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Browns vs. Bears: NFL Week 16 Preview and Prediction

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Will Cleveland have another Christmas Eve miracle?

NFL: San Diego Chargers at Cleveland Browns Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

This week, the Cleveland Browns take on the Chicago Bears in Week 16 of the NFL regular season. Our position-by-position evaluation and game prediction are below.


Position-by-Position Evaluation


Quarterback

  • Chicago fans are optimistic about Mitch Trubisky's future, but the offensive playcalling (not including the past two weeks) have limited the amount of pass attempts he's made this season. You may recall when Trubisky faced the Browns in the preseason, John Fox refused to have him throw the ball and just handed the ball off every play to protect him.
  • In 10 games this season, Trubisky had 7 touchdown passes and 7 interceptions. He's averaging 182 yards passing per game. There are some games he doesn't run much -- in his past four games, he's run a total of 12 times for 39 yards. But he's also had 2 games in which he ran for 53 yards.
  • The second half of this season, DeShone Kizer has been alternating between good and bad performances. Last week set the bar even lower than usual, as he averaged less than four passing yards per attempt and turned the ball over three times. If he turns the ball over early this week, don’t be surprised to see Kevin Hogan thrust into action.

Running Back

  • As a 5th round pick last year, Jordan Howard ran for over 1,300 yards. This year, he's up to 1,069 yards rushing through 14 games, averaging 4.4 YPC. For some reason, he has annihilated the AFC North this year, as PFF indicates below. Are the Browns next?
  • Tarik Cohen, drafted in the 4th round this year, has been a spark plug as the Bears' backup. He's rushed for 348 yards, averaging 4.2 YPC, and is the team's second-leading receiver with 327 receiving yards.
  • It continues to be amazing that the Browns have now shot up to 4th in the NFL in yards per carry. So the Browns are good at stopping the run and running the ball, but are winless. Great. This week, Isaiah Crowell was vocal about not getting enough carries, and Hue Jackson basically responded (in the media) with “tough shit” (that is my interpretation). Nonetheless, Crowell and Duke Johnson still make for a very solid NFL running back duo, much like Chicago has.

Wide Receiver / Tight End

  • I didn’t think it’d be possible to find a group of receivers worse than the Browns in 2017, but Week 16 has brought that with the Bears. Kendall Wright is the team's leading receiver with 50 catches for 558 yards and 1 touchdown on the year.
  • After that, their next most productive wide receiver is Josh Bellamy, who has 20 catches for 297 yards and 1 touchdown. The group is rounded out by Dontrelle Inman and Markus Wheaton. Chicago’s tight ends hardly factor in to the passing game.
  • Stack that group up to Josh Gordon, Corey Coleman, and David Njoku, and I’m taking all three of those guys over anyone that Chicago has. Njoku has to be more involved, though. He was on a roll for a couple of weeks, but is back to have 1 catch for 3 yards over the past 2 games.

Offensive Line

  • The Bears’ starting offensive line usually features LT Charles Leno Jr, LG Josh Sitton, C Cody Whitehair, RG Tom Compton, and RT Bobby Massie. But Sitton is doubtful with an ankle injury, and it looks like Compton will be a no-go with a concussion. They’re already missing OL Kyle Long, so the injury bug has bit the Bears on the line. On top of that, this is the first time in awhile that Myles Garrett won’t be facing a world-beater at left tackle.
  • If I broke it down, I’m sure it’d be unrelated, but the Browns’ running game has taken off ever since Spencer Drango replaced Joe Thomas at left tackle. Cleveland gets the advantage by having two high-caliber guards starting, while the Bears have to do a lot of shuffling.

Defensive Line

  • The Bears run a 3-4 defense featuring DE Akiem Hicks, NT Eddie Goldman, and DE Jonathan Bullard. DE Roy Robertson-Harris will also see some reps in the rotation. Hicks has been playing at a Pro Bowl level, even if he didn't get named to the roster, generating pressure and an ability to stop the run consistently each week. He has 8 sacks on the year.
  • Someone talked about how the Browns’ run defense has struggled since the injury to Emmanuel Ogbah. While I feel there have been some bigger runs since his departure, Prior to Ogbah leaving, the defense allowed 3.1 YPC. Since his departure, they're allowing 3.8 YPC. It’s a decline, but still a strength of the defense thanks to the team’s depth.
  • This has to be a breakout week for Myles Garrett, one where he carves his name into delivering a win for the Browns.

Linebacker

  • The Bears' starting linebackers are OLB Lamarr Houston, ILB Nick Kwiatkoski, ILB Danny Trevathan, and OLB Sam Acho. Houston just recently joined the Bears, and appears to be in line to make his first start after Pernell McPhee went on IR. Kwiatkoski has started 11 games in his two years in the NFL. Trevathan is the most consistent producer of the group, but there isn’t that one standout like a Clay Matthews or Terrell Suggs the Browns have had to deal with the past two games.
  • This stat is kind of insane when you think about it, because they all have ties to the Browns. Three players have played every defensive snap this season: Joe Schobert, Christian Kirksey, and Demario Davis. Schobert was also named a first alternate to the Pro Bowl. Tank Carder has to be pissed.

Secondary

  • The Bears’ cornerbacks include Prince Amukamara and Kyle Fuller, with Bryce Callahan playing in the nickel. Fuller is coming off a great month, but there was a game earlier this season in which Brett Hundley of the Packers torched him. Combined, this trio is a very competent group, although they only have 2 interceptions between them on the year.
  • Safeties Adrian Amos and Eddie Jackson have played well, with PFF giving high praise to Amos in particular as they labeled him a Pro Bowl snub:

He has graded exceptionally well both in coverage and against the run, and on plays that he has been primary coverage on, he has allowed an average of just 5.8 yards per catch. He has forced a pair of fumbles, recovered one, and returned his interception for a touchdown. He has a top-15 run-stop percentage score and the fourth-best tackling efficiency mark among all safeties.

  • The Browns hope to get both Jamar Taylor and Briean Boddy-Calhoun this week, which would allow Gregg Williams to play a little more aggressively at times. The real intrigue for Cleveland is at safety. Now that Derrick Kindred is on IR, there’s a chance we could see Jabrill Peppers in the box and around the ball with Kai Nacua as the deep man.

Special Teams

  • Mike Nugent is the Bears' kicker, their third one of the season. He's connected on 3-of-3 field goals (100%) and is 4-of-5 (80%) on extra points. However, he also kicked for the Cowboys this year, where he was 7-of-9 on field goals. Long distance kicks have historically not been a strength for him. From beyond 50 yards, he is 11-of-28 (39%) in his career.
  • Pat O'Donnell is the Bears' punter. He averages 46.7 yards per punt and a 39.3 net average. Britton Colquitt's average remains good (48.1), and his net average is 40.7.
  • RB Tarik Cohen returns kickoffs and punts for the Bears. He has a 61-yard touchdown punt return this year. Factoring in his punt return average, Jabrill Peppers has been one of the team's worst return men in recent memory -- Dennis Northcutt, Joshua Cribbs, and Travis Benjamin would average twice the amount he is.

Predictions

Here are predictions from multiple staff members at DBN.


Chris Pokorny: “We’re in for a Christmas Eve miracle for the second year in a row. With both of their guards out, Chicago will have some difficulty running the ball, and the Bears won’t have Trubisky put the ball in the air very often. Cleveland finally executes on offense without the turnovers.” Browns 20, Bears 14.


Matt Wood: “You people are insane. This coaching staff couldn't fall ass backwards into 11 points. Jordan Howard goes bananas as Trubs throws for 3 TD's and throws another log onto the SaShI bRoWn CoUlDnT FiNd A qB fire.” Bears 38, Browns 6.


Mike Hoag: “I’ll be on a flight to Cleveland throughout the game, and am landing at 4:15. Last year, we attended the win over the Chargers. While I won’t be there in person, I’ll be in Ohio airspace before the game ends. Hoping that’s enough to help Browns squeak this one out. Bonus prediction: Mitchell Trubisky plays decent and makes Browns fans swoon.” Browns 11, Bears 5.


Robo Dawg: “In the first half, the Browns average 5.2 ypc and 75% rushing efficiency. Despite being up by one score going into the second half, Hue Jackson plays in a panic to keep his job and replaces Kizer with Hogan. The Browns then proceed to pass 3 times for every rush, and the Browns lose. In the post game presser Hue tells us that his play calling was a result of what he has to work with.” Bears 24, Browns 21.


Joshua Finney: “Is this season still going!?! All I want for Christmas is a pink slip for Hue-lessness.” Bears 17, Browns 12.


rufio: “Kizer finally avoids plays so stupid I don't have adjectives for them, Trubisky is a rookie and Gregg fools him with disguising coverages, Josh Gordon goes off for 200+ because the OL gives Kizer enough time to push the ball downfield. We still manage to give up 3 TDs because our special teams can't stop anyone. Chris Tabor somehow survives another regime change when we fire Hue despite almost blowing our one win of the year.” Browns 28, Bears 21.


notthatnoise: “Mitchell Trubisky has a rough outing against his home town team, leading to speculation that he threw the game. The Browns get a few big plays on defense and hold on to win a battle of who wants it less despite Kizer's best efforts. It's a Christmas miracle.” Browns 11, Bears 5.


Who do you think will win, Browns fans? Let us know in the comments section below.

Poll

Who do you think will win, Browns or Bears?

This poll is closed

  • 53%
    Browns
    (267 votes)
  • 46%
    Bears
    (235 votes)
502 votes total Vote Now