What to watch for in Bears Christmas Eve tilt with Washington

What to watch for in Bears Christmas Eve tilt with Washington
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 18: A fan is bundled up for the cold during a game between the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field on December 18, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Packers defeated the Bears 30-27. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The Bears have very little to play for at 3-11 on Saturday against the visiting Washington Redskins.

Washington (7-6-1) sits one game out of the sixth seed and needs a win and losses from Green Bay and Tampa Bay this weekend to stay in the playoff hunt.

Regardless, there is football to be played for both sides at Soldier Field in Week 16.

Here are the top storylines to watch.

Jordan Howard is in sight

The Bears’ fifth round rookie running back Jordan Howard topped the 1,000 rushing yard mark this past week against Green Bay. He needs 180 yards to break Matt Forte’s team rookie record of 1,238 set back in 2008.

Howard also needs a highly unlikely six more touchdowns over the final two weeks to break Forte’s touchdown total from that season. Gale Sayers owns the most scores in a Bears rookie campaign with 20. Howard will have a nice chance to find open space against a Washington defense that ranks 22nd in the league with 115.4 rushing yards allowed per game.

Is Kirk Cousins worth the payday?

Only Drew Brees has more passing yards this season than Kirk Cousins. The former Michigan State quarterback has 23 touchdowns compared to 10 interceptions.

For the Bears, they have to be looking over at the Washington sidelines and think maybe our current quarterback can eventually pan out to be a Cousins type. Cousins is making just a sliver under $20 million on the franchise tag and is a candidate for an extension this off-season.

Cousins completed 24-of-31 passes and totaled two touchdowns in a win at Soldier Field last season.

Another week of Matt Barkley

Barkley is set to make his fifth straight start. Although he’s only 1-3 under center, the 2013 fourth round pick has kept the Bears in every game since taking over for the injured Jay Cutler. He has six touchdowns and five interceptions over that span, which includes three picks a week ago.

These final two games are huge for the former USC star. The knock on him has been his lack of a strong arm, but he’s fared well this season completing 23-of-39 attempts for 264 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions on passes over 31 yards. The Bears have to be leaning towards re-signing him this off-season.

The return of Jerrell Freeman to the defense

Even though Jerrell Freeman was out for the last four games due to PED’s, the veteran still leads the Bears in tackles with 91. He’ll slide back into the starting lineup next to rookie Nick Kwiatkoski as John Timu rotates in.

Freeman should be given the keys to the starting gig next season as he showed plenty of leadership in his first year in town. Danny Trevathan might not be ready for the regular season kickoff, so Kwiatkoski needs to take these reps seriously next to Freeman. He’ll learn plenty. Leonard Floyd as well, who was kept off the stat sheet against the Packers.

Final score prediction

Washington 24, Bears 20

ICYMI – Unnecessary Roughness Podcast Ep. 23: Packers-Bears recap, Jeffery, Howard and defense talk

Make sure to follow Jake on Twitter, @Bearsbacker and on Facebook for up to the minute news about the Chicago Bears.

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