1. Joe Hart (goalkeeper) – to see our full line up, in squad number order, click the yellow arrow above 17. Kevin De Bruyne (left wing) 11 11 11 15. Jesus Navas (right wing) 6. Fernando (centre midfield) 11 42. Yaya Toure (centre midfield) 11 25. Fernandinho (centre midfield) 11 3. Bacary Sagna (right back) 11 11 11 11 11. Aleksandar Kolarov (left back) 14. Wilfried Bony (striker) 11 30. Nicolas Otamendi (centre back) Manchester City travel to Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán on Tuesday night to take on Sevilla in Group D of this season’s Champions League.With the Citizens in second place, one point behind leaders Juventus and three points above Sevilla, Manuel Pellegrini will be desperate to seal victory in Spain.Despite losing David Silva and Sergio Augero to injury in the international break, City have been in fine goalscoring form, netting 14 in their last five games.Silva and Aguero are still yet to recover, leaving Wilfried Bony, who scored at the Etihad Stadium in the reverse fixture two weeks ago, to continue his role in leading the attack. Pellegrini could make some changes to his team, with Jesus Navas battling Raheem Sterling, who was dropped to the bench against Norwich City, for a start against his former club.Find out our predicted XI by clicking the yellow arrow above, right. 4. Vincent Kompany (centre back)
Benik Afobe 1 Bournemouth are in talks with Wolves striker Benik Afobe. It is understoood the 22-year-old could seal a move to the Cherries over the weekend, with the south coast side aiming to bolster their forward line. Norwich hold a long-term interest in Afobe and had several bids rejected in the summer, but Bournemouth now appear the frontrunners for his signature, for a reported £10million fee. Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe lost Callum Wilson for the season to a serious knee injury in September and has already signed Roma’s Juan Iturbe on loan until May. Bournemouth are 16th in the table, four points above the Barclays Premier League relegation zone, and go to Birmingham in the FA Cup third round on Saturday.Afobe only joined Wolves for £2million from Arsenal last January and has scored 23 goals in 48 games for the club. He has netted 10 goals in 27 outings this term for the Sky Bet Championship side.On Thursday Wolves boss Kenny Jackett denied they had received any bids for the forward, but the club have hinted they could sell this month. Last month chief executive Jez Moxey refused to rule out a sale, despite the club issuing a statement in the summer insisting Afobe would not be sold this season. Owner Steve Morgan put the club up for sale in September – and is looking for close to £40million – and boss Jackett admitted that has an impact on the club.He said: “Rather than just this window it has had an effect on the whole club – there is no doubt about it. It is Steve’s decision how much money he puts in. When does he sell to who? What are the circumstances? There is only really him that can answer that.”
Newcastle have announced the signing of midfielder Jonjo Shelvey from Swansea.The 23-year-old has signed a five-and-a-half year deal at St. James’ Park and joins for a reported £12million fee.Shelvey has scored nine goals in 77 appearances for Swansea since moving to the Liberty Stadium from Liverpool for £5m in July 2013.But his future has been in doubt since Garry Monk’s departure and a move looked increasingly likely. Shelvey told the club’s official website: “I’m very excited to be here. I’m so glad that it’s finally done.“I drove up through the night to be here so it’s been a manic 24 hours but it’s all been worth it to come here and play for this great club.”The Magpies’ boss Steve McClaren added: “I’m delighted to welcome Jonjo to Newcastle United.“He has great experience for a young English central midfielder and is a current England international, so I’m certain he will be a great addition to the squad.“He is a player we have admired for some time and we’re very pleased that we’ve now been able to bring him here.”Shelvey came through the academy at Charlton Athletic before joining Liverpool in 2010. He was loaned out to Blackpool a year late and he spent three years at Anfield before moving to Wales. He is an England international and is Newcastle’s second addition in 24 hours, having club completed the signing of Henri Saivet from Bordeaux on Monday. The duo will be presented on the pitch before tonight’s home match with Manchester United. Newcastle complete the signing of Jonjo Shelvey from Swansea 1
Six motorcyclists have died in crashes in the San Gabriel Valley in as many months, highlighting an increase in motorcycle fatalities at the county, state and national levels. California Highway Patrol spokesman Steve Kohler said the CHP sees no reason to believe the trend is going to turn around this year. The most recent local crash occurred Oct. 1 and claimed the life of 18-year-old Glendora resident Joseph Garabet. He was riding his 1991 Yamaha on Mount Baldy Road in the Angeles National Forest when he veered into the wrong side of the road for unknown reasons and struck a Ford F-150 pickup truck head-on, CHP officials said. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.The day before, Thomas Brown, 43, of San Dimas was killed when his 1998 Kawasaki struck a parked car on Producer Way in Pomona, Pomona police said. Los Angeles County motorcycle fatalities reported to the CHP have increased steadily since 1999. Officials documented 34 deaths in Los Angeles County from January to May. From 42 deaths reported in 1999, the number nearly doubled to 80 in 2006, according to CHP reports. But the increase in motorcycle deaths is not limited to the county. Nationally, motorcycle deaths have jumped from 3,270 reported in 2002 to 4,810 in 2006, according to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. CHP Motor Sgt. Steve Licon attributes the rise in fatalities to the growing popularity of motorcycles. “There’s more and more motorcyclists out on the road,” said Licon, in addition to more total traffic. The number of motorcycles registered nationwide grew by about 49 percent between 1999 and 2004, according to the most recent NHTSA reports. Another contributing factor to motorcycle fatalities, Licon said, is that the thousands of new, inexperienced riders are more likely to be involved in an accident than experienced riders. “There is no such thing as a minor accident on a motorcycle,” Licon said, so caution and quality safety gear, such as a Department of Transportation- approved helmet, is a must. One way the CHP has attempted to combat the rise in motorcycle fatalities is with the California Motorcyclist Safety Program, which offers educational and riding courses for beginning and experienced riders. While the number of fatal crashes has increased, the percentage of motorcyclists listed as being at fault has held at about 70 percent in recent years, the NHTSA reported. The No. 1 cause in such accidents was listed as unsafe speed, accounting for 39 percent, followed by driving under the influence at 19 percent, according to the CHP. However, the issue is not just about motorcyclists, said Kohler. “It’s getting the other people on the road aware of motorcycles.” [email protected] (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2718 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
Quarterback Dominique Blackman passed for four touchdowns and ran for another as Carson tuned up for its showdown with Banning by routing visiting Gardena, 48-7, in a Marine League game Friday night. “We wanted to come out hard and establish a good lead,” said Blackman. “We felt if we could score some early points, we would be able to put them away.” Carson (7-2, 4-0) did just that, scoring on all six of its first-half possessions to take a 41-7 halftime lead. “I thought we played well on both sides of the ball in the first half,” Carson coach Mike Christensen said. “We threw the ball well and we ran the ball well, and we got to work on some things going into the big showdown next week.” Gardena (0-9, 0-4) was led by quarterback Keshaun Malone, who completed 10 of 20 passes for 123 yards, and ran for Gardena’s lone touchdown. “Next week is going to be a dogfight,” Sula said. “Everyone said that nobody could go undefeated in the Marine League,” Blackman said. “We want to prove everyone wrong and that we are the team that can do that. “And what better team do that against than Banning.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREStriving toward a more perfect me: Doug McIntyre , who completed 9 of 12 passes for 197 yards Carson has a meeting with arch-rival Banning (8-1, 3-1) with the league title on the line next week. Running back Jack Sula had 127 yards and a touchdown on seven carries, as well as with two touchdown catches for 71 yards. Wide receiver Keenan Smith Jr. had three catches for 71 yards and two touchdowns. Carson shook off its first-half letdown in last week’s victory over Washington and stormed from the gate against Gardena. Carson took its opening series 81 yards and scored on a 28-yard pass from Blackman to Smith. Carson’s defense then forced two straight Gardena fumbles and the score soon was 21-0 with half the first quarter still to play. Carson never looked back.
Parks said he was encouraged by community activists to call for the moratorium to bring attention to the one-year anniversary of the incident involving comedian Michael Richards, who directed the word to members of his audience at a comedy club. “We should celebrate that as an opportunity to bring attention to it,” Parks said. Councilwoman Jan Perry, who is African-American, said she still recalls how the use of the word when she was growing up affected her. “To this day, I remember how I felt and I remember who used it against me,” Perry said. Courts say officials can’t ban the use of the word because of free speech provisions in the Constitution, but the council has adopted rules of decorum allowing them to rule certain speech out of order. Los Angeles city officials called Friday for a moratorium on the use of the “N” word as a matter of both civility and respect for the black community. Councilman Bernard Parks, who came up with the idea and authored a resolution, said he recognized the measure was limited in its scope. “I recognize this is not going to solve poverty or world hunger or all the other ills of the world,” Parks said. “But it brings attention to the idea that the use of this word – whether among friends, in music or before the City Council – it is a word that causes trauma and violence.” [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
Murray’s Pharmacy is over the recent flooding and open for business.Murray’s Pharmacy in Castlefinn may have been hit by the recent freak flooding in the area.But the well-known pharmacy is now back open for business and expecting a flood of a very different kind as customers stock up for Christmas.It’s business as usual and the shop say they are delighted to be able to offer all our customers the same friendly efficient service they have always prided themselves on. Despite the recent flooding the team in Castlefinn have worked tirelessly to restore the pharmacy and Tom and Róisín wish to express their sincere gratitude to the staff in Castlefinn and Ramelton who have supported us and worked so hard to bring the pharmacy back to life in a very short space of time.“We would also like to thank the community in Castlefinn for all your support and loyalty over, not just the past few weeks but for the last 10 years.“We especially wish to thank Gerard and Karen Doherty, Ciaran O Neill and Bert Galbraith and his crew from Galbraith Construction for their help on the day of the flood and the days that followed,” said Tom.The Christmas club is back up and running and we are delighted to be able to not just fulfil the existing Christmas Club orders but to offer a full range of gift ideas. Why not call in to see your local Castlefinn Pharmacy back up and running and serving your community as usual.PHARMACY EXPECTING A FLOOD OF A VERY DIFFERENT KIND THIS CHRISTMAS was last modified: November 24th, 2015 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:castlefinndonegalfloodMurray’s PharmacyOPEN
AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhicker: Clemson demonstrates that it’s tough to knock out the champ160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Dr. Barbara Firestone figured the more faces people saw and the more stories they heard, the less alone they would feel. That’s how the founder and CEO of the Sherman Oaks-based nonprofit organization the Help Group came to write “Autism Heroes: Portraits of Families Meeting the Challenge.” Told primarily through the parents’ voices, “Autism Heroes” recounts the experiences of 38 families. People of all classes, races and age ranges are represented, including actors Joe Mantegna, Gary Cole and John Schneider and former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Jim Gott. The photography is by Joe Buissink, who also has a child with an autism spectrum disorder. Q: How did you come up with the book’s title? A: I have throughout the years met many parents with children who are confronting the challenges of autism, and I’ve always been so struck by the commitment, the caring and their ability to persevere through all the challenges. So when I thought about the title, the fact that this was a book about families and celebrating the commitment of families, I thought, “They’re heroes.” And there it is. Q: Are most of these families people you’ve worked with through the group? A: Most of the parents are families whose children attend the Help Group schools, but not all of them. I really wanted to be able to reach out. The whole point of the book was to provide a lifeline or message of support and help to other parents who are beginning the journey or are at different points; so I wanted to include parents who have children with all forms of autism. The children have all forms and degrees, they’re different ages, and the parents come from all walks of life. I wanted to have a cross section. While each parent’s journey is unique, there are very many universal chords. Another reason I decided to do this book is that we are living in a new age of autism. Times are changing, and there is a tremendous message of hope that wouldn’t have been the same in years gone by. Q: How much time did you spend with the families? A: The interviews were an hour to an hour and a half long. I took them through the whole series: What was it like when you first had that intuition? What was your journey like at the beginning? What were the feelings you went through? How did you deal with those feelings? And how did you come to a place of hope and transcendence? I could have written about the families myself, but I thought it was much more powerful to have the families speak in their own voices since they’re the ones living the experience. Q: Did you ever consider including the children’s perspective along with that of their parents? A: I really made a decision that this was going to be in the parents’ voices. Maybe the next book will be in the children’s voices for those who are able to speak about the experience, which would be very interesting and insightful. Q: Did your celebrity parents have any reluctance about participating? A: Not at all. Gary and Teddi Cole have been very open, and all the parents who are celebrities in the book have a history of being very open and candid about the fact that their children have autism spectrum disorders. Like any movement, when people of note or who are in public eye are willing to talk about it, it makes it less taboo. Q: Jenny McCarthy received a lot of press recently for her account of being the parent of an autistic child. A: That’s a good thing. It builds the awareness and increases the dialogue and the debate. Q: McCarthy’s book talks of healing autism. Are you leery of such a claim? A: Those are not terms we use. Right now we see it as a lifelong disability. We see children can make significant progress, but recovery is not the term that’s important to us. What’s important to us is children reaching their fullest potential, whatever that potential is.
AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan ClarksonA deeply polarizing figure, Bhutto spent 30 years navigating the turbulent and often violent world of Pakistani politics, becoming in 1988 the first woman to lead a modern Muslim country. She had narrowly escaped an assassination attempt upon her return to Pakistan two months ago. Her death now presents President Pervez Musharraf with one of the most potent crises of his turbulent eight years in power, and Bush administration officials with a new challenge in their efforts to stabilize a front-line state – home to both al-Qaida and nuclear arms – in their fight against terrorism. Hallmarks of al-Qaida The attack bore hallmarks of the al-Qaida-linked militants in Pakistan. But witnesses described a sniper firing from a nearby building, raising questions about how well the government had protected her in a usually well-guarded garrison town and fueling speculation that government sympathizers had played a part. On Thursday evening, officials from the FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin to local law enforcement agencies informing them about posts on some Islamic Web sites saying that al-Qaida was claiming responsibility for the attack, and that the plot was orchestrated by Ayman al-Zawahri, the group’s second-ranking official. One counterterrorism official in Washington said the bulletin neither confirmed nor discredited these claims. The official said American intelligence agencies had yet to come to any firm judgments about who was responsible for Bhutto’s death. RAWALPINDI, Pakistan – Benazir Bhutto, the Pakistani opposition leader and twice-serving prime minister, was assassinated Thursday evening as she left a political rally here, a scene of fiery carnage that plunged Pakistan deeper into political turmoil and ignited widespread violence by her enraged supporters. Bhutto, 54, was shot in the neck or head, according to differing accounts, as she stood in the open sunroof of a car and waved to crowds. Seconds later a suicide attacker detonated his bomb, damaging one of the cars in her motorcade, killing more than 20 people and wounding 50, the Interior Ministry said. News of her death sent angry protesters swarming the emergency ward of the nearby hospital, where doctors declared Bhutto dead at 6:16 p.m. Supporters later jostled to carry her bare wooden coffin as it began its journey to her hometown of Larkana, in southern Pakistan, for burial. In Karachi and other cities, frenzied crowds vented their rage, blocking the streets, burning tires and throwing stones. The death of Bhutto, leader of Pakistan’s largest political party, throws Pakistan’s politics into disarray less than two weeks before parliamentary elections scheduled for Jan. 8 and just weeks after a state of emergency was lifted. There was immediate speculation that elections would be postponed and another state of emergency declared. As world leaders lined up to express outrage at the killing of arguably Pakistan’s most pro-Western political figure, a grim-faced President Bush said the best way to honor her would be “by continuing with the democratic process for which she so bravely gave her life.” Speaking to reporters while vacationing at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, Bush blamed Bhutto’s death on “murderous extremists who are trying to undermine Pakistan’s democracy.” He telephoned Musharraf on Thursday afternoon. Musharraf went on national television Thursday evening, describing the killing as “a great national tragedy” and announcing a three-day national mourning. He called it a terrorist attack and vowed to continue to fight to root out the terrorists. “I appeal to the nation to remain peaceful and show restraint,” he said. Despite the president’s appeal, politicians and government officials said they feared more violence in the coming days from those protesting her death, but also from militants who would try to take advantage of the uncertain situation. One former government minister said the backlash against Musharraf could make his position untenable. “Musharraf will not be able to control the situation now,” he said. Before her return in October, Bhutto had spent nearly eight years in self-imposed exile to avoid corruption charges stemming from her time as prime minister in the 1990s. Her return had been promoted by Washington as part of an agreement to share power with Musharraf and rescue his increasingly unpopular government by giving it a more democratic face. Leading contender She was a leading contender for prime minister in the Jan. 8 elections, campaigning as an advocate for Pakistan’s return to party politics after eight years of military rule under Musharraf, who relinquished his military post only this month. She also presented herself as the candidate who could best combat growing militancy in Pakistan. Her comments condemning militancy and suicide bombing had made her a target of al-Qaida-linked militants in Pakistan. Her homecoming procession in Karachi was attacked by two bomb blasts that killed 150 supporters and narrowly missed killing her. Much of the rage over her death is nonetheless likely to be directed at Musharraf, who kept her out of power for more than eight years. The country’s other main opposition leader, another former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, announced Thursday evening that he was pulling his party out of the elections. “This is a tragedy for her party, and a tragedy for our party and the entire nation,” Sharif said as he visited the hospital on hearing the news of her death. Elections likely postponed Tauqir Zia, a retired general who recently joined Bhutto’s party, the Pakistan People’s Party, said it seemed that elections were unlikely to go ahead now in any case. “PPP is now in turmoil for the time being,” he said. “It has to find a new leadership.” Other officials and politicians said they, too, thought elections would have to be postponed. “This is going to lead to chaos and turmoil,” said the former interior minister, Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, who was nearly killed five days ago in a suicide bombing at a mosque in his home village. There were differing accounts of the attack. Zamrud Khan, a member of her party, said Bhutto was shot in the head from gunfire that originated from behind her car in a building nearby. Seconds later a suicide bomber detonated his bomb, damaging one of the cars in her motorcade and killing some 15 people on the ground, Khan said. The Interior Ministry spokesman quoted by the state news agency, The Associated Press of Pakistan, said the suicide bomber first fired on Bhutto and then blew himself up. Amid the confusion after the explosion, the site was littered with pools of blood. Shoes and caps of party workers were lying on the asphalt. More than a dozen ambulances pushed through crowds of dazed and wounded people at the scene. Witnesses described hearing firing barely a minute before the loud explosion. Sajid Hussain, who had a shrapnel wound on his left hand, said he heard at least three shots fired. “Then there was a big explosion, the earth seemed to tremble, I fell down. And everything was covered in black smoke.” Dr. Mohamed Mussadik, a top surgeon who attended to Bhutto at the hospital, said she was clinically dead on arrival and that the bullet wound was in the head, according to Athar Minallah, a lawyer who served in the Musharraf government but who has since helped lead the movement against him. Apparently no autopsy was done, because police did not request one, Dawn TV reported. Lawyers calling for an international neutral investigation are raising questions about the speed with which Bhutto’s body was moved. The body arrived in her southern home province of Sindh before dawn, party officials told Agence-France Presse.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
Maybe Rex Grossman is the answer in Chicago. Maybe Eli Manning is the next, umm, Payton Manning. Maybe Joe Gibbs still has the magic 13 years later. Maybe we’re underrating Seattle. Maybe Carolina and Tampa Bay can win the Super Bowl with defense. Maybe you’d like to throw all your hard-earned cash in the Pacific Ocean. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson Why should anything change? Three of the four teams to win 12 games or more come from the AFC. The six AFC playoff teams all won five or more games on the road, compared to two in the NFC (Carolina 6, Seattle 5). The AFC set a record in 2004 for best interdivision mark, winning 44 of 64 games. While the margin in 2005 was much smaller, (34 of 64), the six AFC playoff teams were a stunning 20-4 in games versus the NFC. The six NFC teams went 12-12. A power rating scouting report using a points system: One point for each win, road win, game versus a winning team, win versus a winning team, and net wins in games decided by a touchdown or less. In the AFC: Denver (13-3, NFC West, No. 2 seed), 37 point: Which Jake Plummer will show up for the playoffs, the one that threw just seven picks and completed 60 percent of his passes this season or the Jake whose career postseason record is 1-3? The Broncos went 7-3 versus winning teams, explaining their edge on Indy in points, and were 4-2 in games decided by a touchdown. It’s been seven years since Mike Shanahan became a genius with back-to-back Super Bowl wins. Indianapolis (14-2, AFC South, No. 1 seed), 36 points: The Colts have more questions than the SAT. How did losing an unbeaten season impact them? How will the passing of Tony Dungy’s son affect the team? How does their past playoff foibles factor in this time? The Colts won seven road games, were 5-2 against winning teams, and routed most everyone, with just three games decided by a touchdown (all wins). Dungy’s playoff record is 5-7. Jacksonville (12-4, wild card, No. 5 seed), 33 points: The Jags are hard to gauge. They won six road games and were 8-2 in games decided by a touchdown, but nine of their last 10 wins were against teams with losing records. Does beating the 49ers, Titans, Browns, Jets, Cards and Texans by a touchdown or less qualify as good wins? Ex-Trojan Jack Del Rio will be coaching his first playoff game. New England (10-6, NFC East, No. 4 seed), 31 points: Three Super Bowl titles under Bill Belichick earn you the benefit of the doubt, and the Pats opened with four of their first six on the road, five versus 2004 playoff teams. They went 6-2 the second half, won five games on the road and were 5-1 in games decided by a touchdown. Cincinnati (11-5, NFC North, No. 3 seed), 30 points: The pluses are six road wins, a 4-1 record in games decided by a touchdown, and an offense second only to Indianapolis. They’ve scored 27 points or more in six of their last eight games. The Bengals also were just 3-4 against winning teams. Marvin Lewis, an assistant at Long Beach State in 1985-86, will also be making his playoff debut. Pittsburgh (11-5, wild card, No. 6 seed), 27 points: The Steelers won six games on the road but were 2-4 in games decided by a touchdown. They have a robust running game when healthy, but while Ben Roethlisberger began Sunday ranked second in the NFL in passing, he’s limited by Bill Cowher’s offense (23 attempts per game, and just 17 Sunday). Cowher has one Super Bowl appearance and has been to the playoffs 11 of 15 seasons, but he’s 1-4 in AFC title games. First-round picks: Cincinnati over Pittsburgh, New England over Jacksonville. In the NFC: Seattle (13-3, NFC West, No. 1 seed), 33 points: The Seahawks are sort of like a non-BCS school making it to one of the big bowls. No one knows how good they are. They won five on the road, were 4-2 against winning teams and 6-1 in games decided by a touchdown. Matt Hasselbeck and Shaun Alexander had career years, and they’ll have home wet field advantage throughout the postseason. Mike Holmgren was 9-5 in seven postseasons in Green Bay but is 0-3 in Seattle. Tampa Bay (11-5, NFC South, No. 3 seed), 32 points: The points system rewards Tampa for a 5-3 record against winning teams and 6-3 mark in games decided by a touchdown. But two of those victories against winning teams were versus Minnesota and Miami, and the Bucs lost to the Jets and 49ers. Going to Chris Simms at quarterback was a bold move by Jon Gruden, but the Bucs got here via their defense. Chicago (11-5, NFC North, No. 2 seed), 29 points: The Bears pick up points for a 5-1 record in games decided by a touchdown, but they were just 3-4 against winning teams and split on the road. They have the best defense in the league and worst offense of all the playoff teams. Grossman is the X factor. Lovie Smith makes his playoff debut. Washington (10-6, wild card, No. 6 seed), 29 points: Joe Gibbs was questioning his decision to return to coaching after three straight heartbreaking losses (Tampa by one, Oakland by three and San Diego in overtime), but they’ve won four straight. Otherwise, they’re ordinary 5-5 against winning teams, 4-4 on the road, 5-5 in games decided by a touchdown or less. Gibbs won three Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks (Joe Theisman, Doug Williams, Mark Rypien) and had a 16-5 playoff record in his first stint in Washington. Carolina (11-5, wild card, No. 5 seed), 28 points: The Panthers win on defense, reflected by allowing under 17 points a game and 14 or less in eight of their last 10. They won six games on the road game but were 3-4 against winning teams and one win came against Minnesota. Wonder if Al Davis wishes he had hired John Fox as head coach when he had the chance? Fox was briefly on Long Beach State’s coaching staff in 1981. New York Giants (11-5, NFC East, No. 3 seed), 27 points: Fraud alert. The Giants won just three road games (San Francisco, Philadelphia and Oakland) and were 4-5 against winning teams. They lost twice in overtime and beat up some bad teams they outscored the Cards, Saints, Rams, 49ers, Eagles and Raiders 194-97. They lost to the Redskins 35-20 after beating them 36-0 early. Manning also has the lowest pass efficiency rate of all playoff QBs. First-round picks: Tampa over Washington, Carolina over New York. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! If there’s any trend in sports that appears to be a lock, it is that whatever team the AFC sends to the Super Bowl will send the NFC representative back to its dressing room just happy to have been part of the show. The AFC representative has won six of the last eight Super Bowls, and the results weren’t exactly life-affirming the two times the NFC team won. St. Louis barely outlasted Tennessee in Super Bowl XXXIV, a game in which the Rams were expected to romp, and Tampa Bay won Super Bowl XXXVII against the dysfunctional Raiders.