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Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is the NL Central the toughest division in baseball?

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Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is the NL Central the toughest division in baseball?

Tuesday on Sportstalk Live, Leila Rahimi, Seth Gruen and Ben Finfer joined David Kaplan on the panel.

01:00 Michael Reinsdorf's recent comments on the Bulls and GarPax

08:00 Bulls could be a playoff team if they didn't have so many injuries at the start of the season

14:00 Kyle Hendricks 50-1 odds to win Cy Young

15:00 Is the NL Central the toughest division in baseball?

16:45 Realistic expectations for the White Sox

19:30 Bryce Harper says he will recruit Mike Trout to Philly

24:00 Kap and Jeremy Roenick talk Patrick Kane and the Hawks playoff chances

34:00 Cam Ward out 7-10 days

35:30 Marc Trestman the new head coach of Tampa Bay's XFL team

40:00 Scott Paddock joins the panel to talk NASCAR

45:00 Tiger Woods injured agin.. will he be able to return for the Masters

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded layer below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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Bulls Talk Podcast: On a crucial offseason for the Bulls

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Bulls Talk Podcast: On a crucial offseason for the Bulls

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill, and Will Perdue discuss the Bulls recent struggles.

0:45 - On what team needs to focus on over the last 30 games of the season

1:30 - Is Dunn part of the core after this season?

2:45 - Why coaching staff needs to be evaluated too

3:50 - Perdue on going through a similar situation with the Spurs

6:00 - On how much input players will have on what front office does

8:10 - On potential Bulls make a surprising trade involving Dunn or Portis

9:15 - On Ja Morant and his NBA potential

10:40 - On a possible Derrick Rose return to the Bulls

13:55 - Kendall on what he’s watching for the rest of the season

14:50 - Will on seeing improvement

17:25 - On Bulls fans patience during this rebuild

21:20 - On Tobias Harris and 2019 free agency

24:15 - On Bulls approach this summer

26:00 - Why all options have to be on the table this offseason

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

First and Final Thoughts: Is the early bye week actually helpful?

First and Final Thoughts: Is the early bye week actually helpful?

Welcome into First and Final Thoughts, one of our weekly columns with a title that's a little too on the nose. Here we'll have Insider J.J Stankevitz, Producer Cam Ellis, and a rotating cast of NBC Sports Chicago's Bears team give some insight into what's on their minds between games.

Final Thoughts on Week 4

J.J. Stankevitz: We already knew the Bears had a playoff-caliber defense before Sunday, but what we saw from Mitch Trubisky and the offense is exactly why the Bears hired Matt Nagy: To get them a playoff-caliber offense, too. Trubisky made a ton of excellent throws, not only hitting open guys downfield but throwing some of his receivers open, too (like Allen Robinson’s touchdown). He won’t throw six touchdowns and be effectively perfect every game from here on out, obviously, but what we saw from Trubisky and the entire offense was awfully encouraging. One final final thought: If the Bears’ offensive line plays as well as it did Sunday the rest of the season, this offense is in great shape. 

Cam Ellis: I love hype trains. I really do. Being a prisoner of the moment might not be the smartest way to digest sports, but it's unquestionably the most enjoyable; just ask Chiefs fans right now. So, when Mitch Trubisky throws 6 TDs and over 300 yards, I was ready to get locked up in that moment for 25-life. With that said -- I just can't. Nothing should be taken away from Trubisky - he made smarter reads, looked in command of the offense, and hit the open revievers. But that's just the thing: they were *open* recievers. Like, they were OPEN recievers. I have not watched a team play pass coverage that poorly in quite some time. If this is how Trubisky plays under the new, "stripped down" offensive game plan, I'm all for it. Let's just wait and see a few more games before we declare anything one way or the other. 

First thoughts on the bye week:

J.J. Stankevitz: This is actually two thoughts on if the early off week (it’s not a bye week, it’s an off week, as colleague John “Moon” Mullin so adamantly emphasizes) is a good or a bad thing for the Bears.

It’s good in the sense that a first-year coach can have an opportunity to do some self-scouting after one-fourth of the season and continue to devise ways for this offense to be effective starting in Week 6. While the Bears are relatively healthy, getting an off week for cornerback Prince Amukamara (hamstring) and wide receiver Anthony Miller (shoulder) to recover is beneficial for them missing as few games as possible. 

The downside is what tight end Trey Burton brought up after Sunday’s game: The Bears are 3-1 and have momentum on their side...and then have to take a week off. Burton pointed to the 2016 Philadelphia Eagles — a team on which he played — as the downside of having an early off week. That team started 3-0, then had Week 4 off and lost that momentum, losing four of their next five games and going on a five-game losing streak toward the end of the season. Teams usually like later off weeks to get players as healthy and fresh as possible for the grind of the second half; when the Bears return, they’ll play 12 games without a break. But even beyond that — after a 48-10 win, getting back and playing a week later could’ve been a good thing. 

Cam Ellis: The next month is the Bears' best chance at piling up some wins. In a weird scheduling twist, the next four games are all agaisnt the AFC East. Outside the Patriots, the AFC East is extremely not good. The Dolphins 3-1 record looks better than they probably are; the Jets are a mess and the Bills are a mess, in a dumpster, on fire. That's not to say that the Bears won't be competitive in the divisional games during November and Decemeber (even with a scary looking date with the Rams looming), but if they're really the class of the NFC North, you have to beat the Miamis, Jets, and Bills of the world. The early bye week is a bummer and a 3-games-in-15-days stretch in November is going to test their depth mightily. With an arduous "second half" coming up, the some of these early season games take on a heightened importance, if such a thing exists in a 16-game schedule.