www.patriotscheapshops.com

When it comes to the playoffs [url=http://www.coltscheapshop.com]Colts Cheap Jerseys[/url] , the Carolina Panthers have been there, done that.

The Panthers are unquestionably the most battle-tested team in the NFC playoffs with a roster consisting of players who have participated in 187 career postseason games. That’s quite a few more than the Atlanta Falcons (143), and more than double that of Carolina’s first-round opponent, the New Orleans Saints (90).

Philadelphia players have played in 74 playoff games and Minnesota’s 69, while the Los Angeles Rams are the least experienced NFC playoff team with 21.

Whether or not that experience pays off for the Panthers (11-5) remains to be seen. Carolina enters Sunday’s game at New Orleans having lost both previous regular season matchups to the Saints (11-5) by a combined 31 points.

But 37-year-old defensive end Julius Peppers believes Carolina’s experience can only help.

”We’ve had guys who have been there before, so I feel like we should be ready and more prepared,” Peppers said. ”I feel like guys have been around and know how to approach this thing. I think it will help us keep our poise a little bit too.”

The Panthers learned that the hard way in 2013.

They played host to the San Francisco 49ers in a divisional playoff game, but several players lost their cool – and their focus – on different occasions when calls didn’t go their way. It turned out to be a valuable lesson, as the Panthers lost the game.

”Guys were a little too excited, too rambunctious and got away from ourselves early in the game and we weren’t able to bounce back from that,” Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly said.

Kuechly and the Panthers did a better job of managing that emotion in 2015, although there were a few hiccups in the Super Bowl loss to Denver.

”I think guys understand that emotions are going to run high in a playoff game and you have to understand that the most important thing is to play the game and not get wrapped up in the emotion of the game and get too excited and start making dumb plays,” Kuechly said.

Experience, he said, helps that.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera said last week’s 22-10 loss felt a little like the 2013 playoff defeat to the 49ers. The Panthers had three key calls go against them in the first half against the Falcons and never recovered. They not only wound up losing the game, but a chance to capture the NFC South division title and host a playoff game.

”One of the things I said to the guys: `We got a little caught up in not being happy about some of the calls that weren’t made.’ I think we got a little distracted by that,” Rivera said. ”It was a little bit of a lesson (for younger players) and a little bit of refresher (for veterans), a reminder that, `This is playoff time. You can’t lose your focus. We’ve got to keep it on the game.”’

While the Panthers have never won a Super Bowl, this is their fourth trip to the playoffs in the last five seasons.

Panthers tight end Greg Olsen said playoff experience does matter, not only on game day but also in the preparation leading up to it.

”If you haven’t played in one, it’s really hard to anticipate it,” Olsen said. ”That level of intensity keeps going up. It’s like when you first play in the preseason in the NFL and then all of sudden the regular season opener comes and it’s like [url=http://www.jaguarscheapshop.com]Jaguars Cheap Jerseys[/url] , well, this is a little different. It’s kind of a similar transition to the playoffs. Every play, every move, every inch is so important. The margin for error is very small.”

Said Saints coach Sean Payton: ”I think playing in big games matter. The experience of doing that, a lot of these younger players kind of played in this BCS series, it is that same type of environment. … I think it can be a factor and yet I think the preparation and the attention to detail, those type of things are most significant.”

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is 3-3 in playoffs games.

He said just as much as experience, the playoffs after about having ”smart players, players that a conscientious of the situation at hand” is equally as important.

The Panthers certainly have that in players like Peppers, Kuechly, Thomas Davis, Charles Johnson and Mike Adams on defense, as well as Newton, Olsen, Ryan Kalil and Jonathan on offense.

NOTES: Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart (back stiffness) and guard Trai Turner practiced for the second straight day, although Turner remains in the concussion protocol. But starting left tackle Matt Kalil did not practice because of an illness.

AP Sports Writer Brett Martel in New Orleans contributed to this report.

Late last month, when the New York Mets were on the road, a display case at Citi Field went up in flames.

Just like their 2018 season.

Nobody got hurt in the fire, which was extinguished by an automatic sprinkler system, and damage was minimal, according to the team.

If only it were that simple to fix the product on the field.

With the Mets sinking fast toward the bottom of the National League standings, baseball operations were turned over Tuesday to a trio of Sandy Alderson’s assistants as the 70-year-old general manager made the stunning announcement that he was stepping down because his cancer has returned.

John Ricco, J.P. Ricciardi and Omar Minaya have decades of front office experience between them [url=http://www.chiefscheapshoponline.com]Chiefs Cheap Jerseys[/url] , both in New York and elsewhere around the majors. But it might take all three to clean up this mess, and time is of the essence.

”We’re well below our expectations, from ownership on down,” chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said. ”Talk to the baseball department, talk to the scouting department, talk to the development department, coaches, the players – nobody expected to be in this position.”

Alderson’s indefinite leave of absence comes at a critical juncture for the languishing Mets (32-46) ahead of the July 31 trade deadline.

Needing to accrue young talent, they’ll probably try to sell off pending free agents such as shaky closer Jeurys Familia and switch-hitting second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera for whatever they can get.

But ace pitchers Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard could fetch an enormous return, and the club must decide whether to undertake such a sweeping overhaul at this stage – without a general manager in place.

”We’re going to talk about that. We just kind of got into this,” Ricco told reporters Wednesday. ”For me, everything has to be on the table. But you’ve got to look long and hard before you move a game-changing, top-of-the-rotation pitcher.”

Even with last season’s 70-92 finish in mind, Ricco didn’t sound as though a total tear-down was likely. At least not yet.

So how do the aging Mets, not even two years removed from consecutive playoff appearances, re-energize their injury-prone team and turn it around?

The offense is stagnant. The defense is deplorable at times. The bullpen has been horrendous since New York’s 12-2 start and requires a complete rebuild next year.

Due in large part to leg injuries and a hip problem that Alderson called ”somewhat chronic,” slugger Yoenis Cespedes has played in less than half of the Mets’ games since signing a $110 million, four-year contract in November 2016. He has a no-trade clause and almost certainly isn’t going anywhere. New York needs to figure out how to get him back in the lineup.

Banged-up right fielder Jay Bruce, also in his 30s and sidelined by a hip injury, is batting .212 with three home runs, 17 RBIs and a paltry .613 OPS in the first season of a $39 million, three-year deal.

Touted prospects Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith have flopped at the plate so far.

”That’s what we’ve been charged with: improving this club,” Ricco said. ”Obviously [url=http://www.patriotscheapshops.com]Patriots Cheap Jerseys[/url] , the trade deadline is coming up and that’s a big pressure point in which to better your club, and certainly we are going to take advantage of that and look to be active.”

Syndergaard, like several Mets stars, is on the disabled list again with a strained ligament in his index finger but could be back next month. The 25-year-old right-hander can’t become a free agent until after the 2021 season.

As for deGrom, he just turned 30 and leads the majors with a 1.69 ERA going into Friday night’s scheduled start at last-place Miami. Still a salary bargain relative to his brilliant performance, deGrom is under club control through the 2020 season.

Both pitchers were instrumental in leading New York to the 2015 World Series.

”We know what we have in those two,” Alderson said last week. ”At the same time, you never say never.”

In the end, maybe the Mets will choose instead to shop mid-rotation starters Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz. Both are fully healthy for the first time in years, and their stuff looks crisp.

Of course, New York could simply wait until the winter to settle on a strategy – perhaps after a new GM has been hired.

Regardless of what happens over the next few months, it appears the team plans to conduct a search that includes external candidates at the end of the season.

That also might affect the status of first-year manager Mickey Callaway, hired by Alderson last fall.

So many questions. No easy answers.

Alderson said his prognosis is good but he doesn’t expect to be back on the job at any point, partly because his health is uncertain but also because he’s not sure it would be ”warranted.”

Whoever winds up in charge, if they keep deGrom and Syndergaard, the Mets maintain at least the foundation of a potentially competitive squad for the next two years, provided Cespedes and some other key pieces finally manage to stay healthy.

But the team might also be bypassing an opportunity to trade deGrom at peak value, running the risk that he or Syndergaard will get seriously injured before those chips are cashed.

And then there’s this tricky little complication: One of the October contenders in hot pursuit of top-notch starting pitching is the New York Yankees.

With a stocked farm system, they could be a perfect trade partner for the Mets – a buzzy topic that’s generated plenty of fodder for sports-talk radio in New York.