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Scoreboard Roundup - 12/20/14

Hemera/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- College Bowl Games: Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl: (22) Utah 45 (9-4) - Colorado State 10 (10-3)

R&L Carrier Bowl New Orelans Bowl: LA-Lafayette 16 (9-4) - Nevada 3 (7-6)

Gildan New Mexico Bowl: Utah State 21 (10-4) - UTEP 6 (7-6)

Top 25 College Basketball: (1) Kentucky 83 (12-0) - UCLA 42 (8-4)

(4) Louisville 76 (10-0) - Western Kentucky 67 (5-5)

(7) Villanova 82 (11-0) - Syracuse 77 (6-4) - Overtime

(10) Kansas 96 (9-1) - Lafayette 69 (7-3)

(24) North Carolina 82 (8-3) - (12) Ohio State 74 (9-2)

(13) Iowa State 83 (9-1) - Drake 54 (2-9)

(21) Notre Dame 94 (11-1) - Purdue 63 (8-4)

Indiana 82 (9-2) - (23) Butler 73 (8-3)

Texas Southern 71 (2-8) - (25) Michigan State 64 (8-4)

NBA: Phoenix Suns 99 (14-14) - New York Knicks 90 (5-24)

NHL: Los Angeles Kings 4 (17-11-6, 40 pts) - Arizona Coyotes 2 (11-17-4, 26 pts)

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Chiefs At Steelers Preview

Jason O. Watson/Getty Images(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) -- The Kansas City Chiefs still have a lot to play for with two games remaining in the season.

Kansas City (8-6) sits in the seventh spot in the AFC wild card behind the Ravens (9-5) and Steelers (9-5).

"He is a guy that doesn’t get rattled," Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. "He is one of those quarterbacks that just knows how to keep plays alive scrambling. He is not fast but he is deceivingly quick and just maneuvering and that’s what makes him great."

"I think you have to put him up there with one of the elite quarterbacks especially with the year he is having right now," Sutton continued. "He is just very efficient at what he does."

It's also an important game for the Steelers, who can clinch a playoff berth for the first time since 2011.

"We’re not looking at feelings," Steelers veteran linebacker James Harrison said. "We’re going to go out there and play each down and play each quarter and play each half and try to come out with enough good plays to get a ‘W'. We need to win this game. I’ll worry about anything else after we get through this next week."

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Packers Not Looking Past Buccaneers

Tom Lynn /Getty Images(GREEN BAY) -- With the NFC North still up for grabs, the Green Bay Packers (10-4) cannot afford a slip up against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-12) on Sunday.

Green Bay sits tied for first in the division with the Detroit Lions (10-4) and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers understands the importance.

"Everything is right in front of us," Rodgers said on Wednesday. "We win out, we still win the North."

The Packers are coming off one of their most disappointing losses of the season to the Bills.

"This is a road game we have to have," Packers coach Mike McCarthy told the team's official website. "We clearly understand the importance of winning in December, and we need to take it up a notch as a football team."

The Buccaneers offense is averaging 18.1 points per game this year.  Green Bay's defense is giving up 23.2.

"We've come close quite a few times at home," coach Lovie Smith said. "Once we get it going – instead of talking about getting that first win, we should be talking about, 'Hey, we haven't lost at home.' ... We realize we have a couple of more opportunities, but what better week than (against Green Bay)?"

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Drew Brees on Big Game Against Falcons: 'Is What You Hoped For'

Chris Graythen/Getty Images(NEW ORLEANS) -- Saints quarterback Drew Brees understands the importance of Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons (5-9), who sit one game behind them in the NFC South.

New Orleans is clinging onto a half-game lead over the Panthers (5-8-1) in the division as well.

"This at the beginning of the season is what you hoped for, the opportunity to be playing for something significant this time of the year," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said on Wednesday.  "That’s what we have the chance to do. It’s against a very good divisional opponent. I know the fans enjoy this rivalry. It doesn’t get any better than this."

The Saints hold a 47-43 all-time lead on the Falcons.

"You try not to make it bigger than it is," Brees said of the big game. "Obviously we know what’s at stake here, but I also think whenever you see this game on the schedule you know what type of game it’s going to be, so it doesn’t sneak up on you. They’re a very good football team. They’re playing very well right now. We know what’s at stake. Home game, we want to re-establish ourselves at home. Also we want to get better. We want to get a little better this week."

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has tossed 27 touchdowns and thrown for 4,112 yards this year.

"I think he’s got great command of the offense," Brees said of his counterpart.  "I think he’s extremely intelligent. I think he’s tough. He can make all the throws. I don’t really see him getting rattled. I think he’s a really calm, composed guy."

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Lions Prepare for Bears QB Jimmy Clausen

Leon Halip/Getty Images(DETROIT) -- The Lions (10-4) enter Sunday's game against the Bears tied with the Green Bay Packers for first place in the NFC North.

Chicago announced this week that they benched quarterback Jay Cutler and are going with backup Jimmy Clausen, who hasn't made a start since 2010.

Lions head coach Jim Caldwell said on Friday that with the news coming on Thursday, the team still had a chance to prepare for it.

"We heard fairly early, so we had a chance to take a look at him," Caldwell said. "There's always still a question of whether they'll do the same things that they've been doing with him."

"So, they'll certainly be a bit of an unknown there but we certainly have a chance," Caldwell continued. "There's enough tape on him in preseason and things of that nature to get a good look at him."

Caldwell said that despite Clausen's little experience as a starter, their defense will be ready for him.

"This year we've had a couple backup quarterbacks that have stepped in and played pretty well against us," Caldwell said. "Obvious (Drew) Stanton played pretty well and (Kyle) Orton stepped in and played extremely well. We're guarded about all that stuff, we're trying to make sure that we're functioning as well as we possibly can.

"It doesn't matter, if he's got on a uniform in the National Football League, that guy can play, they can make some things happen."

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Ron Rivera on Newton Starting: 'Pointing in the Right Direction'

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images(CHARLOTTE) -- Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is probable for Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns, head coach Ron Rivera said on Friday.

Newton sat out last week's game after he had minor injuries due to a car crash, but is doing his best to be ready come game time.

"Everything is pointing in the right direction," Rivera said. "He did a lot of turning and twisting today. We put a lot of pressure on him, did some things on purpose so we could see, and he seems to be right on track."

"He did really well today in terms of the amount of stress we put on him," Rivera continued.  "He's done a nice job and has a good handle on what we want to do. I like the way he practiced. Everything is positive."

The Panthers want Newton to be close to 100 percent before they choose him over Derek Anderson, who led them to a 19-17 win over the Buccaneers.

"They both bring a lot to the table," Rivera said of his two quarterbacks, "but Cam brings that extra dimension with his ability to run. That was big for us against New Orleans. He had a really good rhythm, and we're hoping he can recapture some of that."

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Spurs' Forward Kawhi Leonard has Torn Ligament in Right Hand

Andy Lyons/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The San Antonio Spurs will be without one of their best players for a little while as forward Kawhi Leonard has a torn ligament in his right hand, and it is unknown when he'll return.

Leonard must wait for swelling to reside before considering returning.

Not as bad as it sounds,” he said. “I should be back soon,” Leonard said via Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News said.

There is some speculation/hope that Leonard will only miss a few games, which would be best-cast scenario for the team.

Leonard is the reigning NBA Finals MVP and a key cog of the team's offense as well as defense.

In 22 games this season, Leonard is averaging 15.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Since his rookies year during the 2011-2012 season, Leonard's points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks per game have improved each season.

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Marlins Trade Third Baseman Casey McGehee to the Giants

Mike McGinnis/Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- The San Francisco Giants have found their replacement for former third baseman Pablo Sandoval as the team has acquired Casey McGehee from the Miami Marlins.

In exahcange for McGehee, the Giants are sending the Marlins minor leaguers Kendry Flores and Luis Castillo.

McGehee was the 2014 NL Comeback Player of the Year, but with the team's recent acquisition of Martin Prado from the New York Yankees, McGehee became expendable.

This past season, McGehee hit .287 with four home runs and 76 RBIs. It was his most productive all-around season since he was with the Milwaukee Brewers back in 2010.

He spent the 2013 as a member of the Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan.

The Giants lose Sandoval to free agency after he signed a five-year with the Boston Red Sox worth $95 million. The team also struck out on their pursuit of starting pitcher Jon Lester, who wound up signign with the Chicago Cubs.

San Francisco also recenlty brought back starting pitcher Jake Peavy and reliever Sergio Romo on a pair of two-year deals.


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Dodgers Designate Reliever Brian Wilson for Assignment

Brian D. Kersey/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Reliever Brian Wilson and his infamous beard are out of Los Angeles as the Dodgers have designated the former All-Star for assignment.

Despite the decision, the Dodgers will still pay Wilson his 2015 salary worth $9.5 million.

"At this point, we did not feel he was one of the best seven relief options," Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi said on a conference call with reporters.

At one point in his carreer, Wilson was one of the most dominant relievers in Baseball and one of the more colorful personalities in baseball.

From 2008-2011, Wilson averaged over 40 saves during his time with the San Francisco Giants.

Despite his dominance, Wilson underwent multiple elbow reconstruction surgeries and he never quite recovered from it.

In 2014, the 32-year-old Wilson went 2-4 with a 4.66 ERA and a WHIP of 1.61. Those were his highest marks since his rookie year back in 2006.

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Seahawks Sign Avril to 4-Year Extension

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Seattle Seahawks signed defensive end Cliff Avril to a four-year contract extension Friday.

ESPN NFL Insider John Clayton reports the deal is worth $28.5 million, with $16 million guaranteed.

“I’m just happy to be in a situation where the team is as good as it is and to be a part of it and they want me to be a part of it,” Avril said.  “I’m fortunate enough to get a deal done so I can continue to be a part of it.”

Avril, who signed a two-year deal with Seattle before the 2013 season, has played in 14 games this season recording 20 tackles, 4.5 sacks and one forced fumble.

"Cliff has been instrumental in what we've been building on the defensive side of the ball and we are excited that he'll be with us for another four years," Seahawks general manager John Schneider said. "He has been relentless in his approach to the game and his passion for winning is contagious. This is another great day for the Seahawks and the 12s."

This is the second straight day the Seahawks have signed one of their core defensive players. Thursday they locked up linebacker K.J. Wright to a four-year, $27 million extension.

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