What to watch for in the Bears' season finale in Minnesota

What to watch for in the Bears' season finale in Minnesota
Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (17) with tackle Charles Leno (72) late in the second half against the Washington Redskins at Soldier Field in Chicago on Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016. The Redskins won, 41-21. (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)

I’m not quite sure what Alshon Jeffery and Charles Leno Jr. are doing in the photo above, but on Sunday the Bears have to know what is at a stake.

Obviously, the year is nearly over and the season is about to wrap up for the 3-12 Bears. But jobs are on the line for a ton of these guys, Jeffery and Leno included.

With so many players on injured reserve, the auditions will continue for this team including with rookies. Deon Bush, Jonathan Bullard, Nick Kwiatkoski, Deiondre’ Hall and Daniel Braverman are just some of the youngsters to watch in this game.

Considering John Fox will almost certainly be retained along with most of his staff, a win would actually boost the Bears’ spirits heading into the off-season. However, it would move them down from the No. 3 spot in the draft to No. 5.

Here is what you should be watching for in the Bears’ season finale in Minnesota.

Jordan Howard can break the record

61 yards. That is the amount of rushing yards that Bears’ fifth round rookie running back Jordan Howards needs to break the team’s all-time rookie rushing mark.

Matt Forte set it back in 2008 with 1,238 averaging 3.9 yards per carry. Right now, Howard is averaging an impressive 5.1 yards per rush. Look for Bears to feed Howard early and often. The record should be broken and for Dowell Loggains, he should be very worried about his game in terms of his job security. Howard is a star in the making.

Is this Matt Barkley’s last chance?

Football hasn’t been kind to Matt Barkley as of late. The Bears’ quarterback has eight interceptions over the last two weeks including a whopping five on Sunday against Washington. All five were on Barkley as well, so that doesn’t help his case.

A free agent after the season, Barkley needs to play poised to have a chance to be re-signed next season by the Bears or some other team. Let’s see what he can do because he has shown flashes here and there of solid play.

Alshon Jeffery needs a big game

Alshon Jeffery returned two weeks ago and since then, the fifth-year wideout has 11 receptions for 181 yards and a touchdown. Jeffery needs to be targeted a ton even against a tough corner in Xavier Rhodes.

Entering an off-season where the Bears will either let Jeffery walk or re-sign him to a short-term deal or franchise tag him. If the Bears move on from Jeffery, they’ll be left with Kevin White, Eddie Royal, Cameron Meredith and Daniel Braverman as the only wide receivers on the roster. There’s no way I’d let him go if I was running the team.

Minnesota’s talent level

Sam Bradford helped the Vikings get off to a hot start. Minnesota will have to figure out what to do to him once/if Teddy Bridgewater returns to full health in the off-season.

The Vikings defense went from elite to average. Now, in the home season finale, we’ll see if Minnesota has enough talent to build around next year. In my mind, the Bears are a couple of playmakers away from being a contendor in the NFC North.

Final score prediction

Bears 23, Minnesota 14

ICYMI – Unnecessary Roughness Podcast Ep. 24: Bears season finale preview, Barkley/Loggains and defensive talk

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

Leave a comment