs and the Baltimore Ravens were blown out by the Cincinnati Bengals — a battle for the top of the division no less. This division went 0-2 in interdivisional games this week, as the Cleveland Browns fell to the Green Bay Packers. 

The AFC North is one of the most exciting divisions in football, yet three teams are proving to be average as Cincinnati is set to seize the title. Hard to put the division above the AFC West and NFC West at this time. 

The AFC North is 22-19-1 in interdivisional games (.536) and 31-28-1 overall (.525). 

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2. AFC West

Last week’s ranking: 1

The Kansas City Chiefs blowing out the Pittsburgh Steelers salvaged the AFC West this week, but the division fell out of the top spot thanks to the Los Angeles Chargers getting upset by the Houston Texans. The AFC West only has one team as a lock to make the playoffs through 16 weeks, as the Chargers are on the outside looking in. 

The Las Vegas Raiders still have a shot at the playoffs after beating the Denver Broncos. While this division still has three teams over .500, having one playoff team at the moment is a huge reason why the AFC West is no longer No. 1. 

The AFC West is 25-17 in interdivisional games (.595) and 34-26 overall (.567), tied for the league’s best divisional record. 

1. NFC West

Last week’s ranking: 3 

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The NFC East gets the top spot back this week, even with the 49ers falling to the Titans and the Cardinals falling to the Colts in interdivisional play. Going 0-2 against the AFC South is a bad look, same with the Seahawks losing to a NFC North team in the Bears. 

The Rams beating the Vikings keeps the NFC West from having an 0-4 week, so why is this division back at No. 1? The NFC West has two playoff locks and a third coming in the 49ers — while having a NFL best 24-16 record (.600) in out-of-division games. 

Being tied for the best divisional record in football at 34-26 (.567) is another plus for the NFC West, the only division in the league with two 10-win teams. For this week, the NFC West is back on top. 



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Three Stars from Day 3 of WJC: Canada’s McTavish joins elite company – Sportsnet.ca

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Canada and the U.S. dominated in their second game of the tournament while Czechia and Finland went toe-to-toe and needed a shootout to determine a winner on Day 3 of the World Junior Hockey Championship.

The Canadian team rebounded from a sluggish performance with an 11-1 win over Slovakia, a game in which captain Mason McTavish added his name to the country’s record books.

Against Switzerland, the United States took their game to another gear that their opponent could not match as they cruised to a 7-1 victory to improve to 2-0 at the tournament.

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Finland dropped a crucial point as they had to overcome a 2-0 deficit but were able to pick up the shootout win over their rival Czechia.

Here is a look at the top performances from Day 3 of the world juniors.

3rd Star: Luke Hughes, USA

Coming from a great hockey family, Luke Hughes is making most of his opportunity as one of the top defencemen for the U.S. 

The younger brother of Quinn and Jack displayed his mobility and vision against Switzerland with a three-point effort. He now has five points in his first two games of the tournament — more than either of his brothers ever achieved at this event in fewer games.

Hughes leads all defenceman in scoring so far in the tournament and is tied for fourth overall.

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The 18-year-old played 21:18 against the Swiss to lead the U.S. in ice time playing on the top pairing with Brock Faber. His play from this point will be a crucial part of his team’s success given the creativity he displayed, especially on Matt Coronato’s goal in the second period.

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He made another top-notch set up on Thomas Bordeleau’s power-play goal in the third period as he delayed enough to get the defenders to pull towards his side of the ice.

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2nd Star: Carter Mazur, USA

Coming into the tournament, Carter Mazur is looking to build off an impressive season at the University of Denver. 

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While he was in a scoring slump in his first NCAA season, the Detroit Red Wings prospect made a call to his NHL team’s assistant director of player development, Daniel Cleary. After that, he would go on to finish with 14 goals and 38 points in 41 games.

Those tips have now turned Mazur into a scoring machine as he accounted for two of the team’s seven goals and was also named the player of the game as the top line of Mazur, Landon Slaggert, and Thomas Bordeleau had an impressive performance against Switzerland

After a scoreless first period, Mazur wasn’t going to make any mistake on a point-blank chance in front of the net with Mackie Samoskevich making a great pass from behind the net.

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With the Americans looking to add to their lead, Mazur was once again the beneficiary of a great pass from Slaggert as he made no mistake from the front of the net.

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He added another assist on Slaggert’s goal later in the period for his third point of the game. Through his first two games at the world juniors, Mazur has four points and is tied for sixth in scoring.

1st Star: Mason McTavish, Canada

On a night where Canada dominated from start to finish, Mason McTavish joined some elite company with a night he’ll certainly remember for a long time.

The 19-year-old joined Mario Lemieux, Simon Gagné, Brayden Schenn, Taylor Raddysh, Maxime Comtois and teammate Connor Bedard as the only players to score four goals in a single world junior game for Canada. The tournament record for goals in a single game is held by Sweden’s Ola Rosander who had six back in 1987.

With his performance against Slovakia in a dominant win for Canada, McTavish now sits atop the scoring lead with eight points in two games after registering six points in this game.

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McTavish scored his first goal of the game on a breakaway — with Canada already leading 5-0 midway through the second — making no mistake to beat Tomas Bolo, who came into the game after starter Simon Latkoczy was pulled going into the second period.

His second goal came off a great play by Joshua Roy who flipped the puck in the air to Brennan Othmann who then set up McTavish as he finished with a backhander to put Canada up 7-1. McTavish would complete the second-period hat trick, a day after Alexander Blank did the same for Germany, after a selfless pass from Roy on a 2-on-0 break.

Canada would capitalize on a turnover on McTavish’s fourth goal as Othmann set him up alone in front of the net and he made no mistake.

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There was some doubt about whether McTavish would suit up for Canada after playing a fair amount of hockey last season. Making his NHL debut with the Anaheim Ducks, the third overall pick from the 2021 NHL Draft played in a total of 72 games between the NHL, AHL, OHL, Memorial Cup and the Olympics.

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Instead, McTavish decided to join the team in Edmonton and take on the role as captain where he has excelled centring Canada’s top line with Bedard and and a rotation of Roy and Othmann.

Canada will now look forward to a matchup against Czechia with a chance to improve to 3-0.

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Field of Dreams Game 2022: A celebration of baseball memories in an Iowa cornfield

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The Field of Dreams is an opportunity for fans and players alike to reflect on the people and places that taught them to love baseball, Jake Mintz writes.



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Ravens extend NFL record for consecutive postseason wins following Thursday’s victory over the Titans

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USA Today

The No. 21 is now synonymous with the longest winning streaks in NFL regular and preseason history. the 2003-04 Patriots won 21 consecutive games, an NFL record. On Thursday night, the Ravens won their 21st consecutive preseason game after securing a 23-10 decision against the Tennessee Titans

Baltimore has not lost a preseason game since 2016. Joe Flacco was their starting quarterback when the streak began, while Steve Smith Jr., who this past year was eligible for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the first time, was heading into his final NFL season. Baltimore’s roster also included Terrell Suggs, who was entering his second-to-last season with the franchise. 

Along with not losing preseason games, another constant in Baltimore over the past six years has been kicker Justin Tucker, who is entering his 11th season with the Ravens. Tucker’s field goals of 47, 25 and 47 yards on Thursday night helped Baltimore pull out the win after falling behind midway through the second quarter. 

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The Ravens won Thursday’s game by winning the turnover margin while holding the Titans to 1 of 3 red zone efficiency. One of those turnovers was scooped up by Kyle Hamilton, the Ravens’ first-round pick in this past year’s draft. 

Baltimore won despite the efforts of Malik Willis, the Titans’ rookie quarterback who overcame a slow start to score his first NFL touchdown, a 7-yard run early in the second quarter. Speaking of quarterbacks, the Ravens received a strong night from Tyler Huntley, who completed all but two of his 18 pass attempts that included his game-winning touchdown pass to Shemar Bridges



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