The Panthers have now won four straight games to boost their way into the final wild card spot in the NFC

This is the heart of why Sunday’s win was so important. It proved to the football world this team was for real, but more importantly it showed the players that they were. Athletes wont admit it — they never do — but years of conditioned response likely created a seed of doubt whether this team could get over the hump.

From an outsider perspective this was simply a mid-season win against a good team. But it was an important step in lifting some of the baggage this organization has carried for the better part of 20 years. It’s about instilling faith in fans that have so often had the rug pulled out from under them.

Eyes are back on Carolina for the first time since 2004, and now it’s on Cam Newton and the rest of the team to make good on the promise by closing out the season strong. Playoffs have never been more important to a fan base aching to believe, and this iteration of the Panthers is the team that can do it.

The Panthers have now won four straight games to boost their way into the final wild card spot in the NFC, but their hold on a postseason berth is tenuous at best. The Packers and Bears are close behind and a loss on Sunday could push them out of the picture, at least for this week. The 49ers have a firm hold on the other wild card spot and have a strong shot at catching the Seahawks for the division lead with a win Sunday.

The Cincinnati Bengals travel to Baltimore for an important AFC North game as the Ravens need Joe Flacco to turn the corner and stop their three-game slide if there is any hope for the playoffs in 2017.

Baltimore is reliably poor this season, as the Ravens are 3-5 against the spread in 2017. They’ve beaten teams they shouldn’t and dropped games they should have won — losing to Buffalo, Cleveland and Pittsburgh while each team was at its low point. Cincinnati is far more even-keeled, holding a 5-3-1 record against the spread.

3

Tavon Austin returns punt 98 yards for touchdown

The St. Louis Rams currently have a 21-point lead over the Indianapolis Colts after rookie wide receiver Tavon Austin returned a punt 98 yards for a touchdown.

Authentic Youth Shaquille O’Neal Jersey You can also see a GIF of the play here. It could have easily been a rookie error as Austin initially wanted to let the ball fall dead before electing to field the punt at the 2-yard line when it took a Colts bounce. He was able to have the last laugh, weaving through the Indianapolis defense and extending the Rams’ lead.

The maturation of a contender isn’t always a linear process. Sometimes there’s an orderly procession from also-ran to challenger to division champ to elite, and other times a big-time team bursts onto the scene as sudden as a summer storm. For all the ugliness, the Panthers’ road win over the 49ers announced them as bona fide contenders. They may be channeling the early 2000s Tennessee Titans, who featured a rock-ribbed D and an offense that wasn’t explosive exactly, but that was really adept at gaining 10 yards in three downs. Getting past a battle-tested bunch like the Saints in their own division is a 50/50 prospect at best, but they can do everything that the Jets did to New Orleans with an even greater degree of violence. Even Seahawks-Niners might not offer as much drama as this Panthers-Saints battle plays out down the stretch.
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Softly, sneakily, silently, the Arizona Cardinals keep creeping up the rankings and sniffing around a run at a Wild Card. There’s nothing soft or sneaky about their defense, though. Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett lead a unit that’s punching offenses in the mouth each week. If Bruce Arians can scheme Larry Fitzgerald open with the same aplomb he managed for Reggie Wayne last season while also improving his score on the Running Back IQ Test (CHEAT SHEET: Ellington >>>>>>> Mendenhall), the Cards will be in the hunt until the end.

Tom Brady’s Super Bowl jerseys returned to Patriots

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BOSTON — Tom Brady’s stolen Super Bowl jerseys are back with the New England Patriots.

The jerseys worn by Brady during this year’s Super Bowl and the 2015 Super Bowl were returned to Gillette Stadium Thursday, the FBI announced.

Brady’s 2017 jersey went missing from the Patriots’ locker room after the team’s win over the Atlanta Falcons on Feb. 5, touching off an investigation stretching from Boston to the Mexican border.

Mexican authorities searched the property of Mexican media executive Martin Mauricio Ortega, where they found the jersey, along with a Brady jersey that disappeared after the 2015 Super Bowl. A Denver Broncos helmet also was found.

He was 96 years old. was among the stars of the 1961 film The Time Machine, as well as the voice of animated character Scrooge McDuck. Morley Safer, former 60 Minutes correspondent co-host, died at age 84, announced on Thursday, 19. After joining 60 Minutes December 1970 the show’s third season, he retired just a week before his death. He was known for both celebrity interviews and investigative pieces on injustice and worldwide issues.

Adrian Beltre Jersey Prince, the singer and musician, died 21, at age 57. His body was found at his Paisley Park studios, located Chanhassen, Minn., the Carver County Sheriff’s Office tweeted. Show More Former professional wrestler and reality TV personality Chyna was found dead her Los -area home on 20, police said. She was 46 years old. Actress Doris Roberts, best known for her role as Marie Barone on the hit sitcom Everybody Loves, died on 17 at 90. She won five Emmys during her career, four of which were for her work on Everybody Loves. Country music Merle Haggard died on 6 of pneumonia. Haggard, who passed away on his 79th birthday, was known for hits like Mama Tried.

Look at these 2 doomed possessions for Wichita State vs. Kentucky

Kentucky basketball advanced to the Sweet 16 with a three-point victory over an underseeded Wichita State team on Sunday afternoon at the NCAA tournament. With star-studded rosters this game had all the feels of a Final Four matchup and came down to the final possession. The Wildcats’ defense secured the victory with help from a stagnant Shockers offense.

Down just one point with 13 seconds to go, Wichita State had the chance to take the lead for the first time since four minutes into the second half after a Malik Monk miss.

Wichita State made attempts to find its X-factor, freshman guard Landry Shamet, but couldn’t, and the Shockers’ offense froze.

“It’s true. The Earth is flat. The Earth is flat. Yeah, it is. Yes, it is. Listen, there are three ways to manipulate the mind — what you read, what you see and what you hear. In school, first thing they teach us is, ‘Oh, Columbus discovered America,’ but when he got there, there were some fair skinned people with the long hair smoking on the peace pipes. So what does that tell you? Columbus didn’t discover America.

One underlying theme of Flat Earthers is that you shouldn’t believe everything you’re taught, which is a perfectly valid belief system. A good example is the fact O’Neal brought up — that Columbus discovered America, despite native Americans settling here centuries before. Columbus wasn’t even the first European to find the Americas!

However, there’s a difference between commonly known false facts and denying something that is backed by centuries of scientific evidence. Both O’Neal and Irving are millionaires who could afford a trip on the upcoming Virgin Galactic, which will soon provide commercial low altitude spaceflight, and literally see the curvature of the Earth. Obviously, that’s an elaborate and entirely unnecessary way to prove we live on a globe, but it’s an option both O’Neal and Irving could take if they really wanted to.21

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Lawrence Timmons signs 2-year deal with Dolphins

Lawrence Timmons is joining the Miami Dolphins. The 10-year veteran signed with the team Friday, inking a two-year, $12 million deal that will put him in a new uniform for the first time after a decade with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The two men watched the game together, and Rob couldn’t stop smiling. At intermission they ate chicken tenders, and by the end of the game, Rob told Jimmy that he “made his life.”

Mains spoke to NHL.com about the game and what he did:

“My parents always taught me to treat everyone how you wanted to be treated,” said Mains, a newly minted police officer in Rankin, Pa. with one month on the job and a former volunteer firefighter. “And if you have the opportunity to help someone, you do it. Just because someone is out on the street, doesn’t make you any better than them.”
After the game, all Rob wanted to know was how he could repay this act of kindness. Jimmy’s reply: “Pay it forward.”

This is simply one of the best stories of the year, sports or not. To have a guy like Tyrann Mathieu who can invert, play in the slot, play in the nickel for you, the more flexibility you have, the more you can do. Those guys have become so valuable, because this game has become a matchup situation.”

A minute into the second, it happened. Nowitzki, isolated on the right baseline, rises up over Larry Nance Jr. for his trademarked fadeaway jumper. The ball falls through the basket beautifully, just like the 29,998 points that had come before them.

Play doesn’t stop right away, and Cuban’s frantic call for a timeout on the sidelines is ignored, so Dirk keeps playing. The ball finds him again, and he steps into a three-pointer. Of course it goes in. Only then is the timeout called, and his teammates mob him.5

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