A new class of NFL bad apples emerges:

 

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Photo credit: Erik Drost

Author: Jon Kuzma

If anyone caught the Dallas Cowboys game last week against the New York Giants. Then they most likely caught Greg Hardy’s meltdown on Cowboys special team coach Rich Bisaccia. After the game video clips of the incident hit the internet and fans were outraged when you could clearly see Hardy slap the coaches clipboard out of his hand and engage in a shouting match with the coach. This was beyond just a blatant disrespect for authority, instead this was a case of Hardy showcasing how truly dysfunctional he not only is as a football player but as a human being as well. What is even more dysfunctional is that just a few days after the incident. Jerry Jones is talking about extending his contract. That’s right the guy who beat up his girlfriend and threw her on weapons. Had no remorse about it in his first press conference back. And a guy who just pretty much slapped up his coach on the sideline is getting a contract extension (or at least is in talks for one). Jerry Jones is a great owner, he does a lot for the National Football League. He is dead wrong on this one. Does he need Hardy’s pass rush? Absolutely, but what happens when Hardy snaps and does something stupid as a member of the Cowboys? Doe the team become liable? There is no doubt the Cowboys will suffer if Hardy is removed from the team. The Cowboys might be avoiding an even bigger blunder by doing so however. The guy has red flags everywhere and is a ticking time bomb waiting to happen. That other team in Texas has a problem child of their own. That’s right we’re talking about Ryan Mallett formerly of the Houston Texans. Mallet who was the back up quarterback for this team has had several slip ups while competing for the starting job. First he missed practice the next day after Brian Hoyer was named the starter. Also just recently he missed a flight to a game and had to pay his own way to fly commercially. Eventually the Texans felt that Mallett had become too much of a distraction and parted ways with the troubled signal caller. In Cleveland there is another troubled signal caller. Johnny Manziel the second year player out of Texas A.M was seen driving recklessly and fighting with his girlfriend in Ohio. Eventually the two pulled over and were exchanging words when police arrived at the scene. What is troubling for Manziel is he admitted he had bit drinking, which surprised a lot of people considering he just got out of alcohol rehab this past off-season. The league is waiting for the legal process to play out, that is if legal action is taken. Right now it appears there wont be. Regardless Manziel must be cautious or he might find himself walking down a similar path as Ryan Mallett. Out of an NFL job and plenty of time to think about his mistakes. The NFL truly has a new case of bad apples.

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Week 8 power rankings:

 

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Photo credit: Mike Morbeck

Author: Joey Carr

 

1. New England Patriots, 6-0

Another game, another win for the Defending World Champs. Keep an eye out for their matchup with division rival Miami this week, as the Fins have been playing great as of late.

2. Green Bay Packers, 6-0

The Pack returns from the bye and will duel it out with the undefeated Broncos in the best game of the season to date.

3. Cincinnati Bengals, 6-0

Cincy has been quite the surprise this year and with a potent offense and strong defense, look out for the Bengals in the coming weeks as they play a couple division games.

4. Carolina Panthers, 6-0

The Panthers just keep on winning and continually prove that they’re not a fluke team. If they can pull out a win against Indy this week, that thought should be solidified.

5. Denver Broncos, 6-0

The Broncos also come back from their bye week and will face off against the Packers in their toughest game of the year. Can the Denver defense bail out Peyton Manning again?

6. Atlanta Falcons, 6-1

The Falcons scraped by the Titans this past week, but are still a force to be reckoned with as long as Devonta Freeman keeps putting up 100-yard games.

7. Arizona Cardinals, 5-2

Arizona had a bit of good fortune last night, as Joe Flacco and the Ravens seemed to forget how to properly throw a football. They might not be the Super Bowl contender everyone thought they were.

8. Seattle Seahawks, 3-4

The Legion of Boom came through big this past week, holding San Fran to just 3 points. They seem to be back on track but get an interesting matchup this week with Dallas.

9. New York Jets, 4-2

It was a close one, but the Jets fell to the Pats on Sunday. They played great the whole game, however, and look to be like a legit wildcard contender.

10. Pittsburgh Steelers, 4-3

Well maybe Landry Jones isn’t the short term answer at quarterback that the Steelers thought he would be, but Big Ben should return this week (let Antonio Brown rejoice).

11. New York Giants, 4-3

The Giants retook the NFC East lead with a win over the Cowboys on Sunday night, and should be able to retain that lead in the coming weeks.

12. Minnesota Vikings, 4-2

Don’t look now, but the Vikings are 4-2 and are in contention for a playoff spot. The Vikes are clicking on both sides of the ball and look like the team everyone expected them to be.

13. Philadelphia Eagles, 3-4

The Eagles offense once again was no match for the opposing defense, as Sam Bradford didn’t toss a single touchdown. If the Eagles want any chance this season, the offense needs to get rejuvenated.

14. Indianapolis Colts, 3-4

Yikes. That’s the only word to describe the Colts loss against the Saints at home on Sunday. Chuck Pagano, take your last look around Lucas Oil Stadium.

15. New Orleans Saints, 3-4

Who would’ve thought the Saints would be 3-4 after their terrible start to the season? Maybe a playoff spot is in the cards after all.

16. Miami Dolphins, 3-3

Just call them the Miami Dan Campbell’s, because it’s pretty much a fact at this point. New head coach Dan Campbell seems to have this Dolphins team turned around and now looks to take down their arch rival, the Patriots.

17. Oakland Raiders, 3-3

Wow. I was at a loss for words when I saw the halftime score of the Raiders and Chargers game. Derek Carr and Amari Cooper dominated and the Raiders might actually have something this season with the AC/DC connection.

18. San Diego Chargers, 2-5

Oh San Diego. Los Angeles isn’t going to take you if you keep losing games, no matter the fashion in which you lose those games.

19. St. Louis Rams, 3-3

Look out for these Rams; they’re playing their best football in years and should contend for a playoff spot with Todd Gurley putting the team on his back.

20. Dallas Cowboys, 2-4

The Cowboys really need Tony Romo and Dez Bryant back. That is all.

21. Buffalo Bills, 3-4

Excuses, excuses, excuses. Those were all Rex Ryan had after his team’s embarrassing loss to the Jags in London.

22. Kansas City Chiefs, 2-5

Maybe it was Tony Gonzalez banging the drum before the game at Arrowhead, but the Chiefs played great against a Big Ben-less Steelers team. Also, congrats to Eric Berry, who intercepted his first pass since being diagnosed with cancer.

23. Washington Redskins, 3-4

Call it the Comeback of the Year, but Kirk Cousins knows that “You liked that!” dramatic win over Tampa Bay on Sunday.

24. Chicago Bears, 2-4

The Bears return from their bye and will look to keep on being an average squad.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars, 2-5

The Jags definitely have a bright future if they can keep the receiving corp and T.J. Yeldon together. They dismantled Buffalo in London and should keep on scoring in high volume.

26. San Francisco 49ers, 2-5

Someone should let San Francisco and Colin Kaepernick know that throwing the ball out of bounds every other play won’t win you the football game.

27. Detroit Lions, 1-6

So close, yet so far, is an accurate tribute to the Lion’s season so far. They just need to find a way to pull out victories.

28. Houston Texans, 2-5

Being outgained 275-0 in yards in the first half isn’t usually a good thing, Houston. Also, someone needs to get Ryan Mallett a watch, as he had to fly commercial to Miami because he missed the team plane (he was released by Houston this morning).

29. Baltimore Ravens, 1-6

Man, are the Ravens worse than anyone could’ve dreamed of before the season began. If it weren’t for Steve Smith Sr., the Ravens would not have their single win.

30. Cleveland Browns, 2-5

Well Cleveland, it might be Johnny Football time yet again, as Josh McCown went down with another injury. Enjoy it while it lasts.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2-4

It’s safe to say that Jameis Winston needs some time to mature in the league, but that Tampa defense needs some serious readjusting.

32. Tennessee Titans, 1-5

On the bright side of losing on Sunday, the Titans held the powerful Falcon offense to only 10 points.

 

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Is any team going to run away with the AFC South?

Jaguars at Ravens 12/14/14

Photo credit: Keith Allison

Author: Joey Carr

On paper, the dreadful AFC South should be dominated by one team and one team alone: the Indianapolis Colts. They have the most talent by far, highlighted by a top tier quarterback in Andrew Luck, great receivers like T.Y. Hilton, and playmakers on defense such as Vontae Davis and Robert Mathis. However, through 7 weeks the Colts stand at 3-4, and have just a one game hold on the division they’ve dominated for the past few years. With a daunting schedule ahead of Indy and mediocrity lurking in the rest of the AFC South, will we see another below .500 team win their division?

Everyone who follows the NFL knows that the AFC South division has been the poorest division in terms of winning percentage for the better part of 8 years. They rarely have a tight race for the division title and usually have at least one team fighting for the number one draft pick. It’s well documented that a few teams in the NFL have been in the basement of their division for several years, and two of them are in the AFC South: the Tennessee Titans and the Jacksonville Jaguars. For some reason these two southern teams can’t find that one player that will turn their entire franchise around, like the Colts found in Andrew Luck and the Rams seem to have found in Todd Gurley. Sure, every year they have tons of “potential” but never any concrete, known playmakers. Take the Jaguars for example: Blake Bortles was taken with the 3rd overall pick in 2014, and was labeled as the next franchise quarterback. As most know, he had an average rookie season at best and is still trying to find his way this season. T.J. Yeldon looks promising in his rookie campaign but so did Jamarcus Russell, so we’ll wait and see if the former Alabama running back can energize the Jags offense. Things just haven’t been working out draft wise or offseason wise for this Florida team, which has put them at the bottom of the NFL for almost a decade. However, with a young and encouraging receiving corps along with the unknown ceiling of Blake Bortles, the Jags might be finding the light at the end of the tunnel sooner rather than later.

One of the most surprising things of this NFL season has been the Colts performance. They currently sit at 3-4 and while they have a lead in the division, it’s safe to say that no one believes in Indy’s ability to keep hold of that lead. They’ve been thoroughly embarrassed in a majority of their losses and their wins are tainted with some good fortune and timely mistakes by the opposing team. If not for three division wins, the Colts could very well be 1-5 right now. They’re not performing close to what was expected of them in Andrew Luck’s fourth year as a starter, and if they keep trending in the direction they are, some coaching and player overhaul could occur. It’s no secret that head coach Chuck Pagano seems to be on his way out, but he can’t be entirely blamed for his team’s lack of production. The injury bug has been a big factor for this team this year and while Pagano did authorize the attempt of possibly the worst trick play in history last Sunday against New England, he doesn’t deserve all of the responsibility for the Colt’s 3-4 record. Still, the fact remains that the likes of Houston and Jacksonville are only 1 game out of first place, and with the Colts remaining schedule (CAR, DEN, ATL, TB, PIT, etc.), it will be no

surprise to see another team take the reigns from Indy. However, no one is going to run away with this division, considering the fact that there is simply not enough talent or execution in the division as a whole right now.

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St. Louis Rams are able to notch another victory in 2015:

Rams at Redskins 9/20/15

Photo credit: Keith Allison

Author: Jon Kuzma

St. Louis Rams are able to notch another victory in 2015:

Lets face it, the St. Louis Rams haven’t been an overwhelmingly spectacular team the last 12 years or so. In fact the last winning season the Rams had was back in 2003 when Torry Holt was still hauling in touchdowns after the fall of the Greatest Show on Turf. Since then the city of St. Louis has been so desperate when it comes to pro football, there have even been talks of moving the Rams back to Los Angeles to capitalize on Southern California’s emerging market. The 2015 Rams however are doing all they can to prevent that from happening. The team is sitting at 3-3 on the year and showing the most promise it has in a long time. Jeff Fishers football philosophies are finally paying off in St. Louis and that simple formula of running the football and playing solid defense is ideal for success. Todd Gurley has played outstanding for the last 3 weeks and coach Fisher is a smart enough guy to keep feeding the rookie. Gurley has rushed for over a 100 yards in his last three games and has 442 yards total on the season. He was a key part in the win over the Cleveland Browns yesterday and should continue that success moving forward. The other notable factor in the Rams formula for success has been their outstanding defensive play. Mark Barron finished the game with 16 total tackles yesterday against the Browns. Playing sideline to sideline and hawking opposing offensive players. Trumaine Johnson also had a big day for the Rams defense coming up with 8 total tackles. Even though this team is only sitting at .500 on the season. That is still far more successful than any Rams team of lately has been at during this point of the season. A little sign of hope for the Rams and the city of St. Louis. Now if this team can win some games during the second half of the season we might witness the full turn around.

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Patriots outlast a strong Jets performance win 30-23:

New England Patriots at Washington Redskins 08/28/09

Photo credit: Keith Allison

Author: Jon Kuzma

The New England Patriots were able to overcome a very strong New York Jets team and improve to 6-0 on the season. In fact during the third quarter the Patriots were trailing the Jets 17-16. Tom Brady and the Patriots were able to come fighting back in the fourth quarter putting up 14 points and holding the Jets to just 6 points. Brady would finish the day with 2 touchdowns, no interceptions, and 355 passing yards. Improving on his already terrific season he has put together this year. Rob Gronkowski had another big day for this Patriots offense hauling in 108 yards receiving. Danny Amendola also had an outstanding day recording 8 receptions for 86 yards. And he (Amendola) and Gronkowski each had 1 receiving touchdown apiece. Defensively you have to give a lot of credit to the Patriots for being able to hold Chris Ivory in check. Ivory was only able to rush for 41 yards on the ground. Proving that the Patriots defense could effectively clamp down on one of the leagues better running backs. The Patriots have to be happy with the victory but also slightly nervous with how far the Jets have come. This is a team who was the laughing stock of the league when linebacker Ik Enemkpali punched Geno Smith in the face. Since then this team has done a complete 180, now being a serious threat to the Patriots not only in the AFC East division. Also in the AFC playoffs when the Patriots look to make their return to the Super Bowl. The Jets definitely closed the gap between the two organizations and that is something Patriots fans have to be worried about. Still this team is 6-0 and still the team to beat right now in the NFL.

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Jags hold on to victory after fast start:

Jaguars at Ravens 12/14/14

Photo credit: Keith Allison

Author: Jon Kuzma

The Jacksonville Jaguars had a fast start to their overseas London match up against the Buffalo Bills. Taking an early lead in the game 27-3 in the second quarter. After four consecutive Jaguar scores, which included a scoop and score from Chris Clemons and a 26 yard interception return from Telvin Smith. The Jaguars were in complete control of this game. That is when the Buffalo Bills came storming back. A Robert Woods touchdown catch and a Dan Carpenter field goal would help keep the Bills hanging around going into half time. EJ Manuel finally started to get things going for the Bills in the second half completing some passes. However it wasn’t until the fourth quarter when the Bills were truly able to get a full head of steam. Buffalo would score a field goal and two touchdowns in the final quarter to take the lead 31-27. It felt like the Jags had let the Bills off the hook and loss this game down the stretch. That is when Blake Bortles decided to put on the superman cape and put this team on his back. The Jaguars are London’s team and they wouldn’t be denied in their surrogate home. Bortles led the team downfield on a 7 play drive which included two huge passes to Allen Robinson. Finally Bortles would connect with Allen Hurns for the go ahead touchdown which eventually put the Bills away for good. While the Bills were able to out gain the Jaguars in total yardage 375 to 295. The Bills also committed 4 turnovers to Jacksonville’s 1, losing the turnover battle. Bortles finished with 182 passing yards and 2 touchdowns. While T.J Yeldon was able to amass 115 yards rushing and a touchdown for the Jaguars. It’s clear that the Jaguars have a good core of talented young players. If they can add a few more talented players to the mix this team will be a force to be reckoned with. For now they get to enjoy this win in the U.K. Congrats to that organization for their week 7 efforts.

34-31 Jags win.

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Week 7 picks from Endzoneblog.com

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Photo credit: Erik Drost

Week 7 Pics

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Should Johnny Manziel face discipline for his latest incident?

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Photo credit: Erik Drost

Author: Joey Carr

When the Cleveland Browns selected Texas A&M standout quarterback Johnny Manziel with the 22nd pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, they more than likely knew of the baggage that came with that selection. Manziel was a known playmaker but was also had the persona of a party boy, which he furthered proved during last season’s antics. It was pretty much known around the league that whoever drafted Johnny Football was taking an uncalculated risk, with the upside being a franchise quarterback and the downside being Manziel was just another talented kid that liked to party more than play football. Well, about a year and a half into Johnny’s career, and he’s seen the rehab almost as much as he’s seen the playing field. However, many thought his first stint in rehab this past offseason changed Manziel for the better, and it seemed that way for a while, up until this past week.

On Monday of last week, the Browns quarterback was nearly arrested by police after witnesses called in saying he and his girlfriend, Colleen Crowley, were fighting aggressively on the side of the highway besides Manziel’s car. Not a fistfight per say, but Crowley did say to authorities that Manziel pushed her head into the car window. All of this wouldn’t be that bad if it was just two young adults arguing over something stupid, but alcohol was involved. Every superhero has their weakness; for Superman it was Kryptonite, for Pete Rose it was gambling, and for Manziel it seems to be alcohol. It was probably the main reason he went into rehab and he was on a strict no-alcohol policy as a result of that rehabilitation. But as it looks like right now, alcohol was once again involved in another one of Manziel’s public incidents. According to local police, there was not enough alcohol in Johnny Football’s system for him to arrested, but the fact still remains that there was probably some ingested. On the outside, all of this is very normal; a couple goes out, has a couple drinks with some friends, leaves, then gets into a fight on the ride home. You see it everyday. However, the Cleveland Browns specifically asked the former Heisman winner to stay out of the spotlight, drink no alcohol, and do his job, which is playing football. Obviously, Johnny had a lapse in judgment, had another run in with police, and is now possibly facing discipline from the NFL. The question is, should he be disciplined?

In short, yes. It’s time for Johnny Manziel to learn that there are consequences to his actions. There’s no doubt that Manziel has all the talent and athleticism in the world, but it’s being wasted on late nights and poor decisions. If you’re taken with the 22nd overall pick in an NFL Draft, you obviously have the qualities necessary to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, but the former TAMU quarterback has only started a handful of games, and is currently looking like he’ll be a backup for the rest of the year and maybe even beyond that. The time has finally come for Manziel to be punished and see that just because you have talent, doesn’t mean that you get a starting position handed to you on a silver platter. Maybe this will be the time that Johnny Football gets his act together and proves to the world that the nickname he dons is indicative of his performance.

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Forty Niners struggle in every phase of the game versus the Seahawks:

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Photo credit: Mike Morbeck

Author: Jon Kuzma

The San Francisco Forty Niners had one of the worst off-seasons of any team this past year. That loss of talent clearly showed on the field in Thursday Night Football last night. Saying the Forty Niners were bad would be an understatement. In nearly every phase of the game they struggled. The Seahawks out gained the Niners in total yards 388 to 142. The Seahawks also dominated in time of possession, first downs achieved, and basically every other category down the stat line. Offensively it was hard to stomach the Niners and Colin Kaepernick, who allowed six sacks to the Seattle defense. Kaepernick was only allowed to pass for 124 passing yards and that number was reduced to only 81 passing yards when you factor in the six sacks. Rushing wise the Niners were even worse gaining only 61 yards on the ground. The whole offensive looked dysfunctional and Coach Tomsula doesn’t seem to be the best fit for this team either. One of the first things this offense needs to address is the fact that Colin Kaepernick’s mobility must be utilized. The Niners seem reluctant to call roll out passes, bootlegs, and zone read plays. All play calls that will fit Kaepernick’s skill set and put him in a position to succeed. Instead the Niners seem adamant to make Kaepernick a traditional pocket passer which has caused him to regress as a passer. Defensively the Niners weren’t much better, as they were diced up by Marshawn Lynch all night long. Lynch went on to finish with 122 rushing yards and a touchdown on the night, and the Niners had no way to stop beast mode when his number was called. To make matters even worse Coach Tomsula scratched Jarryd Hayne the rugby star who made the Forty Niners roster in training camp this past off-season. Coach Tomsula became concerned with Hayne’s play after he fumbled the ball on 3 different punt returns. The mishaps caused Hayne to be replaced and the miracle run might be over for the former rugby star. It’s clear this team has problems and are currently in a rebuilding year. Right now though Tomsula is certainly coaching for his job. This is a win now league and after just several weeks coach Tomsula has underperformed enough where his job will be in legitimate question. It’ll be interesting to see if thing improve as the season goes on in Niners land. It doesn’t look too promising.

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Can the Seahawks Recover from their Early Season Woes?

Seahawks at Redskins 10/6/14

Photo credit: Keith Allison

Author: Joey Carr

In the NFL, there is something known as a “Super Bowl Hangover”, which is essentially when a team makes the Super Bowl the previous year and then the following year they suffer early season struggles. For example: the 2002 St. Louis Rams, who lost the 2001 Super Bowl to the Patriots, went from “The Greatest Show on Turf” to losing their first 5 games and ultimately going 7-9 that season. While not that extreme, the same type of thing is currently occurring to one of the Super Bowl 49 participants, and it’s obviously not the undefeated New England Patriots. The Seattle Seahawks have been called a dynasty for their dominance over the past few years, but it seems as though they might be falling off a little bit, as most all good teams do. However, there is a lot of football left to played, so can the Seahawks overcome a 2-4 start and return to the playoffs?

The problem with Seattle doesn’t lie in their performance overall, it lies in the fourth quarter. For some reason, the Seahawks’ fourth quarter defense has been horrendous. They’ve lost all of their four games to blown leads in the fourth quarter. They own a -28 point differential in the final quarter, which ranks 31st in the league. To compare, their fourth quarter point differential last season was +35. It’s apparent that this year the Legion of Boom doesn’t have the same kind of moxie that has transcended the rest of the league in seasons past. While it’s true that the Seattle offense isn’t necessarily giving them much help in the fourth, a defense that possesses the likes of Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas should still be able to hold onto a lead in the most important quarter of the game.

Something else that has eluded the once dominant Seattle team is the lack of rushing touchdowns they are scoring. So far this season, they’ve only rushed for two TD’s, which ranks 29th in the league. Last year alone, Marshawn Lynch found the end zone thirteen times. The difference this season is mostly in the offensive line, an area of the team that has vastly declined in comparison to previous years. The offensive front has allowed Russell Wilson to be sacked a league high 26 times, which averages out to 4.5 sacks a game. However, the Seahawks are averaging 134 yards of rushing a game, ranking 2nd in the NFL. Although, if you take away Russell Wilson’s runs (251 total yards), then they only average 86 yards, ranking 30th in the league. To sum those stats up, the offensive line isn’t giving much room for their running backs to run on designed rushing plays. The run game has always been the Seahawks strong point, and without at least a decent rushing attack, Seattle will keep losing games, no matter how well the defense plays in the fourth quarter.

To be short, yes, Seattle can still make a run at the playoffs. They possess far too much talent to be left out of January football. However, it will take some doing. Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman need to figure out how to make big plays in the fourth quarter and the first three as well, as the Seahawks only 3 interceptions on the year. If the Legion of Boom can make some adjustments, that will take an enormous amount of pressure off Russell Wilson’s shoulders, but the offense will

still need to pull their weight. Two rushing touchdowns in six games isn’t a recipe for success, and the offensive line can’t turn themselves around, we will be seeing no Beast Mode runs this year. Their first attempt to put these pieces together will be tonight against hot and bitter rival San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, CA.

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