Bears schedule: No breathing room

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Bears schedule: No breathing room

The loss to Houston hurts even more now that both Green Bay and Minnesota wont stop winning. The early walkovers built some momentum for the defense, but the offense is still looking for its own and now has to go against an elite San Francisco defense without the key figure in the offense.

Indianapolis Colts (6-4) W 41-21

Balanced identity established with 33-35 run pass ratio and O runs up 428 yards with Jay Cutler throwing for 333 yards and 2 TDs to go with rushing TDs by Michael Bush (2) and Matt Forte (1) as part of 122 rushing yards. Nice to have caught this team while Andrew Luck was still a puppy.

@ Green Bay Packers (7-3) L 23-10

Cutler berates offensive linemen on national TV for seven sacks; linemen just have to accept Cutlers four INTs apparently. Embarrassing offensive performance all around as defense holds Aaron Rodgers and Pack to three FGs and one TD.

St. Louis Rams (3-6-1) W 23-6

Defense sacks Sam Bradford six times and holds Rams out of the end zone. Offense scores only one TD for the second week in a row and Cutler continues to find a groove with receivers.

@ Dallas Cowboys (5-5) W 34-18

Five interceptions of Tony Romo, two returned for TDs (Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman) and a workmanlike 360 yards on offense produce a crucial road win on MNF against the most overrated (annually) team in the NFL.

@ Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9) W 41-3

Bears offense runs up 501 balanced yards (214 rush, 287 pass) and explodes after a sluggish first half. Briggs and Tillman make NFL history with TD interceptions for second straight week and Brandon Marshall puts up 144 yards on 12 catches.

Sun., Oct. 14 Bye week

vs. Detroit Lions (4-6) W 13-7

Cutler sacked five times and survives Ndamukong Suhs WWE takedown. Bears RBs net 132 yards as run game clicks. Offense cant put Lions away but Tillman D on Calvin Johnson virtually locks Bears DB into a 2nd Pro Bowl.

vs. Carolina Panthers (2-8) W 23-22

Robbie Gould 41-yard FG as time expires caps 16-point fourth quarter and rally from 19-7 deficit. Offense and defense struggle badly for three quarters but Kellen Davis catches TD pass and Tim Jennings TD return to turn back Cam Newton and reeling Ron Rivera team.

@ Tennessee Titans (4-6) W 51-20

Tillmans bid for Defensive Player of the Year got a boost from four forced fumbles, Brian Urlacher returned an INT for a touchdown and Corey Wootton scored on a blocked punt. Cutler throws three TDs to Brandon Marshall in a game Bears led 28-2 after one quarter.

Houston Texans (9-1) L 13-6

Cutler goes out with concussion and offense improves with Jason Campbell. But too many wasted chances with good field positions with two INTs and two lost fumbles. Arian Foster rushes for 102, but Bears adjust to control Texans offense in second half. Next: vs. Jacksonville

@ San Francisco 49ers (6-2-1) Mon., Nov. 19, 7:30 p.m.

QB Alex Smith went down with a concussion and Niners struggled to a 24-24 tie with the Rams after blown plays in OT. Rams put 24 points and 458 yards, 159 rushing, on NFL elite defense. Next: BEARS, MNF

Vikings (6-4) Sun., Nov. 25, noon

Off week to prepare for Bears. Next: BEARS

Seattle Seahawks (6-4) Sun., Dec. 2, noon

Off week after two straight wins. Streak should be three next weekend. Next: @ Miami

@ Minnesota Vikings (6-4) Sun., Dec. 9, noon

Green Bay Packers (7-3) Sun., Dec. 16, noon

Rodgers directs second-half comeback with a late winning TD pass to Randall Cobb. Packers got that fifth straight W with key starters (Clay Matthews, Charles Woodson, Greg Jennings) injured. Next: @ N.Y. Giants

@ Arizona Cardinals (4-6) Sun., Dec. 23, 3:15 p.m.

A week off changed nothing except a closer loss, letting Atlanta get away as tailspin in the desert keeps getting worse. Next: St. Louis

@ Detroit Lions (4-6) Sun., Dec. 30, noon

Matthew Stafford helps the Packers with two INTs and a fumble lost while defense cant keep Green Bay from scoring 10 points in final two minutes. And the schedule is only getting worse. Next: Houston

What a flat salary cap in 2017-18 could mean for Blackhawks

What a flat salary cap in 2017-18 could mean for Blackhawks

For the first time since the 2009-10 season, the NHL's salary cap could stay flat next year, reports ESPN's Craig Custance.

Commissioner Gary Bettman revealed at the latest NHL's Board of Governors meeting that the projected ceiling for the 2017-18 campaign could be an increase between zero and $2 million, which isn't exactly encouraging considering the projection at this time of year is normally an optimistic one.

That means the salary cap may be closer to — or at — the $73 million it's at right now.

In the last four years, the cap has increased by $4.3 million in 2013-14, $4.7 million in 2014-15, $2.4 million in 2015-16 and $1.6 million in 2016-17. The number continues to descend, and it affects big-budget teams like the Blackhawks the most.

It makes it especially difficult for the Blackhawks to navigate because they own two of the highest paid players in the league in Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, both of whom carry a $10.5 million cap hit through 2022-23. It's a great problem to have, though.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

According to capfriendly.com, Chicago currently has $60.6 million tied up to 14 players — eight forwards, five defensemen and one goaltender — next season. If the cap stays the same, that means the Blackhawks must fill out the rest of their roster with fewer than $13 million to work with and still have to sign Artemi Panarin to a long-term extension.

And they may need to move salary to do it, with the potential cap overages crunching things even more.

On the open market, Panarin would probably be able to earn Vladimir Tarasenko money — a seven-year deal that carries a $7.5 million cap hit — but if he prefers to remain in Chicago, the contract would likely be in the range of Johnny Gaudreau's six-year deal with an annual average value of $6.75 million.

With the expansion draft looming, the Blackhawks know they're going to lose a player to Las Vegas in the offseason. The two likely candidates, as it stands, are Marcus Kruger and Trevor van Riemsdyk, and the former would free up $3 million in cap space while the latter $825,000.

If that won't get the job done, the Blackhawks may be forced to part ways with a core player such as Brent Seabrook and his eight-year, $55 million contract, although he has a full no-movement clause until 2021-22 and it would be very hard to imagine since you're trying to maximize your current championship window.

Anything is possible, however, after seeing promising young guys like Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw shipped out of Chicago due to a tight budget.

It's a challenge general manager Stan Bowman has certainly already been thinking about, and a stagnant salary cap doesn't make things any easier.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Toews still out, Bulls pull out win over Spurs

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Toews still out, Bulls pull out win over Spurs

In the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, Mark Grote (670 The Score) and Mark Carman (WGN Radio) join Kap on the panel. Jonathan Toews is still not back at practice. Is it time to panic?

Meanwhile, the Bulls beat the Spurs. And Rajon Rondo compliments the coaches? Is all well in Bulls-town?

Plus, Dexter Fowler is Cardinal. Should Cubs fans be angry?

And finally, is it good idea for Jordan Howard to get the ball less for the rest of the season?

Check out the SportsTalk Live Podcast below: