Week 15 NFL Game Preview: Chicago Bears at Cleveland Browns

Week 15 NFL Game Preview: Chicago Bears at Cleveland Browns

The Chicago Bears and Cleveland Browns will meet for the 15th time ever on Sunday afternoon.

The Browns lead the all time series 9-5. The Bears knocked off Cleveland, 30-6, the last time these two teams squared off in 2009.

The home team has won the last three times in this series.

Bears' quarterback Jay Cutler returns to the starting lineup after missing the past five games with a high-ankle sprain.

"Cleveland's a really good defense," Cutler said this week. "They show a lot of different fronts. They get off the field on third down. So it's going to be a challenge."

I'll be honest, the Browns (4-9) are probably the most underrated team in the entire league. Despite dropping four straight games since their Week 10 bye, the Browns have hung tough each week.

Earlier this season, Cleveland traded away their first-round pick from a year ago, running back Trent Richardson in exchange for a 2014 first-rounder and it appeared as if they were in rebuilding mode.

But, a solid defense mixed with an impressive young wideout Josh Gordon, helped by a talented tight end Jordan Cameron this Browns team doesn't look too bad.

Despite missing the first two games due to suspension, second-year receiver Gordon leads the league with 1,400 receiving yards. He averages around 127 receiving yards per game.

Gordon's reeled in 774 yards over the past four games and needs 407 yards over the next three to break the all-time for the highest average of receiving yards per game. The current record is 129 yards per game, which was set back in 1982 by Wes Chandler (Chargers).

The Browns defense ranks seventh in the league, allowing an average of 320 total yards per game, 24.9 points per game and only 98 rushing yards per game.

Coming off a tough, 27-26 loss to the New England Patriots last week, Jason Campbell and Co. will surely be fired up.

The Bears (7-6) impressed plenty last Monday night, scoring on all of eight of their possessions, defeating the Cowboys, 45-28.

The Bears' "Big Four" (Forte, Marshall, Jeffery and M. Bennett) combined for 402 total yards of offense. Forte totaled 175 yards, which included 102 yards on the ground, while the other three accounted for 227 receiving yards.

Defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff, in just his second game this season made his presence known last week with three solo tackles and a sack.

Cornerback Zackary Bowman led the defense in tackles with eight, which included seven solo tackles and also one pass deflection. He will be matching up against Gordon for most of the afternoon.

Wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall need 65 or more combined receiving yards to surpass Marcus Robinson and Bobby Engram as the top receiving tandem in Bears franchise history (2,347 yds. in 1999).

It should be a good one at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.

Injury Report

Bears- Linebacker Lance Briggs (shoulder) has been ruled out, despite practicing on a limited basis the past two days for the first time since suffering the injury in Week Seven.

Browns- Running back Willis McGahee (knee, concussion) and offensive lineman John Greco (knee) have both been ruled out after not practicing all week. Tight end Andre Smith (calf) has been ruled out after practicing on a limited basis on Thursday and sitting out Friday.

Players Who Must Step Up

DE Shea McClellin

Since his return from a hamstring injury in Week 12, the second-year Boise State product has racked up only four tackles (one solo). With Corey Wootton kicked out to his natural end position and Jeremiah Ratliff starting at defensive tackle it has forced McClellin to the bench more often than not. He's still a crucial part of the Bears' defense success. The pass rush is very important, so look for McClellin to be active on Sunday. He needs to be a factor on plenty of his snaps over the next three weeks, especially right now.

KR/PR Devin Hester

It's rare for a special teams player to make this list, but the 31-year old Hester has come very close to breaking a long return as of late. He has one punt return touchdown on the season, which came in a Week Seven loss to the Redskins. It was an 81-yard return. Since then he's only fielded seven punts, which included longs of 19 and 23. He returned a kickoff 57 yards two weeks ago against Minnesota. He's averaging 28.1 yards per kick return and 11.6 yards per punt return on the year.  He is playing for another contract this off-season. Watch out for #23 on Sunday he will be pumped up.

WR Alshon Jeffery

This kid is just flat out ridiculous. The second-year man out of South Carolina has proven to everyone that he's a legitimate threat, maybe even a number one option on an offense. He caught five balls for 84 yards and one touchdown last week. The 26-yard touchdown grab came at the very end of the first half and was one of the prettiest catches you'll see all year if not ever. He's posted only two bad receiving games (Week 2- 11 yards, Week 6 - 27 yards), other than that he's reeled in 40 or more yards per game. He has two 200 plus yard games, three 100 plus yard games and two 80 plus yard games. Playing opposite Brandon Marshall surely makes it tough for any opposing defense. Jeffery will be matched up with corner Buster Skrine on Sunday.

Final Score Prediction: Bears 27, Browns 20

Qwikcast.com Weather Report

Cloudy with a 50 percent chance of snow showers. Additional snow accumulation around an inch possible. Brisk with highs in the upper 20s. West winds 15 to 25 mph with gusts up to 35 mph.

 

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