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Bama-UGA gearing up for latest huge SEC title game

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Bama-UGA gearing up for latest huge SEC title game

Alabama coach Nick Saban finds plenty to like about competing in a league where the champion has a near-automatic reservation to the BCS national title game.

That's the case again for Saturday's Southeastern Conference championship game between the second-ranked Crimson Tide and No. 3 Georgia. The winner advances to meet No. 1 Notre Dame with a chance to keep the national championship in the SEC for a seventh straight year.

And the loser? Well, that team might be shut out of the BCS picture because No. 5 Florida is in line to grab that spot. Saban is less thrilled about that prospect - another side effect of playing in the SEC.

``For either one of these teams, it's not really a great scenario,'' Saban said on a conference call Sunday. ``You play your way into the championship game, which means you're the best team in your division. They're the best team in their division. They played their way into the game by a total body of work for the whole season. It doesn't seem quite right, but it is what it is.

``I don't really know what me commenting about it is going to do to change it, but I don't feel good about it for our football team or their football team.''

Then again, he wasn't complaining when the Tide (11-1, 7-1) landed in the BCS title game against LSU last season without winning the West.

The Bulldogs (11-1, 7-1) rebounded from a 35-7 loss at South Carolina on Oct. 6 to win the East for the second straight season.

Georgia coach Mark Richt said he doesn't want his team getting caught up in the stakes and magnitude of the game.

``All you can do is get your staff and your team as prepared as possible to go play a game,'' Richt said. ``That's what we're going to do. If you think about what the game means, this that and the other, it doesn't really help you win the game. The only thing that helps you win the game is preparation and getting your mind ready to go to battle. That's what you've got to do.

``Physically, mentally, be ready to handle your business when the ball kicks off. That's my only focus. I don't worry about all that stuff.''

Coincidentally, Georgia beat Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl for its only AP title to end the 1980 season.

Richt isn't drawing too much from that history.

``That's the first time anybody's brought that up to me,'' he said. ``I can't worry about all that stuff. We're just working like mad trying to get a game plan ready to go this week. That's all I can say.''

Georgia earned the trip down the road to Atlanta with a win over Florida to claim the tiebreaker. The Gators were ranked third at the time, but Richt can still draw from that win when asked how his team will handle a big game even if his memory is a touch off.

``We've already played the No. 2 team in the country once this year and had a good day against Florida,'' he said.

The game will feature the nation's two most efficient passers, Georgia's Aaron Murray and Alabama's AJ McCarron. Alabama comes in leading the nation in scoring and total defense.

Both teams are coming off blowout wins over in-state rivals.

The Tide produced its fourth shutout of the season with a 49-0 win over Auburn. Georgia dispatched Georgia Tech 42-10.

This is Alabama's eighth time in an SEC championship game but the first time the team has played someone other than the Gators.

The Tide is aiming for its second straight national title and third in four years. Saban still talks like a guy gunning for his first.

``Regardless of what you've accomplished in the past, this is the most important game we're going to play this entire year for our team,'' he said.

``I'm always looking forward to the next challenge. When I can't do that, I probably shouldn't do this anymore. ``

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Game 60: Capitals vs. Lightning Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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USA TODAY Sports

Game 60: Capitals vs. Lightning Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Lightning will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Lightning game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

You can also stream the game online with no cable TV subscription on fuboTV (try for free!).

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME?

The Capitals (34-18-7) take on the Lightning (39-17-3) Tuesday, February 20 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Washington.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME ON?

The Capitals-Lightning game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Lightning
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME?

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Lightning game:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Defensemen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Madison Bowey

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Taylor Chorney

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME?

The Capitals-Lightning game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

The game is also available to stream, along with all the pregame and postgame shows, on fuboTV (try for free).

CAPITALS-LIGHTNING OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

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Need to Know: Redskins' Junior Galette will be a valued free agent

Need to Know: Redskins' Junior Galette will be a valued free agent

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, February 20, 22 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

Galette to be a valued free agent

Originally published 12/13/17

Like the Redskins, the Broncos are no longer relevant in 2017. Both teams’ fan bases have started to look towards the coming offseason.

To give their readers what they want, the Denver Post published an article by Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus that discussed some of the top pending free agents who have done the most to increase their values in the past year. There were two Redskins named, one you would expect to see on such a list and one that might surprise some people.

Kirk Cousins is at the top of the list. “The Washington signal-caller is grading as a top-10 quarterback (82.8), and soon he’ll have the long-term contract of one,” Renner wrote. “Only this time its value will be exponentially higher than any one he would have signed back when he first became a free agent in 2016.”

But the surprising name is that of Junior Galette. After missing the last two seasons with two torn Achilles tendons, he played this year on a one-year, $800,000 deal. And while he hasn’t been on fire in the sack department with just two on the year, he has been getting pressure on the passer.

“He’s accumulated the 27th-highest pass-rushing grade of any edge defender this season, but in only 264 snaps,” wrote Renner. “At 29 years of age, it’s doubtful he ever gets back to the level of the contract that he once had on the table with New Orleans. With how he’s played this season though, some pass-rush-needy team will pay handsomely for his services.”

One team that could be considered to be pass rush needy is the Redskins. Preston Smith is the starter and supposedly one of the Redskins’ top pass rushers. But in 100 fewer pass rush snaps this year, Galette has only three fewer quarterback hits than Smith and six more hurries.

And after missing those two seasons, Galette has remained healthy. Although he was limited with a hamstring during much of the preseason, he has not missed a practice or appeared on an injury report this year.

But would the Redskins be willing to pay him “handsomely”? Perhaps a good comp would be Connor Barwin, who moved from the Eagles to the Rams this past offseason at the age of 31. He had five sacks in Philly in 2016. That got him a one-year deal worth $3.5 million.

Barwin likely will have more sacks on his ledger going into free agency so let’s say Galette could command around $3 million. Perhaps he could offer Washington a bit of a hometown discount and agree to something in the $2.75 million range. If that is the case, the Redskins would be smart to keep him around for another year.

Plenty of things could alter the equation. If Galette gets hot in the last three games and posts a few more sacks his price could rise. With Smith and Ryan Kerrigan both back next year, perhaps Galette will want to go somewhere that he might get more playing time.

The details need to be sorted out but don’t be surprised if Galette gets a lot of attention in free agency, as much as teams need pass rush, and if the Redskins have to make a very tough decision about how much he is worth.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 9
—NFL Draft (4/26) 65
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 201