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. - Packers-Bears. Steelers-Browns. Cowboys vs. anybody in the NFC East. Those are long-standing NFL rivalries. Add to them 49ers-Seahawks, with a history of nastiness emanating from the college ranks for their coaches, and a hefty animosity built up in annual doubleheaders in their division. Now they meet for a spot in the Super Bowl. Are those hard feelings for real? "I think so, but itll always be that way when you have two good teams in the same division," 49ers receiver Anquan Boldin said. "You play each other a couple times a year and if youre good enough, possibly three times a year. It was the same way when I was in Baltimore playing against Pittsburgh. You respect each other as foes, but there is really a dislike." Its a healthy thing, really, because it makes for even more uncompromising action — on the field and on the sideline. One of these teams will emerge Sunday from ear-splitting CenturyLink Field headed for New Jersey to play for the sports biggest prize. The other will carry into the off-season even more loathing for this opponent. "There is no love lost; there is no love found," said Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, who will find himself lined up often against Boldin in the NFC championship game. "Its going to be intense. Its going to be physical. I dont know if there are going to be handshakes after this one." That almost goes without saying with the coaches. When 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh was at Stanford — where, incidentally, Sherman played after being recruited by current Seahawks coach Pete Carroll when he was at Southern California — he ran up the score in a 2009 win at Los Angeles that prompted Carroll to ask him at games end: "Whats your deal." Harbaughs deal has always revolved around being a hard-edged player and coach. His teams embody that attitude, and it certainly has worked in San Francisco. The 49ers are 41-13-1 in his three seasons in charge, are in their third straight conference title game, and back down from no one. That can make for some uncomfortable moments, whether its Harbaughs overzealous handshakes and back slaps after wins or his team playing up to (and sometimes beyond) the whistle. Carroll claims the acrimony between them is overblown. "For whatever reasons, you guys have had a field day with this," Carroll told reporters Thursday. "We have not been friends over the year, we just know each other through the games. We have a very confined relationship. "I have great respect for Jim. Thats it — you guys have had a blast with it." Carrolls Seahawks arent exactly wallflowers, either. Defensively, at least, these are the NFLs two most physical and intimidating units. That, in turn, can lead to ill will. "I dont hate anybody," All-Pro cornerback Sherman said. "So I dont think (theres) hate. But passion, definitely. There will be some passion, some dislike — some strong dislike. But there will be some intensity. Its playoff football. "So even if we werent two teams that are familiar with each other ... theres going to be a lot of intensity, a lot of chippiness, and a hard-fought game." Where might this antipathy show most? Try whenever Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch — his nickname, "Beast Mode," says it all about his style of play — meets up with All-Pro NaVorro Bowman and his fellow linebackers, the best group in the NFL. Or when Boldin, among the best clutch receivers in football, uses his physicality against Sherman, safety Earl Thomas, a fellow All-Pro, and the rest of the games top secondary. All of the matchups for Sunday are familiar to both sides, of course. And when division foes meet for the conference title — each team won at home this season — the results hardly are predictable. Since the 1970 merger, there have been 15 third meetings in conference championships, 10 in the AFC, including the Seahawks losing to Oakland when Seattle was an AFC franchise in 1983. The 49ers beat the Rams in such a meeting in 1989. In 10 of those games, the host won. What can be forecast for Sunday: hard feelings all around, even if 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis tones it down slightly. "Theres no question theres a lot of hostility between us," Willis said, "but at the end of the day theyre another football team. So, theres always going to be dislikes. Theyre an opponent of ours and we want to win. "If we werent in this race right now thered be no doubt that if they were playing against someone else, I would wish them well because its in our division. But its us playing, so theres not going to be any like at all there." ___ AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org Nike Bengals #77 Andrew Whitworth White Mens Stitched NFL Elite Jersey
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. -- Fresh off their surprising run in the playoffs, the Portland Trail Blazers have signed head coach Terry Stotts to a multi-year contract extension.Former Raptors big man Andrea Bargnani faces his former teammates tonight when the New York Knicks host Toronto at Madison Square Garden tonight. Bargnani was selected first overall by the Raptors in the 2006 NBA Draft and played seven seasons with Toronto before he was traded to the Knicks in the offseason. You can watch the game on TSN2 at 7:30pm et/4:30pm pt. The Raptors are in the midst of playing eight of 10 games on the road and will wrap up a four-game trek tonight. They had won two in a row and four of five games until a 112-99 loss against the San Antonio Spurs. Kyle Lowry and Terrence Ross scored 23 points apiece, while DeMar DeRozan added 13 points and seven boards. "Theyre a really good team," Lowry said of the Spurs. "Their players are hall-of-famers, they have a hall-of-fame coach." Lowry has scored 20-plus points in three straight games. Toronto has a 7-7 mark as the guest and its next 11 games will be against Eastern Conference foes. It has won four of five on the road. The banged-up New York Knicks can make up some ground in the weak Atlantic Division when they begin a home-and-home set against Raptors tonight. The Knicks are just three games behind the division-leading Raptors with a woeful 9-19 mark and head coach Mike Woodson is looking forward to the possibility of moving up in the Atlantic. "Were sitting here at three games out, and in our last 12 weere 6-6, so we are playing a little bit better basketball based on all the injuries that weve had," Woodson said Thursday. Cheap Jacksonville Jaguars Jerseys
. . "But tomorrows game is an important game because they (Raptors) sit at the top of the division." Woodson is hoping to have star Carmelo Anthony, the second-leading scorer in the league with 26.3 points per game, in uniform versus Toronto. Anthony is nursing an ankle injury and is day-to-day, according to Woodson. Woodson said Thursday he will see where Anthony is at treatment wise and go from there. "If he says hes ready to go, then well put him in uniform and play him," Woodson noted. Anthony, who suffered the injury in the third quarter of Mondays win against the Orlando Magic. missed a 123-94 drubbing at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder on Christmas Day. Amare Stoudemire led the Knicks with 22 points, Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 21 points and J.R. Smith tallied 20 for New York, which lost every quarter and gave up 67 points to Kevin Durant (29), Russell Westbrook (14) and Serge Ibaka (24). Knicks point guard Raymond Felton did not play due to a right groin strain and is expected miss Fridays game. Forward Metta World Peace (knee) is questionable versus the Raptors. New York is 4-11 at MSG this season. The Raptors and Knicks split four games last season and the past 16 meetings between the teams. Wholesale NFL Jerseys
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