Sports from YourSportsFan.com

InternetFM presents sports content from our partner site YourSportsFan.com including podcasts of “The Weekend Sports Report” with Les Grobstein, Steve Leventhal and Alison Moran, along with “Dorf on Sports” with Fred Wallin and Andy Dorf. YSF also features original sports articles.

Buccaneers Head Coach Lovie Smith

Buccaneers Head Coach Lovie Smith

I really want this Bucs-Bears game to be played as soon as humanly possible… as if the Bears 4 – 6 record was not bad enough, the consistent yammering about Josh McCown and Lovie Smith is getting obnoxious.

I get it… the Bears would be the defending Super Bowl champs if Lovie was still the coach and McCown was his quarterback.

We have heard it all before, Lovie had a 10 win team in his last season, a better winning percentage and the “respect” of his locker room. McCown had a better completion percentage and touchdown to interception ratio.

Awesome… but now back to reality.

This game had all the story lines at beginning of the season with Lovie and McCown coming to back to Chicago for the first time since their respective departures. But like most preseason predictions regarding the Bears in 2014, this will just be another game. The Bears have a 5% chance at making the playoffs this year which would require them to run the table and get some help from the football gods.

The Bucs come in with a 2 – 8 record after pasting the lowly Redskins 27 – 7, last week in Washington. McCown is not having a good season, with 6 TD passes and 6 INTs, the Bears defense will look to make life miserable for the ex-Bear.

Josh McCown

Bucs QB Josh McCown

The lone bright spot for the Bucs this season has been rookie wide receiver Mike Evans, the 7th overall pick out of Texas A&M. Over his last three games, Evans has put up 458 rec yards, 21 receptions and 5 TDs. Standing at a full 6’ 5”, Evans is a huge target in the red zone and has benefited from Pro Bowl WR Vincent Jackson presence.

The Bears have given up the 2nd most passing TDs this season (24). Okay, 11 of those were against future hall of famers Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers but either way the fact remains that the Bears defense will give up a lot of points thru the air. Hopefully that “player’s only meeting” will inspire some competent defense for a change.

I was trying to skip the soap opera that is the Chicago Bears offense this week but if there was a week that the Bears should explode for points, it’s this week.

The Bucs are 30th in the league in passing defense giving up 266.1 yards per game and 22nd in rushing defense at 118 yards per game.

Cutler and the offense have not score over 28 points in a game this year, with the 30th ranked team in PPG given up coming into town, one would expect the Bucs to be a “slump buster.”

Win or lose, it will be a relief to not have to field questions about Cutler vs McCown and Trestman vs Smith.

Game on.

HC Marc Trestman, QB Jay Cutler and RB Matt Forte talk about the upcoming Bucs game

Key Matchup: WR Mike Evans vs CB Kyle Fuller

Key Injuries: Alshon Jeffery (Quest.), Brandon Marshall (Quest.)

Fact: Bears offense scoring 6.3 points fewer than NFC-best 27.8 from 2013

Prediction: Buccaneers 21, Bears 27

@WesEvans24

 

lovie-smith

Tampa coach Lovie Smith

with Dave Rusch and Steve Leventhal

A preview of the Bears-Buccaneers and Vikings-Packers games this weekend.  Our guests are Rick Tellander of the Chicago Sun-Times and Ted Glover of The Daily Norseman.

Hear interviews from Aaron Rogers, Lovie Smith, Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Marc Trestman, Jim Caldwell, and Tom Brady.

Also, don’t miss cameos from Bob Costas, Jeff Foxworthy, and Bob Uecker.

 

ND Tailgate 111514

Notre Dame fans tailgating before NU-ND game

There are venues across the sports landscape that fans should visit, no matter what team banners hang on your wall at home. Notre Dame Stadium is one of those venues.

Yes… you might be packed into your row like sardines and are sitting on rock hard benches, but you should be there for the ambiance. It will only be once, so suck it up and soak in the history. From tailgating to the marching band, Notre Dame is a special place to watch a football game.

Speaking of a football game…

The Golden Domers did their best to give this game to the Wildcats, the 17 point favorites were not able to overcome some late mistakes to pull out the victory. Everett Golson got this score-fest off with a career long 61 yard TD run in the first minute of the game.

The Wildcats answered on their first drive when a 44 yard run by Justin Jackson set up Maine South alum, Matt Alviti, who scored on a QB dive for a 2 yard score.

Notre Dame returned a fumble recovery and then scored on their next possession on a Tarean Folston 6 yard run to put the Irish up 20 – 7. On the extra point, a play that is rarely seen at any level occurred, as Nick VanHoose blocked the attempt and returned it for the defensive PAT.

For those scoring at home, a defensive PAT return is worth 2 points.

I sincerely felt bad for Trevor Siemian during this game as his receivers decided to not show up. Tony Jones alone dropped 3 TD passes in the first half, all of which Siemian delivered a perfect pass that hit Jones in the hands. Despite the 1st half miscues, the Wildcats were sticking around as they were only trialing 27 – 23 going into half time.

NU 42, ND 40 (OT)

Northwestern-Notre Dame Final

I should have bet the over.

Northwestern was not the only team committing errors throughout the game as Golson added a pick and fumble to his turnover total. Golson & Co. turnovers killed ND’s chances of winning this game as the Wildcats were able to capitalize throughout the game.

The 4th got interesting late as a Jack Mitchell FG pulled the Wildcats within 5 points, 29 – 34. ND answered with a TD at the 10:34 mark as Golson hooked up with William Fuller on an 11 yard pass, Fullers’ 3rd receiving TD of the game.

With ND up 11, the press box started to buzz as Coach Kelly decides to go for 2 instead of kicking the extra point. The attempt failed and NU is now a TD, 2-pt conversion and a FG away from tying this game up. Seems unlikely… right?

Wrong.

The Wildcats march 73 yards in 9 plays and 1:58 to score a TD on a Trevor Siemian 6 yard scramble. NU converts on the 2-pt conversion and are only down 3 with 4:10 left in the ball game.

The Irish were able to salt away some time with a 1st down, which forced NU to use all of their timeouts. On a 2nd and 8 play with just over 1:30 left, ND rushes the ball with Cam McDaniel and he is stripped by NU’s Ibraheim Campbell and the ball is recovered by the Wildcats.

Siemian orchestrates a 9 play, 44 yard drive to set up Mitchell for the game tying 45 yards FG.

Overtime.

At this point, ND was rattled and quickly got to 4th down in OT when Kyle Brindza shanked his 42 yard FG.

Northwestern wasted no time with their OT opportunity by running the ball three straight times to set up Mitchell’s 41 yard game winning attempt:

After the debacle last weekend against Michigan, Coach Pat Fitzgerald needed this win to calm down the nay-sayers… at least for more week.

Notre Dame is a special place for many of its visitors, count the Northwestern Football team as some of those visitors, who are now 2 – 0 in Notre Dame Stadium since 1995.

Brian Kelly’s full post game press conference after 43 – 40 (OT) loss

For those of you wondering, Northwestern is NOT officially out of bowl contention.

Next Week: Northwestern (4-6) @ Perdue (3-7)

@WesEvans24

 

untitled (3)

Bears HC Marc Trestman

The Bears have to go 7 – 0.

I was going to post that one line and call it a day but it wouldn’t have been fair to overlook the Vikings.

It wouldn’t have been FAIR to overlook the Vikings… seriously? This is what it has come to in Chicago? Fighting with the Adrian Peterson-less Vikings for last place in the NFC North?

Chicago deserves better.

If you would have told me at the beginning of the season that the Bears would be 3 – 6 going into week 11, I would have assumed that Jay Cutler was out for the season and Jimmy Clauson was leading this offense.

If only that nightmare was true.

The Bears have given up 50+ points in back-to-back games, which hasn’t been done since before the Great Depression, when the 1923 Rochester Jeffersons accomplished the feat.

The Jeffersons disbanded a season later.

1923 Rochester Jeffersons

1923 Rochester Jeffersons

The stats don’t lie when it comes to the success of the Bears on the field, when Jay Cutler does NOT turn the ball over, they win. “I think the biggest thing is that Jay has got to play better,” Trestman said. “He didn’t play well enough, and we didn’t play well enough and I’m certain that he’d take accountability for that.” Bears fans will see if Cutler can “play better,” but have little hope since he has made the same mistakes for 9+ years. Cutler has not fully taken responsibility for his poor play and anyone who thought he might, will be waiting awhile.

Cutler has turned to ball over 7 times in the past three games and those teams have scored 38 points off of those opportunities. It starts and ends with Cutler… plain and simple. Until Cutler realizes that his teams’ wins and losses are directly related to his selfishness, the Bears will be a mediocre team and never consistently win against good opponents.

The Vikings are not going to get Adrian Peterson back this week because his hearing for reinstatement won’t be until Monday. Mel Tucker should be thanking his lucky stars that he will only have to worry about rookie RB Jerick McKinnon and perennial back up Matt Asiata, instead of one of the NFL’s best.

Vikings RB Adrian Peterson

Vikings RB Adrian Peterson

Rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater will welcome back TE Kyle Rudolph, who will be lining up for the first time since week 3. Rudolph is coming off of an abdomen injury and will look to torch the Bears linebackers like Richard Rodgers and Andrew Quarless did for the Packers a week ago.

If you need a tight end for your fantasy football roster, Rudolph is a TE1 going up against the Bears.

The Bears have had one of the worst months in recent memory and a loss to the Vikings would be the cherry on top of this pile of incompetence. On paper, this game should not even be close but the reality is that the Bears are not a good team and lack leadership on all levels of the organization.

IF the Bears lose… expect a lot more Bulls and Blackhawks articles.

Marc Trestman, Jay Cutler, Matt Forte and Jermon Bushrod talk about the past week and the Vikings

Key Matchup: Bears 2014 Relevance vs Bulls/Blackhawks

Key Injuries: Martellus Bennett (Prob.), Brandon Marshall (Prob.), Lamarr Houston (Out), Matt Slauson (Out),

Fact: The Bears haven’t won a game at Soldier Field since December 9th, 2013

Prediction: Vikings 24, Bears 27

@WesEvans24

Vikings vs Bears

 


with your hosts “Packer” Dave Rusch and Steve Leventhal

Bears QB Jay Cutler addresses the media on Thursday November 13, 2014. Photo by SRN Broadcasting

Bears QB Jay Cutler addresses the media on Thursday November 13, 2014.
Photo by SRN Broadcasting

The guys welcome back Les Grobstein to the Weekend Sports Report for more analysis of the Bears devastating loss at Green Bay and what the prognosis is for Chicago’s game at Minnesota.  Also preview of the Eagles – Packers game at Lambeau, as well as the big game bewtween Detroit and Arizona.

Hear interview audio from Jay Cutler, Marc Trestman, Mike McCarthy, Julius Peppers, Lions coach Jim Caldwell, and more.

Plus don’t miss the cameo from former Vikings superstar Ahmad Rashad.

(L to R) Felix Stephensen, Jooryt van Hoof, and Martin Jacobson compete for the WSOP Main Event Championship. (Photo- Jayne Newman for PokerNews.com)

When you think of marquee sporting events, the Super Bowl, the Masters, the Kentucky Derby all come to mind.

How about the World Series?  Not the baseball game, but the richest and most prestigious poker event on the planet. The World Series of Poker, held at the Rio in Las Vegas.

This fall classic actually got underway in July, when 6683 hopefuls began a grueling seven day event, competing for nearly 63 million dollars in prize money.

That’s right $62,825,725, with a cool ten million to the winner.

The total prize pool in 2014 for Wimbledon was £25 million, which is $40 million. That dwarfs the Masters’ total prize pool of $9,000,000.

The poker players each put up $10,000 to compete in the “Main Event” where they receive 30,000 in poker chips to start play.

The Main Event is actually the culmination of sixty-five poker tournaments with buy-ins ranging from as little as $500 to the one million dollar buy-in for the “Big One for One Drop,” which raises money for the charitable arm of the WSOP.

There are tournaments contested in other varieties of poker such as Low Ball, Stud, Omaha, and mixed games, not just the popular game of No Limit Hold ‘em. There are also events for Ladies, Seniors (age 50 and above,) and even casino employees.

However, the Main Event is truly the marquee poker tournament of the year. The beauty of the event is that unlike the Masters or Wimbledon, anyone with ten grand can play.

So, most of us could never stand across the net from Rafael Nadal or tee it up with Rory McIlroy, and stand a chance, but if you have the cash, some skill, and a little luck, you can sit down at the poker table with professional players, actors, athletes, and rich businessmen and compete for the big prize.

Some claim that poker isn’t a sport.

In addition to luck, it takes stamina, mental discipline, practice, and experience to do well in poker tournaments, which can last for hours and hours, or days and days in the case of the WSOP Main Event.

These days people compete for money in Scrabble, Chess, Foosball, and even video games.

ESPN televises the Main Event.  Their coverage began in late September with the first seven days of the tournament show airing on a weekly basis, with it’s conclusion in time for last night’s final table, featuring the “November Nine.” The last nine standing were guaranteed a minimum of $700,000.

The best part of the Monday’s final table and the conclusion tonight is that the action is shown live, plus a thirty minute delay.  This means seeing every hand in play.  When watching the edited coverage, the viewer gets to see only the action hands.  That gives a false impression of how the game really plays out.  In most hands, the action doesn’t proceed to a flop (seeing the first three community cards) or even a showdown (all the cards on the table.) It is a much better sense of how the game play proceeds. Most often one player makes a large bet, resulting in the others a the table folding their hands if they hadn’t already.  It doesn’t make for great TV, but it is the way the action really proceeds.

That’s why I really enjoy the “live” coverage.  That, plus the analysis by top pros such as Antonio Esfandiari, Phil Hellmuth, and Daniel Negreanu.  This is where the real value lies.  Not only that, but any cards in play get show on television.  If anyone wanted to learn how the game is played at the highest levels, it’s a joy to behold.

Of the thousands of entrants this year, two remarkable feats occurred.  One player, Ronnie Bardah cashed in the Main Event for the fifth year in a row.  That is fantastic, considering that only ten percent of the field makes the money.  Even more amazing is what Mark Newsome did.  He defied odds calculated by ESPN as more the half a million to one, to make two consecutive final tables.

On Monday night the nine played down to just three, and the action concludes on ESPN at 9 ET.

 Full story on PokerNews.com

 

Gibson talking to the media about the slow start to the Celtics game

Gibson talking to the media about the slow start to the Celtics game

This was a tired Bulls team after their 118 – 115 victory over the 76ers last night in Philly, as every starter played over 31 minutes. A rested player would have been a nice reinforcement for the Bulls but Derrick Rose sat for the 2nd straight game with two sprained ankles. The Celtics also had there star point guard sitting, as Rajon Rondo didn’t suit up due to his hand injury.

The Bulls got blitzed in the first 4 minutes on the 2nd night of a back-back by the Boston Celtics, as the Celtics took a quick 10 – 2 lead before a Tom Thibodeau timeout. The Bulls were able to rally as they took a 25 – 20 lead after the 1st quarter. Mike Dunleavy continued his hot shooting as he went 3 for 5 from beyond the arch and led all scorers with 9 points.

Then the wheels came off.

The Bulls only managed 16 points in the 2nd quarter as the entire team went cold. Shooting 33% and turning the ball over 4 times, the Bulls showed no life on both ends of the court.

In turn, the Celtics found their groove as they shot 56% from the field and out rebounded the Bulls 14 – 7. Emotions were running high as the usually calm Pau Gasol emphatically screamed the F-word due to a no call by the refs but the refs let it slide.

Thibs

Thibs frustrated with the lack of rebounding by the Bulls

Exploding for 36 points in the second quarter, the Celtics took a commanding 56 – 41 lead into halftime.

The 3rd quarter the Bulls were able to keep pace with the red hot Celtics who shot 60% from the field which kept the Bulls from making any kind of run. Still down by double digits, Thibs kept his starters in with Butler and Gasol playing the whole quarter and Dunleavy playing just under 10 minutes. Emotions got the best of Aaron Brooks, as he was called for a technical at the end of the 3rd quarter because he thought he was fouled going to the hoop as time expired.

Entering the 4th quarter, the Bulls had two options being down 16… Fold up and call it a night or continue playing like it was game 7 of the conference final.

If you know anything about the Bulls, you know that coach Thibs chose the latter.

Brooks led the 4th quarter charge, scoring 19 points and pulling the Bulls within 2 points with only 22 seconds left. The Celtics converted their free throw attempts to seal the deal which left the United Center faithful irritable as they filed out of the building.

It was a valiant effort by a tired team but the Bulls did not have enough in the tank to complete the improbable comeback.

All eyes will now turn to Rose and the status of his ankles.

The Bulls get a day off as they await the arrival of the 2 – 3 Pistons, who are led by Greg Monroe and Josh Smith on Monday.

Tom Thibodeau, Aaron Brooks and Taj Gibson talk about the Celtics vs Bulls game

@WesEvans24

The best part of the Michigan-Northwestern game for fans was the singing of National Anthem by Chicago Blackhawks vocalist Jim Cornelison.

A pair of teams sitting at 2-3 in the Big Ten, squared off in Evanston today and their records were indicative of how they played. With both teams underachieving during their 2014 campaigns, Michigan was able to edged Northwestern, 10 – 9 in a sloppily played game.

michvsnuNeither team ran a play in their opponents red zone until the 2nd quarter, where the Wolverines were aided by a Jake Ryan interception of Trevor Siemian near midfield. Michigan was able to break the 20 yard line early in the 2nd but immediately turned the ball over on downs as De’Veon Smith was stuffed on his 4th and 1 attempt.

Northwestern had issues of their own, as penalties and special teams made mistake after mistake going into the half. NU punter Chris Gradone, muffed a snap on his own 24 and was only able to get off a 20 yard punt, setting up Michigan on Northwestern’s own 44.

No worries though for the Wildcats, as Michigan promptly went three and out, but was able to punt the ball to the NU one yard line. NU was unable to get the ball out of the shadows of their own goal posts and had to punt again.

There seems to be a theme developing.

After back to back interceptions by Devin Gardner and then Trevor Siemian, the Wolverines lined up for a 41 yard field goal to take a 3 – 0 lead going into the half.

It was blocked. Nil – Nil at half.

I found myself sitting next to a scout from the Tennessee Titans during the intermission, he was more confused than I was after the first half of play and was uninspired by the players on the field. I asked him if anyone stood out to him, he smiled and simply said, “Let me answer that after the game.”

The terrible play continued after the half, as Michigan fumbled on their opening drive, setting up the Wildcats on the MICH 23. NU gained three yards in 3 plays to set up a 37 yard field goal for Stephan Buckley.

Wide left.

The Titan’s scout turns to me and says, “I have to catch a train.”

All alone now… with faint grumblings from Les Grobstein in the background, NW gets stuffed on a 4th and 2 which gives the ball back to Michigan. Michigan goes all Michigan again, with another three and out near midfield.

The turning point in this pillow fight came when Tony Jones muffed the ensuing punt and the Wolverines jumped on the loose ball.

It only took 2 plays and 21 yards for MICH to score the first points of the day on a Smith 3-yard run. The only bright spot for the Wildcats was an Ibraheim Campbell 79 yard interception return, which set up his offense on the MICH 15 yard line. The first time in the red zone and a real opportunity for the NU offense to capitalize on their field positon. One sack, one intentional grounding penalty and -29 yards later, the Wildcats had to punt on MICH 44.pat-fitzgerald

An offensive explosion occurred in the last 8 minutes of the game as Northwestern FINNALY put 3 points on the board in the middle of the 4th quarter to cap 19 play, 95 yard drive on a Mitchell 21 yard FG.

Michigan answered with a 37 yard FG on the ensuing possession to extend their lead to 10 – 3.

The Wildcats were able to march down the field in 3:07 to score a touchdown on a perfectly placed pass from Siemian to Jones for the 3 yard score. Going to be all tied up after the extra point and heading to overtime…. Right?

Wrong.

Coach Fitzgerald was not about to go to overtime 3 times in arrow against the Wolverines, considering his team has lost the previous two meetings.

The 2 point conversion play summed up the night for both of these teams, as Siemian tripped and fell to the ground as he was rolling out to attempt a pass. Siemian laid on the ground helpless, as the Michigan faithful erupted in cheer for their teams’ pitiful victory.

The Wildcats will have to win out to be bowl eligible as they hit the road for a game at Notre Dame next week. Notre Dame is coming off a disappointing outing against Arizona State in which Everett Golson had 4 interception in their 55 – 31 loss.

@WesEvans24

Bears coach Marc Trestman press conference

Bears coach Marc Trestman press conference

The Weekend Sports Report is back!

After a brief hiatus, the show is back in podcast form. Your host Packer Dave and his guest, former host Les Grobstein look at the Bears – Packers game at Lambeau Field this Sunday.  Co-host Steve Leventhal reports from Halas Hall with audio clips from Aaron Rogers, Mike McCarthy, Jay Cutler, and Marc Trestman. Plus Reggie Bush of the Lions  and Larry Fitzgerald of the league leading Cardinals talk about their upcoming games.

Don’t miss cameos from Bob Costas and Dan Patrick, plus fantasy football advice from our new expert Mike Perlow, formerly of FoxSports.com

bears vs packWhen I was a youngster, my dream was to be Jerry Rice. At that time, being white and slow did not deter me from playing football. Just like me, my team was full of slow white kids who had a hard time scoring a TD, let alone winning games. My football coach would insist that winning and losing was not the only thing that mattered… “How you played the game,” was Coach’s motto when it came to playing Junior Titan’s football on the north side of Chicago.

That is a great premise when teaching kids about sportsmanship and teamwork, but when it comes to an NFL team… winning is everything.

The Bears need a win after they limped into the bye week at 3 – 5 and are on the verge of losing their season if they can’t pull out the upset in Green Bay. The Bears are 1 – 4 in their last five games as the Packers are 4 – 1 after their defeat to the New Orleans Saints in week 8.

Aaron RodgersAaron Rodgers threw 2 picks against the Saints but racked up a season-high 418 yards through the air and ran for a 14 yard TD in the 44 – 23 loss. When asked about his hamstring, Rodgers responded with one word, “fine.” Rodgers shed a little light on his rehab during the bye week, “the medical staff here gave me a seven-day plan to attack the rehab, and I stuck to it.” This means that Bears fans shouldn’t expect to see Matt Flynn under center anytime soon, unless Shea McClellin gets lucky for a second year in a row.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the only way the Bears stay in this game is to run the ball and limit the turnovers. Jay Cutler understands both of these points but can the Bears execute them? “We got to keep to the game plan, we can’t get into a heavy pass situation where we are pass, pass, pass,” Cutler said in his press conference with the media on Thursday. “As players, we just got to make sure we do our job individually and there are going to be mistakes but as long as we try and minimize mistakes individually, as a group we should do well.”

It makes sense… but we’ve seen Marc Trestman throw away the game plan early the past couple weeks as his team fell behind against the Patriots and Dolphins.

Matt Forte is the key if the Bears want to have a shot at upsetting the Packers and not totally losing their season. If Forte is consistently running the ball, it means two things… 1) Jay Cutler is throwing the ball less, which limits the opportunity for an interception. 2) Keeps Aaron Rodgers off the field and the clock moving.

Matt ForteForte has 562 rushing yards with 58 receptions for 490 receiving yards this year. His season high in rushing came against these Packers in week 4 when he had 122 yards on 23 carries and 5 catches for 49 yards. Forte is averaging 169 total yards against the Packers in his last three games against them, with 119 of those yards coming on the ground.

Two teams heading in opposite directions will meet in Lambeau Field this Sunday, one team looking to extend their dominance over the other as they have won 8 of the last 9 meetings and the other trying to keep their head above water so they aren’t irrelevant after week 10 of the season.

My team never won a game that season because our mantra was about everything besides winning. I got to go home and forget about the season because it meant nothing in the long run. Marc Trestman and the Bears don’t have that luxury. Losing means something when you are the charter franchise of the NFL and you haven’t beat your arch rival on a consistent basis. A loss to the Packers won’t only mean a 3 – 6 record, it will call into question all of the decisions made by the McCaskeys, Emery and Trestman in the last 3 years… and it should.

Marc Trestman talks about the Bears-Packers Preview and Jay Cutler talks about the bye week

Key Matchup: Marc Trestman Play Calling vs. Marc Trestman Game Plan

Key Injuries: Lamarr Houston (Out), Matt Slauson (Out), Lance Briggs (Prob.), Kyle Fuller (Prob.)

Fact: Aaron Rodgers is 8 – 0 in last 8 games his finishes against the Bears

Prediction: Packers 34, Bears 24

@WesEvans24

 

 

Derrick RoseIt’s hard to describe the feelings I have when talking about this upcoming Bulls season.

I would compare them to a first date… with a girl you have known for a while but have never had the stones to ask out. You two have flirted off and on for years, but have never given a real relationship a try. When she was single, you had a girlfriend and vice versa. A dating opportunity has never presented itself… until now.

It is time.

Time to see what you are made of and if this relationship could really work. Your friends have been bugging you to ask her out because you guys “are made for each other.” The anxious excitement of a genuine relationship, with a person you WANT to be with, is the same way I feel about this 2014-15 Bulls season.

I WANT this season to be exactly what everyone is predicting.

Since the Bulls drafted Derrick Rose with the 1st overall pick in the 2008, the thought of winning an NBA title was more of a fantasy then a reality. The fantasy being, a young Rose without a supporting cast or respectable head coach, beating LeBron James and the Cavaliers/Heat to get to the NBA Finals.Tom Thib

The respectable coach, Tom Thibodeau, was paired up with Rose in 2010 and since that time they have accrued 1 conference finals appearance and an MVP trophy. Thibodeau has a .657 (205-107) winning percentages in 4 season as head coach and has won the Coach of the Year award once in 2011.

Thibodeau has been criticized regarding his minute distribution for his all-stars, but that shouldn’t be an issue this season with Rose and Noah coming off knee injuries. I would expect Rose to be in the low 30’s for most of the season, with Noah’s minutes being more sporadic based on the status of his knee. It will take some time of Thibs to conjure up a rotation, but expect a more evenly distributed minute chart in 2014-15.

Excluding Jimmy Butler.

With the 2 injury plagued season for Rose in the rearview, the anticipation for this upcoming season is second to none, with the additions of Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott. Arguably the deepest team under Tom Thibodeau, this Bulls team will rely on team defense and ball movement on the offensive end of the floor.

The Bulls still have not acquired that 2nd scorer fans have been waiting for, but expect a team centric approach to scoring with flashes of MVP Rose sprinkled into the mix. Players like Dunleavy, Mirotic and McDermott will be expected to hit their open shots when called upon, due to the attention Rose will receive attacking the basket.

Mirotic & GasolPau Gasol will add a legitimate low post threat with exceptional passing skills that will complement Thibodeau’s offense. Taj Gibson will bring his workman like attitude in order to defend like the Bulls are used to seeing. Gibson has spent his summer expanding his offensive game, but will still be the defensive replacement for Gasol when the Bulls need a stop. Fans should expect to see the same “try hard” Bulls they have fallen in love with, but with more fire power on the offensive side of the court.

The possibility of something great coming out of a first date keeps single people on the market. That same possibility, will keep me intrigued for this Bulls team, barring any injuries, this year could be the “one”.

Record: 55 – 27 (2nd in the Central)

@WesEvans24

 

The Chicago Bears are in a fight.

Not with another team or the NFL front office, but with themselves. On paper, the Bears have a star-studded cast of players with names like Marshall, Cutler, Allen, Forte and Briggs. If only the games were played on paper.

th13M9A295Every week the Bears find a way to shoot themselves in the foot, whether is be a turnover or dumb penalty. The Bears could be 6 – 1 going into week 8 against the New England Patriots but can not seem to get out of their own way. With terrible losses to Buffalo and Miami, the Bears look to turnaround their season against the AFC East’s best team.

The Pats stumbled out of the gate with a 33 – 20 loss to the Dolphins but have gone 5 – 1 since then, as Tom Brady has racked up 1705 yards, 13 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions. The Patriots are 2nd only to the Packers in turnover margin at +9, while giving up 22 PPG. “It’s going to come down to execution football for us. That’s the key… to make sure we’re on top of our game and do what we’re supposed to do in the run game and in the pass game,” Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said when asked about stopping Tom Brady. Unlike Jay Cutler, Brady turns to a bunch of no-named wide receivers, led by Julian Edelman, to average 28.3 PPG at home.

With Stevan Ridley out for the year with a torn ACL, Shane Vereen (brother of Bears rookie safety Brock Vereen) will be the primary ball carrier. Vereen is a poor mans Matt Forte, as he averages 4.9 YPC and is a viable threat catching the ball out of the backfield. Brady’s favorite target, Rob Gronkowski, is getting healthy and looks to feast on the carousel of inexperienced Bears linebackers.

The Bears will also have to fight their urge to throw the ball when they are in a running situation. The Bears are 28th in the league in rush attempts, while having one of the most dynamic running backs in the league. The Patriots are 24th in the NFL in rush defense, giving up 126.3 YPG but boast the BEST passing defense with Darrelle Revis lurking in the secondary.Revis

Marc Trestman will need to call the game of his career this week for the Bears to come out victorious. Trestman’s game plan will have to limit the amount of high risk throws by Jay Cutler while keeping the Patriots defense guessing. If the Bears are repeatedly behind the chains, expect a long day from this Bears offense and multiple turnovers by Cutler.

To beat a team that has a HOF quarterback and a dominant pass defense, the Bears will need to run the ball to open up the passing game and keep the chains moving. The Bears offense will get a boost with DE Chandler Jones out for the Pats with a hip injury, but will still need to orchestrate long drives to keep the ball away from Brady. It will take a total team effort to limit the amount of opportunities the Patriots have Sunday.

It is a tall order for the Bears this weekend in New England if they want to get a win. The loss to the Dolphins knocked the wind out of Chicago. A loss to the Patriots will be the knock out blow for the Bears’ 2014 season.

 

Marc Trestman, Tom Brady and Willie Young talking about the Chicago Bears vs New England Patriots

Key Match Up: Rob Gronkowski vs. the Bear Linebackers

Key Injuries: Kyle Fuller (Prob.), Martellus Bennet (Quest.), Jordan Mills (Quest.)

Fact: The Patriots are 63 – 0 when leading at halftime in Foxborough under Tom Brady

Prediction: Patriots 31, Bears 24

@WesEvans24

untitledThere has been a lot of controversy surrounding the extra-curricular activities that took place after the Bears 27 – 14 loss to the Dolphins last week at Soldier Field. Numerous sources have sited yelling coming from the Bears locker room, believed to be from WR Brandon Marshall. His target? Marshall’s best friend and quarterback, Jay Cutler.

Who cares?

You? Well don’t, because it is a waste of time and there are way more problems with the Bears on the field than off.

This “high” powered Bears offense is ranked 18th in the league at 22.4 PPG. With teams like the Cardinals, Dolphins and Panthers averaging more points than the Bears, Marc Trestman has more on his plate than “who said what” after a terrible loss. The Bears scored 30+ points six times in 2013, but have not cracked 30 in seven games this year.

“There are a lot of guys this means a lot to. We’re 3-4. We need to play better. That’s unacceptable. That’s unacceptable. Unacceptable. Shouldn’t have lost today. Shouldn’t be 3-4. Offense gotta play better. It’s as simple as that,” Marshall commented after the Bears week 7 loss.

A couple things stand out as unacceptable…

First, having a middle of the road offense when approximately 58% of your cap is dedicated to surrounding your “franchise” quarterback is unacceptable. Almost a third of that goes to a quarterback that has committed the 2nd most turnovers in the league.

Thanks Blake Bortles!

Secondly, the Bears are one game under .500 in the Trestman era after they went 10 – 6 during Lovie Smith’s last year. This is not a rallying cry for Smith, his time had come to an end with the Bears and it was time for a change.

untitled (3)Was Trestman the right change?

The answer to that question is still outstanding and I believe that answer won’t be revealed until after the 2015-16 season. Bears fans were wooed by rumors of Trestman being the “Quarterback Whisperer” and an “Offensive Genius,” but are left with more questions after 23 games of his regime. The inconsistency and lack of discipline on both sides of the ball have raised red flags but the flashes of brilliance have covered these up. It is time to wade thru the BS and realize that this team is not ready to win.

Add a tantrum to the mix and fans divert their attention to an off the field issue with Marshall, Cutler and the man who “just kicks the ball,” Gould. The Bears are not a Super Bowl team or even a playoff team as it stands right now and it has NOTHING to do with what happens in the locker room. Blame Cutler… Trestman… Emery… Tucker… but don’t lose sight of what is really wrong with this team.

They are just not very good… right now.

@WesEvans24

It’s about time… Jay Cutler and the Bears finally put together a complete 4 quarters against the Falcons as they controlled every facet of the game. “We have to get to a point where we can consistently play at a high level on all three phases,” Coach Trestman stated on Thursday. The Bears organization will never admit that they needed the victory, but Phil Emery and Marc Trestman know that 2 – 4 is way different then 3 – 3 in the NFL. Per PlayoffStatus.com, the Bears now have a 30% chance of making the playoffs after that win, while the Falcons (2 – 4) chances dropped to 12%. The Bears have an opportunity to go above .500 this weekend as the Miami Dolphins (2 – 3) come into town after their last-second loss to the Packers, 27 – 24.

The Dolphins might bring a losing record to Soldier Field, but have a defense and a running game that will require the Bears to stay sharp. Cameron Wake (DE) and Olivier Vernon (DE) anchor a defense that has given up the 6th fewest yards (331.6) per game while touting the 6th best rushing attack at 136.2 yards per game in the NFL. Knowshon Moreno was placed on IR due to a torn ACL, making Lamar Miller the feature back with his 5.2 yards per carry.

In his third year, QB Ryan Tannehill has posted an 81.5 rating, while complete just over 60% of his passes and thrown 8 touchdowns in five games this season. Tannehill has had a tendency to turn the ball over (23 in 2013) so the Bears defense will look to make the most out of their opportunities this Sunday.

Coming off the 2nd most passing yards of his career (381), Jay Cutler will be front and center as the Bears look to get their first home win this season. “We have to find out a way to start fast at home for these noon games,” Cutler said when asked about the lack of success at home. The Bears are 21 – 5 when Cutler does not throw an interception while 4 – 18 when he throws 2 or more INTs, which begs the question… Will good Jay or bad Jay show up this Sunday?

The offensive line will get a boost this week with the return of left tackle Jermon Bushrod. Bushrod injured his ankle/knee in practice and was replaced by Michael Ola. Thursday was the first time Bushrod, Slauson, Garza, Long and Mills lined up together since week one against Buffalo. If Mills continues to struggle at right tackle, look for Ola to replace him in the upcoming weeks.

The Bears need to turn things around at home and pick up the win, before heading out east to face the New England Patriots. The Pats have won 3 in-a-row and Tom Brady has found his mojo as the offense has put up 35.6 PPG during their winning streak.

Marc Trestman talking about the Miami Dolphins vs Chicago Bears Preview

Key Matchup: Jordan Mills (RT) vs. Cameron Wake (DE) – A three-time Pro Bowler against a shaky right tackle

Key Injuries: LB Lance Briggs (Out), S Chris Conte (Out) and LB Jon Bostic (Questionable)

Fact: Jared Allen has NEVER won a game at Soldier Field.

Prediction: Dolphin 24, Bears 27

 

image2

Northwestern Head Coach Chris Collins

The rhetoric from all fourteen coaches appeared scripted and predictable as they spoke about the upcoming Big Ten basketball season. Rainbows and lollypops are in the minds of all the coaches, from the reigning Big Ten champ, John Beilein of Michigan, to the lowly Purdue Boilermakers and coach Matt Painter. Every team expects to take “the next step” and are smitten with their new recruits that have signed in the offseason. If it was only that simple, the bottom 5 of the 2013-14 season (ILL, IND, PSU, NW and PUR) are predicted to finish in the bottom half of the league again this year, with Maryland and Rutgers also in the mix to bring up the rear.

image1

Coach Tom Izzo

 

 

The overlying theme of today’s press conferences was the expansion of the Big Ten and how it affects the conference schedule. “If you don’t play everybody and you get one of those breaks with the top four teams you play once and the bottom four teams you play twice, there’s going to be a big difference in your win-loss record probably, especially in basketball where home and away seems to have such an impact,” Michigan State Coach Tom Izzo stated during his time with the media. Coach Izzo was one of the first coaches to indirectly voice his displeasure with the scheduling. Wisconsin coach, Bo Ryan, agreed with Izzo in a roundabout way, asserting his wishes for more conference games during the regular season. Coach Miles from Nebraska wanted another crack at Iowa after losing to them in the first game of conference play, 67 – 57 last year. “I wish we’d play our border schools more. Last year we played Iowa the first game of the year, and then I honestly don’t know that I watched them again. And if I recall right, I think they were on the other side of the bracket in the Big Ten Tournament, so I don’t even think I watched much there, either. I didn’t even see Franny’s team play very much after they beat us. We don’t like that, but I believe that that’s not going to change.”

In previous seasons, the Big Ten schedule had 7 double plays and only 4 single plays that were rotated every 2 years. The new league schedule will have only 5 double plays and 8 single plays each season.

image3

Coach John Groce

Does this mean the Big Ten schedule has been dilute or devalued?

“I don’t know if it’s being devalued because there’s still 18 games and 18 tough ones,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon noted. “Obviously everybody plays a different schedule. It’s almost impossible with so many teams to put the schedule together. I think the Big Ten did a nice job with the three-year cycle that they’re going to have. It is what it is.”

In layman’s terms, if you draw Wisconsin, Michigan State, Ohio State or Michigan as a double play team… Make sure you beat the bottom of the barrel teams when you get the opportunity, because you will only get one game against each of them.

 

2014-15 Big Ten Media Day: Coaches talk about the upcoming season (Collins, Ryan, Izzo, Matta, Groce, Beilein and Jordan)

Favorite: WISCONSIN

Dark Horse: IOWA

Six Big Ten teams made the Top 25 Coaches Poll:

#4 – Wisconsin

#18 – Michigan State

#20 – Ohio State

#21 – Nebraska

#23 – Michigan

#25 – Iowa