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Nagy named top NFL coach by AP writers


A panel of 10 Associated Press football writers has selected Matt Nagy as the NFL's top head coach. Nagy, who has led the Bears to the top of the NFC North with a 9-4 record in his first season, received seven of 10 first-place votes.

"When you hear something like that, especially as a head coach, it speaks to who we are," Nagy said. "When you hear [about] an award like that, you get humbled by it, you appreciate it. But it's all about everybody in this building."

Nagy took over a Bears team that had finished in last place each of the four previous seasons with records of 5-11, 6-10, 3-13 and 5-11.

With a win Sunday against the Packers, the Bears would clinch the NFC North title for the first time since 2010. Nagy is 3-1 against division opponents this season after the Bears went 3-15 versus NFC North foes the previous three years.

"(Nagy's) overseen a total turnaround of the Bears in just his first year as an NFL head coach, taking a team that hadn't finished above .500 since 2012 and turning them into the best of the NFC North," said Washington-based AP writer Howard Fendrich.

Injury update: Nagy said Friday that receiver Allen Robinson II (hip), safety Eddie Jackson (shin) and defensive tackle Bilal Nichols (knee) are all expected to play Sunday despite being listed as questionable on the injury report.

For the Packers, tackle Bryan Bulaga (knee) is doubtful, while defensive tackle Kenny Clark (elbow) is questionable. Cornerback Bashaud Breeland, who's dealing with a groin injury and a personal matter, is also questionable.

Different team: What's the biggest difference in the Bears team that will host the Packers Sunday—with a chance to clinch the NFC North championship— versus the one that lost its season opener in Green Bay Sept. 9?

"I think just experience," said quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. "Sticking together. We're really the only ones that believed that we could possibly be in this position. Just believing in each other, believing in our coach, believing in the plan and just going out there and really making it happen.

"No one else thought we'd be in position, but we always thought we could by the way we worked, the type of guys we have on this team, our love for each other and our love for this game."

Stepping up: Kyle Fuller is enjoying a career year. The Bears cornerback is tied for the NFL lead with seven interceptions and tops the team with 19 pass breakups. His seven picks are the most by a Bears player since 2012 when Tim Jennings led the league with nine.

"He's staying aggressive," Nagy said. "And then when he gets an opportunity to make a play, he's making those plays. It's something that our defense is doing. They're just getting stronger and stronger in the belief in each other. They're playing fast and playing with an opportunistic mindset."

New play-caller: Sunday's game will be the second since Joe Philbin replaced Mike McCarthy as Packers coach. McCarthy was fired Dec. 2 after Green Bay lost to the Cardinals at home. With Philbin calling plays last Sunday, the Packers beat the Falcons 34-20 in Green Bay.

"It is a factor," said defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. "No two people call the game the same way. If somehow I couldn't show up to the game on Sunday, we'd be the same defense, but whoever called it, it'd look a little different because no two people are alike.

"Their offense hasn't changed. They didn't make drastic scheme changes. It's just you have a new play-caller, so you have to keep that in mind."