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SPORTS
January 3, 2013 | By Houston Mitchell
This week's special Thursday edition of our NFL Google+ hangout -- "NFL Slam with Mark and Sam," starring Times NFL columnist Sam Farmer and Mark Thompson of "Mark and Brian" radio fame -- will start at 12:30 p.m. today on this blog post and will cover a host of topics. One topic will include the NFL playoffs. As Farmer wrote earlier this week , "Toss out the Green Bay Packers ' Rodgers and Baltimore's Joe Flacco , and the combined number of playoff starts by the other six quarterbacks in the first round is one. "That's one start by the Cincinnati Bengals ' Andy Dalton , and none by the Washington' Redskins ' Robert Griffin III, the Indianapolis Colts ' Luck, the Seattle Seahawks ' Russell Wilson, the Minnesota Vikings ' Christian Ponder , and the more experienced Matt Schaub of the Houston Texans . The San Francisco 49ers ' Colin Kaepernick , off this week, also will be making his postseason debut.
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SPORTS
February 3, 2014 | By Sam Farmer
NEW YORK - Pete Carroll felt a lot of emotions Monday morning, hours after his Seattle Seahawks crushed Denver, 43-8, in Super Bowl XLVIII. He was proud, excited, drained, satisfied. But not surprised. "We developed a mentality from the first day we start talking about these kinds of moments, because this is exactly what we envisioned from Day 1," Carroll said at the traditional most-valuable-player news conference. Linebacker Malcolm Smith, who played for him at USC, won that award.
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SPORTS
December 27, 2013 | By Sam Farmer
With the playoff picture still fluid heading into the final Sunday of the NFL season, there are no sure-thing matchups in the first round. All we really know is that Kansas City will be the AFC's No. 5 seed no matter what. If the 15 favored teams were to win Sunday, and if San Francisco were to beat Arizona in the weekend's only pick-'em game, the opening round of the playoffs would look like this: Miami at Cincinnati - This would be a rematch of a Halloween game which the Dolphins won at home, 22-20.
SPORTS
January 13, 2014 | By Sam Farmer
DENVER - San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers has had his best NFL season. And, for him, that made it even harder to swallow Sunday's divisional playoff loss at Denver. "It feels worse right now, and worse than the past three years" when the Chargers failed to make the playoffs, Rivers said after the 24-17 defeat. "We were one of eight left. Every team is going to feel like we do today, besides the one team that wins it all. "We fought together, played together, the way we compete and the character of this team allows us to hold our heads high.
SPORTS
January 17, 2003
TAMPA BAY (13-4) at PHILADELPHIA (13-4) Facts: Sunday, noon PST, Ch. 11 Line: Eagles by 4 Last meeting: Eagles won, 20-10, on Oct. 20 at Philadelphia. Key stats: Buccaneers led NFL with turnover differential of plus-17. Worth watching: Buccaneers' Brad Johnson led the NFC in passing, throwing 22 TD passes vs. six interceptions. Eagles' Donovan McNabb was third, throwing 17 TD passes vs. six interceptions. Outlook: Here's the matchup that counts: The Eagles have the NFL's No.
SPORTS
January 12, 2014 | Sam Farmer
  DENVER - To the outside world, it's Peyton versus Tom - again - with a trip to the Super Bowl hanging in the balance. Not surprisingly, that's not how the Denver Broncos quarterback views it. "Tom Brady has just been an outstanding quarterback for such a long time, but the game next week is Broncos versus the Patriots," Peyton Manning said after a 24-17 victory over San Diego in a divisional playoff game. "I know there will be some individual matchups that will get headlines.
SPORTS
January 11, 2014
San Francisco's Jim Harbaugh and Carolina's Ron Rivera, teammates with the Chicago Bears in the 1980s, square off with very similar teams. Both have stifling defenses, productive power running games, and mobile, dynamic quarterbacks who can pick up first downs with their feet. Whereas Colin Kaepernick helped bring the 49ers to the brink of a Lombardi Trophy last season, Cam Newton will make his first postseason appearance for the Panthers. Carolina stunned San Francisco in November with a 10-9 victory at Candlestick Park, but the 49ers were without Kaepernick's favorite target, receiver Michael Crabtree, who missed 11 games because of a torn Achilles' tendon.
SPORTS
January 6, 2014 | By Mike James
The San Diego Chargers were the surprise team of the wild-card round in the NFL playoffs over the weekend, the seven-point underdogs pulling away from the Bengals at Cincinnati to move on to the divisional round. The question is, can the Chargers, winners of their last five games, continue that streak Sunday in Denver against Peyton Manning and the No. 1-seeded Broncos? The two teams split their games during the regular season, each winning on the road. Sam Farmer, the Times' NFL columnist, likes the Chargers' chances, despite their 10-point underdog status.
SPORTS
January 5, 2014 | Sam Farmer
Indianapolis and San Diego are moving on in the NFL playoffs. And Sam Pagano is still catching his breath. His older son, Chuck, is coach of the Colts, who erased a 28-point second-half deficit Saturday to stun Kansas City. Sam's younger son, John, is defensive coordinator of the Chargers, who Sunday upset favored Cincinnati, 27-10, ending the Bengals' season with their first home defeat. About 1,200 miles west, a family erupted in celebration. "We're sitting here, my wife and I, and we're exhausted," the elder Pagano said from his home in Boulder, Colo.
SPORTS
January 4, 2014 | Sam Farmer
Being labeled the biggest, baddest team on the block doesn't matter much in the NFL playoffs. Since realignment in 2002, only twice has a No. 1 seed in either conference gone on to win the Super Bowl: New Orleans in 2009 and New England in 2003. Just as many No. 6 seeds have lifted the Lombardi Trophy during that span: Green Bay in 2010 and Pittsburgh in 2005. This is especially meaningful to the sixth-seeded San Diego Chargers, who know firsthand that a gaudy regular-season record isn't all it's cracked up to be. They open the playoffs as a seven-point underdog Sunday at Cincinnati, where the Bengals have not lost this season.
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