Chicago Bears to get rare road win in Cleveland

By
Updated: December 13, 2013
Running back Matt Forte and the Chicago Bears offense look to keep rolling against the Cleveland Browns.

Running back Matt Forte and the Chicago Bears offense look to keep rolling against the Cleveland Browns.

After a 45-28 shellacking of the Dallas Cowboys in Week 14, coupled with a Detroit Lions loss, the Chicago Bears (7-6) find themselves tied with their division rivals atop the NFC North.

Since the Lions own the head-to-head tiebreaker, however, the Bears find themselves in a must-win situation as they head to Cleveland in Week 15 to take on the slumping Browns, who have lost four straight and seven of eight to fall to 4-9.

On paper, the Chicago Bears are the better team and should win this game, but they are not good enough to take any victory for granted, especially with their injury-depleted defense.

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is expected to return to action this week.

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is expected to return to action this week.

Cutler returns

Starting quarterback Jay Cutler is expected to return to the lineup this week after missing the last four games with a high ankle sprain. He will be tasked with keeping the momentum going after the offense put up its best performance in years against the Cowboys last week.

Cleveland appears to have a solid defense: they are seventh in the NFL in yards per game allowed and 19th in points per game.

But they have been struggling lately, giving up at least 27 points in each of their last four games. If the offensive line can keep a fierce Cleveland pass rush (37 sacks on the year, ninth in the NFL) at bay, Cutler should be able to find success.

Who will Haden cover?

One player to keep an eye on is Cleveland cornerback Joe Haden, who has been one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL this year. According to  , quarterbacks have completed only 55.6 percent of passes thrown his way for an incredibly stingy 5.5 yards per target. He has also added four interceptions, tied for fifth in the NFL.

But Hayden is only one man and can therefore only cover one receiver, whereas Chicago has two dangerous pass catchers in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Marshall went into the season as the clear-cut No. 1 wide receiver, while Jeffery has exploded onto the scene in his second season and has more yards than Marshall so far this year.

I expect Haden to spend the majority of the game lined up on Marshall, but it will be interesting to see how much the Browns switch him onto Jeffery.

Contain Josh Gordon

The primary player the defense needs to be worried about is wide receiver Josh Gordon. Like Jeffery, Gordon is enjoying a breakout sophomore season, currently leading the NFL with 1,400 receiving yards despite being suspended the first two games of the season.

Gordon has been incredible lately, exploding for an NFL record 774 receiving yards in his last four games. It will fall to cornerbacks Tim Jennings and Zach Bowman, with help from safeties Chris Conte and Major Wright, to keep Gordon in check.

Something’s gotta give

Outside of Gordon, the main problem will be stopping the run. Chicago is far and away the worst run defense in the NFL, having given up an average of over 200 yards per game over the last seven weeks.

Cleveland is not a good running team, averaging 84 yards per game and 3.8 yards per carry this year, and will likely be without starting running back Willis McGahee as he recovers from a concussion.

But the Bears, who are still waiting the return of linebacker Lance Briggs from his shoulder injury, were run over by the Baltimore Ravens a few weeks ago — and they’re worse running the ball than Cleveland.

Cleveland's Josh Gordon is the hottest wide receiver in the NFL right now.

Cleveland’s Josh Gordon is the hottest wide receiver in the NFL right now.

Cleveland running back Chris Ogbonnaya, averaging 5.3 yards per carry this year in limited action, is expected to get the start.

I don’t normally give fantasy football advice, but if you’re in the fantasy football playoffs, I highly recommend you grab Ogbonnoya off waivers if possible and start him. Any running back getting carries against the Chicago Bears is going to have a big day.

Prediction

This is a difficult game to predict.

It is impossible to know how the Chicago Bears offense will perform with Jay Cutler back under center; he has played a total of 3.5 quarters in the last eight weeks and could be rusty.

It’s also difficult to say how the weather could potentially impact the game. We witnessed firsthand last weekend how outdoor games in December can add a layer of complexity to the game, and the weather forecast right now calls for snow showers around game time.

With all that said, I’m going with Chicago here. This game means more to the Bears than the Browns, and while both teams feature struggling defenses, Chicago has more offensive firepower than Cleveland. I expect a somewhat high-scoring game with the Chicago Bears coming out on top.

Final score: Chicago Bears 31, Cleveland Browns 27

About the author(s)

Johnathan Wood is a passionate fan of the Chicago Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks, Cubs, and Northwestern Wildcats. He enjoys being the beat writer for the Bears at Water Cooler Sports and being obnoxiously unapologetic about how his favorite teams are more awesome than yours. Feel free to email him at if you have any comments or suggestions. Connect with .

676 comments
Staffords_Glove
Staffords_Glove

Got a decent deal on Laphroaig cask strength. Potent, but delicious in moderation

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Classic Nardo 4 minutes ago

OK he's probable.  It's fucking pointless to ask questions here

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Guys, he seemed really mad.

DanOnWis23
DanOnWis23

You can find someone who carries Junami apples here: 

There's one not far from me.

Classic Nardo
Classic Nardo

Only floors left to do!  My roommate is supposed to clean the garage but that's not looking good as he came home and puked.  I dominated Lakeville Liquors also - plenty of beer, vodka, Jager, Bailey's, wine, and a little Rumchata just in case.

Classic Nardo
Classic Nardo

 I was looking for that but my place didn't have it.

Kuato Face
Kuato Face moderator

 Your roommate puked already. Supposed to save that for after the party.

Preparation_A
Preparation_A moderator

 

Damn, you've got yourself a regular barf-o-rama cooked up!

MNvikeinNC
MNvikeinNC

 Hope you bought some Fireball.

That shit is delicious.

DanOnWis23
DanOnWis23

 Yawn... I want to hear about 58.6 BAC.

Preparation_A
Preparation_A moderator

 

Oh sweet beautiful Buddha. I'll have one, neat, please.

DanOnWis23
DanOnWis23

 I will, I'll be in that direction on Monday and it seems to be the right season.

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_ moderator

"Sorry, we were unable to find any retail suppliers in your area."

Classic Nardo
Classic Nardo

 Puked from his Christmas party last night apparently.

Preparation_A
Preparation_A moderator

 

Based on your oft-negative reaction to my opinions, I'd wager you are perma-grew-up-under-power-lines.

Preparation_A
Preparation_A moderator

 

Really? In the whole Twin Cities? Fucking wasteland.

MNvikeinNC
MNvikeinNC

 I puked this morning. Drank a red bull and ate a sammich, ready for Xmas party round2 tonight.

Classic Nardo
Classic Nardo

 Yeah I've never done it either.  Cannot be pleasant.

Preparation_A
Preparation_A moderator

 

Oooof. The day after puke. Have never experienced it but have heard it is rough.

Classic Nardo
Classic Nardo

 Yeah shots is where this party will go downhill quick.

MNvikeinNC
MNvikeinNC

 It's not good for making cocktails.

But it's awesome for taking shots. 

Classic Nardo
Classic Nardo

 I've never tried it - doesn't sound like something I would go for though.

MNvikeinNC
MNvikeinNC

 don't knock fireball liquor. 

Lets keep it civil in here.