Bears need help from Packers to make playoffs


Bears need help from Packers to make playoffs

LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) The Chicago Bears might be rooting louder for Green Bay than even the most loyal Packers fans this week.

They need an assist from their biggest rivals.

The Bears (9-6) kept themselves in contention with a 28-13 win at Arizona on Sunday. Now, they need to win at Detroit this week and that's just the start.

``This time of year, you want to be in it, you want to be relevant, and we are,'' coach Lovie Smith said. ``We have a chance, and that's all you can hope for. It's not an ideal situation that we're in. But hopefully we can take care of business and do all that we can do. And from there, after we've gotten ourselves in this position, that's about all we can hope for.''

He's banking on 10 wins being enough to get to the playoffs, and it will be if they take out the Lions and the Packers beat or tie Minnesota later in the day. They would also get in with a tie if Green Bay beats the Vikings.

The fact that they're facing more injuries heading into a must-win regular-season finale with a playoff spot up in the air doesn't make it any easier.

Running back Matt Forte (right ankle) and free safety Chris Conte (pulled hamstring) added their names to an already lengthy list, and although Smith declined to provide updates on those players, he did acknowledge depth at both positions is a concern.

Forte vowed to be ready after injuring the ankle for the third time this season. Kahlil Bell would figure to carry the load if he isn't, considering backup Michael Bush (ribs) went on injured reserve last week.

It wouldn't be a surprise if the Bears brought in help at safety. The only backup to Conte and Major Wright is Anthony Walters with Craig Steltz on IR because of a chest injury.

Meanwhile, the Bears could be getting some injured players back.

It's not clear if Brian Urlacher will be one of them, though. He hasn't practiced since he injured his hamstring against Seattle on Dec. 2.

Smith is ``hopeful'' the starting middle linebacker will return this week but wouldn't commit to it.

``Brian is a quick healer, and if he's ready to go, he will,'' he said. ``He's made a lot of progress. I'm not trying to run away from the question. We have to get to the practice week and see where he is.''

Smith wouldn't say, either, if Gabe Carimi would stay at right tackle if Jonathan Scott is ready to return from his hamstring injury.

Either way, Smith liked what he saw from his offensive line Sunday. The holes were there for Forte, who ran for 88 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries before leaving the game, and so was the protection for Jay Cutler. He was simply off-target, completing just 12 of 26 passes for 146 yards. But with Zack Bowman recovering a fumble for a touchdown and Charles Tillman returning an interception for a score, Chicago had an easy time on Sunday.

Now, it needs some help.

The Bears find themselves in an awkward position, one they would have never envisioned after a 7-1 start. But they lost control of their playoff destiny by dropping five of six, fueling speculation about Smith's job security.

If they beat the Lions, they'll have to root for the Packers - a thought that would make George Halas cringe.

``It is kind of weird,'' cornerback Tim Jennings said. ``That's just what it comes down to. So hopefully everything will work out in our favor and we'll be back to where we need to be.''

Would the Bears stay in Detroit and watch the Packers game?

``I hadn't gotten that far,'' Smith said. ``There are a lot of other things that have priority before it. We will be interested. All of that goes with us taking care of business first. So we're just going to concentrate on that. We hadn't made any decisions like that.''

Notes: The Bears signed veteran LS Patrick Mannelly to a one-year contract extension through 2013 and waived WR Dane Sanzenbacher on Monday.


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National League All-Star Game Roster Projection: How it will all break down

USA Today Sports

National League All-Star Game Roster Projection: How it will all break down

In less than a month, the 2018 MLB All-Star game will take place at Nationals Park.

There are plenty of details that still need ironing out, but none are more important than the 64 players that will be taking the field at the Midsummer Classic.

Surely the Washington Nationals are hoping that many of their hometown stars will make the cut.

So, lets clear the air. How are the MLB All-Star rosters created? Well it is a combination of the fan vote, the player ballots, and the MLB Commissioners Office. No, it is not a 33-33-33 split, but rather a political (yet fair) process. Here is how it shakes out for there to be 32 players on each team:

  • Fan vote: eight position players in NL/ nine in AL (DH); plus final vote for each league
  • Player’s ballots: next 16 players in NL; 17 players in AL (five starting pitchers, three relievers must be chosen)
  • MLB Commissioner’s Office: seven NL players (four pitchers, three position players) and five AL players (four pitchers, one position player)

Keep in mind, the MLB Commissioner’s Office merely is just there to ensure that there is one representative from all 30 MLB teams. Additionally, the player’s ballots are generally in-line with statistics and name recognition.

So let’s see how this shakes out for the National League All-Star Game roster. This factors in the latest fan vote returns:

National League All-Star Roster Projection:

C – Buster Posey, Giants (Fan Vote), Wilson Contreras, Cubs (Player Ballot)
1B – Freddie Freeman, Braves (Fan Vote), Jose Martinez, Cardinals (Player Ballot), Justin Bour, Marlins (Commissioner’s Office)
2B – Ozzie Albies, Braves (Fan Vote), Scooter Gennett, Reds (Player Ballot)
3B – Nolan Arenado, Rockies (Fan Vote), Kris Bryant, Cubs (Player Ballot)
SS – Brandon Crawford, Giants (Fan Vote), Chris Taylor, Dodgers (Player Ballot)
OF – Nick Markakis, Braves (Fan Vote), Bryce Harper, Nationals (Fan Vote), Matt Kemp (Fan Vote), Albert Almora Jr., Cubs (Player Ballot), Charlie Blackmon, Rockies (Player Ballot), Corey Dickerson, Pirates (Player Ballot), David Peralta, Diamondbacks (Commissioner’s Office), Christian Yelich (Commissioner’s Office)

SP – Max Scherzer, Nationals (Player Ballot), Sean Newcomb, Braves (Player Ballot), Jon Lester, Cubs (Player Ballot), Aaron Nola, Phillies (Player Ballot), Jacob deGrom, Mets (Player Ballot), Mike Foltynewicz, Braves (Commissioner’s Office)

RP – Brad Hand, Padres (Player Ballot), Sean Doolittle, Nationals (Player Ballot), Josh Hader Brewers (Player Ballot), Wade Davis, Rockies (Commissioner’s Office), Kenley Jansen (Commissioner’s Office), Jeremy Jeffress (Commissioner’s Office)

Manager: Dave Roberts, Dodgers

After this, there will be one more player chosen by another fan vote. The MLB Commissioner’s Office, along with the manager, choses five players to be selected in the penultimate vote. 

This puts three Nationals on the All-Star team with the Braves leading the charge with five selections.

Now of course nothing ever goes to plan, but heck its baseball, not everyone will be happy.


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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: Suddenly the Caps are in need of a head coach


Capitals Faceoff Podcast: Suddenly the Caps are in need of a head coach

Less than two weeks after winning the Stanley Cup, the Caps are in need of a new head coach.

Barry Trotz resigned as the Caps coach on Monday after he and the team failed to reach an agreement on a new contract. How did we get here and where do both parties go from here? JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break it all down.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.