Fire

Bulls on CSN post significant year-to-year TV ratings increases

Bulls on CSN post significant year-to-year TV ratings increases

CHICAGO BULLS ON COMCAST SPORTSNET POST SIGNIFICANT TV RATINGS INCREASES FOR 11-12 CAMPAIGN COMPARED TO LAST SEASON

2011-12 Season Average Increased 29 for Households (up 57 for Adults 25-54) compared to 10-11;Top 3 Highest-Rated regular season games in network history have occurred this season;Significant Increases for McDonalds Bulls Pre-Game Live & Kia Bulls Post Game Live

Chicago, IL (April 27, 2012) Comcast SportsNet, the television home for the most games and most comprehensive coverage of the NBA Eastern Conference champion Chicago Bulls (who, for the second-straight season, finished the regular season with the NBAs best overall record; tied with San Antonio at 50-16), posted solid television ratings increases for the 11-12 regular season campaign -- a 5.81 household season average rating (approx. 203,000 households watching per game) -- a 29 increase over last seasons 4.50 final average -- a 145 increase from the final season average two years ago (2.37) -- a 186 increase from the final season average three years ago (2.03) -- and a 232 increase from four years ago (1.75).

The 5.81 final regular season average on Comcast SportsNet is also the highest Bulls regular season average on any Chicago regional sports network in 14 years (since the 97-98 season). Source for all ratings information is provided by Nielsen Media Research. Note the following additional Comcast SportsNetBulls regular season TV ratings highlights from this season:

The Top 3 highest-rated Bulls regular season games in Comcast SportsNet Chicago history have all occurred THIS season (network launched in October of 2004) with the networks all-time high posted on January 25 vs. Indiana (8.73).

16 Bulls telecasts on Comcast SportsNet this season (out of a total of 35 games) averaged at least a 6.0 household ratinglast season (in 42 total regular season telecasts), only three games averaged at least a 6.0 rating.

27 Bulls telecasts on Comcast SportsNet this season averaged at least a 5.0 household ratinglast season, 16 games (out of 42 total telecasts) averaged at least a 5.0 rating.

Comcast SportsNet also experienced solid year-to-year ratings increases in the key advertiser demo categories of Adults 18-49 & Adults 25-54 with both demo categories averaging a 3.3 rating, which is up 57 from last season for each demo.

In addition to its game ratings success, for Adults 25-54, Comcast SportsNets McDonalds Bulls Pre-Game Live ratings finished up 20 compared to last season, while Kia Bulls Post Game Live ratings increased 59.

Comcast SportsNet will continue its comprehensive coverage of the NBA Eastern Conference 1-seeded Chicago Bulls charge throughout the 2012 NBA Playoffs with live Round 1Game 1 coverage against the Philadelphia 76ers starting on Saturday, April 28 at 11:30 AM. Additional games include: Tue, May 1 at 6:30 PM (Game 2), Fri, May 4 at 6:30 PM (Game 3), along with Games 5-7 (if nec.).

The always-entertaining announcing tandem of Neil Funk and Stacey King will have the hometown call for every Bulls first round playoff game on Comcast SportsNet. In addition, viewers are urged to visit CSNChicago.com 247 for the very latest BullsNBA Playoffs news, highlights, game previewsrecaps & blogs from Bulls Insider Aggrey Sam, along with exclusive videos and much more.

Joao Meira spills the first news of the Fire's offseason

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USA TODAY

Joao Meira spills the first news of the Fire's offseason

The wait to find out which players have their options picked up or declined by the Fire might still be a couple weeks, but the first news of a player move in the Fire's offseason came via Twitter.

Defender Joao Meira announced he won't be returning to the club in 2018.

Meira signed with the Fire just before the start of the 2016 preseason after being out of contract in Europe. The Portuguese center back signed a one-year deal with a club option for the second year.

After he played 28 matches with 26 starts in 2016, the Fire picked up his option. He became even more of a fixture at center back in 2017, beating out Jonathan Campbell for the other starting spot alongside Johan Kappelhof. Meira played in 30 regular season matches and made 27 starts, finishing fourth on the team in minutes played (2,412).

That Meira won't be back isn't a major surprise for a few reasons. First, he was out of contract. He was one of two players, along with Bastian Schweinsteiger, on the Fire's roster that the team had no control over for 2018. On top of that, the 30-year-old had made it clear that he wanted to be closer to his home and family in Portugal.

Meira's departure leaves a gap at the center back position for the Fire. Kappelhof, who enters the third year of a three-year guaranteed deal in 2018, and Campbell, who will likely have his club option picked up, enter as the only healthy center backs in 2018. Christian Dean was added in August via trade, but is coming off a broken foot, an injury that has plagued him before. His status for the start of the 2018 season is unclear.

Grant Lillard, a potential homegrown signing and a senior at Indiana, could compete for time at center back next season. He is one of the top rated players in the country for the Hoosiers, which are the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. While Lillard could step in from a numbers perspective and would add size to the Fire's back line (Lillard is 6-foot-4), he wouldn't be able to replace Meira's ability on the ball. Meira wasn't as effective of a defender as Kappelhof, but was arguably the best passer among the Fire's center backs and helped alleviate pressure at times.

This also opens up an international spot on the Fire's roster. The Fire went over the alloted total last season, but were able to put John Goossens and Jorge Bava on the disabled list to clear room. Meira's exit gives a bit more flexibility in that department.

Bears-Lions prediction: Will special teams continue John Fox's NFC North woes?

Bears-Lions prediction: Will special teams continue John Fox's NFC North woes?

Only three of John Fox’s 12 wins as Bears coach have been against NFC North opponents, while 12 of his 29 losses have come against divisional opponents. 

That’s a recipe for back-to-back-to-back last place finishes in the NFC North. And if the Bears can’t beat an Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers team, why could it beat a Detroit Lions team that has a healthy franchise quarterback?

The positive end of that answer is the Bears do have wins over two playoff teams (Pittsburgh and Carolina) while six of their four losses have been by eight points or fewer. Sunday’s game will probably be close, again (if it’s not, and the Bears are on the losing end of it, it would raise some significant concerns about the state of Fox within the locker room). 

So if the game is decided by one possession or less, this could be the difference: Detroit has one of the best special teams units in the NFL, ranking second in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, while the Bears are 28th by the same measure. 

Getting Sherrick McManis back this week should help solidify Jeff Rodgers’ special teams units, but Jamal Agnew has two punt return scores and is averaging 18.3 yards per return. 

“Tough guy — he’ll return inside and outside,” Rodgers said. “He’s got multiple longer returns against people this year. it’s not just, ‘I had a long return in Week 2 or Week 1,’ and kinda held onto that. he’s been productive in a lot of games. certainly a guy that we’ve gotta do a good job against.”

If the Bears don’t do a good job bottling up Agnew, though, he could be the reason why the game flips to Detroit — or, at least, why the Lions keep the Bears at arm’s length. 

Prediction: Lions 24, Bears 16