The 7-6 Chicago Bears are taking a trip to Cleveland this week to take on a 4-9 Browns team in a matchup that most people will expect the Bears to run away with. I would caution you all not to jump to that conclusion. This Browns squad is far more talented than their record indicates and they clearly haven’t given up, having nearly beaten a 10-3 Patriots team a matter of days ago. Chicago is only 5-9 all-time against the Browns, though they did win the last matchup 30-6 back in 2009. The Browns pose several major matchup problems for the Bears and I’ll go over those in my phase by phase analysis:
Offense: It’s hard to worry about this side of the ball after their complete dismantling of the Cowboys on Monday night, but I do and you should. This Browns’ defense is straight up better than the Cowboys’. They boast a stifling front seven and I think Joe Haden is the best cornerback in all of football right now. On that note, I think Josh McCown starting at quarterback gives the Bears the best chance to succeed this week. Don’t get me wrong, I like Jay Cutler and don’t think there’s any real quarterback controversy here, but tendencies to trust his arm a little too much and not shy away from elite corners might be the Bears’ undoing this week.
Defense: I think there’s actually a chance Chicago’s run defense looks halfway respectable this week. Willis McGahee is clearly not the player he once was and the Browns have struggled to run the ball all year. There is a chance that Chris Ogbonnaya breaks out during this game, but I don’t find it likely. The real matchup problems come in the passing game. The Bears, and arguably any other team in the NFL, don’t have a cornerback capable of matching up with super-talented Josh Gordon successfully. Gordon is an absolute freak and has more receiving yard in his last four games than any wide receiver has had in a four game span in NFL history. And let’s not forget about tight end Jordan Cameron. Supremely talented in his own right, Cameron has been having a breakout season and I don’t think the Bears have any linebackers or safeties who can match up well against him.
Special Teams: Nothing really new here. If the Bears’ special teamers do their jobs well, they should have a solid outing. Devin Hester is still one TD away from setting a new all-time return record, and this would be a nice week to get it. In a game as tight as I expect this one to be, superior special teams could be the difference.
You might think I’m being pessimistic in this post, and you’d be right, but I still think this is a winnable game for the Bears and they certainly have something to play for with the Lions owning the division tie-breaker against them and Green Bay nipping at their heels. I just think it will be much closer than most people think. What do you guys think? Did I forget about anything? Are the Bears going to stomp the Browns or will we have to suffer through another disappointing loss? Let me know in the comments section.