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Seattle tries to keep playoff momentum vs. Rams

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Seattle tries to keep playoff momentum vs. Rams

SEATTLE (AP) No matter how unlikely, Pete Carroll is grasping at the slim chance his Seattle Seahawks still have of winning the NFC West.

Sure the Seahawks would need a win over St. Louis on Sunday and help from Arizona to make playing at home early in the postseason a reality. But as long as there remains the chance of Seattle getting a home playoff game, and with it a division title, Carroll is going to try and grab it.

``It's been great playing at home during the season, and if this is our last chance at it then we want to make the most of it,'' Carroll said. ``If we can put ourselves in position to come back again, there would be nothing sweeter than that.''

The Seahawks (10-5) close out the regular season hosting improving St. Louis. The Seahawks are already in the postseason thanks to a four-game win streak - the longest of Carroll's tenure - that was capped by a 42-13 thumping of San Francisco last Sunday night. Unless they get a lot of help, the Seahawks will likely be the No. 5 seed in the playoffs and will face the NFC East winner - either Washington or Dallas - in the first round of the playoffs.

There remains one hope for Seattle to win the division: beat the improving Rams (7-7-1) and get a shocking upset of San Francisco by Arizona. How unlikely is that scenario? The 49ers are more than two-touchdown favorites at home against the Cardinals and are undefeated the past two seasons coming off a loss.

At the very least, a victory would get Seattle to the 11-win plateau for the third time in franchise history, the most wins for the Seahawks since 2005 when they made their only Super Bowl appearance.

No matter how unlikely the chances of getting the division, that slight possibility is a rallying point for Carroll this week to make sure his team doesn't have a lull after last week's emotional win over the 49ers.

``It feels good to have 10 wins,'' Seattle safety Earl Thomas said. ``We definitely want to have 11.''

Seattle is drastically different from the squad that floundered through a 19-13 loss in St. Louis in Week 4, and no one more so than quarterback Russell Wilson. At that time in late September, the Seahawks were still in the infancy of learning the unique qualities of their new quarterback. That was before Wilson's running became a true threat as a complement to running back Marshawn Lynch.

And it was before Seattle's offense became the efficient machine it's been the past three weeks. The whopping 150 points the Seahawks have scored the last three games stole the attention. But within that points eruption was a stunning run of offensive prowess led by Wilson.

``He's just an athletic guy. He's been playing very well, as a rookie, as a young guy,'' Rams defensive end Robert Quinn said. ``You've got the combo of being a premier quarterback, but the athleticism of some of the best out there as well.''

Whether running with his legs, using his dynamic arm, or a combo of both, the Seattle QB has led the offense to 15 touchdowns and six field goals during its blowout wins of Arizona, Buffalo and San Francisco. Those numbers become even more impressive when considering in the first 11 games, Seattle had 23 offensive touchdowns.

``He's grown so much just from the first game,'' Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. ``You would even say that in terms of the plays that we have, where to go with the ball, what's the answer, where's the quick throws, and then the things that we change up each week, I think he understands why we do that.''

With the franchise already on an upward swing, the Seahawks got even better news Thursday when cornerback Richard Sherman's four-game suspension for performance enhancing substances was overturned on appeal. Suddenly, the Seahawks went from possibly being without both starting cornerbacks for the season finale - Brandon Browner is missing the final game of his four-game PED suspension - to having Sherman available against the Rams and, more importantly, both available in the playoffs.

``It was just great to get it over with and get the win and just have that burden off your shoulders and move on and try to make this playoff run with my guys,'' Sherman said.

Coach Jeff Fisher has engineered an impressive turnaround in his first season with the Rams, taking the franchise from 2-14 last season to the chance at St. Louis' first winning season in nearly a decade. The Rams have not finished above .500 since 2003, when they went 12-4 and last won the NFC West.

The Rams are the only undefeated team within the division this season, going 4-0-1 with a sweep of Arizona, wins over San Francisco and Seattle and a tie against the 49ers. And they are closing the season with a flourish, winning four of five, with the only loss coming to Minnesota when Adrian Peterson went off for 212 yards rushing.

St. Louis has also won three straight on the road for the first time since the 2003 season.

``Sometimes things are just coincidence. Sometimes you play really well and then one or two plays don't go your way or you don't finish. That's how we were earlier in the season,'' Rams defensive end Chris Long said. ``I think we played well on the road, we played toe to toe with some good football teams, but we just didn't finish. We've done a better job of finishing at times, we've gotten turnovers and we've also jumped out ahead a little bit earlier.''

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'It's like losing a brother': The human aspect of the NHL trade deadline

'It's like losing a brother': The human aspect of the NHL trade deadline

The NHL trade deadline is always a fun time for fans. It's a time for buyers to bring in the final key pieces of a Stanley Cup roster or maybe those one or two players needed to complete a run to the playoffs. For sellers, it is time to move players away and begin looking towards the future. It's a time when everyone with any interest in hockey pours over rosters, cap hits and stats trying to determine who could fit where like pieces on a chessboard.

The feeling is much different for the players.

"It's difficult," Nick Jensen said of the trade deadline. "It's a whirlwind. Everything's going on, you're kind of comfortable at the place you're at, you have a place where you played for a while and your family's there and all of a sudden, for me, I got traded and that night I was gone and I never really looked back."

To the players, the trade deadline is not just about shuffling names from roster to roster, this is real life. A player's life can change with one phone call and the news that he now has to pack his bags for a new city and get there in a matter of days, sometimes hours.

The uncertainty of the trade deadline affects every player of every team. Obviously there are those like Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom who know they are not going to be traded, but that doesn't mean friends can't be traded for or away. Whether your team is in a rebuild or a Cup contender, there's a chance the roster could look very different by 3 p.m. on Monday for any team in the NHL.

"It can be a little distracting at times for the whole team in general if you're a team that you think was going to be making some moves, but it can also especially be distracting if you're a guy that's being talked about being traded," said Jensen who was traded to the Caps in 2019 as a deadline move.

Some players find themselves to be the unwilling trade chips of a deal as general managers try to tweak their rosters. The news of a trade, however, can sometimes be a welcome relief. That certainly has been the case for most deadline pickups for Washington in recent years.

From a competitive standpoint, typically the Caps have sought reinforcements from teams that know they will not be headed to the playoffs. Players come to Washington with the hope of competing for a Stanley Cup or perhaps of being able to find a better fit and a bigger role than the one they are leaving.

"I was in really bad situation [in Chicago]," said Michal Kempny, who was a trade deadline pickup for the Caps in 2018. "Every change was good for me. I just kind of waited what's going to happen and I got traded here."

"To come here and have some big-time meaningful games coming up, and be right in the thick of the race, it's a lot of fun," the newly acquired Brenden Dillon said.

But that's on the ice. The off-ice implications are a bit more complicated.

Off the ice, players have to think about their homes, their wives or girlfriends and their kids. Off the ice, players are faced with the realities of a world that is not built around the schedule of a professional athlete.

"My wife had just finally started living with me because she was in grad school before that so it was like oh finally we get to live together," Jensen said, "And then we lived together for like five months then I get traded and like oh here we go again. Dealing with when you get traded the stuff outside of hockey can be tough like that."

Initially, players do not have to worry about much in terms of housing. They are put up in a hotel and can adjust to their new surroundings. Then they are left to trying to adjust to their new team.

"It's kind of different.," Kempny said. "New city, new organization, new teammates. It's part of our job and those things happening every year to a lot of guys."

Adjusting to a new team can be especially difficult when it is one as tight as the Caps.

While players are certainly excited to join the organization, there also comes with it a level of intimidation of walking into the locker room.

"It feels like a tight-knit family in here, and there's a reason that they've had so much success not just this year but in years past," Dillon said. "I'm just trying to be a piece to the puzzle, come in and do what I can."

"I'm coming into a team where I got traded for a guy that was here that a lot of the guys were pretty fond of so that's kind of in the back of your mind too," Jensen said. "I know the guys really liked [Madison Bowey.] I heard he was a really great guy so I know losing guys at trades can be tough in that sense because you could grow as a family here and it's like losing a brother. Going in and trying to replace that can be tough too."

Adjusting to a new team, adjusting to a new system, adjusting to a new city and doing it while also trying to figure out where you're going to live and if and when your family may move with you is a lot for anyone to handle. The trade deadline comes with the added pressure of having to adjust quickly. A player who is traded in December still has over half the season left to play. It comes with all the same challenges, but there is more time for a player to get his game in order.

At the trade deadline, however, it's crunch time. There is only about a quarter of the season left to play and suddenly all the off-ice things that most people would refer to as "life" become a distraction from the task at hand, something in which the players have to shut out.

"The approach I always took is I always try to control the things that I could control and getting traded is out of my control," Jensen said. "I just focus on each game and take the same approach that you always take whether you're being traded or not being traded. If you focus on the stuff outside of your game, it's just a distraction, it's a waste of energy and it kind of puts a toll on you a little bit.

"It's not easy. It's not easy shutting things out like that, but that's kind of the approach you've got to take."

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Wizards vs. Bucks: time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

Wizards vs. Bucks: time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

The Wizards head back to the nation's capital Monday night for a matchup with Giannis Antetokoumpo and the Milwaukee Bucks at Capital One Arena.

Bradley Beal led the Wizards with an astounding 53 points in the team's loss Sunday night to the Chicago Bulls. Beal passed Jeff Malone on the team's all-time scoring list for second place. He now only trails Elvin Hayes.

The Bucks are coming off a dominant 21-point win over the 76ers on Friday night and look to continue their stellar play in D.C. against the struggling Wizards.

Here is everything you need to know.

WIZARDS vs. BUCKS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Wizards vs. Milwaukee Bucks

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington D.C.

When: Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, at 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Wizards vs. Bucks will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards vs. Bucks on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the MyTeams App.

Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM

WIZARDS vs. BULLS TV SCHEDULE

6:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders

6:30 PM: Wizards Pregame Live

7:00 PM: Wizards vs. Bucks

9:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live

10:00 PM: Wizards Talk

WIZARDS vs. BUCKS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Bradley Beal, Wizards (29.6 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 6.0 APG): Beal will look to carry the Wizards to victory against the Bucks after the team was unable to defeat the Bulls on Sunday night.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks (30.0 PPG, 13.6 RPG, 5.8 APG): The Greek freak is on a fast-track to another MVP trophy and has the Bucks in a prime position to come out of the Eastern Conference.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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