Bears

Bears hurt by Rodgers, helped by special teams

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Bears hurt by Rodgers, helped by special teams

A first quarter of allowing the Green Bay Packers 30 total yards should have been a sign of good things to come. It wasnt, although only so much of that again, as in Minnesota, can be put on the defense.
Green Bays 21 points could have been more but for Mason Crosbys continuing FG woes (misses from 42 and 43 yards) and fumbling the ball away at around midfield.
But the Bears played better than the 391 yards the Packers amassed, which were largely the result of poor play in the secondary on multiple occasions. The defense sacked Aaron Rodgers three times and had hits on him four other times in addition to four tackles for loss.
Put in perspective: three sacks, four hits, four tackles for loss, four passes defensed, one forced fumble, or 16 impact plays on 71 snaps by one of the NFLs best offenses. Not as many as the group would want and not as many as the Packers executed against the Bears, but the Packers only had to go 26 yards on one scoring drive.
DEFENSIVE LINE C
Corey Wootton had a hand in two first-quarter sacks of Aaron Rodgers, joined by Julius Peppers on the second as the Chicago defense shut down the Packers on third downs. Wootton and Peppers each finished with credit for 1.5 sacks and each added five tackles, a tackle for loss and two quarterback hits.
A problem was that no other defensive delivered virtually any impact. Israel Idonije moved inside to tackle with Henry Melton down with a chest injury but had no recorded contact with Rodgers. Same for tackles Amobi Okoye and Stephen Paea. The overall performance was creditable but allowing Rodgers to escape the pocket on several key situations was catastrophic.
LINEBACKERS C
The position group was hit with more misfortune when Geno Hayes was inactive with a knee injury, forcing Blake Costanzo to start at SLB. Costanzo, starting the first game in his six-year NFL career had two tackles.
Lance Briggs forced a third-down stop with a blitz in the first quarter and had a game-high nine tackles in a strong leadership performance. Nick Roach batted down a pass in the second quarter and finished with six tackles in addition to recovering a fumble caused by Charles Tillman.
The Packers rushed for 113 total yards on 32 carries. DuJuan Harris had one run of 21 yards and Ryan Grant broke one for 14 yards but the Bears closed down most of the Green Bay runs before they did serious damage.
SECONDARY F-
Aaron Rodgers was able to abuse the secondary in some part because of insufficient rush pressure but his 291 total yards (on 23-of-36 passing) marks the fourth time in 14 games that an opposing quarterback has thrown for more than 250 yards.
James Jones annihilated the secondary with TD catches of 29, eight and six yards and Randall Cobb led the Packers with six catches for a total of 115 yards. Four Green Bay receivers had at least one catch of 19 yards or longer and the Packers were repeatedly able to convert third-and-longs against shabby coverage.
A crucial drive to even the game at 7-7 was a defensive abomination. Multiple tackles were missed for one first down; D.J. Moore and the safeties lost Cobb on a broken play for a 31-yard conversion on a second-quarter third down to sustain the drive. Then Kelvin Hayden was completely beaten for 29-yard TD by James Jones.
Chris Conte was second with seven tackles and was hit with a questionable interference call. But the secondary came up with virtually no big plays to offset the spate of them allowed to the Packers.
COACHING D
The Bears uncharacteristically blitzed Aaron Rodgers more than their norm and did some damage early in the game. But the Packers appeared to adjust and exploit the defense which again failed to protect its edges against a dangerous mobile quarterback and paid for it.
Execution was the real problem; no scheming covers up for coverage breakdowns, missed tackles and lost containment.
SPECIAL TEAMS
The Packers tried to give the Bears a way back into the game with a bizarre call for a trick play on a punt return. The gaffe was recovered by the Bears and overall special teams play gave them points and chances.
KICKING A-
The position group made what it could out of limited chances. Olindo Mare was perfect in his first two FG tries as a Bear, both from 34 yards, after the offense blew touchdown opportunities. He does not have Robbie Goulds leg for kickoffs, with two of four for touchbacks.
Adam Podlesh continued strong work with a 40.2 net on six punts and three of those inside the 20.
COVERAGE A
Green Bays first five possessions started at the two-, 14-, 26-, 11- and 26- yard lines after punts and a kickoff. None of the nine Packers possessions after kicks started better than the Green Bay 26.
The heads-up work on Green Bays fake punt resulted in a takeaway that the offense did nothing with.
RETURNS A-
Devin Hester was restored to kickoff returns over Eric Weems. Hester gave the Bears field position with a 24-yard punt return in the first quarter. Hester averaged 14 yards on three punt returns and 31.5 on his two kickoff returns.
The unit gave the offense field position consistently. Nine Bears possessions started at the Chicago 31 or better.
COACHING A
The Bears were prepared and disciplined throughout. Penalties remain a mild concern but the overall scheming contained the Packers while setting up the Chicago offense repeatedly.

Kings in the North: Bears top Packers, win division for first time since 2010

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AP

Kings in the North: Bears top Packers, win division for first time since 2010

The Bears accomplished Goal No. 1 for 2018 on Sunday, beating the Green Bay Packers 24-17 at Soldier Field to clinch their first NFC North crown — and playoff berth — in eight years. 

In doing so — and in tandem with the Minnesota Vikings’ win over the Miami Dolphins — the Bears also eliminated Aaron Rodgers and the Packers from the playoffs. That’ll only make the biggest “Club Dub” celebration of 2018 even sweeter. 

The Bears showed the kind of improvements that’ve been building all season since blowing a 20-point lead at Lambeau Field in Week 1. This was a team that, with the score tied at 14 in the fourth quarter, made the kind of plays in the final 15 minutes necessary to vanquish a Rodgers-led Packers side. Mitch Trubisky threw a touchdown to a wide-open Trey Burton. Tarik Cohen darted 44 yards on a punt return. Leonard Floyd and Khalil Mack tormented Rodgers to force back-to-back three-and-outs while the offense put up 10 points to take the lead. 

And when Rodgers drove Green Bay into the red zone late in the fourth quarter, Eddie Jackson hauled in a tipped pass for an interception that ended Rodgers’ streak without a pick at 402 passes. Perhaps the only thing that went wrong in the fourth quarter for the Bears was Jackson suffering an injury on that interception and limping into the locker room.  

This was a massively important win for the Bears beyond officially clinching the division, an achievement that seemed inevitable with a 2 1/2-game lead over the Vikings heading into the season’s final three games. The Bears ended an eight-game home losing streak against the Packers, including the 2011 NFC Championship, proving that this division-winning team is opening a new chapter in this storied rivalry. 

The Bears can now turn their focus to finishing the season on a high note with not only a playoff spot locked in, but in all likelihood, the NFC’s No. 3 seed. The next time the Bears will be at Soldier Field, it’ll be for a playoff game. 

And taking a step back: That’s an incredible achievement for Matt Nagy and this franchise, one which has endured so much losing over the last few years. 

The Bears are going to the playoffs, and they confirmed that against the Packers. It’s hard to imagine a sweeter sentence for fans to read.

White Sox top prospect Eloy Jimenez likely to be shut down until spring training

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USA TODAY

White Sox top prospect Eloy Jimenez likely to be shut down until spring training

Eloy Jimenez will be ending his winter ball a bit earlier than expected. 

According to Bruce Levine of 670 The Score, the White Sox are likely to shut down Jimenez (quad injury) until spring training.

As Levine points out, the White Sox top prospect was scheduled to be shut down next week.

James Fegan of The Athletic reported on Saturday that Jimenez had been dealing with a quad injury and was day-to-day, so it's no surprise the White Sox want to play it safe with a guy they believe has superstar potential.

In eight games, Jimenez hit .448/.500/.759 for Gigantes in the Dominican Winter League.

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