The Bears will look to record their second straight win Sunday when they close the season by hosting the Detroit Lions. Here are four storylines heading into the game:
1) Can the Bears end a four-game losing streak at Soldier Field?
The Bears finished an impressive 5-3 on the road this season, even beating Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in Green Bay. But they're a woeful 1-6 at home, having lost four straight at Soldier Field since recording a 22-20 victory Oct. 4 over the Raiders.
Wide receiver Josh Bellamy is one of four receivers expected to be active on Sunday.
The Bears are 0-5 against NFC opponents at home and are in jeopardy of losing all three of their division games at Soldier Field for the first time since the NFL realigned into eight four-team divisions in 2002. The Bears have never lost more than six home games in a season and haven't finished with fewer than two home wins since they went 1-6 in 1973. Here's hoping they don't make history Sunday against the Lions.
2) Who's left for quarterback Jay Cutler to throw to?
When the Bears headed to training camp, they envisioned a strong receiving corps featuring Alshon Jeffery, Kevin White, Eddie Royal and Marquess Wilson. Unfortunately, all four were plagued by injuries throughout the season.
Jeffery was limited to nine games due to calf, hamstring, groin and shoulder injuries and as placed on injured reserve this week. White missed the entire season with a stress fracture in his shin. Royal has played in only nine games due to ankle and knee injuries and is doubtful for Sunday's finale because of an illness. And Wilson was placed on injured reserve Dec. 12 after hurting his foot in practice.
The four receivers who are expected to be active Sunday against the Lions are Joshua Bellamy, Marc Mariani, Cameron Meredith and Deonte Thompson, a quartet that had combined for just 19 NFL receptions entering the season.
3) Will this be Matt Forte's final game with the Bears?
The versatile and productive Bears running back faces an uncertain future given that he's slated to become an unrestricted free agent after the season. The Bears seemingly have confidence in young running backs Jeremy Langford and Ka'Deem Carey, but Forte has not slowed down, even at the age of 30. This season he became the second fastest player in NFL history to compile 8,000 yards rushing and 4,000 yards receiving behind only Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk.
"He's been a Pro Bowl player for all these years, then when you look at what he's done statistically, it's off the charts," said offensive coordinator Adam Gase. "There's very few people that have accomplished what he's accomplished so far.
"I know he's done everything that we've asked him to do since we arrived. He's unique; he can do all three things a back needs to do as far as running the ball, catching the ball and pass protection. He's a rare breed of running back. I know how he feels about this place. After the season, I know that's going to be a big deal to see what happens with that."
4) Can the Bears defense play takeaway again?
The Bears generated three takeaways in last Sunday's win over the Buccaneers, matching a season-high and equaling their total output from the previous five games. A repeat performance against the Lions would make Vic Fangio extremely happy.
Asked this week about improvements the Bears defensive coordinator would like to see next year, Fangio said: "We just need to be able to get more takeaways like we had last week. We had three in the game and we hadn't been getting that many up to that point. We need a little bit more of an explosive, disruptive defense without necessarily changing schemes."
The Bears haven't made enough impact plays on defense. They enter Sunday's season finale in jeopardy of not having a player this year with more than two interceptions for the first time since 1975 and not having a return touchdown for the first time since 1997.