NFL-best NFC North just will not let Bears pull away

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NFL-best NFC North just will not let Bears pull away

The 51-20 win at Tennessee kept the Bears (7-1) a game behind Atlanta for the best record in the NFC. The Falcons have a difficult meeting at New Orleans next weekend but the Bears get AFC-best Houston Sunday night.
But the Bears cannot afford to look up or too far forward. The NFC North is the only division with no team sub-.500. Even Minnesota has come crashing back to the pack, the Bears have won six straight but Green Bay, the only second-place team in the NFL with six wins, has won four straight and Detroit three of its last four.
Indianapolis Colts (5-3) 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. Nice to have caught this team while Andrew Luck was still a puppy.
@ Green Bay Packers (6-3) L 23-10
Jay 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 (3-5) 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 Jay Cutler continues to find a groove with receivers.
@ Dallas Cowboys (3-5) W 34-18
Five interceptions of Tony Romo, two returned for TDs (Briggs, 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 (1-7) 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 Off week
vs. Detroit Lions (4-4) W 13-7
Jay Cutler sacked five times and survives Ndamukong Suhs WWF takedown. Bears RBs net 132 yards as run game clicks. Offense cant put Lions away but Charles Tillman D on Calvin Johnson virtually locks Bears DB into a 2nd Pro Bowl.
vs. Carolina Panthers (2-6) 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 (3-6) W 51-20
Charles 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. Jay Cutler throws three TDs to Brandon Marshall in a game Bears led 28-2 after one quarter.
Houston Texans (7-1) Sun., Nov. 11, 7:20 p.m
Arian Foster carries 24 times for 111 yards and Andre Johnson catches nine for 118 in easy win over Buffalo. Think Mario Williams misses Houston or the Texans miss him more? Now let the Super Bowl preview? hype begin. Next: at BEARS
@ San Francisco 49ers (6-2) Mon., Nov. 19, 7:30 p.m.
A rest week for 49ers before home games vs. St. Louis and MNF with the Bears.
Vikings (5-4) Sun., Nov. 25, noon
Three losses in four weeks as Christian Ponder keeps collapsing (sub-70 passing yards second week in three) as Vikings waste a 182-yard run game by Adrian Peterson in road loss to Seattle. Next: vs. Detroit
Seattle Seahawks (5-4) Sun., Dec. 2, noon
Taking care of Minnesota 30-20 at home keeps Seahawks within hailing distance of San Francisco. A cross-country trip by the bumbling Jets should be a momentum-builder Seattle. Next: N.Y. Jets
@ Minnesota Vikings (5-4) Sun., Dec. 9, noon
Green Bay Packers (6-3) Sun., Dec. 16, noon
Injuries continue to be a concern (Bryan Bulaga, Clay Matthews, Jordy Nelson, severity uknown)) but Aaron Rodgers still throws for four TDs vs. Arizoa despite completing just 47 percent. No sign of letting the Bears pull away. Next: Off
@ Arizona Cardinals (4-5) Sun., Dec. 23, 3:15 p.m.
Losing streak reaches five as Cards become an afterthought after a sparkling start. Maybe a break will help. Probably not. Next: Off
@ Detroit Lions (4-4) Sun., Dec. 30, noon
After 1-3 start, Detroit has won three of four, beating Jacksonville with Mikel Leshoure and Joique Bell combining for 143 rushing yards and Calvin Johnson catching seven for 129 despite a bad knee. Next step is to keep Vikings sliding. Next: @ Minnesota

Horace Grant on current state of Bulls: 'No need to panic'

Horace Grant on current state of Bulls: 'No need to panic'

After the Bulls got off to a 3-0 start, it looked like this would be a team that might be able to give LeBron James and the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers a run for their money in the Eastern Conference.

The Bulls proceeded to lose their next three, tempering those optimistic expectations. What those first six games proved is that they're an inconsistent bunch, and it's been a microcosm of their season past the halfway mark.

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

Entering Thursday, the Bulls were slotted in as the No. 8 seed in the East with a 21-22 record through 43 games.

Former Bulls forward/center Horace Grant, who was named a special advisor to president and chief operating officer Michael Reinsdorf last year, joined SportsTalk Live on Thursday to talk about the team's current state, and why Bulls fans shouldn't panic just yet.

Check out his comments in the video above.

See what else he had to say during his SportsTalk Live appearance and on In The Loop below:

Jimmy Butler acknowledges 'huge accomplishment' but stays nonchalant about All-Star starter nod

Jimmy Butler acknowledges 'huge accomplishment' but stays nonchalant about All-Star starter nod

ATLANTA — Jimmy Butler insisted being a starter in the All-Star Game means next to nothing, but it seems to go against his never-ending battle for credibility and validation as a legit superstar.

Moments after it was revealed he would be an All-Star starter for the first time and make his third overall trip to All-Star weekend, he sang the same nonchalant tune.

"It hasn't changed at all," Butler said on a conference call Thursday evening. "Obviously, it's a huge accomplishment and honor to be named a starter. But it's All-Star weekend. There are going to be a lot of good players there. I guess it's just another name thrown in with some decent players."

The NBA's format for selecting the All-Star starters changed this season, with fans no longer being the sole group that gets to vote for starters. If it was still a fans-only vote, Philadelphia's Joel Embiid would've started in Butler's place.

But with the new formula that allows the media and the players to take part in the vote, the fan vote accounts for just 50 percent of the formula. So Butler joined Cleveland's LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, Milwaukee's Giannis Antekounmpo and Toronto's DeMar DeRozan in the starting five for the Eastern Conference.

Butler's is averaging 24.8 points with 6.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists, career-highs across the board, and had he not been selected as a starter, the Bulls' 20-21 record would not have prevented coaches from selecting him as a reserve as they had the last two seasons.

[SHOP BULLS: Get a Jimmy Butler jersey right here]

He won't be joined in the starting lineup by Dwyane Wade, who finished second in backcourt voting behind Irving, but cast his vote for his teammate anyway and hopes Wade will be selected as a reserve.

"Of course. He's been a huge part of what we're doing here, and I think he has played extremely well the first part of the season," Butler said. "He got my vote. I will tell you that."

Golden State's Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant will start for the West, along with Houston's James Harden, San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard and New Orleans' Anthony Davis, a Chicago native.

The fun-filled and busy weekend in New Orleans begins Feb. 17, from the league events to the parties to the festivities and then finally the All-Star Game on Sunday night.

Butler likely views it as more of an accomplishment for his team of trainers and confidants then himself.

"It's fun, man. You get to know the other really good players in the league, and you get to know a little bit about them," Butler said. "And the experience that you get to be a part of, whether it be the Jordan party or taking your guys with you everywhere. That's the most fun part for me, my trainers, my brothers, everybody that's behind the scenes helping me gets to experience it too."