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Proud Patriots push forward as schedule lightens

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Proud Patriots push forward as schedule lightens

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) The Jacksonville Jaguars are a very competitive team. Really.

At least that's what the New England Patriots say.

Just because the Jaguars are tied for the worst record in the NFL doesn't make Sunday's matchup a breather for the AFC East-champion Patriots after consecutive games against two of the best.

``If you give the other team a chance, they're going to take it,'' Patriots wide receiver Brandon Lloyd said Wednesday. ``They're going to make you look bad, too, while they're doing it. So you have to prepare the same way for every opponent.''

Coach Bill Belichick spends the days leading up to games praising the upcoming opponent, no matter how weak it may be, in front of his players and the media. He even found plenty of good things to say about the Jaguars (2-12):

- ``Offensively, they have real good firepower,'' Belichick said.

The Jaguars' 219 points are the second fewest in the NFL.

- ``They're a very good, competitive football team,'' Belichick added.

Five of their six home losses were by 17 points or more.

But recent games don't always indicate how the next one will go.

The one between the Texans and the Patriots on Dec. 10 was expected to be close. After all, Houston came in with the NFL's best record at 11-1, while the Patriots were 9-3. But New England cruised to a 42-14 win for its seventh straight victory.

So the Patriots rolled into their next game, against San Francisco, an inspired team in their own right that was 9-3-1 at the time. The latter won out, as the 49ers charged into a 31-3 lead and hung on for a 41-34 victory over the Patriots (10-4).

``I don't think you can really look at records in this league,'' safety Devin McCourty said. ``Teams have talent across the board, so on any given Sunday, they can beat you. So we've just got to focus on fixing things that we messed up. ... We have to come out and play a better game than we played last week.''

They'd probably win in Jacksonville even if they played worse, especially with Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew likely to miss his ninth game with a sprained left foot.

But the Patriots, who had won seven in a row before the 49ers game, want to storm into the playoffs. And an all-around effort in Florida would help that theory.

Barring a bunch of upsets, they'll be seeded no better than third in the AFC behind Houston (12-2) and Denver (11-3) and have to play on the postseason's first weekend.

To snag one of the top two spots, New England would have to win its remaining games against Jacksonville and Miami and hope Houston loses to Minnesota and Indianapolis.

The Broncos would have to lose one of their last two regular-season games against Cleveland or Kansas City - an unlikely prospect - for the Patriots to have a chance to overtake them.

``I'm not smart enough to understand the 80 different things that can happen,'' Belichick said. ``I don't really care. There's nothing we can do about any of them. I think what we need to worry about is the New England Patriots.''

With the league's highest-scoring offense (36.1 points per game), they have a very good chance of moving the ball well. The Jaguars have allowed the NFL's fourth-most points (27.4 per game).

Tom Brady said he probably remembers all his losses. He certainly doesn't want to add the Jaguars to that group.

``There are important games like this that you see how tough you are, to put things behind you and to move forward,'' said the Patriots quarterback, who threw two interceptions against the 49ers. ``We had a pretty good streak there going of wins and it feels pretty good when you're on those winning streaks. And then when you lose, it feels like you haven't won a game in three years.''

The Jaguars have won just once in three months.

They did push the Texans into overtime before losing, 43-37, Nov. 18, then beat Tennessee, 24-19. They've lost all three games since then, but Brady doesn't see any quit in the Jaguars, and doesn't expect to see that this week, either.

Either way, the game is shaping up to be an effective elixir for New England after a tough two-game homestand that didn't end the way it began.

``As any competitor, you hate when you lose, no matter when it is,'' McCourty said. ``This team hates losing, so guys are anxious to get back out there and that's the only thing that kind of fixes it, is when you get back out on the field and you get to play again.''

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NOTES: Brady, who threw a career-high 65 passes against the 49ers, sat out practice on Wednesday to rest his right shoulder. LB Mike Rivera missed practice because of an ankle injury, while 18 other players participated on a limited basis. ... McCourty's interception against the 49ers was his team-leading fifth of the season and third in the end zone.

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

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Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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USA TODAY Sports

Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres

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

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

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

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

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

The Capitals (34-20-7) take on the Sabres (18-32-11) Saturday, February 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Capital One Arena.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME ON?

The Capitals-Sabres 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. Sabres
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-SABRES GAME?

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Sabres 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
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Michal Kempny - Brooks Orpik

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

The Capitals-Panthers 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.

CAPITALS-SABRES 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: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

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Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 24, 18 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.

The five highest-paid Redskins in 2018

Originally published 1/12/18

This is how the five highest-paid Redskins per their 2018 salary cap numbers stack up as of now. The list could change, of course during free agency and if a particular quarterback returns. Cap numbers via Over the Cap.

CB Josh Norman, $17 million—The Redskins do have a window which would allow them to move on from Norman. His $13.5 million salary for this year doesn’t become guaranteed until the fifth day of the league year so it would be “only” a $9 million cap charge to move on from Norman, who turned 30 in December. Don’t look for that to happen but the possibility is there.

OT Trent Williams, $13.86 million—He is one of the best left tackles in the business. Those of you out there who have advocated moving him to left guard should look at this cap number, which is way out of line for what a team can afford to pay a guard. At his pay, he needs to be playing on the edge.

OLB Ryan Kerrigan, $12.45 million—He has delivered double-digit sacks in each of the two seasons that his contract extension has been in effect. That’s good value in a league that values the ability to get to the quarterback.

TE Jordan Reed, $10.14 million—The Redskins knew that he might have a year like last year when he played in only six games when they agreed to Reed’s five-year, $50 million extension. They can live with one such season. If he has another one in 2018 they may rethink things.

G Brandon Scherff, $6.75 million—The fact that a rookie contract is No. 5 on this list is a good sign that, as of now, the Redskins’ cap is not top heavy like it was last year. The top three cap hits from Norman, Williams, and Kirk Cousins totaled $59 million, which was about 35 percent of the cap. This year the total cap numbers of the top three come to $43.3 million, 24.3 percent of the estimated $178 million salary cap.

Next five: OT Morgan Moses ($5.4 million), TE Vernon Davis ($5.33 million), DL Stacy McGee ($4.8 million), DL Terrell McClain ($4.75 million), S D.J. Swearinger ($4.33 million)

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) 5
—NFL Draft (4/26) 61
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 197