Bears - Vikings: And so the winner is...


Bears - Vikings: And so the winner is...

First, the requisite accountability. This is how I saw this game and the Bears record as of the second Minnesota game:

At Minnesota Vikings (3-13) Sun., Dec. 9, noon

Analysis: The Vikings didnt get that much better in two weeks.

Result: W (10-3)

Obviously the record is now a touch off, owing to the combined 192 total yards allowed on those last two drives in the Seattle game (the Seahawks TD drives were 97 and 80 yards, but they also overcame 10- and five-yard penalties to sustain those drives, hence the added length).

The fact is that the Vikings havent gotten that much better in two weeks. Minnesota lost to Green Bay despite Adrian Peterson rushing for 210 yards.

A concern, though, is that the Bears have not held a team to fewer than 100 yards rushing since they bracketed the run-challenged (more than just run, actually) Detroit Lions six games ago.

But while immense attention is understandably focused on the Bears defensive issues without Brian Urlacher and Tim Jennings, the Vikings quietly have not held a team to fewer than 20 points in their last five games, four of them losses. Granted only one of those (Tampa Bay) was in the Vikings home venue, where quarterback Christian Ponder is 5-1 this season.

The Vikings have taken immense steps under coach Leslie Frazier this season and they settled their left-tackle question (Matt Kalil, No. 4 overall) in the draft, something the Bears will look to do in their next time on the clock.

But the Bears slowed the Minnesota pass rush with simple, solid game-planning in the 29-10 win on Nov. 25. The dome is a huge Vikings aid unless the Bears stay in second- and third-and-manageable with the run game. Best guess: They will. And Lovie Smith takes the three points every time this week.

Bears 23 Vikings 20

Check back with me during the game via BearsPulse at where I'll do in-game reporting via Twitter (@CSNMoonmullin). E-talk to you then.

Cubs, Tom Ricketts and Bulls all score wins at Sports Business Journal Awards

Cubs, Tom Ricketts and Bulls all score wins at Sports Business Journal Awards

The hardware keeps pouring in for the Cubs.

After snapping their 108-year championship drought with a World Series win last fall, the Cubs earned another title Wednesday, honored with the Best Team Award at the Sports Business Journal Awards.

[CUBS TICKETS: Get your seats right here]

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts also got to celebrate an individual win Wednesday, named the Sports Executive of the Year.

The Cubs weren't the only Chicago team to go home with some hardware, though. The Bulls were honored as the Best in Social Media.

A cool night for two of Chicago's pro teams.

Kyle Hendricks shines, Cubs bats stay hot in win over Giants

Kyle Hendricks shines, Cubs bats stay hot in win over Giants

The San Francisco Giants again seem to be bringing out the best in the Cubs, or least maybe sharpening their game and shaking off the World Series hangover. 

This isn’t as urgent as last year’s playoff series. It’s too early to tell if it will have the same impact as that four-game sweep in August 2015. And more than 25 percent into the season, the 2017 team has already gone through several stops and starts.

But the Cubs looked a little more like themselves on Wednesday night at Wrigley Field, hanging on for a 5-4 win in front of 35,617 and validating the internal belief that this would only be a matter of time.

Kyle Hendricks again looked like a No. 2 starter in a playoff rotation, following up Jon Lester’s complete game with seven strong innings, limiting the Giants to two runs and giving him a 1.96 ERA in his last six outings.

Anthony Rizzo launched two home runs off Giant lefty Matt Moore, slamming balls off the video ribbon in right field and into the center-field bleachers. When Rizzo gets hot – that’s four homers in his last four games – the entire lineup can feel different.

Wade Davis showed he’s not a ninth-inning cyborg when Mac Williamson won a 12-pitch at-bat and lifted a two-run homer into the right-field basket. Until that ball flew over Jason Heyward’s head, Davis hadn’t allowed an earned run through 18 appearances in a Cubs uniform or a homer since September 2015. Davis (10-for-10 in save chances) is still the kind of dominant closer the Giants needed last October. 

The Cubs are now 24-21 and a half-game behind the first-place Milwaukee Brewers. Eddie Butler will try to win the series on Thursday afternoon and prove he belongs in the rotation long term, going up against ex-Cub Jeff Samardzija (1-5, 4.57 ERA) and a Giant team (20-28) that’s gaining no traction in the National League West.