Crawford: 'Me and Bobby Valentine have no hard feelings'

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Crawford: 'Me and Bobby Valentine have no hard feelings'

FORT MYERS, Fla. Carl Crawford arrived at Red Sox camp Monday. And despite the left wrist on which he had surgery in January, manager Bobby Valentine liked what he saw of Crawford.

I didnt know he was there, Valentine said. I just walked around the corner, there he was, throwing the ball. It was great to see him. His health looks much better than I expected. Im pleasantly surprised.

Crawford was the target last season of some of Valentines pointed criticism as an analyst for ESPN. The manager, though, is not concerned about any lingering discomfort.

I think its cleared up, Valentine said. And if its not, I dont think its a big deal anyway. I think hes ready to play baseball. He had the great look in his eye. Hes a great athlete. Looks like hes going to have good health.

Crawford, for his part, also said it was no longer an issue.

"That's his job to do stuff like that on TV,'' said Crawford. "I kind of understand how that goes. I'm playing for him as a manager and I'm pretty sure he doesn't feel like that way. It's just stuff you have to say when you're on TV, so me and Bobby have no hard feelings.

"We both share a common goal and that's to help the Red Sox win.''

One of Valentines criticisms focused on Crawfords exaggerated open batting stance, which he worked on in the offseason.

His agent told me that he had worked on some things and wed like it, Valentine said. Hes not swinging yet. As long as he has a good image of himself, thats all that matters.

How soon Crawford will be able to get back in games remains to be seen. He said Monday heis hopeful he will be ready for Opening Day.But, after seeing him in the outfield, Valentine checked with the trainers to be sure Crawford was cleared for such activity.

I went in, talked to them after I saw Carl throwing. To make sure he had clearance to throw, which he did, Valentine said. And their latest was hes about some time away from swinging. So upon evaluation after they see him firsthand Im sure Tuesday morning theyll tell me what that some time is.

Raiders creep past Patriots in race for top seed in AFC

Raiders creep past Patriots in race for top seed in AFC

The Patriots and Raiders and neck-and-neck as the race for home field in the AFC turns for home. And, with four games left, the Raiders are ahead by a nose. The tiebreakers between the 10-2 teams in play currently? Common games followed by strength of victory. 

The first tiebreaker – conference record – is a deadlock as both teams are 7-1 in the AFC (the Brady-less Patriots lost to the Bills back in Week 4.

After conference record, it's the teams record in common games. 

PATRIOTS 26, RAMS 10

So far in common games with the Texans and Bills, the Patriots have gone 2-1 and the Raiders have gone 2-0. The Patriots play the Ravens next week. Oakland beat them. The Patriots play Denver after that. Oakland beat them as well but have one more game against Denver in Week 17.

So if it comes down to common games the Patriots really need to win these next two games.

Or hope the Raiders stub their toe a time or two in their final four games which are at the Chiefs, Chargers and Broncos with a home game against Indy in Week 16.

As for strength of victory, that too goes to Oakland at this point. The Raiders’ strength of victory is at .471. The Patriots’ is at .370.

But the tiebreaker that kicks in after conference record and before strength of victory – common games – is very much unresolved.The remaining picture as it stands right now? The Ravens are the No. 3 seed with a 7-5 record that leads the AFC North. The Texans’ 6-6 record is good enough to lead the AFC South. The 9-3 Chiefs are the top Wild Card. The 8-4 Broncos are the No. 6 seed.

The Patriots play the Ravens and Broncos over the next two weeks. Currently, the Dolphins (7-5) and Steelers (7-5) are on the outside looking in.

The Titans (6-6) will have a chance to get even with the Texans in Week 17 in head-to-head matchups but they host Denver and play at Kansas City the next two weeks so they have obstacles to clear before they get there.

AFC PLAYOFF RACE: Steelers end Giants' winning streak at 6 in 24-14 victory

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AFC PLAYOFF RACE: Steelers end Giants' winning streak at 6 in 24-14 victory

PITTSBURGH - The Pittsburgh Steelers ended the New York Giants' winning streak with a familiar formula.

Ben Roethlisberger passed for 289 yards and two touchdowns, Le'Veon Bell rolled up 182 yards of total offense, and Pittsburgh's resurgent defense harassed Eli Manning into a flurry of mistakes in a dominant 24-14 win on Sunday.

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