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As Shatner heads toward the stars, visions of space collide



As Shatner heads toward the stars, visions of space collide


“Risk is our business,” James T. Kirk once said. “That’s what this starship is all about. That’s why we’re aboard her.”

More than a half-century later, the performer who breathed life into the fabled Enterprise captain is, at age 90, making that kind of risk his own business and heading toward the stars under dramatically different circumstances than his fictional counterpart. And in doing so, William Shatner is causing worlds to collide, or at least permitting parallel universes to coexist — the utopian spacefaring vision of “Star Trek” and the evolving, increasingly commercial spot that “space” holds in the American psyche.

When Shatner boards Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin NS-18 in Texas around dawn Wednesday, his one small step into the craft creates one of the ultimate crossover stories of our era.

It’s about space and exploration, sure, and certainly about capitalism and billionaires and questions of economic equity. But it’s also about popular culture and marketing and entertainment and nostalgia and hope and Manifest Destiny and, and, and … well, you get the idea.

“What will I see when I’m out there?” Shatner wondered last week, talking to Anderson Cooper on CNN. An equally valid question is this: What will WE see when he’s out there?

It will be a complex blend of human dreams superimposed upon technology and hope, braggadocio and cash, and the notion that space travel elevates us — all orchestrated by a company under serious criticism for what some call the decidedly un-utopian, tech-bro ways that it operates.

Is all that and “Star Trek” a good fit?

Since its 1966 premiere with one of the most diverse casts TV had ever seen, “Trek” has grown into an intricate transmedia universe full of subtleties and traditions and rules.

Among them: Human beings avoid killing each other. Money is generally outdated, as are hunger and poverty. Greed is aberrant. Noninterference in other cultures is the most sacred principle of all. And within the United Federation of Planets, the spacefaring United Nations of “Star Trek,” exploration, not domination, is the coin of the realm. In short, unlike a lot of humanity right now.

Humans first set foot on the moon 47 days after the original series’ final episode. Over the next half century, backed by a vocal fan base, “Star Trek” roared back for more and, in the process, led the way in cementing space travel as an ideal canvas for relevant storytelling. “Trek” remained one of the culture’s central vehicles for a spacefaring future. Nichelle Nichols, who played Lt. Uhura on the show, was a particularly tireless advocate, working with NASA to recruit Americans of color and women.

The vision has evolved but remained generally utopian, though two of the latest iterations, “Star Trek: Discovery” and “Star Trek: Picard,” have dipped deeper into darkness than their predecessors. In all that varying storytelling, though, one constant remained: the notion that human space travel would become a vector of ethics and goodness that elevated the galaxy rather than plundered it.

Which brings us to companies like Blue Origin, Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic — endeavors that build their brands not upon countries but corporations. They offer a narrative that space travel isn’t just for scientists and diplomats but for you and me, too. If, that is, you and me happen to have a few hundred thousand dollars or more of walking-around money on hand.

Many have impugned the billionaire space moguls’ actions, including the secretary-general of the United Nations, and the troubles of Blue Origin’s corporate culture are well-documented of late.

But the motives of the Amazon founder himself remain unclear. It is evident, though, that the popular culture of space travel has influenced Bezos deeply. A longtime “Trek” fan, he made a cameo as an alien Starfleet official in the 2016 movie “Star Trek Beyond.” And according to biographer Brad Stone, Bezos even fleetingly considered calling Amazon “,” after Capt. Jean-Luc Picard’s favorite command.

“The whole ethos of `Star Trek’ showed people who were different-looking, with different skills, working together. We are in the opening moments of something like that,” says Richard B. Cooper, vice president of the Space Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates for the global space industry. “People can look at this environment and say, `Hey — I belong there, too.’”

Prohibitive costs aside (and that’s a big aside), Cooper has a point. Though the likes of Shatner may not be “regular people,” the shift from the dominance of the test pilot and the scientist tracks with the populism of our era, where — it must be said — the exactitude of science is being called into question as never before. And as Cooper points out, “it gives people hope.”

That kind of storyline — hope, heroism, competitive dominance and an unerring sense of competence that can at times overlap with testosterone — is powerful. At a moment when NASA and nation-focused space travel lacks a compelling Hollywood narrative, the entrepreneurs and their marketers step right in.

“American dominance in space, nobody cares about it. It’s Bezos who says, ‘We can’t go on living like this. We have to save the planet,’” says Mary-Jane Rubenstein, a professor of religion and science in society at Wesleyan University.

“It’s the billionaires who have the utopian visions,” says Rubenstein, author of “Astrotopia: The Dangerous Religion of the Corporate Space Race,” an upcoming book. “The states can’t muster them. They have no story.”

Should we even be colonizing space? Don’t we have enough going on here at home to worry about? Aren’t there people with problems more pressing than this who could use the cash?

And what if we encounter life that’s not life as we know it, and harm it out of obliviousness or greed? It’s not as if that hasn’t happened countless times here on the ground, in the land that put a man on the moon but still grapples with a history brimming with horrors from slave markets to smallpox blankets. These are only some of the questions that will ascend and descend with Shatner on Wednesday.

Is it a stunt? Sure. Is it a genius marketing ploy? Absolutely. Is it cynical and self-aggrandizing and designed solely to make more money and grab more attention for the world’s richest man? You’re going to have to decide that one yourself.


Ted Anthony, director of new storytelling and newsroom innovation at The Associated Press, has been writing about American culture since 1990 and watching “Star Trek” since 1969. His younger son’s middle name is Kirk. Follow him on Twitter at

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Week 13 NFL Picks: AFC East lead on the line when Patriots visit Bills on Monday night



Week 13 NFL Picks: AFC East lead on the line when Patriots visit Bills on Monday night

Game of the week

New England at Buffalo

The Patriots are a 2 1/2-point underdog Monday night despite a six-game winning streak in which they have allowed more than 13 points just once. But Buffalo, which has alternated wins and losses over the last six weeks, plays with urgency and ties the Patriots in the AFC East.

Bills 20, Patriots 17

Lock of the week

Washington at Las Vegas

Not a kind schedule for WFT, which beat Seattle and has to travel cross country on a short week while the Raiders were last seen stunning Dallas on Thanksgiving. The Raiders are a 2 1/2-point favorite and move to 7-5 behind Derek Carr’s three touchdown passes.

Raiders 34, Washington 20

Upset of the week

N.Y. Giants at Miami

A lot of big point-spreads so not a lot of choices for straight upsets, but we’ll go with the Giants, who are a 4 1/2-point underdog. Big Blue is expected to be without injured quarterback Daniel Jones so it will be the defense that carries the day and ends the Dolphins’ four-game winning streak.

Giants 13, Dolphins 10

Around the AFC: New England cornerback J.C. Jackson’s price rising with each interception

John Bazemore, The Associated Press

New England Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson celebrates after an interception in the end zone during the second half of an NFL football game against the Carolina Panthers Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C.

Impressive Bengals. Cincinnati has rebounded to beat Las Vegas by 19 and Pittsburgh by 31 points since its bye week and among the most impressive Bengals statistics is their discipline/fundamentals. The Bengals have an NFL-low 43 penalties, nine fewer than any other team and a whopping 37 fewer than seven teams. Cincinnati (7-4), which hosts the Chargers (6-5) on Sunday, have been streaky with three two-game winning streaks. If they beat the Bolts, the Bengals will have their first three-game winning streak since starting 2015 with eight consecutive victories. Cincinnati-Broncos in Week 15 is looming as an intriguing showdown.

Missing Henry. Titans running back Derrick Henry’s worth to his team, already documented and significant, has been amplified since he injured his foot Oct. 31 at Indianapolis. Despite missing the last four games, Henry still leads the NFL in carries (219) and is second in yards (937) and third in touchdowns (10). Tennessee, which is off this week, eclipsed 30 points five times in Henry’s eight games, but have managed 28, 23, 13 and 13 points during his absence (2-2 record); it lost at home to Houston and was routed at New England the last two weeks. Fortunately for Tennessee (8-4), it leads the AFC South by 2 1/2 games and holds the tie-breaker over Indianapolis via the series sweep.

Jackson’s price rising. New England cornerback J.C. Jackson is one of the league’s top bargains this year, playing on the second-round restricted free agent tender of $3.384 million. He might make five times that in 2022 via either franchise tag/long-term deal from the Patriots or hitting the open market. Jackson’s 24 interceptions (seven this year, second-most in the league) are the third-most by a player in his first four years since the 1970 merger. The first-place Patriots face Buffalo’s second-ranked scoring offense (29.6 points per game) on Monday.

Around the NFC: Rams’ veteran stars aren’t playing like it during losing streak

Los Angeles Rams' Matthew Stafford warms ...

Aaron Gash, The Associated Press

Los Angeles Rams’ Matthew Stafford warms up before an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, in Green Bay, Wis.

Reeling Rams. The Rams (7-4) are still looking for their first win since getting outside linebacker Von Miller and receiver Odell Beckham on the field (0-2). Sunday is a must win against Jacksonville because Los Angeles’ next four games are at Arizona, vs. Seattle, at Minnesota and at Baltimore. Quarterback Matthew Stafford needs to play better for the Rams to have any chance in the playoffs, likely as an on-the-road wild card. During the three-game losing streak, Stafford’s passer ratings have been 71.0, 67.4 and 96.6. The passing game misses Robert Woods, who had 45 catches in eight games before sustaining a torn ACL.

Brady rolls on. Can a defending Super Bowl champion be quietly lurking? We say yes about Tampa Bay, which is 8-3 and third in the NFC behind Arizona (9-2) and Green Bay (9-3). The Buccaneers are 23rd in rushing (95.8 yards per game), but first in passing (305.9). Quarterback Tom Brady, 44, continues to defeat Father Time. He enters Week 13 leading the league in pass attempts (457), completions (309) and touchdowns (30) and second in yards (3,403). The extra regular season game should allow Brady to eclipse 40 touchdowns for the first time since 2007 (50).

49ers surging. Like the Broncos, San Francisco has recovered from an early-season four-game losing streak. The 49ers were 3-5 after losing at home to Arizona in Week 9, but have beat the Rams, Jacksonville and Minnesota by 21, 20, and eight points, respectively. The 49ers (6-5) hold the sixth playoff spot heading to dreadful Seattle (3-8). Sixth-round rookie Elijah Mitchell is another find by veteran running backs coach Bobby Turner and Co. Mitchell carried 27 times apiece in wins over the Rams (91 yards) and Vikings (133 yards). The 49ers have four of their final six games on the road, including Cincinnati and Tennessee.

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Column: Trevis Gipson has a big opportunity the rest of the season to prove he can be an edge rusher the Chicago Bears can build around



Column: Trevis Gipson has a big opportunity the rest of the season to prove he can be an edge rusher the Chicago Bears can build around

Justin Fields’ performance in the stretch run of the season will set the tone in terms of what the Chicago Bears roster looks like going forward.

Complicating that is the rib injury he suffered Nov. 21 during the aggravating 16-13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Fields missed the Thanksgiving Day victory in Detroit and Andy Dalton is set to start again Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals at Soldier Field.

If you are compiling a list of young players not named Fields in position to offer hope for the future, start with outside linebacker Trevis Gipson.

The 2020 fourth-round pick hasn’t gotten the attention given to wide receiver Darnell Mooney, tight end Cole Kmet, cornerback Jaylon Johnson, offensive tackles Larry Borom and Teven Jenkins or even running back Khalil Herbert, but Gipson is a player the Bears need to take a large step forward in the final six games. The others, of course, have carved out niches for themselves or are working to do that.

Gipson has flashed on occasion and now with 17 games of experience entering Sunday, it’s time for him to show if he can push for a starting position in 2022 or if he’ll be a reserve the team is looking to replace. What’s ahead for Gipson is unlimited opportunity with Khalil Mack out for the season with a left foot injury and Jeremiah Attaochu previously sidelined with a torn pectoral muscle.

The defense sacked Ravens backup quarterback Tyler Huntley six times and Gipson had one, giving him three for the season. He followed that up by punching the ball out of the clutch of Lions quarterback Jared Goff before securing the ball.

There’s no way to overstate what the remainder of the season means to him. The stakes are raised and he knows it.

“It promises me a lot of opportunities,” Gipson said. “But if I don’t take advantage of the first one, then the rest won’t come. I’m just focused on taking advantage of that, obviously praying for Khalil hoping he comes back healthy.”

The Bears have Mack, 30, under contract through 2024 and while they could create $6 million in salary cap savings during the offseason by moving on from the six-time Pro Bowl selection, a long conversation would need to be had before heading down that path. Multiple restructures of his contract have driven up his 2022 cap hit to $30.15 million. The Bears would have a $24 million cap hit without Mack, so for the difference of $6 million he could anchor the defense for another season unless the team gets more in a trade than most imagine he’d bring.

Robert Quinn was named NFC defensive player of the month for November for having 5½ of his 11 sacks and he has become everything the Bears hoped he would be last season. The 31-year-old is set to earn $12.9 million in 2022. If the Bears have a roster in transition next season, it’s difficult to imagine they will pay two pass rushers over the age of 30, but that decision is a couple months off.

The franchise has spent two decades paying for pass rushers. Since 2000, only two drafted edge rushers have produced eight sacks in a season. Rosevelt Colvin, a fourth-round pick in 1999, had 10½ sacks in 2001 and 2002 before exiting in free agency. Mark Anderson, a fifth-round pick in 2006, had 12 sacks as a rookie but only 9½ in his next 50 games before being released in 2010.

The Bears consistently have paid players to spearhead the pass rush, acquiring and then extending players such as Phillip Daniels, Adewale Ogunleye, Julius Peppers, Willie Young, Lamarr Houston, Pernell McPhee, Mack and most recently Quinn. Young was the best value addition of the group by former general manager Phil Emery and most of the players on that list provided what the Bears were seeking. But it’s an expensive proposition to buy a pass rush, and time and again it has limited the organization from adding key offensive pieces.

The Bears were without a pick in the fourth round of the 2020 draft when Gipson was sitting on the board. The Bears deemed him worth getting, leading to a rare in-division trade with the Minnesota Vikings to add a pick and select him.

With a shortened training camp and no preseason during his rookie season, he made a slow adjustment to playing on his feet and not with a hand in the dirt as a defensive end like he was accustomed to at Tulsa. Gipson showed progress this summer and now he’s getting more action than he could have expected with Quinn missing time because of COVID-19 and Mack sidelined.

Gipson has been on the field for 48% of the defensive snaps but has been at 69% over the last five games. He has shown the ability to defeat pass blockers and needs to do it on a more consistent basis with five tackles for loss, four quarterback hits, two forced fumbles and the recovery against Goff.

Here’s a look at his three sacks this season.

Week 4 vs. Lions

Gipson does a really nice job of setting up Lions’ first-round pick Penei Sewell, starting at left tackle in place of Taylor Decker, by taking him vertically upfield off the ball. Gipson forces Sewell to widen in his set, opening the door to beat him inside. It’s a schemed one-on-one, a simulated pressure from the Bears bringing three to that side. The left guard has to account for blitzing linebacker Roquan Smith, the back is releasing because it’s only a four-man rush, so it’s a true one-on-one versus Sewell. Gipson makes him set vertically and then goes to the inside with a quick swim move, pins the inside arm of Sewell to remove it and beats him. It’s a good athletic play. Goff feels the pressure and tries to spin out but Gipson is in position to get him down.

Week 5 at Raiders

Las Vegas goes with max protection using 12-personnel to take a play-action shot downfield with a two-man route. The Bears are only rushing four and the Raiders have eight in to block, but because of the way the line is sliding Gipson gets a one-on-one versus tight end Foster Moreau. This isa power move with active hands. Moreau trips a little bit but not until after Gipson is bending him back to create a path to the quarterback. He shows the burst to close on Derek Carr.

Week 11 vs. Ravens

Coming out of a two-point stance on the defensive left side, Gipson wins with a classic pass rush move. Right tackle Patrick Mekari sets deep in the second-and-15 situation. Gipson presses Mekari upfield and forces him to open his hips. This creates a situation in which Gipson has to bend, turn the corner and flatten to get to Huntley, preventing Mekari from running him upfield. Gipson does a good job dropping his anchor and bending, he has to rip, change levels and get through Mekari and he does a good job to get home to Huntley.

The signs are there that Gipson has the ability. The Bears have a major hole without Mack, something defensive coordinator Sean Desai has to scheme around on a weekly basis. That’s not a knock on Gipson, who is getting the chance to evolve his game.

“It’s a great opportunity given where that room is going,” Desai said. “He is continuing to develop. You’ve seen spurts of him getting better with his hands at the point of attack, his conversions in the pass rush, stuff that (outside linebackers coach Bill) Shuey has been working on and emphasizing with him. He’s straining his body and mind to try to improve on those.

“And it’s still a process. He’s not where he wants to be and I don’t think he’s where we want him to be. But he’s still a young player who hasn’t played a lot of football snaps in this league. We’ve got to make sure that we develop him and build him up to our standard.”

If Gipson plays well — if he can begin accumulating more impact plays — the Bears can gain confidence that a young player is beginning to ascend. If not, they’re going to have to continue paying top dollar, one way or another, for edge rushers.

Scouting report

Budda Baker, Cardinals free safety

Information for this report was obtained from NFL scouts.

Budda Baker, 5-foot-10, 195 pounds, is in his fifth season in Arizona after the Cardinals made him a second-round pick in 2017 out of Washington. Baker, a captain, is fourth on the defense with 41 solo tackles and has two interceptions and three pass breakups.

A three-time Pro Bowl selection (once on special teams), the Cardinals extended Baker before the start of the 2020 season, a deal that places him fourth among safeties in the league with an annual average of $14.75 million, just above the Bears’ Eddie Jackson.

“They’ve been mixing man and zone this season but the last few weeks they’ve been more zone heavy,” the scout said. “That could be based on tendency and who they are playing against. They’ve been good on both. That was a big concern about this team coming into the season, did they have the corners to play as much man because (coordinator) Vance Joseph is a heavy man-pressure coach, but they’ve done that and Budda Baker really helps them do both.

“It’s not always perfect with him but he plays with urgency. He’s at top speed all the time and he is a game changer for them because he can fill the alley versus the run, he can blitz, check tight ends and he can drive top down on the ball. He’s got enough range to spin him to the post. He’s got multidimensional traits but when you turn on the tape, the thing that always jumps out is he’s playing faster than everyone else.

“Everyone in the NFL can run so why is this guy always a step ahead of everyone? I think he sees it faster than everyone else and when he goes there, if you’re a ball carrier, he’s going to thump you too. He’s an excellent tackler, he’s a good tackler in space and what he ultimately is for Arizona is a tone setter. If you’re a wide receiver coming across the middle of the field or a running back bouncing the ball outside the tackles, you better get your pads low.

“He doesn’t have the same playmaking traits of Eddie Jackson or the same fluid range, but his lateral speed is better and his closing speed is better and he’s more than a willing tackler. He wants to drop the hammer. You can build a secondary around that. He dictates the tempo of the game.”

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5 things to watch for as the Chicago Bears play host to the Arizona Cardinals, including Kyler Murray’s potential return and a crowd on edge — plus our Week 13 predictions



5 things to watch for as the Chicago Bears play host to the Arizona Cardinals, including Kyler Murray’s potential return and a crowd on edge — plus our Week 13 predictions

Chicago Bears quarterback Andy Dalton will start his second straight game in place of Justin Fields on Sunday as the Bears host the Arizona Cardinals at Soldier Field.

As Fields recovers from broken ribs, Dalton will try to push the Bears to a second straight win against a much more difficult opponent than the winless Detroit Lions team he beat last week.

As kickoff approaches, here’s our snapshot look at the game.

Chicago Bears (4-7) vs. Arizona Cardinals (9-2)

  • Kickoff: Noon Sunday at Soldier Field.
  • TV and radio: FOX-32, WBBM-AM 780, WCFS-FM 105.9, WRTO-AM 1200 (Spanish).
  • The line: Cardinals by 7½. Over/under: 43½.
  • Sign up now to get Brad Biggs’ 10 thoughts first

1. Player in the spotlight

The Cardinals declared quarterback Kyler Murray questionable to play Sunday in what would be his first game since Oct. 28 because of a left ankle injury. Coach Kliff Kingsbury called Murray a game-day decision — one that could drastically affect what the Bears are facing.

In eight games before his injury, Murray threw for 2,276 yards, 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions for a 110.4 passer rating and rushed for 147 yards. Colt McCoy, who started the last three games and went 2-1 in place of Murray, has thrown for 684 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.

“Obviously (Murray) presents as a really good leader on tape,” Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai said. “There’s not many mistakes happening. He’s got command of the offense. He can obviously beat you with his arm strength and with his feet.

“He’s becoming, in my opinion, a much more patient passer in the pocket where he’ll scramble to throw, and it’s dangerous because as a coverage guy, you’re kind of nervous. Is the guy going to throw it or is he going to run it? Because he’s a fast guy and he can still make you miss in the open field, and you see that on tape.”

Desai said the Cardinals are “distributing the ball over the place,” with five players with 30 catches or more, including Christian Kirk, who leads the team with 49 receptions for 628 yards. DeAndre Hopkins, who has missed the last three games with a hamstring injury, will also be a game-day decision.

“(Hopkins) is still the No. 1 target, as he should be,” Desai said. “He’s earned that respect around the league with his play, but they’re getting all those guys the ball in a variety of different ways. They’re getting them the ball in space, they’re getting them the ball over the top, they’re getting them the ball underneath, a lot of different ways. … Kyler’s doing a good job playing that point guard as the quarterback and getting the ball out and getting it to different people, extending plays when he needs to extend them and then taking his shots downfield when he needs to take the shots downfield.”

2. Pressing question

What can the Andy Dalton-led Bears do against one of the NFL’s top pass defenses?

Dalton and the Bears offense chewed up the final 8 minutes, 30 seconds of the Thanksgiving game against the Lions to set up Cairo Santos’ winning 28-yard field goal, and Dalton finished with 317 passing yards and a touchdown.

But that was against the Lions.

The Cardinals allow just 204 passing yards per game and 6.1 passing yards per play, both ranked fourth in the NFL. They have 29 sacks this season, led by Markus Golden’s 10 and Chandler Jones’ eight.

“They have some violent pass rushers that can do a lot of things,” Bears right tackle Larry Borom said. “Both Golden and Jones, they can bend. Their speed, power. A magnificent amount of weapons they have.”

Dalton said he needs to be aware of playing on time against the Cardinals’ pass rushers.

“Because if you think you can hold on to it for a little bit longer, that’s when bad things can happen,” Dalton said. “So they do have a good rush, and for me, it starts with playing on time and making sure I’m decisive with what I’m doing.”

The Bears might be able to lean on David Montgomery, who rushed for 46 yards against the Lions, against a Cardinals rush defense that hasn’t been quite as good.

3. Keep an eye on …

Bears wide receiver Marquise Goodwin has been declared out because of foot and ribs injuries, and top receiver Allen Robinson is doubtful to play because of a hamstring injury. That leaves the Bears with only one wide receiver on the field with more than 10 catches this season.

Darnell Mooney has put together back-to-back games with more than 120 yards receiving to bring his total to 46 catches for 694 yards and three touchdowns. But beyond him, the only Bears receivers with catches this season are Damiere Byrd (nine catches, 74 yards) and Jakeem Grant (three catches, 31 yards).

That presents obvious challenges for the coaching staff as it tries to prepare for the stout Cardinals defense.

“The question is, OK, if (a player) can’t go, does the guy who practiced it Wednesday take over and you still call it? Or do you just bag it because it’s really just built for that one guy?” Bears offensive coordinator Bill Lazor said. “There’s a little bit of both. You try to build as much as you can that the replacement can do it. But to me, that’s a challenge of when guys are questionable. Everybody wants to know, is he going to play, is he practicing, how much is he practicing? As coaches, we want to know that, too, because we’ve got tonight and then we’ve got to plan the next day.”

Playing a big role Sunday could be the Bears tight ends, including Cole Kmet, who practiced in full Friday after recovering from a groin injury. Nagy also pointed to Byrd, who is in his sixth NFL season, as a player who has been “under the radar” this season.

“He hasn’t had a lot of catches, but he helps us out so much in so many different ways,” Nagy said. “So he’s going to have a much bigger role. And then some of these other guys, too, as well, they understand the importance.”

4. Odds and ends

It would certainly help the Bears’ cause to get ahead early against the Cardinals, in part to appease fans who have voiced their discontent over this 4-7 season with booing and “Fire Nagy!” chants.

Bears safety Eddie Jackson said earlier this week that such chants aren’t helping matters. When asked his thoughts on it Friday, Nagy said he can’t let it be a distraction.

“I have the ultimate respect for our fans and our city, just everybody,” Nagy said. “I understand the game. I understand what everyone wants with the wins. … But I would not be doing my job (if) that would be a distraction. I’m here to lead these guys to a win and to help out, and that’s all I can do. I understand the competitiveness and the fight and the love and the passion that this city has. I understand it. At the same time, that is a distraction for us. We want to go out there and do everything we can to win for everybody.”

5. Injury report

With Fields unlikely to play because of a ribs injury — Nagy declared Dalton the starter and Nick Foles the backup — the status of inside linebacker Roquan Smith is the thing to watch here.

Smith missed practices Wednesday and Thursday with a hamstring injury but returned in a limited capacity Friday. Nagy called him a game-time decision.

“He’s getting close is what I would say,” Nagy said. “We’ll get him out there and see what happens and where he’s at. He’s a guy that he’s going do everything he possibly can to be able to get ready to play.”

Fields is listed as doubtful, as is Robinson. The Bears already declared out Goodwin, defensive linemen Akiem Hicks (ankle) and Mario Edwards Jr. (ribs) and running back Damien Williams (calf).

The Bears are expected to activate rookie offensive tackle Teven Jenkins, who missed the first 11 games after undergoing back surgery. Nagy has indicated Jenkins will back up Jason Peters and Larry Borom.

For the Cardinals, safety James Wiggins (knee) was ruled out, while cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. (foot) and left guard Justin Pugh (calf) are questionable along with Murray and Hopkins.


Brad Biggs (9-2)

The Bears were able to change the vibe at Halas Hall by ending their five-game losing streak with a victory at Detroit. To maintain hope that there is something to play for, they cannot fall further behind the five teams one game ahead of them in the win column in the NFC, making this game critical. The Cardinals enter with the best record in the NFL and they’re 6-0 on the road where they’ve been blowing opponents out, averaging 32.8 points per game. The Bears have been struggling to score more than half that much. With Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins expected back after missing three games with injuries, the Bears are in a tough spot.

Cardinals 28, Bears 17

Colleen Kane (10-1)

This looks like a tough matchup for the Bears on both sides of the ball, especially if Murray plays for the first time since Week 8. Even if Murray is a little rusty, the Bears will have their hands full with a quarterback who boasts a 110.4 passer rating. The Bears might find some success on offense behind running back David Montgomery on what is forecast to be a cold, rainy day. But with a depleted wide receivers corps, the Bears and Andy Dalton could find it tough to get much going in the passing game. In their last couple of losses, the Bears kept it close, but there’s potential for an ugly one here.

Cardinals 27, Bears 16

Dan Wiederer (10-1)

In a battle between one of the NFL’s top-five scoring offenses and one of the league’s bottom five, the odds are stacked against Matt Nagy’s team. The Bears will have to play a near-perfect game Sunday to pull off an upset. But with ongoing injury issues, the Bears are way too short-handed on both sides of the ball to either limit the Cardinals explosive offense or keep up with it.

Cardinals 27, Bears 13

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