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Numbers to know as the Bears season sputters to an end

20 years of futility. Why the Bears are lumped in with the Lions, Raiders, Cardinals and Browns.

Welcome back to “The Blitz Package,” your weekly destination for notable news, nuggets and intriguing Chicago Bears storylines. This week’s topic: the important statistical developments to keep an eye on during the season’s otherwise depressing home stretch.

Three games remain. Three mostly meaningful, potentially demoralizing, no-chance-of-being-canceled games.

So the Bears will press on with their disappointing season, hosting the Saints on Monday night, following with a home game against the Lions on Dec. 21 and closing the season in Minneapolis against the Vikings. Outdoors. On Dec. 28. In a showcase of two teams without playoff hopes.

Let’s just say, no one at Halas Hall is channeling their inner Bart Scott right now.

That said, there are still a handful of interesting plotlines to track and numbers to know. So with three games remaining, here are a dozen digits to refresh yourself on.

3,838: That’s the Bears’ single-season franchise record for passing yards, set in 1995 by Erik Kramer. Don’t look now, but that record seems destined to fall this month -- perhaps as early as Monday night. Jay Cutler currently has 3,446 passing yards through 13 games, needing just 393 more to pass Kramer. What cruel irony for the Bears it would be to have their passing yards mark broken in a season widely ridiculed for its shaky quarterback play and offensive failures.

378: That’s how many points the Bears’ defense has allowed so far this season, most by any team in the NFL. It also puts the Bears on track to give up more than 400 points in a season for just the third time in franchise history. The only other teams to do so? The 1997 Bears, which allowed 421 and the 2013 squad, which gave up 478. If you’re keeping track, 2013 wasn’t all that long ago.

16: That’s how many times in the past 20 seasons, including this one, that the Bears have missed the playoffs, a sobering reality that leaves them in rare company in the NFC. Since 1995, the only teams to have fewer than five playoff appearances are the Lions (four), Bills (four), Redskins (four), Cardinals (three), Raiders (three), Texans (two) and Browns (one). The Lions and Bills are still alive to reach the postseason this season. The Browns entered the league as an expansion team in 1998. The Texans did so in 2002.

74: That’s the reception total of Martellus Bennett, a career high and the most of any tight end in the NFL. Immediately behind Bennett are New England’s Rob Gronkowski (73), Carolina’s Greg Olsen (71) and New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham (68). With his 74 catches adding up to 821 yards and 6 touchdowns, Bennett has to be in the discussion to earn a Pro Bowl invitation.

86: Speaking of receptions and Pro Bowlers, Matt Forte’s 86 catches not only lead the team, they put him in position to set a new NFL record for receptions by a running back. Larry Centers set that record in 1995 with the Cardinals with 101 grabs. The only other running back to reach 100 catches in a season was San Diego’s LaDainian Tomlinson in 2003.

1,578: That’s Forte’s yardage total this season -- 854 on the ground, 724 through the air. He will need to record 422 yards over the final three games to reach 2,000. Only one Bear has ever surpassed 2,000 yards in a season -- Walter Payton did it four times with a high of 2,121 yards in 1977. Forte is averaging 121.3 yards from scrimmage per game this season.

28: That’s the most points the Bears have scored in a game this season – in Week 2 against the 49ers and in Week 14 against the Cowboys – leaving them as one of only four NFL teams that hasn’t reached the 30-point mark in a single game this season. The others: the Jaguars, Titans and Raiders. The last time a Bears team went an entire season without scoring 30 in a game was 2004, a 5-11 campaign under Lovie Smith and offensive coordinator Terry Shea. In that season, the Bears used four different starting quarterbacks – Rex Grossman, Jonathan Quinn, Craig Krenzel and Chad Hutchinson.

19: That’s the Bears’ takeaway total this season, which ranks 18th in the NFL and includes four contests without a takeaway (all losses) and four others with only one turnover forced. During nine seasons under Lovie Smith, the Bears averaged 34 takeaways per season with their lowest total under Smith coming in 2009 when they forced only 28 on the way to a 7-9 record.

64: That’s the number of total tackles this season recorded by Shea McClellin, the Bears’ top draft choice in 2012 whose conversion into a linebacker hasn’t produced the impact the team had hoped. Team statistics also credit McClellin with 3 ½ tackles for loss, three quarterback pressures and one pass break-up.

7: That’s the number of different starting lineup combinations the Bears have had to use on their offensive line this season, a total that looks likely to tick upward again Monday with undrafted rookie Ryan Groy in position to start at left guard. A year ago, on the way to a new team-record in total yardage, the Bears’ started the same quintet on the offensive line for all 16 games.

2-1: That’s the Bears’ record against this season against the NFC South, widely thought of as the NFL’s worst division this season. Monday night’s contest against the Saints will give the Bears a chance to move to 3-1 against the South, which currently has New Orleans and Atlanta tied atop the division at 5-8.

25: That’s the number of Bears players on the current 53-man roster plus Injured Reserve whose contracts will expire after this season. That includes long-tenured standouts like cornerback Charles Tillman and linebacker Lance Briggs, whose 12-season runs as Bears both appear to be over. But that list will also leave the front office with plenty of spring decisions to make on starters like safety Chris Conte and defensive tackle Stephen Paea and key reserves like Demontre Hurst, Brian de la Puente, Dante Rosario and Jimmy Clausen. And you can bet the Bears will move on from the over-30 players set to become free agents, a group that includes center Roberto Garza and linebacker D.J. Williams.

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