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Reuters U.S. Sports Schedule at 2 p.m. EST on Friday, Jan. 11

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Jan. 11 (Reuters) - Reuters U.S. sports schedule at 2 p.m. EST on Friday:

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The duty editor is Steve Ginsburg, 202-898-8427

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National Football League

NFC: Falcons look to finally live up to potential

The NFC's top-seed, the Atlanta Falcons, look for their first playoff win since 2004 when they host the Seattle Seahawks. The Falcons have promised much under coach Mike Smith but have faltered on the three occasions he has taken them to the post-season. (NFL-PLAYOFFS/FALCONS (PREVIEW), expect by 2200 GMT/5 PM ET, by Simon Evans, 400 words)

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NFC: Packers flipping for coin call

The Green Bay Packers want the ball, but they don't want it first. Because of opening-possession missteps, the Packers have all of 21 points on their first drive of the game; coach Mike McCarthy wants his defense to start the game against San Francisco on the field. (FBN-PACKERS-NEWS/, expect by 3:30 PM ET, The Sports Xchange, 625 words)

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NFC: Akers kept as Niners' kicker over Cundiff

The 49ers won't part with veteran David Akers despite his recent slump and a competition with Billy Cundiff. (FBN-49ers-NEWS/, moved, The Sports Xchange, 400 words)

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NFC: Seahawks' Sherman sings praises of Falcons weapons

Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and top cover cornerback Richard Sherman of the Seahawks say the Atlanta Falcons stand out for one primary reason - their talent at wide receiver. (FBN-SEAHAWKS-NEWS/, moved, The Sports Xchange, 600 words)

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NFC: Falcons' newcomers making impact

Cornerback Asante Samuel and offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter are two of the first-year faces in Atlanta helping steer their Super Bowl drive. (FBN-FALCONS-NEWS/, moved, The Sports Xchange, 450 words)

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AFC: Brady and Patriots look to crush Texans again

Beaten in last year's Super Bowl by the New York Giants, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots return from their bye week looking to give Houston a repeat of their 42-14 spanking in week 14. (NFL-PLAYOFFS/PATRIOTS (PREVIEW), expect by 2300 GMT/6 PM ET, by Simon Evans, 400 words)

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AFC: Pass protection a pivotal key for Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens had some success moving the pocket against the Indianapolis Colts' pass rush last week. The Ravens are bracing for an even tougher challenge heading into Saturday's AFC divisional-round playoff game against the Denver Broncos. (FBN-RAVENS-NEWS/, moved, The Sports Xchange, 450 words)

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AFC: Broncos' receivers giving offense potent punch

When the Denver Broncos signed Peyton Manning, most wondered if he'd need a reliable veteran receiver or two for the offense to work. The Broncos thought the best plan was to see if third-year wide receivers Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas could develop into those targets. Mission accomplished. (FBN-BRONCOS-NEWS/, moved, The Sports Xchange, 600 words)

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HOF finalists named

The Pro Football Hall of Fame announces 17 finalists for the 2013 class, including first-time candidates Michael Strahan, Jonathan Ogden, Warren Sapp and Larry Allen. (FBN-NEWS/, moved, The Sports Xchange, by Frank Cooney, 600 words)

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No such thing as a sure thing

While Larry Allen might be considered the best offensive guard by some, Warren Sapp is hailed as a transcendent defensive tackle. Michael Strahan is praised for his consistent production. Without a doubt, the debate on election Saturday in New Orleans will be hearty. (FBN-NEWS/, expect by 0030 GMT/7:30 PM ET, The Sports Xchange, by Frank Cooney, 800 words)

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NFL Notebook

The latest news and notes from around the league. (FBN-NOTES/, expect by 0000 GMT/7 PM ET, The Sports Xchange, 500 words)

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College Football

Tide trio rolling to NFL

Alabama offensive tackle D.J. Fluker, running back Eddie Lacy and cornerback Dee Milliner say that they will forego their senior seasons and enter the 2013 NFL Draft. (FBC-ALABAMA-NEWS/, The Sports Xchange, by Dane Brugler, 500 words)

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CFB Notebook

The latest news and notes from around the league. (FBN-NOTES/, expect by 0000 GMT/7 PM ET, The Sports Xchange, 500 words)

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National Basketball Association

Thunder rolls into LA to face Lakers

LOS ANGELES - Kobe Bryant and the short-handed Los Angeles Lakers face a tough task in their bid to snap a five-game losing streak when they host Kevin Durant and the Northwest Division-leading Oklahoma City Thunder. (NBA-LAKERS/ (PIX), expect by 0630 GMT/1:30 AM ET, by Mark Lamport-Stokes, 450 words)

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Garden variety return: Melo to play vs. Bulls

NEW YORK - Carmelo Anthony was a helpless observer for the New York Knicks' loss to the Indiana Pacers on Thursday, but he'll be back for Friday's game against the Chicago Bulls. (BKN-KNICKS-BULLS-WRITETHRU/ (PIX), expect by 0330 GMT/10:30 PM ET, The Sports Xchange, 700 words)

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NBA notebook

The latest news and notes from around the league. (BKN-NEWS/NOTES, expect by 0000 GMT/7 PM ET, The Sports Xchange, 500 words)

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Golf

PGA Tour: Sony Open, Honolulu, Hawaii (to Jan. 13)

Little known American Scott Langley, the surprise leader after opening with a flawless eight-under-par 62, will take a one-stroke advantage over compatriot and fellow rookie Russell Henley into Friday's second round at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu. (GOLF-PGA/, expect end-of-day lead by 0600 GMT/ 1 AM ET, 400 words)

See also: Japan's Ryo Ishikawa and Thailand's Thaworn Wiratchant receive invitations to play in this year's Masters at Augusta. (GOLF-MASTERS/ISHIKAWA)

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Late long-range birdie putts put Oosthuizen on top

DURBAN, South Africa - World No. 6 Louis Oosthuizen ends the second round with a real flourish to complete a bogey-free 64 and seize a one-stroke lead in the Volvo Golf Champions. (GOLF-EUROPEAN/, moved; will be led, by Michael Todt, 450 words)

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Tennis

Djokovic and Serena are runaway favorites

SYDNEY - With even their main rivals trumpeting Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams as the runaway favorites to win the Australian Open, it's tempting to view the honor roll at the year's first tennis grand slam as pre-ordained. (TENNIS-OPEN/PREVIEW (PIX), moved, by Nick Mulvenney, 875 words)

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Murray focused on more grand-slam success

MELBOURNE - Achieving a lifetime goal can leave some players content but may also blight their ambition. For Andy Murray, however, nothing could be further from the truth. (TENNIS-OPEN/MURRAY (PIX), moved, by Simon Cambers, 800 words)

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Azarenka out to prove she belongs at the top

MELBOURNE - World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka entered the grand-slam winners' circle for the first time at the Australian Open last year and aims to prove beyond doubt that she belongs there on her return to action at Melbourne Park next week. (TENNIS-OPEN/AZARENKA (PIX), moved, by Greg Stutchbury, 600 words)

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Doping and Lance Armstrong

Lab denies helping Armstrong avoid detection

LAUSANNE - The director of Switzerland's laboratory for doping analysis is denying allegations that he once told disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong how to avoid being detected for EPO. (DOPING-ARMSTRONG/SWISS (PIX), moved, 250 words)

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Olympics

LONDON - A mentally ill British man who shouted abuse at Usain Bolt and threw a beer bottle on the track at the start of the men's Olympic 100 meters final is found guilty of a public order offense. (OLYMPICS-BOLT/BOTTLE (UPDATE 1), moved, by Estelle Shirbon, 600 words)

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