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Merry Christmas: Bears avoid embarrassment of losing to Browns

CHICAGO -- In a season full of disappointments, the Chicago Bears (5-10) can at least say they avoided losing to the winless Cleveland Browns (0-15).

All of the stories you’ve heard about the Browns are true. Wow, Cleveland is bad.

The Bears aren't a whole lot better, but Chicago got enough from rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and running back Jordan Howard to build up a lead, watch the Browns self-destruct and grind out a 20-3 victory on Sunday.

Trubisky’s best work came on the ground, as he rushed for 44 yards and 1 touchdown on 7 carries. The Bears experienced only moderate success in the passing game, but with 193 yards on Sunday, Trubisky (2,015) still passed Kyle Orton (2,005) for the most passing yards in a season by a Bears rookie.

Truth be told, the Browns had opportunities to make it a game. But each time, almost on cue, Cleveland would mess it up.

The Bears can thank the schedule-makers for this Christmas gift.

What it means: Zero ... zilch ... nada. This victory over the Browns is meaningless in terms of what needs to happen in the offseason -- although Chicago’s draft position may be affected. The Bears must undergo serious changes at the highest levels of the organization. Right now, however, coach John Fox is the only one believed to be on the hot seat. One silver lining for Fox: He has now won more games (14) than predecessor Marc Trestman (13).

What I liked: Soon-to-be free-agent defensive back Kyle Fuller had another strong game. Fuller picked off Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer in the end zone to kill a semi-promising Cleveland drive in the first half. The Bears declined Fuller’s fifth-year option, so it’s likely the former first-round pick will explore free agency when the new league year begins in March.

Also, the Bears effectively used veteran running back Benny Cunningham (two catches, 62 yards) in the screen game, which caught Cleveland’s defense off guard.

What I didn’t like: Well... the Bears led only 6-3 at halftime, and the Browns had a near pick-six called back because of an offside penalty. The Browns also fumbled close to the goal line. It’s not like the Bears played exceptionally well. Cleveland’s defense had way too many free shots on Trubisky, and the Bears really struggled to identify pressure when the Browns hit them with stunts off the edge. Fox also lost another challenge. But what else is new?

Fantasy fallout: The Browns entered Week 16 with a better-than-average rushing defense, but Howard still ran for two touchdowns. Trubisky finished with decent numbers for fantasy owners: 193 passing yards, one rushing touchdown.

No thanks: Sunday’s snowy conditions -- and two bad football teams -- kept many fans away from Soldier Field. The Bears announced that 17,539 of the 58,796 tickets sold (not a sellout) went unused in Week 16.

What’s next: The Bears wrap up the season against the NFC North champion Minnesota Vikings. The Bears lost a meaningless Week 17 game last season at U.S. Bank Stadium, 38-10. Chicago hasn’t released a media schedule yet for when the regular season ends, but rest assured that Halas Hall is going to be a busy place in early January.