Chicago Bears claim 1st place in NFC North with win over Cleveland Browns

By
Updated: December 16, 2013
Jon Bostic (57), James Anderson (50), and the Chicago Bears defense made enough plays to help the Bears escape Cleveland with a 38-31 victory.

Jon Bostic (57), James Anderson (50), and the Chicago Bears defense made enough plays to help the Bears escape Cleveland with a 38-31 victory.

The Chicago Bears (8-6) overcame a sloppy start when a 21 point fourth quarter gave them a 38-31 victory over the Cleveland Browns (4-10).

The victory moved them into first place in the NFC North, although that may change depending on what happens in the Monday Night Football matchup between the Detroit Lions and Baltimore Ravens.  Regardless, the win was a huge one for the Bears as it kept them in playoff contention with two weeks remaining in the season.

Quarterback Jay Cutler had his usual ups and downs for the Chicago Bears.

Quarterback Jay Cutler had his usual ups and downs for the Chicago Bears.

Best of Jay…

Quarterback Jay Cutler showcased some of the ability that made the Chicago Bears give him the start again after backup Josh McCown played so well while Cutler was out injured.   He was sharp for most of the game and completed 22 of 31 passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns.

Cutler was at his best in the fourth quarter when the team needed him most, throwing two touchdown passes and guiding his team to 21 points.  This continued a trend of Cutler playing his best football in the fourth quarter that goes back to 2012.

…Worst of Jay

Of course, this game also showed why many people wanted McCown to continue starting over Cutler, who threw more interceptions (two) in the first half than McCown has in over five games of action this season.  Cutler particularly struggled with his accuracy in the second quarter, when he sailed his passes with the wind at his back.

Spread the ball around

A bigger issue, especially early, was Cutler’s tendency to lock in on favorite receiver Brandon Marshall, excluding talented playmakers like Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett.  Eleven of Cutler’s first twenty passes were targeted to Marshall, a ratio that is simply too high.

As the game wore on, Cutler began to spread the ball out more; nine of his last eleven passes went to targets other than Marshall. Not coincidentally, this was when the Chicago Bears offense began to click and put up points.

Cornerback Zach Bowman (38) had two interceptions to spark a struggling Chicago Bears defense.

Cornerback Zach Bowman (38) had two interceptions to spark a struggling Chicago Bears defense.

Defense gives half a good game

The much-maligned Chicago Bears defense actually had a decent outing in this game.  They gave up only seventeen points (fourteen were scored by Cleveland’s defense) and scored seven themselves.

They were particularly effective in the first half, when they gave up only three points and consistently prevented Cleveland from moving the ball.  As the game wore on, the Browns began running the ball more effectively, exploiting what has been the Achilles heel for the Chicago Bears defense for months.

Overall

This was a much-needed win for the Chicago Bears in that they kept the pressure on the Detroit Lions, who now need to win to maintain first place in the NFC North (remember, they own the tiebreaker over the Bears).  It also kept them a half game up on the Green Bay Packers, who mounted a furious second-half rally in Dallas to keep themselves in the hunt.

This still doesn’t look like a playoff-caliber defense to my eye, but the Chicago Bears have now won two games in a row and should get linebacker (and defensive captain) Lance Briggs back next week.  They need to hope his presence has a profound impact on their defense.

The Bears head to Philadelphia next week to take on the Eagles (8-6) on Sunday Night Football.  A victory here will be extremely tough, but necessary for Chicago if they want to make the playoffs.

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 .

3434 comments
Kuato Face
Kuato Face moderator

Good night everyone. My condolences Donkey. Suck it LKP.

Building With Clay is back SON
Building With Clay is back SON

The reason that I'm not pro firing Capers is because I'm afraid that they can't find anyone better.

If they fire him and bring in someone else and he is sub par for a year then you probably have to give him another year, because you can't judge a guy in his first year.

Then he may be bad again the next year and you have to start the process over again.

Before you know it you have wasted 4 or 5 years of Rodgers prime looking for a D coordinator.

I know Capers defense can't be elite, but I know it can be good enough to win with Rodgers under center and as I stated earlier, the prime years of Rodgers' career shouldn't be wasted. I want him to have a shot at a playoff run as often as possible because odds are that it's going to get dark in a decade or so when Rodgers decides to hang it up.

Kuato Face
Kuato Face moderator

Not for nuthin' or nuthin' but a lot of people predicted this lions meltdown. Ya know?

Evil Donkey
Evil Donkey moderator

Fucking Lions.....


fucking christ........

Evil Donkey
Evil Donkey moderator

Is it bad that I want Gruden as a coach? 

Evil Donkey
Evil Donkey moderator

If I have to watch that kick again, I'm going to shoot my TV

Building With Clay is back SON
Building With Clay is back SON

It felt like literally nothing went right for the Packers for 5 and a half games. I really thought they would go 0-8-1 to finish the season without Rodgers.

Then the 2nd half against the Failcons happened and I thought 'well if we have a shot I may as well keep hoping' but I secretly thought that there was no way the Lions could mess things up this badly.

Then the Cowboys game happened and halfway through it I thought 'well it was a down year so at least they played meaningful football through 15 weeks AND the Packers may get a top 10 draft pick' Then the 2nd half happened and I started to think that the Packers may actually have a chance.

Now Detroit melts down and I can't help but feel like the stars are aligning for us.

We should have been out of this so long ago, but after catching the breaks that they have and Rodgers coming back in control of their own destiny I just can't help but believing.

Evil Donkey
Evil Donkey moderator

 Been down this road before.

night man.

Evil Donkey
Evil Donkey moderator

 we aren't 0-16. Things are looking up!!!

Evil Donkey
Evil Donkey moderator

 All I know is, don't go for the wide 9, shit is whack.

Evil Donkey
Evil Donkey moderator

 Yeah, I know, but most of those people are homer dickheads. 

Building With Clay is back SON
Building With Clay is back SON

 I don't get it.

They are so bi-polar.

They can literally beat any team in the league when they want to, but lose to teams like the Bucs.

Building With Clay is back SON
Building With Clay is back SON

 I am actually terrified of the Lions signing Lovie Smith.

The talent that they have with the discipline and even demeanor of Lovie would be a scary combination.

Plus he knows the NFCN like the back of his hand.

Evil Donkey
Evil Donkey moderator

I feel embarrassed saying that. 

Evil Donkey
Evil Donkey moderator

 You need to lose.

Shit needs to change for GB.


Building With Clay is back SON
Building With Clay is back SON

If Rodgers doesn't play I'm going snowboarding again next weekend and will just watch the game on NFLRewind if they win.

Kuato Face
Kuato Face moderator

I take offense due to your barbed words you scoundrel.

Evil Donkey
Evil Donkey moderator

 I honestly am at a loss for words.

I really don't know where to lay the blame. 



Evil Donkey
Evil Donkey moderator

 any defensive minded, no nonsense coach would be a blessing, IMMO

Kuato Face
Kuato Face moderator

A drunken, scary doll possessed by the soul of a murderer is probably a step up from Schwartz.

Evil Donkey
Evil Donkey moderator

 yeah, but that first drop was before he was even touched.


Evil Donkey
Evil Donkey moderator

Calvin was doing shit I've never seen him do.

Not sure what is up.


Evil Donkey
Evil Donkey moderator

 Especially with an offense that marches down the field on the first possession 

Evil Donkey
Evil Donkey moderator

 That isn't really a knock on that huge fucker, but he does see things with a  green and gold hue. 

Kuato Face
Kuato Face moderator

As large as he is, he is fairly easy to ignore.

Evil Donkey
Evil Donkey moderator

 you are correct, but so did someone like Jvince.



Kuato Face
Kuato Face moderator

You are correct Sir! But I did predict this.

Evil Donkey
Evil Donkey moderator

 no you don't, and you shouldn't 

Building With Clay is back SON
Building With Clay is back SON

 I was pro us losing out if we lost to ATL.

But I can't cheer for that as long as we have a chance.

Rodgers isn't going to be around forever. I want him to get every opportunity at a ring that he can get.

Evil Donkey
Evil Donkey moderator

 you didn't go undefeated with him is all I meant.

IMO, losing out would be better for the pack long term.

Building With Clay is back SON
Building With Clay is back SON

 I feel like people forgot just how good Rodgers is after his 5 week absence.

You pair him with a back like Lacy and I think you have a chance.

Evil Donkey
Evil Donkey moderator

ok, fuck it.

if you feel good about them.......

All you need is a chip and a chair sometimes. 

Building With Clay is back SON
Building With Clay is back SON

 The offense was averaging 30 a game with Rodgers under center.

I don't trust the defense, but I think they can hold teams under 30 if inspired.

Building With Clay is back SON
Building With Clay is back SON

 Hey, they have allowed only 10 points combined in the 2nd halves of the last 2 weeks when the offense didn't suck balls and leave them on the field forever.

I don't think this defense is elite, or even good, but it can be average if the offense keeps them off the field for most of the game.

The interior of the Dline is old (Pickett and Jolly) and they just wear down too quickly.

Rodgers and Lacy can score enough points and hang on to the ball long enough to string together a few wins.

Evil Donkey
Evil Donkey moderator

 Not trying to be a dick.

Evil Donkey
Evil Donkey moderator

 if capers sticks around, that would be a HUGE fucking mistake.

Evil Donkey
Evil Donkey moderator

 You defense is just not good.

I get that Dallas made you feel good. 

But that is a band aid on an evisceration