Chicago must Bear Down, not letdown, against Carolina

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Chicago must Bear Down, not letdown, against Carolina

On paper, there's no way Carolina beats the Bears Sunday. But when it comes to judging a game just by the numbers, maybe we should think about those words of wisdom from one of my all-time favorite sportscasters, Brian Fantana, as he referenced, another type of...um... Panther:"Sixty percent of the time, it works every time."A 1-5 record creates a formidable scent. Quite pungent. It leaves young quarterbacks verbally fumbling in postgame press conferences, and costs general managers their job after ten years of service.But as my co-host on "Bears Blitz," Dan Jiggetts, duly noted on Thursday's show on Comcast SportsNet, take a closer look at four of those five losses (excluding the 36-7 Can of Thursday Night whooping they were handed by the Giants in Week 3):They dropped their opener by just six points in Tampa Bay against a Buccaneers team that's now piling up as many points as anyone the last three weeks. They led the still-unbeaten Falcons in Atlanta 28-24 in the 4th quarter before losing 30-28 on a game-ending field goal. Their real back-breakers have come the last two weeks at home, with another pair of close defeats: 16-12 to Seattle and 19-14 to Dallas (after leading 14-13 in the 4th). So they've been "in" every game but one.The problems have been on offense, scoring more than 14 points just twice. With the way the Bears defense is playing, that looks encouraging for Sunday on the lakefront.
But Carolina has more than 20 million in salary cap space on injured reserve, and still has Bears-killer Steve Smith, one of two players the defense has to prove it can contain. The other is Cam Newton, who embarrassed them a year ago. Opponents this year have generally slowed the sophomore quarterback's learning curve. The Bears need to add themselves to that list as they come off this short week before a suddenly tougher-looking date next Sunday in Tennessee precedes the Houston-San Francisco-Minnesota stretch. The signs say "blowout," but Ron Rivera's teams have found a way to hang around opponents.Speaking of the Vikings, perhaps they underestimated Tampa Bay Thursday night. Lovie Smith's teams have rarely wound up getting burned if and whenever they may have done that. The Buccaneers came in 2-4 and losers of nine straight road games. The Vikings were probably penciling in a 6-2 record. Instead, they're 5-3, and now hoping the Panthers can do the same thing to the 5-1 Bears Sunday.

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.