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Lions hope to salvage something from final 2 games

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Lions hope to salvage something from final 2 games

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) The Detroit Lions may have finally hit rock bottom for 2012.

Sunday's 38-10 loss to the woeful Arizona Cardinals was Detroit's sixth in a row, and at this point, the goal is simply to salvage some pride in a spoiler role against Atlanta and Chicago, and possibly set a better tone for the offseason.

The Lions host the Falcons on Saturday night.

``You have something to prove every week regardless of winning streak, losing streak, what happened the previous week,'' coach Jim Schwartz said. ``This is a week-to-week business. The people that keep their eyes on that, that are consistent from week to week, are the people that are successful in this league.''

Detroit made the playoffs last season, but at 4-10, there's no chance of a repeat visit.

In fact, the Lions may end up with premium position in the first round of the draft - a spot they occupied for several years but figured they'd left behind.

Detroit took Calvin Johnson with the second pick in 2007, Matthew Stafford at No. 1 two years later and Ndamukong Suh at No. 2 in 2010.

That looked like the nucleus of a rising power in the NFC, especially after the Lions won 10 games a year ago and made the playoffs for the first time since the 1999 season.

But now they've taken a step back, and it's fair to wonder what the offseason could look like. Detroit has certainly been unlucky, losing late leads against Green Bay, Houston and Indianapolis, but there were no real redeeming factors last weekend.

Arizona had dropped nine straight and was coming off a 58-0 loss to Seattle - and still, the Cardinals handled the Lions.

Now it's Detroit's turn to reflect after an embarrassing defeat.

``People are competitive, people have pride. People have confidence in themselves,'' Stafford said. ``I think that's what helps people bounce back from stuff like this.''

The only hint of a bright spot right now is Johnson's pursuit of Jerry Rice's single-season record for yards receiving. Johnson needs 182 yards to break Rice's mark of 1,848, set 17 years ago.

``I'm trying to win games, and he's a big part of our offense,'' Stafford said. ``Him getting yards and touchdowns is what we're trying to do.''

Johnson, however, is the only offensive player having a truly great season. Stafford has thrown for 17 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, after posting 41 and 16 a season ago.

The receiving group - besides Johnson - has been a bit of a mess because of injuries to Nate Burleson and Ryan Broyles. Second-year receiver Titus Young was essentially put in exile a few weeks ago, with Schwartz citing behavioral problems.

``Obviously, actions are louder than words right now. It's part of being a professional - seeing how people prepare this week,'' Stafford said. ``Honestly, I have no qualms about it. I know our guys are going to be preparing has hard as they can.''

Suh has 6 1/2 sacks, but the defense has been far from dominant, especially late in games when the Lions have failed to hold on.

With Detroit bottoming out and facing the possibility of a 4-12 finish, about the only way to leave any kind of positive impression would be to pull off an upset in one or both of these final two games.

Atlanta (12-2) is on its way to the playoffs, while Chicago (8-6) still has a berth to play for. The Lions have played other teams of that caliber tough this season.

``You always want to have something positive going into the next season,'' Suh said. ``We're going to definitely see Chicago twice next year. We're going to see, possibly, Atlanta, hopefully next year in the playoffs or some situation like that. You want to play as best as possible and get used to these teams.''

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Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

The Stanley Cup is not the only trophy that will be awarded at the end of the Stanley Cup Final series between the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights. The Conn Smythe will also be given to the player deemed the most valuable to his team during the playoffs.

Who will that player be?

It's not hard to figure out who the frontrunner is right now. Marc-Andre Fleury hasn't just been the best goalie in the playoffs, he's been the best player with a dominant postseason in which he has posted a .947 save percentage and four shutouts. He has been so dominant, he could win it even if Vegas loses the series.

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

The last player from the losing team to win the Conn Smythe was Jean-Sebastian Giguere from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003.

But what about the Caps?

Alex Ovechkin is the leader of Washington and has been absolutely dominant throughout the postseason. He even scored the series-clinching goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Surprisingly, however, Ovechkin does not lead the team in points through the playoffs. Evgeny Kuznetsov holds that edge with 24 points to Ovechkin's 22.

Will their offensive dominance propel them to win the Cup and the Conn Smythe? Will a different player emerge as the hero of the series?

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS:

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Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

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Associated Press

Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, May 26, 17 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.  

Note: I am vacationing in the Outer Banks this week. In this space, I’ll be presenting some of the most popular posts of the last few months. I hope you enjoy these “best of” presentations and I’ll see you folks when I get back. 

Contract makes Alex Smith a Redskins for at least three seasons

This post was originally published on March 19. 

When the Redskins traded for Alex Smith on January 30, news also broke that he had agreed to a four-year extension with Washington in addition to the one year left on his contract with the Chiefs. While we got some top-line numbers on the deal, we have gone since then without any details. 

Until now. 

The details show a deal that has a slightly higher cap hit in 2018 than was on his original Chiefs contract and the numbers rise gradually over the life of the deal, which runs through 2022. 

Smith got a $27 million signing bonus and his salaries for 2018 ($13 million) and 2019 ($15 million) also are fully guaranteed at signing making the total $55 million (information via Over the Cap, which got data from a report by Albert Breer). 

But there I another $16 million that is guaranteed for all practical purposes. On the fifth day of the 2019 league year, his 2020 salary of $16 million becomes fully guaranteed. He almost assuredly will get to the point where that money will become guaranteed since the Redskins are not going to cut him after one year having invested $55 million in him. So the total guarantees come to $71 million. 

His 2021 salary is $19 million and it goes up to $21 million in 2022. There have been reports of some incentives available to Smith but since we have no details we’ll set those aside for now. 

The cap hits on the contract are as follows: 

2018: $18.4 million
2019: $20.0 million
2020: $21.4 million
2021: $24.4 million
2022: $26.4 million

The Redskins can realistically move on from Smith after 2020. There would be net cap savings of $13 million in 2021 and $21 million in 2022. 

The first impression of the deal is that the Redskins did not move on from Kirk Cousins because they didn’t want to guarantee a lot of money to a quarterback. The total practical guarantee of $71 million is second only to Cousins’ $82.5 million. It should be noted that Cousins’ deal runs for three years and Smith’s contract is for five. 

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