This Sunday, the Cleveland Browns take on the Chicago Bears in Week 15. Below, we analyze a few advantages, disadvantages, and general thoughts about the two teams before getting to our predictions for the game.
Rain to Impact the Game
- As of Saturday, the forecast for kickoff of the Bears vs. Browns game is calling for rain all day, including an 85% chance at 1:00 PM ET. That can certainly throw a wrench into both teams’ gameplans, but I can’t help but think back to Week 1, when the Browns’ defense was all over the Bengals’ offense because of the wet conditions. It played toward Cleveland’s advantage because, as I keep re-iterating over the weeks, the defense thrives any time opposing teams aren’t able to utilize misdirections.
- Back in 2021, the Browns’ defense sacked Justin Fields 9 times, including 4.5 times by Myles Garrett. Fields has gotten better since then, and had back-to-back weeks earlier this year where he exploded for 4 touchdown passes against the Broncos and Commanders. He’s done a good job limiting the number of interceptions, but he’s still taking quite a few sacks. The fewest times he’s been sacked this season is 2 times, and that only happened once. On average, he’s being sacked 3.5 times per game.
- Fields is also on par with Lamar Jackson as the most mobile quarterback the Browns have faced this year. In his past three games, he’s averaging 14 rushes per game, which is an insane amount for a quarterback. Chicago doesn’t have a consistent No. 1 running back, as it’s been a bit of a rotation of different guys throughout the season (partially due to injury). Fields is the team’s leading rusher, but how will weather impact that?
- Myles Garrett hasn’t had a sack for three straight games, but last week, he looked like he was back in terms of causing disruption — it’s just a shame that the officials never threw flags for the Bears blatantly holding him. We’ll see if him speaking out this week draws out the yellow flag more. Cleveland has taken a hit with depth up front, though, and they could be missing Ogbo Okorokwo, Jordan Elliott, and Maurice Hurst. I’m wondering if Za’Darius Smith will move inside at times, and I’m expecting more reps for Shelby Harris and Alex Smith. Guys are going to have to push the limits, but it would certainly help if the defense is able to force some three-and-outs and if Cleveland’s offense can sustain some drives.
Riding With Flacco
- We can’t ignore the fact that the Bears are allowing just 83.7 rushing yards per game (2nd in the NFL), and 3.64 YPC (3rd in the NFL). Those statistics don’t always tell the story, though. Cleveland gets in trouble on offense when their running backs get hit for big losses in the backfield, which has been happening more frequently as the team deals with three starting positions being filled by backups on the offensive line. However, if Cleveland can get Kareem Hunt and Jerome Ford to have those 2-yard gains or 3-yard gains on first down, then it helps set the team up better for second- and third-downs. Hopefully, the team emphasizes to Ford to not try to make something out of nothing this week, as far as going laterally goes. Hit the hole hard and try to get that positive yardage.
- Chicago’s pass defense hasn’t been good, as Matt Wilson pointed out in his scouting report. He noted that they’re allowing quarterbacks to complete 67% of their passes. If rain impacts Fields, it could also impact Flacco — or maybe he’d be able to handle it fine with all his experience. Flacco took advantage of a weak Jaguars pass defense, so hopefully he can strike again.
- The Bears’ top weapon is D.J. Moore on offense, but with the Browns not elevating any emergency cornerbacks on Saturday, maybe Denzel Ward will actually return this week. One thing I really loved that Curtiss Brown highlighted this week was how long it takes Fields to get the ball out, which plays to the advantage of the Browns’ pass rush.
- The Browns are 6-1 at home, and the Bears are 2-5 on the road.
- A lot of pressure is on the Browns’ young safety duo of Ronnie Hickman and D’Anthony Bell to deliver for the second week in a row (and the rest of the season).
- According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Browns are 3 point favorites against the Bears.
Here are predictions from multiple staff members at DBN.
Chris Pokorny: “I can’t believe there are only four games left in the season. Every win at this stage is monumental toward marching toward securing a playoff spot, while every loss can send you into a panic — there’s not many games left to make up for it. Even though Chicago had a solid game against Detroit last week and Cleveland has been banged up, I think this is another type of match-up that favors the Browns’ defense, and favors a solid passing attack. Intense rain could be a wildcard that throws everything off, but my prediction will be based on relatively normal conditions.” Browns 23, Bears 13
Thomas Moore: “TBA”
Barry Shuck: “What are the Bears? Giant killers? The ruination of post-season probabilities? On the surface, they appear to be one of the league’s worst teams. Began the season 1-5-0. Four of their wins were against also-rans such as themselves. Then, they beat the Lions last week. Destroyed Detroit in the second half. Handily. A division-leading, seeded club. I feel the Browns will handle Chicago easily, especially now that the offense has a steady hand at quarterback. Elijah Moore and David Njoku are finally being used effectively. Who knew Cleveland had three tight ends who could catch? The Bears have a decent passing attack whereas Cleveland is aces in pass defense. That is where this game will be won or lost. Both teams have excellent running games.” Browns 34, Bears 20
Jared Mueller: “The Chicago Bears are probably better than most people think and the loss of depth for the Cleveland Browns, not just the loss of starters, is probably more important than most people think.
The different is Kevin Stefanski, Jim Schwartz and Bubba Ventrone. Those three, along with a great home crowd, will be the difference in the game no matter who actually is healthy enough to play. (Getting Denzel Ward back this week would help especially if DJ Moore is limited for the Bears)” Browns 28, Bears 24
Curtiss Brown: “So many injuries for this Browns team. It never ends. It seems like every hour someone ends up on injured reserve and some fans believe that the strength and conditioning staff are to blame for the injuries (another topic for another day). Anyway, I remember all offseason the Chicago Bears were getting a ridiculous amount of hype for no reason at all. I thought their offseason was overrated and that the team wasn’t as good as people think. Chicago is 5-8, but like every team in the NFL they have flaws. Not surprised that they beat Detroit last week (considering Detroit isn’t as good as people think, but again another topic for another day.) Offensively it’s essentially Justin Fields, DJ Moore and Cole Kmet. Defensively, the unit has underachieved this season but they have played better as of late (not saying much but still). Cleveland has always done better when people doubt them and considering the amount of injuries the team has, they will have to overcome that but this team has overcome adversity the entire year. Close game, give me the Browns on a walk-off field goal.” Browns 20, Bears 19
Ezweav: “It seems like with this team, as long as Kevin Stefanski isn’t injured it’ll be able to drum up some kind of offense even with an abnormally insane preponderance of injuries. This week we’ll see if Jim Schwartz is similarly up to the task as three (3) important pieces of his as yet relatively unscathed unit went on IR and two of them won’t be coming back.
Nevertheless the Browns have shown this season that they are very deep in terms of talent, exceptionally well coached and overall quite resilient mentally. The Bears aren’t necessarily a pushover but I do think playing this team in Cleveland is going to be well beyond their capacity, even with the over abundance of injuries the team continues to face.
This week the good guys will FINALLY keep themselves from turning the ball over and even if Joe Flacco’s production is much less than against Jacksonville, it will be enough. (Season-long shoutout to NTN continuing)” Browns 11, Bears 5
Who do you think will win, Browns fans? Let us know in the comments section below.