AFC playoff race tightens with Texan, Bronco victories

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AFC playoff race tightens with Texan, Bronco victories

The Patriots didn't get much help in other games on Sunday, leaving them needing to win Sunday night against the 49ers in order to hold onto the No. 2 seed -- which carries with it a first-round bye -- in the AFC playoff hunt.

IN BALTIMORE, the Broncos pretty much ended the Ravens' hopes of gaining a bye in the first round -- but certainly enhanced their own -- with a convincing 34-17 victory. It was Denver's ninth straight win and increased the Broncos' record to 11-3. They are temporarily one-half game ahead of the Patriots, who enter Sunday night's game at 10-3. But if the Pats win, they regain the No. 2 position by virtue of their head-to-head win over Denver earlier this year.

The injury-ravaged Ravens, meanwhile, fall to 9-5. It's mathematically possible for there to be a three-way tie, at 11-5, for the No. 2 seed between Baltimore, Denver and New England, but that might go to the fifth or sixth tiebreaker to determine who gets second seed. And since that involves strength of victory or strength of schedule, it may be impossible to determine who'd be number two in that scenario as of this moment.

We think.

IN HOUSTON, the Texans clinched the AFC South title by beating the mistake-prone Colts, 29-17. They also maintained their hold on the No. 1 seed in the conference by increasing their record to 12-2. If the Patriots win out, however, Houston will also have to win out to stay at No. 1; the Pats have the head-to-head edge on the Texans, as well.

If it ends up with a three-way tie between Houston, New England and Denver for the No. 1 seed, the Pats would win the tiebreaker.

Bruins blast Kings 4-1, continue strong start for Cassidy

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Bruins blast Kings 4-1, continue strong start for Cassidy

LOS ANGELES - Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak scored their 26th goals of the season, and the Boston Bruins improved to 5-1-0 under interim coach Bruce Cassidy with a 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night.

Anton Khudobin made 27 saves in his second start since Christmas for the Bruins, who nursed an early lead to their first win in Los Angeles since March 24, 2012.

Pastrnak punctuated a strong all-around game with his seventh power-play goal of the season early in the second period. Dominic Moore ended his 26-game goal drought with an empty-net score, and David Krejci added another empty-netter with 7.2 seconds left.

Kevin Gravel scored his first NHL goal and Peter Budaj stopped 21 shots for the Kings, who have lost six of eight.

Paul George on trade talks: 'Thought I’d be in the loop a little more'

Paul George on trade talks: 'Thought I’d be in the loop a little more'

After a lot of speculation ahead of the trade deadline, Paul George is still a member of the Indiana Pacers.

Meeting with the media at Thursday's practice, George addressed the rumors, but sounded a bit frustrated about not being “in the loop” in regards to trade talks. 

“I was kind of on the ropes just like you guys were on what was about to happen,” George told reporters, per Clark Wade of the Indianapolis Star. “It’s kind of a dark moment, a lot of uncertainty. That was the frustrating part. You want me to be your guy here, thought I’d be in the loop a little more.”

The Celtics were one of the teams who were reportedly interested in George, but on the CSN Trade Deadline Special, Chris Mannix said the C's “weren’t really close” to landing the All-Star.

George, 26, will be a free agent after the 2017-18 season.