Breaking News:

Real-Time School and Business Closings

ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

heavy-rain-night
41°
Drizzle
H -° L 31°
  • heavy-rain-night
    41°
    Current Conditions
    Drizzle. H -° L 31°
  • heavy-rain-day
    Today
    Drizzle. H -° L 31°
  • clear-day
    50°
    Tomorrow
    Clear. H 50° L 30°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb news on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb traffic on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb weather on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Local
December dud: Falcons and Packers try to avoid losing years
Close

December dud: Falcons and Packers try to avoid losing years

December dud: Falcons and Packers try to avoid losing years
Photo Credit: AP Photo/David Goldman, File
FILE - In this Jan. 22, 2017, file photo, Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers hugs Atlanta Falcons' Matt Ryan before the NFL football NFC championship game, in Atlanta. The fortunes of the Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers have changed less than two years after they met in the NFC title game. They’re each trying to avoid losing records when the teams meet on Sunday at Lambeau Field. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)

December dud: Falcons and Packers try to avoid losing years

How fortunes have changed in less than two years for the Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers.

The participants in the NFC title game in January 2017 are floundering this season. The Packers have already fired head coach Mike McCarthy.

Falcons owner Arthur Blank reaffirmed support for his coach, Dan Quinn, after a four-game losing streak dropped the team out of the playoff picture.

The game between the Falcons (4-8) and Packers (4-7-1) on Sunday at Lambeau Field was once circled on the NFL calendar as a potential matchup between contenders jockeying for a home game in the playoffs.

Instead, it's turned into a matchup between disappointing teams each trying to avoid a losing season.

"I think what you want to do when you go through a difficult stretch is you want to make sure you take the lessons first, and when you do that, there's something that you have to gain," Quinn said. "Sometimes you don't like to admit it, but that's where the learning takes place the most."

It sounds a lot like what the Packers are going through at Lambeau, where the future is clouded by uncertainty.

Offensive coordinator Joe Philbin took over as interim head coach after McCarthy was fired following the stunning 20-17 loss last week to the lowly Arizona Cardinals.

A coaching veteran with a dry sense of humor, Philbin has delivered simple messages at a time of upheaval.

"I told the offense, we've got to block, we've got to throw and catch, we've got to run hard with the ball. That's really ultimately what wins games," Philbin said. "Schemes are important, but not as important as playing guys together and playing with great effort and playing fundamentally sound. That's really the focus."

The Packers have lost three straight and five of six. They need lots of help to get into the postseason even if they can somehow win their last four games.

"I think everybody's kind of realizing that we're all under the microscope even more. Who knows what the changes are going to be after the season," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "So I feel like the energy was good today. Unfortunately the urgency that you need early in the season, we kind of had out in practice today."

Other notes and things to watch:

RODGERS RECORD WATCH

At least the game could be worth watching for the quarterback play. Rodgers' 61.8 percent completion rate this year is his lowest since 2015 (60.7 percent), though he has thrown just one interception all season. Rodgers has thrown a franchise-record 336 attempts without an interception, trailing only New England's Tom Brady (358 in 2010-11) for longest such stretch in league history.

THIRD-QUARTER BLUES

One of the Falcons' goals for the week is to jump-start their abysmal third-quarter scoring. Atlanta has been outscored 71-34 in third quarters, including 6-0 in last week's 26-16 loss to Baltimore. The Falcons ran only five plays and held the ball less than two minutes in the quarter. By contrast, the Falcons' 115 second-quarter points and 107 fourth-quarter points rank among the top five in the league.

CALLING PLAYS

Philbin, the former Dolphins head coach in his second stint as a Packers assistant, has extensive experience coaching and putting together offensive game plans. But the previous time that Philbin called plays was when he was a college assistant at Northeastern in 1995-96. He'll assume those duties again on Sunday since McCarthy was the play-caller in Green Bay. Of course, the Packers also have a veteran at quarterback in Rodgers who is often at his best out of the pocket when a play breaks down.

WELCOME BACK

The Falcons have lost eight players to injured reserve this season, including long snapper Josh Harris this week. They finally had a key starter return from IR last week when linebacker Deion Jones set a career high with 15 tackles and a sack against the Ravens. Jones missed 10 games after suffering a broken right foot in the opener against Philadelphia. Jones' 15 tackles were the most by a Falcons player this season.

RUN TIME

The Falcons have the NFL's worst rushing attack, averaging just 79 yards a game. They were held to 34 on the ground last week against Baltimore , a week after a season-low 26 against the Saints.

"When we're at our best, we're running the football and we're able to create play-action passes," quarterback Matt Ryan said.

This might be the week they get things going. Green Bay allowed a season-high 182 yards on the ground to the Cardinals last week, who have the league's second-worst rushing offense.

___

AP Sports Writer Charles Odum in Flowery Branch, Georgia, contributed.

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Read More
VIEW COMMENTS

News

  • President Donald Trump's intensifying legal troubles are unnerving some of his fellow Republicans. Despite his brash stance, they believe the turmoil has left him increasingly vulnerable as he gears up for what is sure to be a nasty fight for re-election. Trump, ever confident of his ability to bend story lines to his will, mocks the investigations into his conduct as candidate and president as a 'witch hunt' and insists he will survive the threats. But a shift began to unfold over the weekend after prosecutors in New York for the first time linked Trump to a federal crime of illegal hush payments. That left some of his associates fearful that his customary bravado is unwarranted. For some Republicans, the implication that the president may have directed a campaign finance violation, which would be a felony, could foreshadow a true turning point in the Republican relationship with him when special counsel Robert Mueller releases his report on the Russia investigation. 'I'm sure there's going to be a lot more that's going to come out from the Southern District (of New York) and from, at some point, from the Mueller investigation as well,' Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the chamber's incoming No. 2 Republican, said Monday. 'What they're implying there, obviously, is something I assume at some point the president will have an opportunity to respond to.' Thune continued: 'Campaign finance violations are something that ... they are serious matters, but obviously it depends a little bit on how it gets treated.' As the legal drama plays out, political challenges that could threaten Trump's re-election are piling up. Republicans are still coming to terms with their drubbing in last month's House elections and looking for someone to blame. The departure of John Kelly as White House chief of staff has set off a disorganized search for a replacement who could stay in the job through the 2020 campaign. After Trump's top choice, the vice president's chief of staff Nick Ayers, passed on the job, few of the remaining candidates have political experience. Also, Democrats will soon take control of the House of Representatives, wielding subpoena power and potentially exploring impeachment proceedings. Meanwhile, financial markets have been jittery, in part because of Trump's trade wars and concerns that higher borrowing costs could ultimately trigger a recession. Facing pressure from Mueller and an impending onslaught of Democratic investigations, Trump could hew even further to the right, catering exclusively to the base of voters he is concerned about losing, according to a Republican close to the White House who has consulted on the early re-election efforts. That instinct would echo the president's double-down, scorched-earth response to the crises that hit his 2016 campaign, including the Access Hollywood tape about forcing himself on women, and could make it harder to woo the independent voters or disaffected Democrats he may well need. Could Trump face a primary election challenge from within his own party? He doesn't seem concerned. The president is eager to unleash his re-election machinery and begin to collect pledges of loyalty from across the GOP to quell any hint of an insurrection, according to a campaign official and a Republican familiar with the inner workings of the campaign but not authorized to speak publicly. The Trump team has discussed the possibility of a challenge from someone such as outgoing Ohio Gov. John Kasich or Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake. A week after the midterm elections, Kasich traveled to New Hampshire for a public speech and private meetings with prominent Republicans. Flake, who has tangled repeatedly with Trump, isn't making any personal commitment, but his feelings about a challenger are clear. 'Somebody needs to run' against Trump, he said Monday. 'I hope somebody does.' While some Democrats eying the White House are expected to announce campaigns in the first few weeks of 2019, a Republican challenger could move more slowly, according to two GOP operatives who have been involved in hypothetical discussions about taking on Trump. Waiting until early spring, for example, could give Republicans time to assess whether Trump will be weakened by Mueller's investigation or a downturn in the economy. One leading House Republican said the situation surrounding Trump remains volatile and has urged colleagues to wait for the Mueller report, which some believe could emerge early next year. That Republican, who demanded anonymity to assess the situation candidly, has urged fellow GOP lawmakers to not defend the indefensible but to also not believe every charge. The lawmaker expressed hope that the special counsel's findings come out sooner rather than later so there will be more time before the 2020 elections. For all the private and not-so-private party worries, many close to Trump predict he not only will survive the Russia investigation but will be re-elected in two years. They point to his remarkable ability to shake off scandal, the sway he continues to hold over his base of GOP voters, the fear his Twitter account has instilled among many Republican elected officials and what they believe is the lack of top-shelf talent among Democrats who could face him in 2020. Echoing the president, they contend the special counsel has come up empty-handed in his efforts to prove Russian collusion and is ready to settle for a campaign finance charge they believe is minor and will be ignored or not understood by most voters. The president has said the lesson of the 2018 midterms is that Republican candidates abandon him at their own peril. And the Republicans who remain in Congress after that election aren't likely to back away from him. 'Remember that the Republicans who are left have won in fairly solid Republican, Trump districts,' said moderate Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, who is retiring. 'So he is very popular with the base. I would not think that they would want to distance themselves or have any fear of associating with him.' ___ Associated Press writers Julie Pace and Zeke Miller in Washington contributed to this report. ___ Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire and Fram at http://twitter.com/@asfram
  • Officials from Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana are still figuring out how much damage an agitated naked man caused Sunday to its Dayton residential re-entry facility. >> Read more trending news   The naked man, who police haven’t identified, spent more than four hours on the roof of the organization’s Gettysburg Avenue facility after he disrobed and burned his clothing, officials said. The man, who was a resident at the center, also stabbed himself several times with a sharp object and wrote “Pig for Life” in his own blood on a wall, witnesses and police said. The man is expected to face criminal charges, possibly including felony vandalism after he damaged multiple cameras, windows and other equipment, police said. “This certainly was an unusual and very out-of-the-ordinary Sunday afternoon for us,” said Nicole Knowlton, vice president of communications for Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana. At about 11:30 a.m. Sunday, staff at the Volunteers of America called police after a resident climbed a chain-link fence and managed to get onto the roof of the facility, located at 1931 S. Gettysburg Ave. The facility provides programming and treatment to help ex-offenders integrate back into the community, Knowlton said. The organization has four half-way houses in the state, including the Gettysburg facility, which can hold about 120 people. >> Related: Naked man on top of Dayton building causes disturbance for more than 4 hours The man shed and then burned his clothing, police said. He jumped from rooftop to rooftop while naked. He stabbed himself with a sharp object and smeared blood on the top of the one-story building, officials said. Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana locked down the facility and restricted where clients could go for their safety, Knowlton said. The man broke two security cameras, six windows, some wiring and the fans of the heating and cooling units, Knowlton said. Officers lined up mattresses on the sidewalk below the roof to try to cushion a potential fall. Authorities used a ladder truck to eventually retrieve the man. Knowlton said she believes he remains in the hospital.
  • A polygamous group based on the Utah-Arizona border is letting go of the sprawling building where its members worshipped, in the latest sign that the sect run by imprisoned leader Warren Jeffs is crumbling and losing control of the community it ruled for a century. The group known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or FLDS, now has nowhere to gather for worship services after the nearly 53,000 square-foot (4,900 square-meter) building was taken over last week as part of government-ordered evictions that have taken away about 200 homes and buildings from members who refuse to pay property taxes and $100-a-month occupancy fees. The meetinghouse with capacity for several thousand people is valued at $2.8 million and sits on about 7 acres (2.8 hectares) in the remote red rock community, on the Arizona side of the border. The building has a stage, a church-like setup for services and classrooms for religious education but has not been used for at least six months, Jeff Barlow said Monday. He is the executive director of a government-appointed organization that oversees a former church trust that has properties in the sister cities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona. The FLDS doesn't have a spokesperson to comment about the development. The sect is experiencing a major leadership void with Warren Jeffs serving a life sentence for sexually assaulting underage girls he considered brides and his brother Lyle Jeffs serving nearly a five-year sentence for his role in carrying out an elaborate food stamp fraud scheme and for escaping home confinement while awaiting trial. Members have said they have been worshipping at home on their own. The lack of local leaders meant nobody stepped up to take responsibility for the building when Barlow's organization warned an eviction was imminent, said Christine Katas, who lives in the community and serves as an intermediary between Barlow's organization and the FLDS. Rank-and-file members don't believe they have the authority to do so, she said. 'It's very sad for the FLDS. I've seen people cry over it,' Katas said. 'Both sides are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Everybody wishes there was a different outcome.' The evictions have led many FLDS members to take refuge in trailers around town or move away, while former members have purchased the homes and buildings and moved back. Group members don't believe they should have to pay for what belonged to a communal church trust that the state of Utah took over more than a decade ago amid mismanagement. The evictions are part of the shifting demographics in the sister cities of about 7,700 people. Non-sect members last year won control of the mayor's office and town council in Hildale, Utah and nearly did the same in municipal elections in Colorado City. The town government and police are being watched closely by court-appointed monitors after a jury found past town and police leaders guilty of civil rights violations. Sprawling homes that used to belong to Warren Jeffs have been converted into beds and breakfast and sober living centers. Members of the group still consider their leader and prophet to be Warren Jeffs, even though he has been in jail in Utah or Texas continually since 2006. Polygamy is a legacy of the early teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but the mainstream church abandoned the practice in 1890 and now strictly prohibits it. The Salt Lake Tribune first reported the eviction of the meetinghouse. Barlow said the board of the organization he runs, called the United Effort Plan (UEP) Trust, will meet on Jan. 5 in a public meeting to discuss what to do with the building, constructed in 1986, Barlow said. One possibility is converting it to a civic center, though that would likely require seeking grant funds, he said. The UEP board will make the final decision.
  • The 2018 college football bowl season kicks off with the fourth annual Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl. The game will feature champions from the Mid-Eastern Athletic and Southwestern Athletic conferences. In a rematch of the first Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl, the North Carolina A&T Aggies will go head-to-head with the Alcorn State Braves.  Starting at 11 a.m., Channel 2 WSB-TV presents a live half-hour program, “The Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl Countdown.”  Channel 2 anchors Fred Blankenship and Carol Sbarge host the pregame show for this event. Channel 2 Sports Director Zach Klein will break down the strategies of both teams, the players, coaches and each team’s strengths and weaknesses.  Following the countdown will be a special edition of Channel 2 Action News at 11:30 a.m. with weather, game day traffic and news of the day. At noon, the battle for the championship begins. In addition to the game, organizers will host the first annual “A Celebration of Service.” The service project will bring together “The Divine 9” Greek letter organizations to collect food donations that benefit Hosea Helps. Other attractions include a special fan experience and the ultimate HBCU Greek homecoming tailgate. MATCHUP Alcorn State (9-3, 6-1 Southwestern Athletic Conference) vs. North Carolina A&T (9-2, 6-1 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference). TIME/LOCATION Saturday at noon at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Pregame coverage starts at 11 a.m., followed by the game at noon. TOP PLAYERS Alcorn State QB Noah Johnson has thrown for 2,079 yards and 15 touchdowns while also running for 960 yards and nine touchdowns. North Carolina A&T is led by veteran QB Lamar Raynard and a running game that's averaging close to 200 yards on the ground per game. NOTABLE The Braves are back in the Celebration Bowl for the first time since the inaugural game in 2015. Alcorn State is led by coach Fred McNair, the older brother of the late Steve McNair, who was a star quarterback for Alcorn State and in the NFL with the Tennessee Titans. The Aggies are back in the Celebration Bowl for the third time in four seasons. North Carolina A&T beat Grambling 21-14 last year to give the MEAC a 2-1 edge in the game over the SWAC. LAST TIME North Carolina A&T 41, Alcorn State 34 on Dec. 19, 2015. BOWL HISTORY The Braves are in the Celebration Bowl for the second time. The Aggies are in the Celebration Bowl for the third time.
  • Companies seeking tax credits from Wisconsin's troubled job-creation agency would face less scrutiny under a provision Republicans included in a package of lame-duck legislation designed to weaken newly elected Democrats. The measure awaiting GOP Gov. Scott Walker's signature would loosen the reins on an agency he created, which has marred by allegations of failing to recover loans from some companies and handing out $126 million without a formal review. Gov.-elect Tony Evers, who ousted Walker in last month's election, would be blocked from overseeing the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation for nine months under another provision in the lame-duck package. It's one of several components in the legislation that would reduce the powers of Evers and the incoming Democratic attorney general. Current law requires the WEDC to annually verify payroll and employment data from tax credit recipients to make sure they're creating enough jobs to qualify. State auditors found last year that the agency isn't living up to that requirement and was accepting information recipients submitted as accurate and complete. The lame-duck legislation would erase those annual verification requirements. The agency instead would be required to have a third party verify a sampling of the information. Recipients also would have to send a signed statement to WEDC attesting to the accuracy of the information they submit. WEDC's chief executive officer, Mark Hogan, told reporters Monday that the agency can't possibly verify information about the tens of thousands of employees that work for the 300 or so credit recipients. The agency has been verifying data samples for years and the lame-duck bill simply codifies that practice into law, he said. 'You're never going to be able to independently verify over 200,000 employees,' Hogan said. 'It's a process that cannot work. The only solution was to change the statutes to codify what we're doing.' Hogan said changing the law has been his 'top priority' for three years. He tried to get lawmakers to pass the changes before the Legislature adjourned its two-year session this past spring, but legislators told him then it was too late. WEDC is a quasi-governmental agency Walker created in 2011 that hands out grants, loans and tax credits to businesses and other organizations. A May 2017 audit found the agency didn't require recipients to supply enough detailed information to determine how many jobs were created or retained as a result of the agency's award. WEDC officials played a key role in persuading Foxconn Technology Group to build a huge flat-screen plant in Mount Pleasant. The agency administers an unprecedented $3 billion state incentives package that Walker and Republican lawmakers created for the manufacturer. Walker has promised that if Foxconn doesn't create jobs it won't receive state tax credits. 'Under Republican control, the WEDC has been plagued by scandals, mismanagement and under-performance,' Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling said in a statement. 'The last thing that agency needs is less accountability measures.' The WEDC provisions are tucked into a wide-ranging package of legislation that also restricts early in-person voting to the two weeks before an election, prevents Evers from withdrawing from a multistate lawsuit challenging federal health care reform laws and eliminates the state Justice Department's solicitor general office. Walker has signaled his general support. His spokesman, Tom Evenson, said Monday that the governor was still reviewing the measures. ___ Follow Todd Richmond on Twitter at https://twitter.com/trichmond1 ___ This story has been corrected to reflect that Shilling is the minority leader, not the majority leader.