Bears try to snap skid in Cincy

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With little to play for, the Chicago Bears limp into Cincinnati Sunday trying to stop a freefall that has resulted in a five game losing streak. Here are three things to watch as both teams go through the motions during the season’s final month.

1. Mitch Trubisky’s progress…Curiously, Bears head coach John Fox remarked that he thought Trubisky played his best game in last week’s disappointing 15-14 loss to San Francisco. In anyone else’s universe, observers saw Trubisky still struggling to read defenses and hanging on to the ball too long. Though he was accurate, Trubisky’s longest pass completion was merely 15 yards. He appears indecisive with pressure up the middle, not sure whether to step up into the pocket, tuck the ball and run or roll out.  Trubisky needs to perform better down the stretch to inspire confidence in him moving forward.

2. Will the team play hard down the stretch?….Fox usually has his teams ready to play, but starting with the post-bye matchup with Green Bay, the Bears appear unprepared and outcoached. With injuries mounting on both sides of the ball, it’s easy to understand some players checking out, knowing the Fox tenure is essentially over. Depth concerns reflect a roster still in transition, making the Bears talent deprived in many key areas.

3. How much blame does Ryan Pace deserve?….Pace’s three years haven’t been much better than Fox’s.  His misses in free agency combined with draft choice  breakdowns cloud any progress. While Fox’s contract is up, Pace remains a popular fixture at Halas Hall by ownership.  Last spring’s draft night trade with San Francisco that was used to select Trubisky remains puzzling since it essentially robbed the Bears of draft capital. Pace is tied to Trubisky, leading to speculation that he’ll have an opportunity to pick the next head coach who will help tutor the star pupil.

Bear Tracks: RB JORDAN HOWARD has 275 rush yards (91.7 per game) in past 3 on road. In 2 career road games vs. AFC, has 339 scrimmage yards (169.5 per game) & TD catch. Aims for 3rd in row vs. AFC with 100+ rush yards. Has 100+ scrimmage yards in 4 of 5 career games vs. AFC….. Rookie RB TARIK COHEN had 61-yard PR-TD last week. Is 1st player since TERRY METCALF (1975) & 1st rookie since HOFer GALE SAYERS (1965) with PR-TD, rush TD, rec. TD & TD pass in single season. Ties for 3rd among rookie RBs with 39 catches….. WR DONTRELLE INMAN had TD catch last week, his 1st with Chi. WR KENDALL WRIGHT leads team with 370 rec. yards….. DE AKIEM HICKS has sack in 2 of past 3 on road. Aims for 3rd in row on road vs. AFC with sack. ….LB CHRISTIAN JONES leads team with 82 tackles. Tied career-high with 13 tackles & had sack last week. Has 26 tackles & 2 sacks in past 3…..LB DANNY TREVATHAN aims for 3rd in row with 11+ tackles. Has 16 tackles, sack & FR in his past 2 vs. AFC. In 2 career games vs. Cin., has 18 tackles & sack….. CB KYLE FULLER ties for 3rd in NFC with 13 PD. Had INT in Week 13. Has 17 tackles & 6 PD in his past 3 vs. AFC…..DE LAMARR HOUSTON had sack last week. Has 4 sacks, FF & FR in his past 6 vs. AFC….CB PRINCE AMUKAMARA set career high with 10 tackles in only game vs Cin. (11/11/12 with NYG).

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