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Top 2 teams in NFC West face off


Top 2 teams in NFC West face off

NEW YORK (AP) NFC Worst? Not anymore.

That was so 2010. Here in 2012, the NFC West is the best division in all of pro football.

And the two best teams in the division, the San Francisco 49ers (No. 5 in the AP Pro32) and Seattle Seahawks (No. 9) face off in the city by the bay on Thursday night.

Even though they come off their worst performance of the season in a 23-3 home loss to the Giants, the Niners are 7-point favorites - despite the Seahawks coming off a stirring comeback victory against New England.

You've got to dust yourself off and ride,'' 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. ``Right now we have no choice. We have to get to Seattle right quick. We've got a football fight coming.''

Much of that fight figures to be on the ground. Marshawn Lynch leads the NFC in rushing and is third in the league with 549 yards. Last year, he gained 107 against the 49ers and snapped San Francisco's string of 36 successive games not allowing a 100-yard gainer.

``Their running game is the bread and butter of their offense,'' Niners defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. ``And everything works off of that. He's one of the best backs in the league. He's the best back we played last year by far. He broke more tackles than any back we played against last year. He broke the most against us.''

For Seattle to pull slightly ahead in the NFC West race - the Seahawks, 49ers and Cardinals are all 4-2; the Rams are 3-3 - it must stymie the 49ers' running game. Frank Gore has 470 yards rushing and a 5.4-yard average, better than Lynch's 4.3.

With the way Alex Smith struggled against a Giants defense that hadn't been all that impressive beforehand, the Seahawks could present a huge challenge to San Francisco's passing attack at Candlestick Park.

Then again, the Niners need to prove something to themselves - and to the rest of the league.

49ERS, 27-14

No. 21 New York Jets (plus 10 1/2) at No. 8 New England

Patriots are angry at themselves - and they always are angry with the Jets.


No. 15 Pittsburgh (minus 2 1/2) at No. 20 at Cincinnati

Two of the NFL's most disappointing teams. Go with the hosts.


No. 19 Dallas (minus 1 1/2) at No. 28 Carolina

Two more of the NFL's most disappointing teams. Breaking tradition, go with the visitors.

COWBOYS, 27-24

No. 32 Jacksonville (plus 4) at No. 29 Oakland

Two of the NFL's worst teams. Go with the visitors.

JAGUARS, 16-14

No. 23 New Orleans (minus 2 1/2) at No. 25 Tampa Bay

One more time - one last time? - going to believe in the Saints.

SAINTS, 30-24

No. 3 Baltimore (plus 6) at No. 4 Houston

Take Ray Lewis away from Ravens' linebacking corps and Brian Cushing from Texans' LBs and ...

RAVENS, 28-27

No. 7 Green Bay (minus 5 1/2) at No. 22 St. Louis

Pack really stepped up at Houston, but Rams are no pushover, especially at home.

PACKERS, 27-23

No. 18 Detroit (plus 5) at No. 6 Chicago, Monday night

Impressed by Lions' comeback win at Philly? We're not.

BEARS, 30-20

No. 13 Washington (plus 6 1/2) at No. 2 New York Giants

Giants showed their true mettle by manhandling 49ers. But Redskins give them trouble.

GIANTS, 28-26

No. 27 Tennessee (plus 3) at No. 24 Buffalo

Both teams pretty much were handed wins last week. Bills gladly accept another gift.

BILLS, 26-22

No. 14 Arizona (plus 6) at No. 11 Minnesota

Spread looks somewhat high. Vikes running game the difference.

VIKINGS, 19-16

No. 30 Cleveland (plus 3) at No. 26 Indianapolis

New owner means, uh, not much for Browns this week.

COLTS, 17-16


2012 RECORD:

Against spread: 7-7 (35-54-2). Straight up: 7-7 (50-41)

Best Bet: 3-2-1 against spread, 5-1 straight up.

Upset special: 4-2 against spread, 3-3 straight up.


Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Ravens sign Crabtree to three-year deal

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Ravens sign Crabtree to three-year deal

The Baltimore Ravens have signed WR Michael Crabtree to a three-year deal on Friday according to general manager and executive vice president Ozzie Newsome.

The deal is apparently worth $21 million, according to Adam Shefter.

After being released by the Raiders Thursday following the signing of Jordy Nelson, Crabtree heads to the Ravens less than 24 hours later.


The 31-year-old is coming off a 2017 season when he recorded 58 receptions for 618 yards and eight touchdowns. In 2016 he posted 89 receptions for 1,003 yards and eight touchdowns.

Since 2015, the Texas Tech product has scored 25 receiving touchdowns, the fifth-most in the NFL. Crabtree and Steelers WR Antonio Brown are the only NFL players to post at least eight touchdown catches in each of the past three seasons.


In all, Crabtree has played nine NFL seasons – six of them with San Francisco (2009-14) and three with Oakland (2015-17). The former first-round draft pick (10th overall, Texas Tech) has registered 579 receptions for 6,870 yards (11.9 avg.) and 51 touchdowns in 125 career games (122 starts).

“Michael has played very well against the Ravens, so we know firsthand the attributes he brings to the game,” Newsome said in a team statement. “He is a smart, tough, physical receiver who battles for the ball. We like his temperament and believe he is a good fit for our football team, on and off the field.”

Since he entered the NFL in 2009, Crabtree’s 51 receiving scores rank 10th among active wide receivers, while his receptions (579) are seventh, and his receiving yards (6,870) are 12th.

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Ryan Grant's health issue and why the Ravens couldn't control voiding his contract

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Ryan Grant's health issue and why the Ravens couldn't control voiding his contract

The most obvious move in the NFL this offseason was the Ravens signing a new wide receiver (or three). It was less obvious why the team decided to commit so much money to former Redskins receiver Ryan Grant.

Grant has long been beloved by his coaches and teammates, but the results have never been there on game day. He has some potential to improve if given a larger role in a team's offense, which he likely would have had in Baltimore, but it never made much sense to offer him a 4-year contract worth nearly 30 million, with $14.5 million guaranteed.

Thankfully for fans who were uninspired by the reported agreement, Grant was unable to pass his physical and will not be joining the team.


At a press conference Friday morning, GM Ozzie Newsome called the void a "medical decision" that Newsome had no control over. 

NFL insider Ian Rapoport reported that Grant is recovering from a Grade 2 sprained ankle that would need two months rest.

You have to feel for Grant, who by all accounts has worked his tail off for many years just waiting for his chance. It's never easy missing out on nearly $15 million dollars guaranteed, but Grant should be able to find work with another team.

The timing of this news, coming so soon after former Raider Michael Crabtree became available, seemed fishy to some.

At Friday's press conference, Newsome also said the team would have still pursued Crabtree if they signed Grant. 

It's probably not fair to suggest that an NFL franchise would actually so publicly back out of a deal just because another option came along, as any team with that reputation would struggle to attract future free agents. That said, it could end up working out splendidly for the team.

Besides, if all else is equal, shouldn't a team located in Baltimore be going after a guy named CRABtree?