The Bears are off the board for Super Bowl 52, but these final three weeks of the regular season are crucial to many players and coaches.
Last Sunday, we saw the Bears rookie class come together with Mitch Trubisky, Adam Shaheen, Tarik Cohen and Eddie Jackson all make impact plays in a 33-7 win over Cincinnati.
At 4-9, the Bears are in the gutter in the NFC North behind Detroit and Green Bay, both 7-6 and Minnesota (10-3).
Trubisky and company head to Detroit for a Saturday tilt with the Lions as part of an NFL doubleheader that features Kansas City and San Diego later in the night.
Here are five reasons to watch the Bears Week 15 matchup against Detroit.
Trubisky started his NFL career 2-1 with upset wins at Baltimore and at home against Carolina, but after that, it has been tough for the Bears to muster victories. Prior to last week's blowout win over the Bengals, Trubisky and the Bears dropped five straight.
Luckily, Trubisky doesn't get rattled and he's gotten better each and every week despite injuries along the offensive line and a clear lack of targets in the passing game.
The rookie played his best game to date last Sunday, completing 25 of 32 passes for 271 yards, one passing touchdown and one rushing touchdown. For the season, he's tossed 1,508 yards, six touchdowns, four interceptions and has 199 rushing yards and a score on the ground.
Considering the No. 2 overall pick has shown flashes, it is a good start for his career. Both No. 1 pick Jared Goff and No. 2 pick Carson Wentz had their moments and struggles as rookies but have both been tremendous in Year 2. Trubisky is on his way due to his smarts and determination. He's a true student of the game.
Cohen and Howard
At times, offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains has been able to figure out how to use Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen together. I know Cohen is an undersized scatback who isn't a good blocker yet, but he's the best playmaker the team has.
Howard is on his way to an NFL rushing title with a quietly solid second season. Last week, he pounded his way to 147 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. Cohen touched the ball 14 times, accounting for 85 yards.
That split is pretty solid in my opinion. I know certain games where the Bears struggle offensively, Cohen won't get as many opportunities but his growth is essential as the Bears plan to build their offense around him.
Howard and Cohen are a fun dynamic duo who should be able to terrorize defenses for a long time.
Wide receiver auditions
Dontrelle Inman, Kendall Wright, Josh Bellamy and Markus Wheaton are all auditioning for next season. Inman has shown flashes since being acquired last month, Wright has been a reliable slot piece, Bellamy has made plays on the outside and Wheaton has been a huge free agent bust.
I can promise you Wheaton will be cut loose this off-season. However, I can see the Bears re-signing Inman and Wright. Cameron Meredith and Kevin White will be back from their season-ending injuries, so to have those four players would be solid.
At the same time. the Bears need to take a note of the Rams playbook. Los Angeles acquired Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp to help Goff out. They revamped their entire receiving unit. Trubisky needs help and he needs receivers he can trust.
As of now, Wright is a guy he trusts at wide receiver. The Bears receiving core will look awfully different next season unless Inman or someone else on the unit does something drastic these final three weeks.
Defensive back play
Kyle Fuller is playing aggressive, smart and sound in coverage. He keeps making plays on the ball. His counterpart, Prince Amukamara has as well, but he isn't as consistent and he hasn't recorded an interception since 2015.
The Bears need lockdown defensive backs. Jackson has been a great find at safety in the fourth round. Adrian Amos looked good next to him, but he's been injured as of late.
You can never have enough good defensive backs and with Fuller and Amukamara both pending free agents, changes loom at the position. I think the Bears will re-sign Fuller unless he commands a huge payday.
Marcus Cooper has been a letdown, to say the least as a free agent addition. It's back to the drawing board for general manager Ryan Pace at cornerback because there is potential for this defense to be great.
John Fox, Vic Fangio, Loggains and the rest of the Bears staff's jobs are not safe.
Fox is expected to be fired after this season while it remains to be seen what happens to Fangio. Loggains is likely to be let go despite his best efforts with Trubisky and an undermanned offense.
The Bears need a young offensive minded coach. This league is built around offense and if you go out and get your quarterback of the future this past off-season, then you better get some smart offensive minds around him.
Fangio in my mind should be re-signed. He has done an admirable job these past three seasons despite a load of injuries and a good amount of no-names playing on defense. Their coaching fates could easily already be decided.
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