Monster’s Mash: Still plenty to play for on Christmas Eve?

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 24: A snow blower is used prior to the game between the Chicago Bears and the Cleveland Browns at Soldier Field on December 24, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

LAKE FOREST – About the only thing that would truly appeal to football fans in Chicago about the second-to-last game of the season for the Bears might be the weather.

Snowflakes will fly during the majority of the team’s game with the Browns Sunday at Soldier Field as a small Christmas Eve burst of snow blankets the Chicago area. But other than some pretty scenery, not much else to root for on this day.

The Bears are already assured of their seventh-consecutive season without games to play in the playoffs while the Browns have, once again, failed to win a game in their first 14 tries. On top of that, it’s likely that John Fox and the majority of his coaching staff are already on their way out once the 2017 season comes to a close, and it’s probably the same scenario for Cleveland.

Kinda a bummer, huh? But Fox insists there will be no overlooking, no taking for granted, no slacking off on this snow Sunday of a lost season.

“It is Christmas Eve, most of these guys carry games with them, but, I mean, they would feel a lot better on Christmas Day after a ‘W’ than the alternative,” said Fox. “So I think those things are a little bit more motivational than crowds or records.”

Believe is or not, there is one part of Cleveland’s game that presents a significant challenge to the Bears: The Browns’ rushing defense. They’re seventh in the league in yards allowed, and when the Bears can’t run it’s spelled their doom in a number of games this year.

That includes last week, when the Bears gained just 43 on 15 carries and scored ten points in a loss to the Lions.

“We want to stick to what we do best, which is run the ball,” said running back Tarik Cohen. “We like going up against competitive teams, they’re ranked high on defense, so we’re going to try to get after them in that aspect.”

MITCH THE BROWNS FAN?

A popular narrative this week for a match-up against the Browns has to deal with the roots of the team’s quarterback.

Mitchell Trubisky grew up in Mentor, Ohio, about a half hour Northeast of Cleveland, in prime country for the most die-hard Browns fans. Naturally many assumed that the quarterback grew up rooting for the team in his formative years, but according to the quarterback that really wasn’t the case.

“Just rooting for the home a little bit and mostly rooting for players in the NFL growing up,” said Trubisky when asked if he was a Browns’ backer as a kid. “I was a  college fan, and a really big fan of my high school football team Mentor growing up.”

“Just moderate,” was the follow-up question to Trubisky.

“I would say moderate, yeah,” the quarterback responded.

 

STAT OF THE WEEK: 5

The number of teams that have picked up their first win of the season after Week 10. The Browns are one of two teams in NFL history to get their first win in Week 16, doing so last year against the Chargers.