Chicago Bears vs Cleveland Browns: Gameday Preview

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Chicago Bulls forward Joakim Noah has a special message for the city of Cleveland:

 

Key Matchups

Strength vs Strength: Bears O vs Browns D

The Bears bring the #2 ranked scoring offense to Cleveland.  Yes, you read that correctly.  The Chicago Bears trail only Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos, scoring 28.3 PPG.  Overall, the Bears are the 7th ranked offense, averaging nearly 390 yards per game.  Meanwhile, the Browns  have the #7 overall Defense, allowing only 320 yards per game.

The Bears would love to get Matt Forte going to take a little pressure off Cutler in his return.  That could be difficult, with the Browns ranking 4th in rush defense, giving up only 98 yards per game on the ground.

Weakness vs Weakness: Bears Rush D vs Browns Running Game

The Bears have a miserable run defense, allowing 157 yards per game on the ground.  In fact, the Bears have tied an NFL record, giving up 100 yard rushing performances to opposing running backs in six straight weeks.  It will be up to Chis Ogbonnaya to break that record.  With Willis McGahee sidelined with a concussion and Trent Richardson traded away to Indianapolis, the Browns rank 28th in rushing offense, picking up only 89 yards per game on the ground.  Something’s gotta give!

Strength vs Strength: Joe Haden vs Brandon Marshall/Alshon Jeffery 

Dec 8, 2013; Foxborough, MA, USA; Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden (23) waits for the snap during the fourth quarter of New England

It will be really interesting to see the chess match between Marc Trestman and Browns’ D coordinator Ray Horton.  Trestman will try to free up his top wide receivers in the matchup with Browns’ Joe Haden.  Haden is a lockdown corner and in season’s past, he’d just line up against Marshall and force the Bears to throw elsewhere.  That “elsewhere” this season is second year sensation Alshon Jeffery, who has been putting on a clinic in the last couple of weeks.  I’ll be interested to see if there are situations where Haden picks up Jeffery and leaves Marshall to his teammate Buster Skrine.

Strength vs Weakness: Josh Gordon vs Tim Jennings

I hate to call a matchup with former Pro Bowler Tim Jennings a weakness for the Bears, but it’s a testament to how well Josh Gordon has been playing lately.  He’s the only player who’s outshined Alshon Jeffery over the last few weeks.  He’s leading the league with 1400 receiving yards.  It feels like he’s done that in just the last 2-3 weeks.  He will be chased around by Tim Jennings, the Bears’ #2 cornerback.  Charles Tillman is on IR, so the top corner duties fall to Jenngins.  The 5’9″ corner is going to have his hands full with the 6’3″ 225 pound Gordon.

Under the Radar Matchup that Favors the Browns: Jordan Cameron vs Chris Conte

The Bears D has struggled against tight ends in the Cover-2 defense even when they were good.  Now that they’re shorthanded and just plain bad, I don’t like this matchup against Cameron.

Under the Radar Matchup that Favors the Bears: Bears Red Zone Offense vs Browns Red Zone Defense

The Browns may have a strong defense, but they don’t have a very good red zone defense, rankings 30th in the league in red zone D, allowing opponents to score on over 65% of their red zone chances.  Meanwhile, the Bears have improved their red zone scoring this season, scoring on over 56% of their red zone opportunities.

Predictions

The staff picks are unanimous – Bears win.  There is no doubt about Cutler as the Bears starter in that locker room and there is little doubt from our staff.  Here’s my pick:

For this week, the Browns offer an interesting challenge with Jay Cutler’s return.  They have a solid defense and a couple of scary weapons on offense with Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron.  The Bears lost their last two road games to last place teams, but Cutler finds a way to rally the troops in a must-win game.

Bears 27 – Browns 24

What do you think?  What is your prediction?  What are the matchups that you’ll be watching?

No matter the outcome, this will be one of the most talked about Bears games on the season.  Stay tuned to Bear Goggles On for all the game day and post-game coverage.

BEAR DOWN!!!

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