Bears need to break some trend lines vs. Lions

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Bears need to break some trend lines vs. Lions

The Bears have more than a few things to consider as they prepare for the Detroit Lions next Sunday. Theyre not necessarily good things.

The Bears had defeated the Minnesota Vikings six straight times before Dec. 9. That counted for nothing, less than nothing in fact.

The Bears had beaten the Lions six straight times before going into Ford Field last year and were handled on Monday Night Football.

The Lions were exposed as last season went along, being cleanly passed up by the Bears in the playoff pursuit before Jay Cutler broke his thumb.

Detroit made the playoffs with a 10-6 record and then were crushed by the New Orleans Saints in the wild-card round. Right now the Bears probably would willingly settle for a chance to be crushed taking a 10-6 record into the wild-card round.

Still searching on offense

What last season revealed was that the Lions could win without a balanced offense but with Calvin Johnson catching 96 passes as long as tight end Brandon Pettigrew caught 83 and Nate Burleson 73.

Johnson is having one of the greatest wide-receiver seasons in history: 117 catches, 1,892 yards. The next two receivers other than running back Joique Bell have a combined 94. The Lions are 4-11.

The Bears have the top-end-receiver part worked out with Brandon Marshall but the next four wide receivers other than Matt Forte have a combined 86 receptions. The Bears are 9-6 because their defense and special teams have scored 10 touchdowns.

Cutler arguably has played better against the Lions than any other team in his career: a combined 11 touchdown passes vs. one interception and a rating of 100.9.

Not coincidentally, Forte has averaged 86 rushing yards in Detroit games with Cutler. Also not coincidentally perhaps, Forte did not rush for more than 85 yards in any of the Bears five losses in the skid that put the postseason in the jeopardy it currently stands.

An unknown right now is the state of Fortes ankle both over that span he had two ankle problems earlier this season and what his condition is for next Sunday after he left Arizona with his ankle in a walking boot.

Ill play, Forte said. Which is what Michael Bush was saying just about up until the time he went on injured reserve.

Marian Hossa named Blackhawks' nominee for 2017 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy

Marian Hossa named Blackhawks' nominee for 2017 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy

The Chicago chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association has selected Marian Hossa to be the Blackhawks' nominee for the 2017 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which recognizes perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

The 38-year-old winger has bounced back in a huge way following a 2015-16 campaign where he had only 13 goals and 20 assists in 64 games. 

Hossa is tied for second on the team with 24 goals and ranks sixth on the club with 42 points in 66 contests this season. He ranks fourth among active players with 1,131 points, and recently surpassed Pat Verbeek to move into 35th all-time in goals scored with 523.

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Three finalists from the 30 NHL teams will be named at the end of the regular season.

Pit Martin (1969-70) and Bryan Berard (2003-04) are the only two players in Blackhawks history to win the honor.

Former Bulls center Joakim Noah suspended 20 games for violating NBA's anti-drug policy

Former Bulls center Joakim Noah suspended 20 games for violating NBA's anti-drug policy

The NBA announced Saturday that it has suspended former Bulls and current Knicks center Joakim Noah for 20 games without pay for violating the league's anti-drug policy.

He tested positive for an over-the-counter supplement called selective androgen receptor modulator LGD-4033, which is prohibited under the current collective bargaining agreement but would not have been under the new CBA starting next year, according to ESPN's Marc Spears.

It was announced in February that Noah would miss the remainder of the season with a left knee injury. His suspension will carry over into the 2017-18 campaign with only 10 games left this year.

Noah averaged 5.0 points per game and 8.8 rebounds per game in 46 games in his first of a four-year, $72 million contract with the Knicks.