Bears "rate" as a playoff team


Bears "rate" as a playoff team

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. By a couple of different accounting systems, the Bears should be a playoff team in 2012.

First there was ProFootballTalk.coms ranking of all 32 NFL teams that posted the Bears at No. 11. The Packers were No. 1, Patriots No. 2, Giants No. 3, and down at No. 13 were the Detroit Lions (which is borderline significant because it creates howls from the multitudes who forget that the Bears were ahead of the Lions in wild-carding before Jay Cutler was hurt).

Coincidentally perhaps, the Bears come in at No. 11 (tied with the Lions) in the Associated Press AP Pro32 that is put together with voting from a panel of 10 that includes buddy Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune, along with Clark Judge at, Bob Glauber of Newsday, Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News, Alex Marvez of, and former NFL players Chris Collinsworth, Rich Gannon and John Lynch, among others.

A couple of notables here:

The NFC North is the toughest division in the NFL. The Packers, Bears and Lions are in the top 13 on both scorecards; no other division has more than two.

The collapse of 2011 that left the Bears at 8-8 also left them with a schedule that leaves out the Giants, Saints, Falcons and Eagles. The Bears have the Packers twice, the 49ers (4), Texans (6) and thats it from the top 10, partly because the rotation has the Bears playing the AFC South, where only the Texans were better than 9-7 last season.

Most interesting perhaps: There are few Super (as in Bowl) teams right now. The Packers, Patriots, Giants, even the 49ers and Ravens, down through No. 5. After that, teams like the Saints with their coaching and player issues from the bounty situation, Eagles (8-8), Broncos (8-8) even with Peyton Manning, Cowboys (8-8) will not be serious parts of many Super Bowl conversations at this point.

Corey Crawford to start in goal for Blackhawks vs. Oilers

USA Today

Corey Crawford to start in goal for Blackhawks vs. Oilers

Corey Crawford will start in goal for the Blackhawks when they take on the Edmonton Oilers on Monday night. He's 0-2-0 with a 4.63 goals-against average and .875 save percentage this season.

In 18 career appearances against the Oilers, Crawford is 9-7-0 with a 2.53 goals-against average, .909 save percentage and one shutout. 

The decision is a little surprising, given how well Lehner performed on Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets and what his career numbers are against the Oilers. In eight starts vs. Edmonton, Lehner is 5-1-2 with a 1.86 goals-against average, .943 save percentage and one shutout.

"We're going to continue to ... both guys are going to get in," coach Jeremy Colliton said after Monday's morning skate. "They're both going to play. I'm not going to give you the road map, but today it's Crawford and we'll go from there."

The Blackhawks are seeking their first win of the season (0-2-1) against an Oilers team that's 5-0-0.

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VOTE: Wintrust Viewers' Choice Game of the Week

NBC Sports Chicago

VOTE: Wintrust Viewers' Choice Game of the Week

Who wants it more?

NBC Sports Chicago and Wintrust present our “Viewers’ Choice Game of the Week.” We are putting High School Lites, Chicagoland’s top prep sports show, in the hands of passionate high school sports followers. Fans will get the chance to pick one game that the @NBCSPreps crew will cover on Thursday night. We will send our cameras to the game that gets the most votes; highlights and postgame reaction of that game will appear on Friday night’s “High School Lites” broadcast at 11:00 p.m. The show also live streams at and appears in the MyTeams app.  High School Lites will also have broadcast replays at 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. the following Saturday on NBC Sports Chicago. 

This week, for the first time ever, our Wintrust “Viewers’ Choice Game of the Week” will be a boys soccer match—and we have some pretty nice local rivalries on deck. Which game is the most worthy of coverage?

Plainfield Central at Plainfield North, 4:30 p.m.

Fenwick at Oak Park-River Forest, 5:30 p.m.

Mundelein at Carmel, 6:30 p.m.

To participate, our fans are encouraged to do the following:

**Follow our NBC Sports Chicago preps Twitter page: @NBCSPreps.

**Note the pinned tweet that is atop the feed.

**Vote for the game you want NBC Sports Chicago to cover Thursday night.

**Spread the word!

The poll will start promptly at 12:00 p.m. Monday. We will make an announcement with the official results on @NBCSPreps just after 3 p.m. Thursday. And as a reminder, be sure to follow @NBCSPreps for updates on the “Viewers’ Choice Game of the Week,” along with other high school sports news, scores and highlights, all season long.