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Keys to Victory: What we're watching in Chicago

  1. For the second straight season, the Browns find themselves with the chance to secure their first win of the season on Christmas Eve. After taking down the Chargers in Week 16 last year, they hopes to have similar fortune this weekend in Chicago.

Browns coach Hue Jackson acknowledged that dynamic earlier this week but also made clear he won't overemphasize it.

"I don't want to dive into that because that was a year ago. This team is different," he said Wednesday. "This team, I hate to say it, is younger. The guys that are playing now is a younger team. … What I think is important is that we continue to work as hard as we can and become better over this next week. This is a two-week season."

Cleveland plays the Bears Sunday and travels to Pittsburgh in the regular-season finale. After an 0-7 showing at home, the Browns hope they can fare better on the road in these final two games.

  1. DeShone Kizer was down but far from out after last week's 27-10 loss to the Ravens. The rookie quarterback maintained he remains confident in an admittedly challenging season of highs and lows. "This has been a long Year 1, obviously, a very interesting Year 1 with a lot of ups and downs. I think it would be awesome and a cool opportunity for me to go out and close it out with some positive notes," he said. "There have been more downs than ups and let's try to finish this off with the right taste in my teammates' mouths and in the front office's mouth so that next year when we come back, I can be right back in the position that I am and grow from what I have been able to go through this year."

Kizer, who combined for three turnovers against Baltimore, has thrown nine touchdown passes against 19 interceptions. To be sure, the rookie has showed promise but struggled to demonstrate those bright spots on a consistent basis.

"I think that consistency is something that I'm going to have to continue to work on throughout my whole career," he said, "and is something that every quarterback's going to have to continue to work on."

  1. The Browns' run defense has been a bright spot, and they hope it shines in Chicago this weekend. The unit — which ranks seventh in yards allowed and yards per game — will face Bears running back Jordan Howard this week, whose 1,069 yards rank fourth in the NFL.

"He is a really consistent player. It's two years in a row of him doing exactly what he did as a rookie; he is doing in his second year," Jackson said of Howard, who ran for 1,313 yards in 2016. "He's a really consistent player. He plays within their scheme. He fits the ball in the right spots. He is a load to bring down. He has done a good job that way."

Cleveland's defense, meanwhile, ranks seventh against the run in both total yards and yards per game. This weekend will provide the promising unit another challenge.

  1. Sunday's game will also watch Cleveland face off against Bears rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who grew up a Browns fan in nearby Mentor. Trubisky, the No. 2 overall NFL Draft pick this past spring, said there won't be any extra emotions this weekend.

"I'm an even-keeled player so I'm not going to get too high, not too low. Just another opportunity for me and my team to go out there, do what we do and try to come out with a win," he said on a teleconference. "No added pressure. It is not going to be emotional for me. I just want to go out there, do my job and enjoy playing the game of football."

Trubisky has passed for 1,822 yards, seven touchdowns and seven interceptions in 10 starts.​

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