Bears

Cubs can't solve Blanton, Phillies

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Cubs can't solve Blanton, Phillies

PHILADELPHIA -- Carlos Ruiz homered and drove in three runs, Joe Blanton threw 7 1-3 sharp innings and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Chicago Cubs 5-2 on Saturday night.Jimmy Rollins, back in the leadoff spot for the first time this season, added a two-run double for the Phillies, the five-time defending NL East champions who are off to a 10-11 start.Blanton (2-3) allowed two runs and eight hits, striking out eight. Chad Qualls got the last two outs in the eighth. Jonathan Papelbon finished for his seventh save in as many tries.Bryan LaHair hit an RBI double and Randy Wells (0-1) couldn't make it out of the fourth inning for Chicago. Wells gave up four runs and three hits in 3 2-3 innings. He was hurt by wildness, walking four batters.Wells didn't allow a hit until Hunter Pence led off the fourth with a single. Walks to Jim Thome and Laynce Nix loaded the bases. Ruiz then ripped a one-out, two-run single to left-center to drive in two for a 2-1 lead.With two outs, Wells walked Blanton to reload the bases. Rollins followed with a two-run double just inside the right-field line to snap an 0-for-13 slump and put the Phillies up 4-1.Rollins was in his customary spot atop the lineup after hitting third in place of the injured Chase Utley the first 20 games. Rollins had just three RBIs coming in.Rollins, the 2007 NL MVP, also spent the first month last season in the No. 3 spot while Utley was sidelined. Over the past two Aprils, Rollins has a .254 (45 for 177) average with one homer and eight RBIs as the three-hole hitter.Ruiz connected off Michael Bowden in the sixth to make it 5-1.The Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Starlin Castro hit a two-out single, stole second and scored on LaHair's drive to right.Thome, who started at first base and hit cleanup, left the game with tightness in his lower back. He's day to day.Meanwhile, the Phillies got some good news before the game. Ryan Howard will be heading to Clearwater on Sunday and Utley could join him within a week as the two injured stars inch closer toward joining the team for the first time this season.

Notes
The Cubs placed C Steve Clevenger on the 15-day DL (retroactive to April 26) with a right oblique strain, and recalled C Welington Castillo from Triple-A Iowa. ... Philadelphia's Ty Wigginton extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a seventh-inning single.
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NFC North: What Bears fans should be watching in Week 3

NFC North: What Bears fans should be watching in Week 3

Chicago Bears fans will get to enjoy a stress-free Sunday in Week 3 with the Bears playing Monday night against the Redskins. They'll have an opportunity to do a little advanced scouting of the NFC North, too, with all three division rivals in action Sunday afternoon in games that, unfortunately, may not present the biggest challenge.

The Packers (2-0) face an opponent familiar to the Bears when they welcome the Broncos to Lambeau Field. Green Bay is a heavy favorite (7.5 points) and based on what Denver revealed in Week 2, Aaron Rodgers should be more than capable of scoring enough points to give the Packers' top-tier defense enough of a cushion to beat up on Joe Flacco and the very average Broncos offense. 

The Vikings (1-1) have arguably the easiest game in Week 3 against the Raiders (1-1) at home. Oakland was one of Week 1's surprise winners over the Broncos, but they came back to earth a bit in Week 2's loss to the Chiefs. Expect a rebound performance from Kirk Cousins and the rest of Minnesota's offense. The Vikings are the biggest NFC North favorites of the week; they're projected to win by nine points or more.

The Lions (1-0-1) have the most challenging game of the three as they'll travel to Philadelphia to face the 1-1 Eagles. Detroit was an upset-winner over the Chargers in Week 2 and very easily could be 2-0 had they held onto their lead in Week 1 against the Cardinals, but they simply aren't talented enough to expect much of a fight against Philadelphia, one of the NFC's Super Bowl favorites. The line is pretty close, however. The Eagles are only favored by 4.5 (at home). 

How many yards will Mitch Trubisky throw for vs. Washington?

How many yards will Mitch Trubisky throw for vs. Washington?

The 2019 NFL season is still very young with only two weeks in its rear-view mirror, but the talking points surrounding Chicago Bears QB Mitch Trubisky are starting to get really old. He's been the subject of relentless criticism because of the offense's slow start and while some concerns regarding his development have merit, most of them are the product of impatience.

For example, the lazy suggestion that Trubisky is a bust because his 2017 NFL draft classmates Patrick Mahomes and DeShaun Watson, both of whom he was drafted ahead of, are already league superstars is just wrong. Players evolve and develop at different speeds. Trubisky is the only one of the three on his second head coach and is only just now beginning to develop timing with his receivers, all of whom were added to the team via free agency or the draft last season. Neither Watson nor Mahomes have had nearly as much turbulence and turnover as Trubisky through three seasons. And that matters.

It also matters who a quarterback faces from week to week. Trubisky's 2019 season started against two of the NFL's better defenses in Green Bay and Denver, so his poor stat line is a combination of his below-average play meeting above-average defenses. It's tough for a young quarterback to get out of a slump when he's battling top-tier pass rushers and quality secondaries along the way.

Fortunately, he'll get his first big opportunity to put up quality stats against the Redskins Monday night; Washington is one of the NFL's worst defenses right now, including against the pass.

But Bears fans are still somewhat skeptical about Trubisky's ceiling in Week 3. A matchup like this should make a 300-yard game within his reach. Maybe even a couple of touchdowns. But according to a recent poll I ran on Twitter, Bears fans don't see it coming out that way.

The majority of fans (36%) think Trubisky will end the game with somewhere between 200-249 yards, which by today's NFL standards is very (very!) average. If you factor the 29% who think he won't even reach 200 yards, you end up with 65% of Bears fans thinking Trubisky won't reach 250 yards and, in theory, could struggle to even hit the 200-yard mark.

That's pretty surprising, considering the numbers the Redskins have given up in Weeks 1 and 2. Carson Wentz threw for 313 yards and three touchdowns in Week 1 against and Dak Prescott sliced them up for 269 yards and three touchdowns last Sunday. There's no reason to think Trubisky can't have a game similar to Prescott's, assuming Matt Nagy dials up the right plays to put him in position to succeed.