NFL rankings: A new No. 1 in town

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NFL rankings: A new No. 1 in town

After the 49ers' showing in New England, we have a new No. 1 atop the NFL power rankings. In fact, there was a lot of shuffling in the Top 5 this week while the Raiders ended their six-game losing streak and moved out of the bottom 3…

1 (3) 49ers (10-3-1) Colin Kapernick threw 4 TDs against Patriots. Alex Smith has never thrown 4 TDs in a game.
2 (2)  Denver Broncos (11-3) Since opening season 2-3, Broncos have outscored opponents by 12.3 points per game.
3 (5) Atlanta Falcons (12-2) Think Matt Ryan wants home-dome advantage in playoffs? He is 33-4 at home in career.
4 (4) Houston Texans (12-2) Arian Foster has rushed for 100 yards in 46.9 percent of his games, third-best percentage in NFL history, beind Barry Sanders and Jim Brown.
5 (9) Seattle Seahawks (9-5) First since 1950 Giants to drop at least 50 points on consecutive opponents in same season.
6 (6) Green Bay Packers (10-4) Bad omen for postseason? Mason Crsoby has missed field goal in eight straight games.
7 (1) New England Patriots (10-4) Wait, wasn't Bill Belichick a defensive mastermind? Pats' D ranked 27th overall.
8 (7) Indianapolis Colts (9-5) Andrew Luck or RG III? RG III or Andrew Luck?
9 (12) Washington Redskins (8-6) RG III or Andrew Luck? Andrew Luck or RG III?
10 (13) Minnesota Vikings (8-6) Is Adrian Peterson NFL MVP, or "merely" Offensive Player of the Year?
11 (14) Dallas Cowboys (8-6) December struggles? What December struggles? Tony Romo suddenly 3-0 in season's final month.
12 (15) Cincinnati Bengals (8-6) Trying for consecutive playoff appearances for first time since Ken Anderson's mustache was under center in 1981 and 1982.
13 (8) New York Giants (8-6) The 34-0 shellacking ties 1981 Raiders for worst margin of defeat by defending Super Bowl champ.
14 (10) Baltimore Ravens (9-5) Only in NFL would three-game losing streak culminate with clinching of playoff spot.
15 (11) St. Louis Rams (6-7-1) Lambs 0-4 vs. NFC North; Rams 6-3-1 against everyone else.
16 (16) Chicago Bears (8-6) Jat Cutler just 1-7 against the Packers, including playoffs, with the Bears.
17 (17) Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7) Big Ben has thrown for 300 yards three times this season. Steelers are 0-3 in those games.
18 (19) New Orleans Saints (6-8) So either there WAS or there was NOT a bounty run by the Saints, right?
19 (18) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8) Doug Martin's 1,647 yards from scrimmage second-most in franchise history.
20 (23) Miami Dolphins (6-8) By air -- a 123.2 passer rating -- and by ground -- 52 yards rushing -- Ryan Tannehill sets career highs.
21 (25) Carolina Panthers (5-9) Cam Newton attempting to join Bobby Douglass, Randall Cunningham (four times) and Donovan McNabb as QBs to lead team in rushing.
22 (27) Tennessee Titans (5-9) Blame the schedule-makers for putting this product on national television.
23 (20) New York Jets (6-8) Would be funny were it not so sad…or somesuch.
24 (21) Cleveland Browns (5-9) Trent Richardson's 28 rushing yards only his third-lowest total of season.
25 (23) Buffalo Bills (5-9) Setting pro football back in Canada more than 1994 Las Vegas Posse.
26 (24) San Diego Chargers (5-9) Ryan Mathews breaks left clavicle, to join right clavicle he broke in preseason.
27 (29) Arizona Cardinals (5-9) The Cardinals have now won a game more recently than the Diamondbacks. 
28 (30) Raiders (4-10) And the Raiders have now won a game more recently than the San Francisco Giants.
29 (26) Philadelphia Eagles (4-10) Iggles' pratfall on national TV a clarion call for change in Philly.
30 (28) Detroit Lions (4-10) At least Calvin Johnson continues to play -- his seventh straight 100-yard receiving game ties NFL mark co-held by Michael Irvin and Charlie Hennigan.
31 (32) Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12) Cecil Shorts 75 yards shy of becoming first Jag with 1,000 yards receiving since Jimmy Smith in 2005.
32 (31) Kansas City Chiefs (2-12) As someone tweeted after watching Brady Quinn on Sunday, they would STILL draft JaMarcus Russell over Quinn. Ouch.

Giants Notes: Marrero hopes to be back; Posey faces Romo

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USATSI

Giants Notes: Marrero hopes to be back; Posey faces Romo

SAN FRANCISCO — About 45 minutes after the Giants announced that Chris Marrero had been designated for assignment, the left fielder walked up to the locker of one of the newcomers. Marrero patted Christian Arroyo on the back and shook his hand, congratulating him for his first call-up to the big leagues. 

“That’s my boy,” he said later. “I was really happy for him.”

The Arroyo promotion and the addition of Drew Stubbs signaled the end of Marrero’s April run in the lineup. He was cut and Aaron Hill was put on the disabled list, clearing two roster spots. Just as Arroyo forced his way up with three huge weeks in Triple-A, Marrero forced his way onto the opening day roster with a monster spring that included eight homers. He had just five hits in 38 at-bats before Monday’s moves.

“The team is struggling and we’ve got to make some moves,” Marrero said. “I believe in myself and I’ll go down and get back to how I felt in spring training. This is what I’ve worked for my whole life. I lost the feel that I had in the spring. Things were a little rushed. I came in and worked hard every day to try and find it. I’m going to keep working. I haven’t lost confidence in myself.”

Marrero was put in a bit of a tough spot. He played just about every day in Scottsdale because he was trying to win a job, and when he finally did make it, some Giants coaches felt he was a bit worn down. The team’s brutal start to the season put a glaring spotlight on left field, and this move became obvious over time.

Marrero said he likes it here, and that if he isn’t claimed, he will go to Triple-A Sacramento and try to find that spring swing and get back up here. Count Bruce Bochy among those hoping it goes down that way. 

“We thought a lot of him and still do,” Bochy said. “He’s a good hitter.”

--- Arroyo had a 4.4 GPA in high school, so the Giants knew he was smart. He’s savvy, too. There’s nothing like picking up the longest-tenured player on the team, literally. After snagging a ricochet in the fourth inning last night, Arroyo kept running and lifted Cain off the grass. They then chest-bumped. 

“That just kind of happened,” Arroyo said. “He hit it, I looked at Cain going down and saw the ball, went running and got it, instincts took over. I made a throw and got the guy. It was a fun play. In that moment, I was just pumped up. It’s one of those plays you get excited over.”

Arroyo said he heard Cain yelling and he thought he was hurt, so that’s why he ran over. Cain did have an X-ray on the foot that got hit but it came back negative. 

“Christian did a great job handling himself,” Cain said. “He picked me up big-time.”

The best part of the play came hours after it was made. As Cain talked to reporters, Brandon Crawford — who was in position to scoop the grounder in the fourth — was standing at his locker, a few feet away.

“Let it go through next time,” he said softly.

--- Denard Span was out on the field Monday afternoon, but he’ll miss another two to four days with that right shoulder injury. This will truly be a day-to-day situation. If at any point the Giants feel they need coverage, Span can be put on the 10-day DL. 

--- Hill apparently felt discomfort after playing long toss on the road trip. He can swing a bat but he was going to be kept from throwing for three to four days, so he was put on the DL.

--- This spring, Posey was asked about facing Sergio Romo. Here was his long tendencies-filled answer. Posey faced Romo in the eighth and flied out. 

"It was a little weird, I'm not going to lie," he said. "I caught him for so long. It's definitely interesting being in the batter's box instead of being the plate."

Was there a nod or "hey what's up" look between the two?

"I've caught him long enough to know you don't look at him," Posey said, smiling. 

--- If you missed it, the standing ovation for Romo was a very, very cool moment. Also, here's my story on Madison Bumgarner, who spoke for the first time since his injury. And here's the first story on Arroyo, with a fun anecdote about his mom. She'll be in the stands Tuesday. And finally, my game story from last night. 

Four takeaways from Warriors' first-round sweep of Blazers

Four takeaways from Warriors' first-round sweep of Blazers

PORTLAND -- Four games, four quarters to each and the Warriors are on to the next round of the postseason.

Here are four things we learned about these Warriors in the wake of their four-game sweep of the Trail Blazers in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.

IT’S A TEAM THING: The Warriors lost All-Star forward Kevin Durant in Game 1, came back and won Game 2. They lost head coach Steve Kerr before Game 3, went out and fashioned one of the biggest comebacks in franchise postseason history. They are constructed in such a way that the collective is strong enough to overcome the loss of one man. They won this series in a walk despite being shorthanded for the last three games and without their head coach for the last two. This team and this staff are bigger than any individual.

JAVALE McGEE MATTERS: By last Sept. 16 the summer was all but gone and every coveted player NBA player had been accounted for. That’s when the Warriors signed McGee with the hope that he could provide some length and athleticism on the block, if only for a few minutes a night -- and, surely, some nights not at all. McGee was the last man to make the team, and here he was dominating a Trail Blazers team that, to be fair, lacked a healthy center. He was special in this series, and what he provides will be needed as the Warriors move forward.

DRAYMOND’S VALUE IS BEYOND MEASURE: There were so many examples during the regular season that illustrated Draymond Green’s significance to the Warriors. He topped them all in this series. He defended, at some point, every member of the Portland team. He rebounded. He made 3-pointers. He blocked 17 shots. The Blazers tried him early but quickly become discouraged at attacking whenever he was on the court. He disrupted their offense in more ways than they could have imagined. As a bonus, he avoided notable run-ins with officials.

SPLASHING NOT NEEDED: Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were fabulous in the second half of Game 3 and Curry stood out in Game 4. But by the time the Splash Brothers found their offensive groove, the Warriors were up 2-0 in the series and rallying behind their defense en route to taking Game 3. The battle of the backcourts, logically deemed a critical factor in this series, was a virtual statistical standoff. Curry/Thompson combined for 192 points, while Damian Lillard 111 and CJ McCollum totaled 201. If it’s the numbers are that close, the Warriors will win every series, and probably sweep.