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Saints draw inspiration from Giants' playoff run

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Saints draw inspiration from Giants' playoff run

METAIRIE, La. (AP) The New Orleans Saints know they are long shots to make the playoffs even if they beat the New York Giants on Sunday.

Still, they haven't given up - taking inspiration from the Giants, who made a postseason run from a position similar to one in which the Saints find themselves now.

``We saw what they did last year,'' Saints cornerback Jabari Greer said. ``We know that it's possible.''

The Giants were on the verge of dropping their fifth game in a row and falling two games behind the Cowboys in the NFC East with three games left. But they went on an improbable run from playoff outsider to Super Bowl champion.

The Giants finished the regular season 9-7. The Saints can get to 9-7 by winning their last four games. Even if they do, New Orleans still would need help to reach the playoffs, but the first step is controlling their end.

``Obviously the margin for error is very tight,'' quarterback Drew Brees said. ``We understand that if we want a shot at postseason play we probably have to win out. We're playing the defending world champs in their house, and the last three don't mean anything unless we win this one.

``The Giants have played in these types of games - playoff games before the playoffs. That's kind of the situation we're in.''

The Saints will have one clear advantage on the Giants: four days of extra rest. New Orleans lost at Atlanta last Thursday and had the weekend off. New York (7-6) lost an emotional division game at Washington on Monday night.

``As everybody knows, football is a tough game, so the more time you have to rest your body is obviously better,'' Saints defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis said. ``But there are plenty of teams that come off a short week and win and there are plenty of teams that lose them. It just depends on how prepared you are to play the game.''

The Saints are banking on a return to form by Brees and the steady improvement of a defense that played its best game of the year against Atlanta.

Brees is trying to rebound from one of the worst two-game stretches of his career. San Francisco intercepted back-to-back passes and returned them for touchdowns on Nov. 25, rallying to beat New Orleans 31-21. He threw a career-high five interceptions against Atlanta, and his botched clock management at the end of the first half cost the Saints at least a field goal as they scored a season-low 13 points.

Brees had thrown 24 TD passes and only five interceptions in his previous eight games.

``I understand the importance of taking care of the football,'' he said. ``Certainly the last two weeks there have been an inordinate amount of turnovers. That's something that can't happen and something I have to fix. But as far as me being cautious and conservative, that's not going to happen. You stay aggressive, you stay confident. If you don't have that as a quarterback in this league, you can't play.''

While Brees struggled, the defense held Atlanta to 283 yards - 92 fewer than any other New Orleans opponent. The Falcons had a stretch of five consecutive possessions without a first down.

Although the Saints still are on pace to break an NFL record for yards allowed in a season, they have become more comfortable in new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's scheme.

``Everybody has a better understanding of exactly what they're doing on the field and what's expected of them in any given call,'' Ellis said. ``We're finally starting to jell together. I wish it could have been a lot earlier, but that this point, we'll take what we can get.''

The next task is duplicating that performance against New York, whose lead on the NFC East has shrunk from 2 1/2 games in early November to one over Dallas and Washington. Giants coach Tom Coughlin said this week his team might have to win its last four to claim the division, putting as much pressure on New York as New Orleans.

The Giants were nearly perfect in that situation last year. The Saints hope it is their turn this season.

``If we take advantage of our opportunities, we'll be all right,'' Greer said. ``We might be the underdog, but we have a chance to do something special.''

Notes: The Saints are healthier than they have been in several weeks. Three players missed practice on Wednesday, and all are backups - offensive tackle Charles Brown (right knee), defensive end Martez Wilson (toe) and cornerback Elbert Mack (illness). Starting safety Roman Harper was limited with a rib injury.

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How to watch Capitals vs. Sabres NHL 20 simulation

How to watch Capitals vs. Sabres NHL 20 simulation

Monday night was supposed to be another night of Capitals action with a game against the Buffalo Sabres. Unfortunately due to the NHL’s hold on the season in response to the coronavirus outbreak, the show can not go on as originally planned. 

However, with some minor adjustments to the presentation, there is still a way to keep things going. 

Monday night at 7 p.m. ET the Capitals will be taking the ice to play the Sabres as planned, only this time it will be virtual ice on an NHL 20 simulation. 

In partnership with Monumental Sports Network, NBC Sports Washington will be airing all Wizards and Capitals games in simulated NBA 2K20 and NHL 2K20 games. The format of these games includes watching the simulated versions of Caps games based on the existing schedule with the bonus of commentary from NBCSW’s experts. 

To make things even more fun, in between the simulation and the re-air of the simulation, there is a chance to relive a classic Caps game. So don’t forget to stick around and re-watch Dowd and the Capitals dominate the Penguins from earlier this season. 

Here's everything you need to know to watch. 

When: Monday, March 30 at 7 p.m. ET

Where:

  • NBC Sports Washington (channel finder
  • Any of our 24/7 authenticated streaming platforms
  • Monumental Sports Network via its website www.monumentalsportsnetwork.com or via any of its available apps on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, and Xbox.

Broadcast schedule: 

7:00 PM: NHL 20 Simulation: Capitals @ Buffalo Sabres (P)
8:00 PM: NHL Classics: Capitals @ Pittsburgh Penguins (R) 
10:30 PM: NHL 20 Simulation: Capitals @ Buffalo Sabres (R)

Starting lineups: 

Capitals: TBD
Sabres: TBD

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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LeBron James scores 36, Wizards still top Lakers in NBA 2K simulation

LeBron James scores 36, Wizards still top Lakers in NBA 2K simulation

These 2K simulations certainly do agree with the Wizards. Coming off a stunning victory over the Bucks Friday, Washington turned around on the second night of a back-to-back and beat the Lakers 73-66 at virtual Capital One Arena. 

LeBron James was a one-man wrecking crew for LA, Bradley Beal led the scoring attack for the Wizards and Thomas Bryant got revenge on the team that waived him. 

Here's how the Wizards picked up their fourth-straight 2K win. 

Offensive rebounds

The Lakers are one of the biggest teams in the NBA with James, Anthony Davis, JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard playing heavy minutes, but it was the Wizards who dominated the boards in this one. 

Bryant led the way for Washington on the glass with seven of his 13 rebounds coming on the offensive end. The Lakers shot the ball significantly better than the Wizards (47% to 39%) but Washington was simply overwhelming them on the glass to create more opportunities. 

Washington grabbed 18 offensive rebounds compared to the Lakers' eight, and it ended being the major difference in the result. 

LeBron's one-man show

The real-life Lakers' biggest weakness is their lack of playmaking outside of James. In a game where James had everything working for him, the Lakers struggled to get anything going whenever he didn't have the ball. 

Rajon Rondo struggled mightily despite tallying eight assists (2-11 FG) and Davis had a bad game relative to his standards (10 points, one rebound, three blocks).

I'd be curious to see what virtual LeBron would have to say about his teammates after this particular game. 

Thomas Bryant's revenge

As we stated before, Bryant was waived by the Lakers after his rookie season and his virtual self took it all out on his former team Saturday night. 

He dominated the boards and once again protected the paint in a way that would make Elvin Hayes proud. He finished with eight points, 13 rebounds and five blocks. 

With Bryant playing the way he has been the last few simulations, the Wizards' defense has been exceptional. Outside of defensive versatility, having a strong defensive center anchoring the defense is paramount to an effective unit. 

Other parting thoughts

Jerome Robinson continues to play well as a starter, scoring 13 points in 19 minutes. The Wizards didn't get that long of a look at Robinson before the NBA suspended its season.

After acquiring him at the trade deadline in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, it'd be another steal by Tommy Sheppard if Robinson can play like this consistently in real life. 

Instead of erupting in the fourth quarter to help the Wizards secure a win, Beal went off for 14 points in the third this time. He finished with 24 points and went 12-for-30 from the field.

Markieff Morris made a return to DC in this one. The Lakers uniform looks weird on him. 

It's hard to capture just how quick Ish Smith is in a video game, but this spin move came pretty close. 

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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