Bears

Will Stern allow more shortened seasons?

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Will Stern allow more shortened seasons?

Beginning the 2011-12 NBA season on Christmas, rather than in late October, was liked by some fans and hated by others. For those who weren't a fan of it, you're in luck. David Stern has annouced a shortened season won't happen again.

Stern says he is "skeptical of shortening the number of games in a season."

He claims the rigorous schedule may be related to the high number of injuries throughout the league, but Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver was a bit more straightforward.

"If you cut the season shorter, we cut our revenues significantly as well. Players would make less, so no, and I think it's not optimal to play a condensed season in this fashion."

The league's pro-rated 66 games this season not only caused the players to make less money, but it also affected revenue from ticket sales, sponsorships, television networks, and lessened the pay to arena employees.

Everyone wants to get paid, which means we won't be seeing anything short of 82 games per season anytime soon.

Three keys and prediction: How the Bears can win a statement game against the Vikings

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USA Today

Three keys and prediction: How the Bears can win a statement game against the Vikings

1. Finish in the fourth quarter. Here’s a blind test of which team is which: 

Team A: 29.9 points/game (5th), 19.4 points allowed/game (4th), 4th in DVOA
Team B: 24.6 points/game (15th), 22.7 points allowed/game (11th), 14th in DVOA

The Bears are Team A, and the Vikings are Team B. The point here being: The Bears are, on paper, a better team than the Vikings — and, actually, it’s not particularly close. 

But what the Vikings have that the Bears don’t is experience winning together. While Kirk Cousins wasn’t on this team last year, the same core playmakers remain: Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Kyle Rudolph on offense; Harrison Smith, Anthony Barr (who’s questionable for Sunday’s game), Everson Griffen and Danielle Hunter on defense. Those guys led the Vikings to the NFC Championship game a year ago, which included that miraculous win over the New Orleans Saints in the divisional round. 

Minnesota, as an offense, isn’t markedly better in the fourth quarter (5.6 yards/play) than the other three periods, but they’re not worse than their full-game average (5.8 yards/play). Their defense, on the other hand, is at its best in the final 15 minutes, allowing 4.7 yards/play, lower than the 5.3 yards/play they’ve allowed this season. 

The Bears, meanwhile, have struggled in the fourth quarter on offense (4.9 yards/play, about one yard fewer than their season average) and defense (7.0 yards/play, two yards more than their season average). Matt Nagy and this team can do plenty over the first 45 minutes to make sure it’s not a one-possession game in the fourth quarter, but even if that’s the case, they’ll need to be better down the stretch to beat Minnesota. 

2. Make big plays on defense. Thielen has 100 or more receiving yards in eight of his nine games this year, while Diggs has gone over 90 yards in half of his eight games. While Bryce Callahan and Kyle Fuller are playing at Pro Bowl levels and might very well be capable of shutting both receivers down, the expectation here is that Thielen and Diggs will get their yards on Sunday night. What will key the Bears’ defense, then, will be big plays: Interceptions, forced fumbles, sacks, tackles for loss, etc. The good news: Cousins has been sacked four times in four games this year, three of which the Vikings lost. Hitting home on Cousins and making him uncomfortable should result in the kind of game-shifting plays the Bears’ defense will need. 

3. Stay on schedule on offense. Opposing offenses are averaging 8.6 yards-to-gain on third down against Minnesota’s defense, which is about a yard and a half better than the league average. What’s interesting about that third down yards-to-gain number is it’s actually higher than what opposing offenses average on second down (8.1) against this defense. Needing to win on third down is sort of a non-starter for the Bears’ offense, given the three teams that beat Minnesota (the Bills, Rams and Saints) converted only 11 of 34 third down tries. But picking up quick first downs, or at least generating some third-and-short downs, can mitigate that strength of Minnesota’s defense. 

Prediction: Bears 27, Vikings 17. Just about every worst-to-first team has a “statement game” in which they prove they’ve arrived against a good team, or at least a team generally thought to be good. The Bears are a better team than the Vikings entering Sunday, but still have to prove — perhaps to themselves — that they’re a better team than the defending NFC North champions. Consider this a gut feeling: This is the game the Bears do just that, taking the step from being a potential playoff contender to a legit favorite to win their division.

Preseason Preps Basketball Power Rankings: No. 2 Morgan Park

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Preseason Preps Basketball Power Rankings: No. 2 Morgan Park

Morgan Park

2017-18 record: 25-9, 7-2 Public League Red-South/Central

Postseason results: Won Class 3A state title for second consecutive season.

Players to watch: Junior guard Adam Miller returns after a promising sophomore season. After a solid summer, Miller is viewed as a consensus top-75 national prospect in his class. Another junior guard, Marcus Watson, also returns after getting extended run last season as he's another major threat in the Morgan Park backcourt. And Lincoln Park point guard Chris Roberts transferred in to give the Mustangs another quality ball-handler and scorer.

Why they're in the power rankings: Coming off of back-to-back state titles for the second time this decade, Morgan Park will attempt its first three-peat this season. With a dynamic backcourt that includes big-name players like Miller, Watson and Roberts, this should be another season in which Morgan Park is a big favorite to make noise in Class 3A. Frontcourt stability and depth will be the key for Morgan Park's season as they have to find complementary pieces for the stars.

Did you know? Morgan Park has some of the most impressive postseason streaks in the state. The Mustangs have been a state qualifier in five of the last six seasons, a sectional champion in six straight seasons and a regional champion in eight straight seasons.