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Lake Forest, Ill. — John Fox was hired as the Bears' coach on Friday, four days after he and the Broncos parted ways.

Fox was widely seen as a strong candidate to replace the fired Marc Trestman once he left the Broncos on Monday, given his record and his ties to consultant Ernie Accorsi and new general manager Ryan Pace.

Fox was the defensive coordinator for the Giants from 1997 to 2001 when Accorsi was the GM. Saints coach Sean Payton was the offensive coordinator for part of that time, and he is tight with Pace, who was hired out of New Orleans' front office.

Fox won the AFC West all four of his years in Denver, but each of those seasons ended in ugly losses, including a 24-13 upset by Indianapolis this year. He was 49-22 with the Broncos, including the playoffs, following a 78-74 record in nine years with Carolina, counting the postseason.

He led the Panthers to a Super Bowl with Jake Delhomme at quarterback and got back there last year with Peyton Manning. The Broncos got blown out 43-8 by Seattle.

Fox, who in the past was criticized for being too conservative, drew more scrutiny midway through this season when the Broncos altered their offense and started to focus more on the run.

The Bears decided a shakeup was necessary after going 5-11 and missing the playoffs for the seventh time in eight years. They fired general manager Phil Emery and Trestman, the first steps in what they hope will be a drastic turnaround.

With Pace and Fox in place, the Bears can turn their attention toward filling the front office and coaching staffs and addressing a long list of roster issues.

The Bears must decide if they're going to stick with quarterback Jay Cutler after the offense took a big step backward and do something about a defense that has ranked among the league's worst the past two years.

Chicago has been to the playoffs just four times since the start of the 1995 season and only once since the 2006 team's Super Bowl run.

Cutler, who signed a $126 million, seven-year contract at the end of last season, tied Philip Rivers for the league lead with 18 interceptions. That deal makes him difficult if not impossible to trade. Cutting him is a possibility.

Another issue is the future of Brandon Marshall. He was slowed by injuries and played in just 13 games after signing a three-year extension through 2017 last May and too often drew attention for reasons that had nothing to do with performance.

Besides all that, the Bears joined the 1923 Rochester Jeffersons as the only teams to give up 50 or more points in back-to-back games in losses to New England and Green Bay.

Broncos focus on Kubiak

Broncos general manager John Elway met with Vance Joseph, the Bengals defensive backs coach who played at Colorado, where he was a backup quarterback and defensive back.

On Sunday, Elway is meeting with Gary Kubiak, the Ravens offensive coordinator who was Elway's backup QB from 1983-91 and was Denver's offensive coordinator from 1995-2005 under Mike Shanahan. He left in 2006 to coach the Texans, a gig that lasted until he was fired after the 2013 season.

Elway began his search by interviewing in-house candidate Adam Gase, the Broncos' offensive coordinator, on Thursday.

Former Bills coach Doug Marrone canceled an interview scheduled for today.

Extra points

The Packers listed quarterback Aaron Rodgers (left calf) and running back Eddie Lacy (knee) as probable on the injury report for Sunday's NFC title game against the Seahawks.

... "Frozen" star Idina Menzel will sing the national anthem before the Super Bowl kicks off next month.

The NFL announced John Legend will perform "America the Beautiful" before the Super Bowl on Feb. 1 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. It will air on NBC.

Katy Perry will perform during the halftime show.

... Peyton Manning's jersey and overall licensed products remain the best sellers among NFL fans.

According to NFL Players Inc., the marketing arm of the players' union, the Denver quarterback has taken the top spot from Seattle QB Russell Wilson in the third fiscal quarter of 2014 (through Nov. 30) for all merchandise.

In the Jersey Report conducted by Dick's Sporting Goods, through the end of the season, Manning beats out Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck as the top seller.

The top Lions are Calvin Johnson (31st) and Matthew Stafford (40th).

The Seahawks' jersey is the top seller, followed by Denver and Carolina.

NFC Championship

Green Bay at Seattle

Kickoff: 3:05 p.m. Sunday, CenturyLink Field, Seattle

TV/radio: Fox/1270

Line: Seattle by 71/2

AFC Championship

Indianapolis at New England

Kickoff: 6:40 p.m. Sunday, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.

TV/radio: CBS/1270

Line: New England by 61/2

Super Bowl: Sunday, Feb. 1 at Glendale, Arizona, 6:30 p.m. NBC

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