3 early matchups to watch as the Chicago Bears take on the Cleveland Browns

Chicago Bears, Justin Fields
Chicago Bears, Justin Fields / Todd Rosenberg/GettyImages
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The NFC playoff race is a crowded one, with five teams currently tied at 6-7 for the final Wild Card spot. One game behind are the Chicago Bears, who have surprisingly gotten themselves into the hunt thanks to the first back-to-back wins of the Matt Eberflus era.

Those two wins have come against the Vikings and Lions, two division foes that currently sit in the playoff field. The Bears defense has been transformed since the addition of Montez Sweat, and it carried the day against Minnesota, forcing four Josh Dobbs interceptions and allowing the Bears to win with only four Cairo Santos field goals. The offense then raised its level of play against Detroit, and the result was the Bears' most complete game against a good team this season.

The Browns are down to their fourth quarterback, but their defense has been among the NFL's best, which is why they're 8-5 and in the playoffs if the season ended today. They are 6-1 at home after beating the Jaguars last week, so this will be a tall order for the Bears. Let's take a look at the most important matchups to watch if the Bears want to inch closer to an improbable playoff spot.

1) Darnell Wright and Braxton Jones vs Myles Garrett

The Browns defensive end Myles Garrett is the very definition of a one-man wrecking crew. The former #1 overall pick has 13 sacks, and he will be the focus of Luke Getsy's preparations this week.

Cleveland defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has given Garrett the freedom to move all over the Browns' defensive alignment, meaning it's incumbent upon the entire Bears offensive line to contain him and keep Justin Fields upright. Garrett will often find himself fighting off double teams and being chipped by Cole Kmet, but the two players most likely to be lined up across from Garrett are rookie right tackle Darnell Wright and second-year left tackle Braxton Jones.

The Bears have been happy with Wright's ability to handle himself in his first year, and he looked fantastic in shutting down Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson last week. Wright has had issues with penalties at times, though, and he'll find himself in a difficult spot Sunday after Garrett publicly vented his frustrations with the refereeing in the aftermath of the Browns' win over the Jaguars, calling it "a travesty" and "honestly awful." It will be interesting to see if referee Brad Allen and crew were paying attention.

Braxton Jones has improved as the season has gone along, shaking off a neck injury that forced him to miss six games early in the year. Jones' play has led many experts to believe the Bears won't be in the market for one of the top tackles in the draft, such as Penn State's Olu Fashanu or Notre Dame's Joe Alt, two players that have commonly been mock drafted to Chicago for much of the year.

Garrett has the ability to disrupt everything the Bears want to do on offense. Containing him and limiting his opportunities to make game-changing plays will be key on Sunday.