(SportsNetwork. [url=http://www.authenticbasketballshopheat.com/]Miami Heat Jerseys[/url] .com) - The playoffs start early in The Big Easy on Sunday when the New Orleans Saints play host to the Atlanta Falcons in a game that will go a long way in determining who represents the downtrodden NFC South in the postseason. The Saints lead the NFLs worst division at 6-8 with two games to play but both Carolina (5-8-1) and Atlanta (5-9) remain in the mix with NOLA and the Falcons controlling their own destinies. If either the Saints or the Falcons can win out, they will win the division and host a first-round playoff game. After this contest New Orleans will close the regular season at Tampa Bay in Week 17, while Atlanta will host the Panthers. Carolina, meanwhile, entertains Johnny Manziel and Cleveland this week and needs to win their final two games and have the Saints lose once to repeat as division champions. New Orleans can clinch the South for the first time since 2011 with a victory over the Falcons and a Carolina loss to the Browns. It sets us up for no bigger game than whats coming up against Atlanta, Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. We all understand where were at, Atlanta coach Mike Smith countered. We know we control our own destiny. It doesnt matter what anyone else does. The first thing we have to do is go down and play very well and win the game in New Orleans. The Saints took over first place for now thanks to an impressive 31-15 win over the stumbling Bears in Chicago on Monday night. Brees threw three touchdown passes in what was his 200th career game, completing 29-of-36 passes for 375 yards and setting an NFL record with his ninth straight season with at least 4,000 yards passing. I think theres a sense of urgency that we need to create each week, and we need to be mindful of how important that edge is to play well, Saints coach Sean Payton said. Josh Hill caught two scores, Marques Colston finished with five catches for 65 yards and a touchdown and Mark Ingram ran for a late score. We were pretty balanced and able to make some plays in the passing game, said Brees. It was a great team effort. The Falcons, meanwhile, suffered their second straight tough loss against a prolific offense, losing to Pittsburgh 27-20 as LeVeon Bell scored twice and set the Steelers franchise record for yards from scrimmage. Bell did not find much running room against an uncharacteristically stingy Atlanta front, but he did reach the end zone twice among 20 carries for 47 yards. He also made five catches for 72 yards and broke Barry Fosters single- season Steelers record for yards from scrimmage with 2,042. Matt Ryan threw for 310 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for the Falcons, who were coming off a 43-37 shootout loss in Green Bay. Harry Douglas filled in admirably for an injured Julio Jones, making 10 catches for 131 yards. Jones, who was coming off a career-high 259 yards against the Packers, was unable to play through a hip pointer injury he suffered late in a loss to the Packers. We felt we had lots of chances to have a different outcome, said Smith. Atlanta leads the all-time series by a 47-43 margin, including a 37-34 overtime win back in September at the Georgia Dome when Ryan threw for a franchise-record 448 yards and three TDs, and Matt Bryant booted a game- winning 52-yard field goal in the extra frame. WHAT TO WATCH FOR Brees has been the Falcons biggest nemesis ever since he came to New Orleans from San Diego back in 2006. The veteran signal caller has amassed a 7-1 mark over Atlanta in the Superdome, compiling a stellar 103.8 passer rating in those contests. Of course Atlanta is hardly the only team that has had a difficult time containing Brees, who leads NFL with 43,091 passing yards and 314 TD passes since he took over the Saints. The veteran destroyed the Bears, who rank 31st in the NFL in passing defense, on Monday night and the Falcons have the only secondary giving up more yardage than Chicago, a league-worst 292.5 yards per game. I think weve shown a couple times we can handle adversity, lets make sure we can handle success, too, Brees said. The tendency after success is to relax, and its not time to relax. Brees threw for 333 yards in the loss in Atlanta earlier this season but was outdone by Ryans Herculean performance, which may have to happen again here. Ryan has been putting up big numbers recently, tossing for 1,046 yards and eight TDs over the last three weeks but has also been throwing the game- changing pick at inopportune times. We know whats in front of us, Ryan said. We know what weve got to do. Its a playoff-type mentality. Weve got to win next week. Weve got to have the best week of practice that weve had this year and prepare as best we can. Getting Jones, perhaps the best receiver in all of football, back should help. The All-Pro is second in the NFL with 1,428 receiving yards despite missing last weeks game. Its tough when (Jones is) not in, Ryan said. Hes such a special player. New Orleans defense hasnt been much better than the Falcons this season but did show a little life in Chicago, stopping a four-game string in which they had allowed at least 400 yards. The Saints stop unit limited Jay Cutler and Co. to 278 total yards while amassing seven sacks and three interceptions. OVERALL ANALYSIS Facing a Payton-coached team in the Superdome used to foreshadow certain demise but the Saints 19-game run with the veteran coach on the sideline in NOLA ended against San Francisco on Nov. 8. Since then the Saints have lost three more in what used to be their cozy confines. Conversely they have won their only two on the road over that span. Translation: you never know what to expect with this New Orleans team. If anything, though, the Falcons are even less consistent and just dont have the horses on defense to contend with Brees. You want to be playing for a lot at the end of the season and we are right now, Brees said. No bigger game than the one coming up. Sports Network predicted outcome: Saints 27, Falcons 20 [url=http://www.authenticbasketballshopheat.com/tim-hardaway-heat-jersey/]Tim Hardaway Jersey[/url] . After losing a shutout bid in the dying seconds of Sundays win over the Colorado Avalanche, Luongo would not be denied against the punchless Oilers and is now just one back of Patrick Roy for 14th on the all-time list. [url=http://www.authenticbasketballshopheat.com/dwyane-wade-heat-jersey/]Dwyane Wade Jersey[/url] . Stevenson scored the first three goals of the game in the first period for Regina (35-22-6), which has won eight of its last 10 games. Patrick DAmico added two for the Pats, Braden Christoffer had a single and Morgan Klimchuk chipped in a goal and four assists. [url=http://www.authenticbasketballshopheat.com/udonis-haslem-heat-jersey/]http://www.authenticbasketballshopheat.com/udonis-haslem-heat-jersey/[/url] .Y. - Major League Soccer is prepared to start its season this weekend even if there isnt a labour deal with its referees and other on-field officials. PINEHURST, N.C. -- Michelle Wie is becoming a regular contender in major championships, only now as an adult. She captivated womens golf as a teenager, contending in three straight LPGA Tour majors when she was 16. That was when she still was trying to compete against the men, when she didnt always look as if she was having fun and before injuries and criticism were a big part of her growing pains. On another tough day at Pinehurst No. 2, the 24-year-old from Hawaii held it together Friday with two key par putts and finished with back-to-back birdies for a 2-under 68, giving her a three-shot lead going into the weekend at the U.S. Womens Open. "I think you look at the way Michelle has played the last six months and you look at her differently," said Stacy Lewis, the No. 1 player in womens golf who was four shots out of the lead. "I think shes become one of the best ball-strikers on tour. She hits it really consistent. She knows where the balls going. And shes figuring out how to win. Thats the big thing." But theres a familiar name, and another teen prodigy, who joined Wie as the only players still under par. Lexi Thompson, who soundly beat Wie in the final round to win the Kraft Nabisco Championship for her first major title, powered her way out of the sand and weeds, running off three straight birdies to match Wies 68, the low score Friday. For all the interest in the men and women playing Pinehurst No. 2 in successive weeks, Wie and Thompson made the Womens Open more closely resemble the first LPGA major. Is it too early to start thinking rematch? "Definitely too early," Thompson said with a laugh. "Thirty-six holes in a major, thats a lot of golf to be played, especially at a U.S. Womens Open." For now, Wie had control. Her three-shot lead is the largest through 36 holes in the Womens Open in 11 years. She twice thought her shots were going off the turtleback greens, and twice she relied on her table-top putting stance to make long par saves. She finished with a 6-iron that set up a 12-foot birdie putt, and a 15-foot birdie on the par-5 ninth to reach 4-under 136. "End of the day yesterday, I was thinking if I just did this again, that would be nice," Wie said. "Finishing with two birdies is always great. Its a grind out there. Its not easy. Really grateful for the par putts that I made and some of the birdie putts that I made. I cant complain. Ill take it." Just when it looked as if this had the trappings of another runaway -- Martin Kaymer led by at least four shots over the final 48 holes to win the U.S. Open -- along came Thompson with a shot reminiscent of what Kaymerr did last week. [url=http://www.authenticbasketballshopheat.com/dion-waiters-heat-jersey/]Dion Waiters Jersey[/url]. From the sand and bushes left of the fairway on the par-5 fifth hole, Thompson blasted a 5-iron from 195 yards just off the green, setting up two putts for birdie from about 60 feet. Kaymer was in roughly the same spot in the third round when he hit 7-iron from 202 yards to 5 feet, that pin position more toward the front. That was her third straight birdie, and she closed with four pars to reach 139. Sue Kim of Langley, B.C., and Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont., each shot 73 to finish the second round in a tie for 14th place. Pinehurst No. 2 wasnt in much of a giving mood on another warm day in the North Carolina sandhills, with a brief shower in the middle of the afternoon that didnt do much to soften a dry, crusty golf course. Lewis, who opened with a bogey-free 67, picked up a bogey on her first hole in a wild round of six bogeys, three birdies and a tough 73. Even so, the two-time major champion managed to see the big picture. "I hung around, and thats what youve got to do at this tournament," said Lewis, at even-par with Amy Yang (69) and Minjee Lee, the 18-year-old amateur from Australia who played bogey-free on the back nine to salvage a 71. Lucy Li, the precocious 11-year-old and youngest qualifier in the history of the U.S. Womens Open, isnt leaving town until Monday. She just wont be playing any more golf. The sixth-grader from the Bay Area started with a double bogey for the second straight day and shot another 78 to miss the cut by seven shots. The cut was 9-over 149. Na Yeon Choi had a 70 and was at 1-over 141, followed by a Paula Creamer (72) at 2-over 142. The group at 143 included Karrie Webb (73) and So Yeon Ryu (74), who saved her hopes with three straight birdies on the front nine, and narrowly missing a fourth. All of them are former Womens Open champions. This is a different Wie they are chasing. She already has won this year in Hawaii, and she has eight top 10s and is No. 2 on the LPGA money list. Attribute that to a putting stroke that she owns, no matter how peculiar it looks with her back bent severely, almost parallel to the ground. And she has learned to play the shot -- she has a full allotment -- instead of worrying about her score or her position on the leaderboard. "I knew I could get better," Wie said. "I knew I could improve. But thats the game of golf. I think thats whats so fun about it. You work hard, you work hard, its a challenging game. You can never quite perfect it. I love working on my game. I love working on different shots. Just trying to get better every day. I never really lost a sense of determination or drive." 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