Don’t mess with Marquand Manuel during pregame warm-ups.

Ben Roethlisberger would put the Steelers squarely in the first category if not for the noise he made recently about potential retirement. The expectation is that Roethlisberger will play in 2017, but if he’s thinking about the end, the Steelers have to be thinking about what comes next. Big Ben turns 35 in March.

Same with 2015 MVP Cam Newton, whose completion percentage dipped to an abysmal, career-low 52.9 in 2016. Was it a Super Bowl hangover? Or was it closer to what we can expect from Newton going forward? He’ll turn 28 in May, so there’s plenty of time left.

Don’t mess with Marquand Manuel during pregame warm-ups. You’re liable to catch some heat.

On any given game day, you’ll see the 37-year-old with his headphones on, drowning out the noise as he bobs his head to the beat. He’ll run a few laps around the stadium with a menacing stare on his face, like an assassin fixated on his next victim.

Folks unfamiliar with the Atlanta Falcons likely would mistake Manuel for a player. His players view him as a guy who will cuss anybody out, make no mistake about it. That’s part of the reason why Manuel commands respect as he makes the leap from secondary coach to defensive coordinator, a move made official Friday.

“M, he’s a perfectionist,” free safety Ricardo Allen said of Manuel. “He knows the ins and outs of every player. He does the studying. He has the passion to lead. He’s a natural leader. And people are willing to follow him.”

Falcons coach Dan Quinn promoted longtime colleague Marquand Manuel, right, to defensive coordinator.

Manuel is a coach willing to put on cleats, line up opposite his defensive backs and get physical with them off the line. His hands-on approach and aggressive style just might be the added push the Falcons need to elevate an improving defense to yet another level.

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Does he want a return to the Vikings?

The Lions have been trying really hard to turn Stafford into an unstoppable throw-bot, but only have a lot of ultimately wasted draft picks to show for it. Since Stafford was drafted in 2009, the Lions have had a terrible time selecting offensive skill players. Jahvid Best (No. 30 overall, 2010) and Titus Young (No. 44, 2011) are already out of the league for reasons that were mostly out of their control. Ryan Broyles (No. 54, 2012) has only appeared in 21 games in three seasons due to injuries.

The verdict is still out on tight end Eric Ebron (No. 10 overall, 2014). Unfortunately, his rookie season looked a lot like that of teammate Brandon Pettigrew (No. 20, 2009), the Lions’ other first-round tight end. Ebron struggled with dropped passes in college, through the pre-draft process, into training camp and during the regular season, dropping four of his 47 targets to finish with 25 catches for 248 yards and one touchdown.

Does he want a return to the Vikings? Does he want a fresh start elsewhere?

Peterson says he is “uneasy” about a Vikings return due to his view of a lack of full support by the franchise during his child abuse case. His father, Nelson, says the possibility of a Vikings restoration exists, but that Peterson’s camp blames Vikings chief operating officer Kevin Warren for fighting against his son’s return to the field last season.

Owners and executives across several NFL tracks that I spoke with this week are scratching their heads over Peterson’s approach.

Think about that. Consider the titanic emotional upheaval, the mental flips required to stay humble when so high, to rise from ashes when piercingly crushed.

A Federal judge ruled in favor of Peterson on Thursday, overturning his suspension. He turns 30 on March 21.

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Blackhawks Can Clinch Playoff Spot Sunday Night

The first line will also be shorthanded on Thursday, as Marian Hossa will miss another game with a lower body injury. Hossa has been skating, according to Quenneville, but wasn’t quite ready to go for the critical showdown with the Blues.

That spot is crucial, because it allows the Hawks to stay within the Central Division for at least the first two rounds of the postseason. If they slip into fourth, then they would play the division winner with the second-best record, bringing teams like the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks into play as potential first round opponents.

Fortunately for the Blackhawks, their final seven games are an easier road than Nashville will have to navigate. The Hawks do have four road games left, but they also only have to play three more games against teams that are still in the playoff hunt (at Wild, vs. Bruins, vs. Blues). The Predators, on the other hand, have two games remaining against Dallas, a road game against the Penguins, and a home date against the Sharks on their schedule.

As it stands right now, the Blackhawks would hit the road in the first round of the playoffs to take on the St. Louis Blues in the first round. The Blues are currently in a first-place tie with the Dallas Stars, with each team registering 99 points so far on the year, and whichever team gets to the top of the divisional standings will likely get the top overall seed in the Western Conference, meaning that they’ll get the second-place wild card team (likely the Minnesota Wild).

The Blackhawks are currently six points back of both the Stars and Blues, and with only seven games remaining in the regular season, it seems unlikely that they will be able to overtake both teams for the top spot. They do have one game remaining against St. Louis during the regular season, but even that may not be enough for them to close the gap.

Chicago will transform to the center of the football universe very soon. On Tuesday, leaders from the NFL and the city offered a preview of what to expect when the draft comes to town.

The Chicago Blackhawks are trying desperately to fend off the Nashville Predators in the Central Division standings, and they helped their cause on Saturday night with a 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames.

Peter O’Reilly, the NFL’s senior vice president of events, said this year the league will add even more.

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LOOK: Are these the Browns’ new orange jerseys?

Mike Silver of NFL.com reported Friday the Bengals tore up Lewis’ current contract — set to expire after the 2016 season — and replaced it with a two-year deal that will take the long-time Cincinnati coach through 2017.

For one, it’s an actual jersey. All of the leaks up until this point had been artistic renderings or drawings. This is the first physical jersey.

The second reason this could be real is because the “Cleveland” typeface on the front of the jersey matches the team’s new typeface that was unveiled in February.

The collar of the purported new jersey also says “Dawg Pound,” which makes it even more believable that these could be the jerseys. The Browns said they were going to emphasize the 30th anniversary of the Dawg Pound this year.

He lost Brock Osweiler but he didn’t pay $72 million for Brock Osweiler, which is usually a win. He’s not budging on the 49ers’ demands for Colin Kaepernick, and he’s not overpaying for Ryan Fitzpatrick or another average-ish quarterback in the free agent market.

Elway might not be sitting on a franchise quarterback right now, but he’s not stuck in purgatory either. Which is precisely why he’s not going to sign Manziel, regardless of what the best player on his roster wants.

Finally, the jerseys are orange.

WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO TELL US DONTE? This definitely could be a sarcastic tweet, implying the jerseys haven’t been leaked. It could also be that Whitner is actually surprised that they were leaked. WHO KNOWS.

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MLB Preview and Predictions: Who Wins the World Series?

All week long, we’ve been previewing the upcoming Major League Baseball season, and after picking our top teams, it’s time to crown a World Series champion.

For those that have missed an edition or two, here’s who we picked to be among the 10 playoff teams in MLB this season:

AL West Champion: Houston Astros

AL Central Champion:Kansas City Royals

AL East Champion: Toronto Blue Jays

AL Wild Cards: Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels

NL West Champion:San Francisco Giants

NL Central Champion:Chicago Cubs

NL East Champion: New York Mets

NL Wild Cards: Pittsburgh Pirates, Washington Nationals

Now, with our picks locked in, it’s time to go through the playoff picture.

Wild Card Games:Boston over Los Angeles, Pittsburgh over Washington

The Cubs are the most complete team in baseball.

Sure, the Mets likely have a better pitching staff. Sure, the Royals are incredible defensively. Heck, the Tigers have a lineup full of mashers.

The thing is that Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein have seen numerous weaknesses in this club and have used free agency to shore them up. John Lackey is going to make the Cubs’ rotation really strong come playoff time. Zobrist and Heyward are the perfect guys to get on-base ahead of power hitters.

This team has everything they need to go far this season, and even though history suggests that picking the Cubs is a fool’s errand, it makes sense to crown them as the best team in baseball.

In the National League, the Cubs will be able to set their pitching staff and have home-field advantage over Pittsburgh, giving them two critical edges to go along with their potent lineup, which can score in a variety of ways. The Giants may not have the horses in the rotation that the Mets do, but they’re defensively sound and their pitching is good enough to overcome a Mets’ offense that has been weakened a bit by the departure of Daniel Murphy, and the Giants move on.

Championship Series:Kansas City over Houston, Chicago over San Francisco

Much like the Cubs in 2015, one gets the sense that the young Astros may have a tough time figuring out how to deal with their opponent in a really tough series. With home-field advantage, we’re giving Kansas City the edge here.

In the N.L., the Giants have some serious weapons to deal with, including Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey, but the Cubs are absolutely built for a playoff series like this. Jason Heyward could go bonkers at the cavernous AT&T Park, and Ben Zobrist could also help set the table for the rest of the Cubs’ power hitters.

World Series: Chicago over Kansas City

The wild card contests are a total coin-flip, but we’ll try to take a stab at justifying the picks anyway. Boston will likely pitch David Price in a winner-take-all game, and although he hasn’t been able to really come through in the postseason during his career, the tide eventually has to turn for him.

As for Pittsburgh, they are one of the most complete teams in baseball, and even though we’re picking the Cubs to finish ahead of them in the Central race, a Gerrit Cole start in this game will be enough to knock off the Bryce Harper-led Nationals.

Division Series:Kansas City over Boston, Houston over Toronto, Chicago over Pittsburgh, San Francisco over New York

The Royals are a pesky bunch, and with Price throwing in the wild card game, they jump out to an early lead and bury the Red Sox. The Astros have a better pitching staff than the Blue Jays, and with the lineups closer in terms of ability, we’re picking Houston narrowly there.

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Celebrities Converge on Phoenix for Super Bowl 49

The desert is great for stargazing, and that will certainly be the case as the Super Bowl takes over Phoenix and its suburbs.

The ESPN party on Friday will be a hub for some of the weekend’s biggest names in pro sports and entertainment. Also scheduled to make appearances at the show are “Frozen” star Idina Menzel, who will sing the national anthem at Sunday’s game and John Legend, who will sing “America the Beautiful” before kickoff.

GOOD TIMES FOR A GOOD CAUSE

Not all of the pre-game parties are simply for fun and games.

McHale will host a roast of NFL great Terry Bradshaw, a charity event that will benefit a program that brings entertainment to wounded veterans.

The Friars Club roast of Bradshaw is one of several charity events planned for this week, including the Big Game Big Give charity event. The gala is being hosted by actor Mark Wahlberg, director Michael Bay and Washington Nationals Manager Matt Williams. The beneficiaries will be three charities, including Wahlberg’s foundation for inner city youth.

Gladys Knight headlines the Super Bowl Gospel Celebration, which donates some of its proceeds to charity.

The evening, one of a handful of NFL-sanctioned events, will be hosted by actress Holly Robinson Peete and her husband, retired NFL player Rodney Peete. The event will feature tributes to gospel performer Andrae Crouch and broadcaster Stuart Scott, who died earlier this month.

Rihanna headlines one of the weekend’s biggest private concerts, comedians Joel McHale and Kevin Hart will crack jokes for partygoers, newcomer Charli XCX will perform for troops and then revelers at ESPN’s party, and Jamie Foxx and Drake will hold court at a pair of lounges at a swanky Scottsdale hotel.

The events range from private, invite-only festivities to fan-friendly events that are open to anyone who buys a ticket.

Participants in this year’s Madden Bowl better bring their A game — or expect to be the brunt of jokes from Kevin Hart. “The Wedding Ringer” star will host and zero in on the action on the digital gridiron.

Electronic Arts is taking over a block of downtown Scottsdale for a party that will include performances by Nelly and Florida Georgia Line, and Hart hosting Madden matches between NFL players. Last year’s winner, Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, will return to defend his title.

“This year typifies the peak of what Madden Bowl has been,” said Randy Chase, EA’s senior director of North American marketing.

Not all the games are for people — Animal Planet will also open its Puppy Bowl Cafe, which features puppies taking the field and canines available for adoptions.

Grammy-nominated singer Charli XCX is one of Super Bowl week’s most sought-after acts, with at least three performances scheduled.

The pop singer is singing for troops Friday night at Luke Air Force base and performing a set at ESPN’s bash later that night. On Saturday, she’ll perform for partygoers at Rolling Stone’s bash.

Performances by top artists aren’t just for invitees of a gala or party — several paid concerts are scheduled for the days before the game.

DirecTV hosts a three-day music festival that culminates with a Friday night show featuring Snoop Dogg and Imagine Dragons. Performers on other days include the Zac Brown Band, Calvin Harris and Jason Derulo.

Twelve blocks of downtown Phoenix are being transformed into the Verizon Super Bowl Central, a free area with NFL-themed attractions and nightly fireworks shows. Pepsi has set up its “Hyped for Halftime Stage” which will feature performances by The Roots, Walk the Moon and other acts daily.

For many Super Bowl parties, you’ve got to know someone to get inside.

Rihanna headlines one of the weekend’s biggest private concerts, DirecTV’s Super Saturday Night, which has previously featured performances by Jay-Z and Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, and this year’s halftime performer, Katy Perry.

Rolling Stone, Maxim and Playboy magazines are among the invite-only parties this week.

Some celebrities and athletes will also get to indulge their inner-child at Neon Carnival, a star-friendly event that features rides, games and dance music — and a stringent guest list.

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Ziggy Hood Joins Chicago Bears’ Defensive Line

The Chicago Bears returned from their bye weekend with a different player wearing the No. 90 jersey and a defensive line in a state of flux.

Former Pittsburgh Steelers and Jacksonville Jaguars defensive lineman Ziggy Hood was signed last week after the team cut Jeremiah Ratliff, and he took his jersey number. Hood is getting a crash course on the Bears defense for a team short on defensive line help.

“Everything’s concerning,” coach John Fox said. “We haven’t been healthy all season. We lost our quarterback for a game and a half. We’ve been through a variety of offensive linemen, a variety of receivers. I like where we are right now as far as our depth and the people we have available.”

The Bears (2-4) host Minnesota (4-2) on Sunday.

Hood was cut by Jacksonville due to a foot injury last year following five seasons with Pittsburgh.

“I didn’t have the luxury of coming in, OTAs, training camp and mandatory workouts to meet the guys,” Hood said. “I’m just thrown into the fire with the guys. I’ve got to build their confidence, build their trust and basically earn it all.”

Hood had experience in the Bears’ 3-4 style of defense with the Steelers, but Jacksonville had a different approach.

“It’s going to be a lot of work because I played at a 4-3 get-up-the-field-type of team and stuff so it’s going to be another working process getting back into that 3-4,” Hood said.

Fox expressed confidence that Hood will fit in with the team.

“He’s got a lot of skins on the wall,” Fox said. “He’s played a lot in this league at a high level. I did him coming out way back when he was a rookie. Once healthy – I think he’s pretty far along in that process — I think he’s a front-line defensive lineman.”

The Bears two weeks ago placed defensive lineman Ego Ferguson on injured reserve. In the last month, they have added linemen Bruce Gaston from Green Bay’s practice squad and former Denver Bronco Mitch Unrein.

They also have Will Sutton back from an elbow injury.

Fox did not want to elaborate on the reasons for cutting Ratliff, who was seen Wednesday having an animated discussion with general manager Ryan Pace before leaving. Team security had been alerted to the situation and were monitoring it, and Lake Forest police reportedly were dispatched to Halas Hall.

Asked why the extra security was needed, Fox said, “That’s why you have security. That’s why things are in place.”

Asked why police were needed, Fox said. “Sometimes if you think you need that, that’s what you do for the safety of your building.”

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