Bears will 'embrace the national stage' vs. Texans, 49ers

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Bears will 'embrace the national stage' vs. Texans, 49ers

Lovie Smith has seen highlights, lowlights, dim lights, spotlights in his nine seasons as Bears coach. As the beam of the national NFL spotlight begins swinging toward Chicago in earnest with the approach the Houston Texans next Sunday night, Smith clearly has no problem with his team savoring the moment.

Each game as you continue to win, the stakes go up a little bit higher, Smith said Monday. We realize that and were going to embrace it. Were going to embrace this national stage that we have this Sunday night.

For a lot of the first nine games of this season, the Bears had to listen to how easy their schedule was. The less-than-veiled insult was obvious.

Now they will begin a week leading into next Sundays game against the 7-1 and AFC-leading Houston Texans. The NBC-TV Sunday night broadcast team of Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels, doing the Atlanta-Dallas game after the Bears went to 7-1 with the win over Tennessee, already began the suggestion that this could be a Super Bowl preview.

The Houston game will still be in its highlight-replays phase when, win or lose, the ESPN Monday Night Football team of Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden will commence describing the Bears-San Francisco 49ers MNF game of Nov. 19 as a possible NFC Championship game preview."

It wont hurt the hype that both the Bears (2010) and 49ers (2011) were losers in the last two NFC title games to the eventual Super Bowl winners.

It is arguably at this point where the level over veteran-ness commonly referred to as too many old guys becomes a tipping-point factor.

We cant sit around and talk about how good we are, defensive end Julius Peppers told CSNChicago.com after the Titans game.

Now they are going to be told how good they are. The surprise will be if a veteran-led team listens to that any more than it listened to the critics.

Were a 7-1 team, Smith declared. You are what your record says you are and were a 7-1 football team. Were a good football team. Were excited about playing the Texans. I see our team getting better and better.

We havent peaked yet. I havent been around a lot of teams that have peaked, and once you do peak you might start thinking about that. But thats not us.

Carl Edwards Jr.'s special tie to Memorial Day

Carl Edwards Jr.'s special tie to Memorial Day

For Carl Edwards Jr., Memorial Day has a special meaning.

That's because the Cubs reliever has a very close tie to the armed services. 

Edwards met his fiance, Nette Smith, before her deployment in Afghanistan. Throughout her active service, Edwards kept in touch by writing her letters. Their relationship eventually blossomed, and now the couple has a one-year-old child. 

With Smith's army commitment finished, she views Memorial Day as a time to appreciate all those who serve. 

"To me, Memorial Day is a day set aside for me to remember some of the people I have met who sacrificed everything," Smith said. 

Watch the couple's entire story in the video above. 

Morning Update: White Sox power past Tigers; Dodgers sweep Cubs

Morning Update: White Sox power past Tigers; Dodgers sweep Cubs

Here are the top Chicago sports stories from Sunday:

Stranger than fiction: Dodgers sweep Cubs as Lester vs. Kershaw doesn’t live up to expectations

Miguel Gonzalez throws six perfect innings as White Sox take series against Tigers

Joe Maddon has no choice but to ignore the noise and put his faith in young Cubs lineup: ‘If you want to freak out, freak out’

Two days out, White Sox already excited about facing former teammate Chris Sale

Fire midfielder Dax McCarty named to U.S. national team roster

Jose Abreu relishing opportunity to help mentor Luis Robert, White Sox newest Cuban addition

How patient will Cubs be with Ian Happ and the rookie learning curve?

Takuma Sato holds off Helio Castroneves to give Andretti another Indy 500 win

Sky continue early season struggles in loss to Sun

Honda Road Ahead: Cubs offense looks to build off showing against Clayton Kershaw