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ON FOOTBALL: Predicting the NFL is a fool's game

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ON FOOTBALL: Predicting the NFL is a fool's game

So you think you know the NFL?

Perhaps you can predict the future, tame the weather and forecast winning lottery numbers, too.

Those claiming to know what will happen in pro football need only look at what went on this wild weekend, which featured a half-dozen super matchups that didn't turn out quite so super.

Nothing could be juicier than the defending champion New York Giants at Atlanta.

Oops: Falcons 34, Giants 0.

OK, then Denver at Baltimore. Delicious.

Sorry: Broncos 34, Ravens 17.

Houston, coming off an embarrassing Monday night rout at New England, against Indianapolis for AFC South supremacy.

Pffft: Texans 29-17 to clinch the division.

For something even more absurd than the lack of competitiveness in those games, try this one: San Francisco 31, New England 3 in the third quarter.

And this: Patriots 31, 49ers 31 with 6:43 left in the fourth quarter.

Just when the Patriots were on their way to matching the greatest regular-season comeback win in NFL history, the Niners turned around and won 41-34.

``It's a little bit crazy, a little bit surreal,'' said 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who threw for a career-best four touchdowns in his fifth start since replacing Alex Smith.

A little bit? That's the NFL this season.

If anyone thinks the weirdness has ended with two weeks remaining, well, don't count on it.

``The season's not over,'' Tom Brady said after his team that doesn't lose at home in December (20 straight wins heading into the San Francisco game) or in the second half of the schedule (21 straight victories anywhere) lost. And committed four turnovers, nearly half the 10 it had given away beforehand. ``There's still a lot of football to play.''

Plenty of meaningful football. About the only thing predictable is that there will be lots of surprises in those remaining games, too.

Here's what everyone can look forward to.

NFC

Atlanta (12-2 in the South) and Green Bay (10-4 in the North ) are division winners, with the Falcons in position to get home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

San Francisco (10-3-1) will earn the West with a victory at Seattle (9-5) next Sunday. But the Seahawks are 6-0 at home, have a dynamic defense to match the 49ers' unit, and are oozing with confidence thanks to a three-game winning streak and five victories in the last six outings.

The league moved that game to the prime-time telecast and NBC must be salivating after the Seahawks scored 50 points for the second straight week.

``What's important is that you continue to execute really well regardless of the circumstances and who you're playing,'' coach Pete Carroll said.

The East is in a three-team deadlock: New York, Washington and Dallas, all at 8-6. If either the Redskins or Cowboys win out, they'll take the division. They meet at Washington in the season finale.

Meanwhile, after three straight road losses, the Giants need help to repeat in the division.

Very alive for the wild card are all three East teams, the runner-up in the West, plus Minnesota and Chicago, also 8-6. But the Bears are skidding and banged-up. With the way Adrian Peterson is playing, counting them out would be foolhardy.

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AFC

Houston (12-2), despite that flop at Foxborough, is in good shape to remain at home throughout; one more victory earns the South champion that advantage. However, both remaining opponents, Minnesota and Indy, are chasing wild-card slots.

Denver (11-3) has won nine in a row and is a far superior team to the one that lost earlier this season to the Texans and Patriots. Peyton Manning has gotten more in tune with his teammates as the season has progressed, and the defense is fierce.

Plus, the West-winning Broncos finish with home games against weaklings Cleveland and Kansas City.

New England's strange loss to the 49ers puts it in a precarious position for a club that certainly looked like the league's best before Sunday. If it beats Jacksonville and Miami, it will finish 12-4, but that might get only the third seed and no bye for the East champ.

It also could mean a trip to the Mile High City in the divisional round.

The North has three teams struggling to reach the finish line. Baltimore (9-5) has lost three in a row, yet secured a playoff berth Sunday. It leads Cincinnati by one game and finishes with the Bengals after meeting the Giants next weekend.

Cincinnati and the Steelers (7-7) face off next week at Pittsburgh. A loss pretty much eliminated the Steelers.

The Colts (9-5) have the best shot at a wild card and a win at Kansas City next week should do it.

Not that we're predicting any such thing these days.

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

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John Wall shares priceless workout video with his son, Ace

John Wall shares priceless workout video with his son, Ace

It's hard to imagine a better way to work out than how John Wall enjoyed his regimen Wednesday. 

Wall posted a video on Instagram doing pushups on a BOSU ball while his son, Ace looked on. All he wanted from his dad was a hug, though. 

It really doesn't get any better than that. 

Wall continues to work toward the 2020-21 season and his much-anticipated return to the floor after missing all of the 2019-20 campaign recovering from Achilles surgery. 

RELATED: GIANNIS SUSPENDED ONE GAME FOR HEADBUTTING MOE WAGNER

In his absence Bradley Beal became one of the most consistent and prolific scorers in the NBA, the Wizards found a gem in sharpshooter Davis Bertans and saw key developments from young players such as Troy Brown Jr., Thomas Bryant and Rui Hachimura. 

Wall will return to a much different Washington team next season than the one he was forced to leave midway through the 2018-19 season. From all accounts, he looks ready to give them the boost necessary to become a legitimate force in the Eastern Conference. 

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DeAngelo Hall clarifies regret of not signing with Patriots: 'My heart was always in Washington'

DeAngelo Hall clarifies regret of not signing with Patriots: 'My heart was always in Washington'

Back in July, former Washington cornerback DeAngelo Hall told NFL Network that his biggest career regret was signing with Washington in 2009 rather than the New England Patriots.

"Over a few million, I could've changed my legacy by being part of that dynasty," Hall said. "That was on the table for me, and I wish I would've made the decision to take less money and play for Belichick."

That, of course, quickly riled up Washington supporters on social media. Though it's understandable that Hall, and probably numerous other players, would look back and regret not signing with a team that racked up several Super Bowls, many took it as a direct slight to the Washington franchise. During an interview with Julie Donaldson, Hall, who will join Washington's radio booth for the 2020 season, explained his true feelings on the 2009 situation.

RELATED: HALL EXPLAINS WHY HE'S EXCITED TO JOIN RADIO TEAM

Saying he had regrets about not signing with the Patriots was not a diss to Washington, because the reason he ultimately stayed in the DMV was due to his love for the team and its fans.

“My heart was always in Washington and it was no hesitation in my mind to sign my contract and continue being a member of the Washington Football team," Hall said.

Hall admitted that the chance to win in New England is something he still thinks about. But, that really shouldn't come as a surprise. Now removed from his NFL career, hindsight is 20/20 and almost any player would look back on a potential opportunity to further their legacy with a ring as a missed shot.

Hall is no different, but it doesn't mean he didn't appreciate his time with the Burgundy and Gold. In nine full seasons in Washington, he gained valuable experiences that helped transform him into who he is today.

"But that didn’t happen and it’s made me a better person because of it," Hall said referring to him not signing with New England. "Washington has taught me so many life-long lessons."

Though he doesn't have a Super Bowl ring, the DMV native and Virginia Tech alum got the opportunity to play for his hometown team and cement his own legacy in Washington. So although he may look back and ponder what could have gone differently, he understands he can't change the past. He's okay -- and happy -- with that.

To him, Washington was always meant to be.

"C’mon man. Was there ever any doubt that I was not staying in Washington? Nobody would have believed you," Hall said. "100 percent, I’m Washington for sure.”

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