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Super Bowl is set: It's Pats vs. Giants in a rematch

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Super Bowl is set: It's Pats vs. Giants in a rematch

From Comcast SportsNet
Hey, Indianapolis. A Manning will be playing in your Super Bowl, after all. No, not that one. It'll be Eli Manning leading the New York Giants to a Super Bowl rematch against the New England Patriots -- and this time on older brother Peyton's home field. "It doesn't matter to me where you're playing it or the fact that it's in Indianapolis," Eli Manning said. "I'm just excited about being in one." And if the Giants can pull this one off, Eli will have sibling bragging rights with one more Super Bowl ring than Peyton, who missed this season for the Colts after having neck surgery. It sure won't be easy for the Giants, though. Four years after New York stunned previously undefeated New England in the Arizona desert, they'll play a Super sequel. Eli vs. Brady. Coughlin vs. Belichick. The Giants vs. the Patriots. Sound familiar? Here we go again. "It's awesome and we look forward to the challenge," Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora said. "They are a great football team. They have always been a great football team. We are looking forward to it, and it's going to be a great game." Well, judging from the last time these teams met in the Super Bowl -- David Tyree's jaw-dropping, helmet-pinning catch and all -- it just might be. "Being in this situation is a great moment," Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork said. "You have to cherish this moment." New England (15-3) opened as a 3-point favorite for the Feb. 5 game against New York (12-7), but the Patriots know all about being in this position. They were favored by 12 points and pursuing perfection in 2008, but New York's defense battered Brady, and Manning connected with Plaxico Burress on a late touchdown to win the Giants' third Super Bowl. That TD came, of course, a few moments after one of the biggest plays in playoff history: Manning escaping the grasp of Patriots defenders and finding Tyree, who put New York in scoring position by trapping the football against his helmet. "Hopefully, we will have the same result," Umenyiora said. "We still have one more game to go, but this is truly unbelievable." Especially since the Giants appeared on the verge of collapsing with Tom Coughlin's job status in jeopardy just a month ago, when they fell to 7-7 with an embarrassing loss to the Washington Redskins on Dec. 18. "We've been here before," linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka said at the time, "and we'll get back." Boy, was he right. The Giants were facing elimination against the rival Jets and Rex Ryan, who boldly declared that his team ruled New York. Well, Coughlin's crew silenced Ryan with a 29-14 victory. The Giants followed that with a 31-14 win over Dallas in the regular-season finale to clinch the NFC East and get to the playoffs for the first time since the 2008 season. New York dominated Atlanta at home in the opening round. Then came a stunner: a 37-20 victory at Green Bay -- knocking out the defending Super Bowl champions. On Sunday, Manning extended the best season of his career with one more solid performance, and Lawrence Tynes kicked the Giants past the San Francisco 49ers 20-17 in overtime for the NFC title. "I'm just proud of the guys, what we've overcome this year, what we've been through," Manning said, "just never having any doubts, keep believing in our team that we could get hot and start playing our best football." The Patriots are rolling into the Super Bowl having won 10 straight, with their last loss being to -- you guessed it -- the Giants, 24-20 back in early November. "We know they're a great team," Manning said. "We played them already this year. They've been playing great football recently." They sure have. And now Brady and the Patriots are in familiar territory, playing in the Super Bowl for the fifth time in 11 years -- and first since the stunning upset in Arizona. New England hopes to avoid all that sort of drama this time around. Unless it goes in the Patriots' favor, as it did in the AFC title game. Brady was unusually subpar in the Patriots' 23-20 victory over Baltimore, throwing for 239 yards with two interceptions and, for the first time in 36 games, no TD passes. But he got some help from the Patriots' much-maligned defense, which made some crucial stops down the stretch. A few mistakes by the Ravens helped greatly, too, as Billy Cundiff shanked a 32-yard field goal attempt with 11 seconds left -- soon after Lee Evans had a potential winning touchdown catch ripped out of his hands in the end zone. "Childlike joy. It's all about childlike joy," linebacker Jerod Mayo said. "Last night felt like the day before Christmas for me and I haven't had that feeling in a long time." New England last won the Super Bowl in 2005, a long drought considering that the Patriots took home Lombardi trophies three times in four years. There are only a handful of players left from that team, with guys like Corey Dillon, Tedy Bruschi and Rodney Harrison replaced by young up-and-comers such as Mayo, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. "It doesn't even feel right, especially playing with the veterans here," Gronkowski said. "I watched them go to the Super Bowl as I was growing up, and now I'm part of it? It is an unreal moment." The constants, though, are Brady and Bill Belichick. And that's been a winning combination for New England, combining to become the first QB-coach combination to win five conference championships in the Super Bowl era. Belichick did perhaps his finest coaching job this season, piecing together a defense that ranked second-to-last in the league during the regular season. That led to plenty of shootouts, and Brady was more than up to the task, throwing for a career-high 5,235 yards while tossing 39 touchdown passes. "They're an amazing team," Patriots owner Robert Kraft said. "They're a great brotherhood; they're a family." And they're all looking to lift another Super Bowl trophy together. Patriots-Giants. One more time.

Report: Six teams make Cavaliers an offer for Kyrie Irving

Report: Six teams make Cavaliers an offer for Kyrie Irving

Trade talks for Kyrie Irving have reached a new high. 

Acccording to ESPN, six teams have made offers to the Cavaliers for the point guard. 

Those teams are: The LA Clippers, San Antonio Spurs, Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Timberwolves, New  York Knicks and Miami Heat. 

According to the same report, as many as 20 teams have inquired about Irving's availability. 

The report comes a day after The Athletic reported the Cavaliers have tried to communicate with Irving but he isn't speaking to anyone in the organization. 

On July 7, Irving requested a trade. 

The point guard -- who won an NBA title with the Cavs two seasons ago -- is under contract for two more seasons -- $18,868,625 in 2017-18 and $20,099,188 in 2018-19 -- plus a $21,329,750 player option in 2019-20.

Down on the Farm: Giants prospect Suarez sets season-high with nine Ks

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USATSI

Down on the Farm: Giants prospect Suarez sets season-high with nine Ks

The Giants, with one of the oldest rosters in baseball, have turned to their farm system more often than in the past during this tumultuous season. As they look to get younger though, the youth movement has come more from the offensive side of the ball compared to on the mound. 

Already, the Giants have looked to offensive prospects such as Christian Arroyo (21 years old at time of his debut), Austin Slater (24), Ryder Jones (23), Miguel Gomez (24), and Orlando Calixte (25). 

On the hill, Kyle Crick (24) is the only real prospect who has been promoted and seen substantial time in San Francisco. The Giants also called up Dan Slania (25) for one inning. 

In Sacramento on Thursday night, Andrew Suarez (24) gave a glimpse into the potential bright big-league future he has on the rubber. The Giants’ second-round pick from 2015 set a season-high of nine strikeouts over seven innings pitched in the River Cats’ 2-1 win over the Round Rock Express for their third straight victory. Suarez also only allowed one earned run on four hits and walked two batters. At one point, he retired 14 straight batters.

“He came in and he was not intimidated at all by the (Pacific) Coast League,” River Cats announcer Johnny Doskow recently said about his first impressions of Suarez.

The Pacific Coast League can tear you down as a pitcher. Lazy fly balls turn into home runs and ERAs can be deceiving to how a pitcher is truly performing. Suarez’s stats have took a bit of hit since his mid-season promotion from Double-A Richmond to Triple-A with the River Cats, but he sits only behind Joan Gregorio, who is currently suspended due to PED use, as the team’s leader in ERA among starting pitchers. Over eight games, seven starts, Suarez is now 4-4 with a 4.18 ERA and has struck out 45 batters in 47.1 innings pitched for the River Cats. 

With his ninth and final strikeout of the night on Thursday, Suarez reached 100 strikeouts on the season between Richmond and Sacramento. He is only 24 strikeouts off his career-high in which he set last season in five more appearances. 

As the Giants continued to tumble in the standings, the front office will have to take a longer look at their prospects. Even if a slot doesn’t open via a trade, there’s no reason Suarez shouldn’t get at least a look in San Francisco as a September call-up. 

The lefty is ranked as the Giants’ No. 6 prospect by Baseball America and No. 11 by MLB Pipeline. Suarez sits behind only Tyler Beede, who is now expected to miss the rest of the season with a groin injury, as the top pitching prospect in the organization. 

Around The Horn 

— For everything you need to know about familiar faces in Triple-A, Alex Pavlovic has you covered

— Sandro Fabian, who is only 19 years old at Low-A with the Augusta GreenJackets, had a huge game Thursday night. The outfielder went 3-for-5 with two home runs and three RBI. 

— Panda Watch: Pablo Sandoval went 0-for-4 Thursday night. He is now batting .211 (4-for-19) between the San Jose Giants and Sacramento River Cats.