Hakeem Nicks had his say after Big Blue's dispiriting loss this past Sunday, and his coach responded publicly on Monday. Tom Coughlin had a message for the Giants after they were pasted on in Charlotte and that was "stick together." It's a fitting theme, given that following the loss there was a sign of discontent from [Nicks]. Nicks didn't catch a pass Sunday in his first professional regular-season game in his hometown, and was targeted just once, late in the fourth quarter. After the game, Nicks expressed his frustration. "I can't throw it to myself," he said. ... "That's not a smart thing to say," Coughlin said. "He's on the field. The quarterback was sacked seven times and hit probably, what, 15 times? Not a very smart thing to say. I'll talk to him about it, sure." (New York Daily News) Comment
On the upside for Johnny Manziel, he's become more famous, but his "likeability" has suffered in the process. Earlier this year, when the Texas A&M quarterback became the first freshman in history to win the Heisman Trophy in January 2013, he held a 97 percent favorability rating. But since then, he's seen his popularity slashed -- almost in half to 49 percent. The survey, conducted by E-Score, questioned 1,100 people of difference ages, income, education and geographic backgrounds. ... Meanwhile, more survey respondents called Manziel rude (27 percent in September, compared to 2 percent in January), overexposed (43 percent in September, compared to 5 percent in January), and insincere (19 percent in September compared to 5 percent in January). (CBS DFW) Comment
Off the court, Metta World Peace has returned to where it all began: New York City. On the court, World Peace envisions a greater offensive role in his first season in New York. Whether or not he's starting -- he said he's fine with either -- he's ready to prove that his statistical decreases since 2009 are not a sign of wear and tear. ... [Said World Peace:] "The year I got to LA, I was averaging 11 points. I won a championship, which I was happy about. And the next year, I was averaging (more than eight) and then (more than) 12. I was playing with a great team and I deferred and sacrificed. "I'm still going to defer and sacrifice, but I think I might have more of a breakout season. People forgot that before I got to L.A., I was a 20-point scorer a night. I'll remind people," he said, smiling. (Bleacher Report) Comment
The Pittsburgh Pirates celebrate their first postseason berth in 21 years after a 2-1 win over the Chicago Cubs guaranteed them at least a Wild Card spot. (Charles Rex Arbogast/AP)
The MMQB's Peter King breaks down what's ailing the 49ers and how they can get back to winning.