Ryan Bukowiecki is a student at the Illinois Media School and a contributor to The D & Davis Show
The day changed, but the result stayed the same. Last Saturday brought yet another tough loss, to the Detroit Lions. In its wake, and the clinching of a third-straight double-digit loss season, the Chicago Bears find themselves with one home game left on the season.
The opponent for this game will be the winless Cleveland Browns on what may be a unique Christmas Eve at Soldier Field, to say the least. The Browns will be looking to try and unwrap a victory for Christmas as this will be their best opportunity to do so this season. As for the Bears, they are trying to avoid another embarrassment this season by not succumbing to the team most synonymous with losing in the NFL. There already have been too many disappointing moments in the 2017-18 Bears season and adding this to the list would be a possible new low, although a possible perfect climax to the rough John Fox era for the Bears.
Also, this seems to be the best opportunity for the Bears to get a victory themselves. The last opponent for the Bears, the Vikings, may be playing for something and the way the Bears are beat up, it would be much easier to beat the Browns. Both the Bears and Browns seem to be on the same level and both teams will have similar offseasons for very different reasons.
Both teams are in need of quarterback development and major additions to the roster. The Browns will most likely have two top ten picks and the QB position needs to be addressed. The Bears have their QB addressed but need more star power talent from the draft and though they will have a top ten pick, they will also have only 7 picks (and maybe lose a pick due to the Inman trade) in 2018. It will be an interesting off-season, one which sort of begins on a analytical level for both teams with Sunday’s game itself.
Here are the keys for the Bears to win on Sunday.
Bears are the favorite, act like it – The Bears have some serious o-line injury question marks as Josh Sitton is doubtful and Kyle Long’s back up Tom Compton is questionable. Besides the o-line the Bears have lost a lot on defense so health of the team is a bit of a question mark. Throw all that stuff out the window.
This is a winless team coming onto your field. The Bears have made plenty excuses for all the missteps they have had this season and love to say how good they are when they win. The Bears lost the last time they were favored in a game, against the Packers.
If the young players and front office members value building anything at all, then this is a game the Bears must win. Cleveland has found a way to lose every game this year even when they have had chances to win. The Bears cannot let them off the hook and need to come out like they did in their last victory against Cincinnati.
A trend is going to break — It has been well documented how poorly the Bears have played under John Fox when the Bears are favored to win. The Bears are currently 0-7 and this will be the last time they are favored this year (and maybe John Fox’s last time being favored as Bears head coach).
On the other side, Hue Jackson is 2-0 on Christmas Eve. Last year, the Browns beat the Chargers on Christmas Eve and ended a win-less streak at that time. Ladies and Gentleman, a streak is coming to an end this Sunday.
Kizer vs Trubisky — Plain and simple, the young rookies from the 2017 draft class will have a huge impact on deciding this game. Kizer leads the NFL in turnovers at 25 and Trubisky threw three interceptions last week against the Lions. The Bears could struggle to run the ball without Kyle Long, Josh Sitton and backup lineman Tom Compton.
Also, the Browns have been good against the run this year, currently ranked seventh in run defense. A huge key for the Bears in this game will be taking care of the ball and trying to exploit turnovers from Kizer who has been prone to the turnover so far in his young career.
Trubisky doesn’t have much of anything around him and without a good run game, it’s hard to expect Trubisky to be a difference maker. But Trubisky doesn’t have to be a difference maker in terms of making plays, instead Trubisky can be a difference maker by moving the chains and not giving the ball away.
Calling all playmakers left — One of the easiest ways to get by the Browns is for any playmakers left on the roster to step up and make a play. Offensively the Bears will have opportunities but they have always been limited in the playmaker category. On defense there has been some bright spots like Eddie Jackson and the opportunity is here this week.
The Browns have their own injuries and might be without Isaiah Crowell. The Bears defense and special teams will be the key this week to make enough plays to make things easier on the offense. This game will most likely be ugly and played in below freezing with possibility for snow. Expect sloppiness and the game might hang on the outcome of a few select plays, maybe a missed tackle or failed interception.
However it plays out, the Bears will have to take this game and not expect the Browns to just give them a victory.
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