Bears schedule: Packers, Vikings apply pressure

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Bears schedule: Packers, Vikings apply pressure

With Green Bay and Minnesota winning, the Bears cannot give any ground vs. the Detroit Lions in the division, one of only two with three of four winning records (NFC South). Right now they hold the No. 2 record (4-1) in the NFC and third-best in the NFL (Atlanta 6-0, Houston 6-1) and dont play a team with a winning record until Houston in three weeks.

Lovie Smith teams have won five of their last six after a week off and it will have been 15 days since the win at Jacksonville. Monday is a chance to go three games up on Detroit and take a commanding conference position only the Giants, Falcons, 49ers and Vikings have fewer than three losses.

Indianapolis Colts (3-3) 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.

@ Green Bay Packers (4-3) 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 3 FGs and one TD.

St. Louis Rams (3-4) 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 (3-3) 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.

@ Jacksonville Jaguars (1-5) 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 (2-3)

Next: BEARS, MNF

vs. Carolina Panthers (1-5) Sun., Oct. 28, noon

Freefall reaches four straight as Cam Newton cant get Panthers offense above 14 points for third time in last four. No answer to Dallas two FGs in the fourth quarter. Next: at BEARS

@ Tennessee Titans (3-4) Sun., Nov. 4, noon

Remember Chris Johnson? Bills will after franchise RB goes for 195 yards and 2 TDs on 18 carries. Titans go to Buffalo and upset Bills behind another Matt Hasselbeck comeback. Two straight wins and scoring. Next: vs. Indianapolis

Houston Texans (6-1) Sun., Nov. 11, 7:20 p.m

After Green Bay embarrassment, Texans annihilate Baltimore. Seven games with at least 23 points and defense is top 10 vs. both run and pass. Next: Bye Week

@ San Francisco 49ers (5-2) Mon., Nov. 19, 7:30 p.m.

49ers survive a defensive taffy pull with Seattle to recover from the embarrassment vs. Giants. Offense questions with QB Alex Smith remain but Frank Gore runs for 131 vs. good Seahawks D. Long break to prepare for Cards in tough NFC West match. Next: @ Arizona (Mon.)

Minnesota Vikings (5-2) Sun., Nov. 25, noon

Weak offensive day vs. Cardinals except for APs 23 carries for 153 yards and a TD. Christian Ponder nets 58 passing yards but a W is a W. Vikes 4-0 at home. Next: vs. Tampa Bay

Seattle Seahawks (4-3) Sun., Dec. 2, noon

Russell Wilson struggles with 9-for-23 passing and cant get Hawks in the end zone for four quarters or on the scoreboard in the second half vs. 49ers. Next: at Detroit

@ Minnesota Vikings (5-2) Sun., Dec. 9, noon

Green Bay Packers (4-3) Sun., Dec. 16, noon

Another Aaron Rodgers masterpiece: 30-37 passing, 342 yards, 3 TDs, no turnovers for second straight game. Rams threaten but Packers score three times in fourth quarter. Next: vs. Jacksonville

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

A stumble at Minnesota makes three straight for former 4-0 team that now gets 49ers, Packers and Falcons. John Skelton in for Kevin Kolb and is sacked seven times. Next: vs. San Francisco

@ Detroit Lions (2-3) Sun., Dec. 30, noon

Next: @ BEARS (MNF)

Kyle Baun healthy, ready for another chance with Blackhawks

Kyle Baun healthy, ready for another chance with Blackhawks

Kyle Baun couldn’t have asked for a better start to his second NHL season as he made the Blackhawks roster out of training camp.

It didn’t last long, however, as Baun was back with the Rockford IceHogs after two games with Chicago. As for that season in Rockford?

“That was a whole other story,” said Baun.

Indeed, Baun lost a good portion of his Rockford season when his right wrist was sliced twice by another player’s skate in mid-November. That, however, is all behind him. Now Baun hopes to replicate his 2015 camp performances and latch on with the big club longer.

Baun will play in his first preseason game this fall when the Blackhawks face the Pittsburgh Penguins Friday night. The 24-year-old skated is expected to start on a line with Tyler Motte and Tanner Kero, with whom he skated on Friday morning.

“I just want to simulate what I did last year, and it went well at the beginning,” Baun said. “I want to keep working hard, do what I did last year in the exhibition season and hopefully I can stick again.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Baun’s stint was short lived last fall; he was reassigned to Rockford on Oct. 16, and was looking to have a strong season there. Less than a month later, however, he suffered his right wrist injury that sidelined him for more than three months. Baun said he still wasn’t quite right even when he returned.

“I was trying to get back with the wrist and stuff, and I’m not sure it was 100 percent by the time I came back,” said Baun, who now wears Kevlar guards on his wrists. “So it was good to get a summer of training back in and get my legs under me.”

As for that wrist, Baun said it’s definitely “much better now.”

“The strength and dexterity is back,” he said. “It’s a small muscle, so to get the dexterity back was kind of tough.”

Baun is looking for another opportunity. Considering the opportunities for forwards this season, a good showing could lead to some more time in Chicago.

“I’m just trying to focus on my own game like last year. I think that worked for me, trying not to look too, too much into what everyone else is doing,” he said. “Consistency is the biggest thing here. They’re just looking for a guy who can come in, game in and game out, and improve.”

BRIEFLY

- Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa and Corey Crawford, who just wrapped up their World Cup of Hockey play on Thursday night, will probably get “three or four days off” before joining camp, assistant coach Mike Kitchen said. “They’ve been going for a long time,” Kitchen said. “We’ll give them some time off.”

- Coach Joel Quenneville flew to Pittsburgh with the team.

Three keys and prediction: Notre Dame - Syracuse

Three keys and prediction: Notre Dame - Syracuse

Here are three keys and a prediction for Saturday's Notre Dame-Syracuse game in New Jersey.

1. Make a play on Amba Etta-Tawo: Orange quarterback Eric Dungey targets Etta-Tawo, college football’s leading receiver through four weeks, an average of 13 times a game. Covering Etta-Tawo well is one thing, but that won’t necessarily mean Dungey will look elsewhere to throw the ball. Senior Cole Luke will probably get the first crack at guarding Etta-Tawo, and he’ll have to make a few plays on the ball (a tipped pass, an interception, etc.) to force Dungey out of his comfort zone. If Luke can’t do it, look for an underclassmen — Donte Vaughn, who picked off a pass against Duke, would have to lead that next group — to step in. Stopping Etta-Tawo would go a long way toward keeping the points down against Syracuse’s going-to-plaid offense. 

2. Meet “the standard” on offense. DeShone Kizer has been somewhere between very good and great this season, but it hasn’t been enough for Notre Dame to avoid any of their three losses. Syracuse’s defense is prone to allowing explosive plays and has struggled against the run, so triggering Josh Adams, Dexter Williams and/or Tarean Folston on the ground could allow Kizer to pick apart the Orange secondary as the game goes on. Most importantly, Kizer and his teammates need to avoid carelessly turning the ball over, as they did a few times against Michigan State and Syracuse. 

3. Effective play from the young guys. Kelly said one of the defensive changes we’ll see going forward is a lot more younger, talented players getting on the field in situations in which they weren’t equipped to in Brian VanGorder’s complex defense. Maybe that means defensive end Daelin Hayes using his elite pass rushing trait to pressure Dungey, or linebacker Asmar Bilal using his excellent speed trait to run with a crossing route and break up a pass. No matter how it happens, it has to happen — with that “it” being making defensive plays. Without sacks, TFLs, fumbles and/or interceptions, all that talk of Notre Dame having more “fun” this week will ring hollow on Saturday.

 

Prediction: Notre Dame 45, Syracuse 42. Adams and Williams both have big games on the ground and Kizer leads an offensive oscillating between explosive and efficient to, for the first time this year, enough points to overcome a shaky defensive performance.