Atlanta is 7-2 at home against the Panthers since the start of the 2008 season.

The Seahawks host the Cardinals, who already have lost five road games this season. Seattle enters this weekend with a 4-3 record at CenturyLink Field. They have not lost four home games in a season since 2011.

So, which team will earn the final playoff berth?

The Falcons were hurt a bit by Carolina edging out the Bucs late last week, giving them a reason to play. Atlanta running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman have 500-plus rushing yards and seven-plus total touchdowns this season, the second straight year they have done that.

Seattle has a much easier game, but it doesn’t control its destiny. If the Seahawks and Falcons win, Seattle misses the playoffs. The odds are against the Seahawks this week, considering the Falcons are at home against a depleted Panthers team.

In fact, considering Mayfield was now skipping a fourth Rose Bowl event due to some mysterious illness, the chatter had only amplified.

Where was he, Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley was asked? How sick was he? Would he actually have to sit out the CFP semifinal against Georgia on Monday?

Finally, Mayfield decided it was time to make an appearance. And, as far as college football news conferences go, what an appearance it was.

Mayfield hailed a driver from the team hotel two miles away and arrived at the L.A. Hotel Downtown, where the rest of the Sooners had been assembled for media day for close to half an hour.

Up in the second-floor ballroom, Oklahoma backup quarterback Kyler Murray had a growing horde of reporters circling his table, pecking away at the unbelievable possibility that he might have to start in place of the Heisman Trophy winner in one of the biggest games in school history. Murray kept saying he’d be ready to start, likely knowing full well he wouldn’t need to.

At that moment, a growing buzz could be heard coming from the nearby corner, where Mayfield’s previously empty podium seat had unexpectedly been filled by the most important player of the CFP.

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Impending free agent Eric Reid ‘fine’ with teams shunning him due to kneeling

49ers safety Eric Reid is headed toward unrestricted free agency this offseason, and he could face some difficulty finding a team.

Reid, one of the biggest advocates of former teammate Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling, realizes he too could find it difficult to find a new team after kneeling himself during the anthem.

I wouldn’t use the word concerned, I would say I understand that’s a possibility, Reid said regarding the prospect of teams refusing to sign him this offseason, via And I’m completely fine with it. The things that I’ve done, I stand by, and I’ve done that for my own personal beliefs. Like I said, I’m fine with whatever outcome happens because of that.

Reid, a first-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, has spent each of his five NFL seasons in San Francisco. He has 10 career interceptions and one sack. He has also recorded at least 60 tackles in four out of five years.

There are probably teams that won’t want to talk to me because of it (kneeling), he said. I’m hopeful that I will be on a team next year, but if not, again, that’s OK with me.

The 49ers (5-10) have won four straight games and are expected to be well under the salary cap next season. Despite offloading a few pieces before this season’s trade deadline, San Francisco projects to be aggressive during free agency to once again build a contending team.

Over the previous two seasons, as he ascended to the Oilers starting goaltender throne, Talbot posted an .884 save percentage on the penalty kill. That’s pretty close to the league-wide average and ranked 16th among 60 goaltenders who started at least 25 games during those seasons. However, Talbot has allowed 23 power-play goals on 98 shots for a penalty-kill save percentage of .810 so far this season. He’s an ideal candidate for a positive regression. All things considered, his .905 save percentage this season is pretty good considering how much damage he’s taken on the penalty kill. If his penalty-kill save percentage was at the magical .875 mark, his overall save percentage would be .914. Interestingly, defenseman Andrej Sekera, who was second on the team in short-handed ice time last season, just returned to action in late December. It could be a good time to get Talbot for the stretch run.

Someone has to step up with Mark Scheifele on the shelf for up to two months. Early indications are that Connor is going to share some of the load. Through two games with no Scheifele, the Jets moved Patrik Laine to the top line with Blake Wheeler and Connor. For his part, Connor has two points in each of those two games. His rostered percentage has been creeping up in recent weeks and should take a spike soon, but if you act now, he’s still available in almost three quarters of ESPN leagues.

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