March 4, 2024

The continued run to the playoffs, that’s why I’m watching. Flacco fever, catch it. Cleveland hosts Chicago, at 1:00 pm EST at Cleveland Browns Stadium this Sunday. The Bears are ranked twenty-first in total offense averaging 324 yards, 186 yards passing, 138 yards rushing and 20.8 points a game. They’re ranked twelfth in total defense allowing 315 yards, 231 yards passing, 84 yards rushing and 23.8 points a game. Cleveland is ranked nineteenth in total offense averaging 326 yards, 195 yards passing, 131 yards rushing and 22.2 points per game. They’re ranked first in total defense allowing 263 yards, 160 yards passing, 103 yards rushing and 20.9 points a game. What am I watching?

Browns Offense Vs. Bears Defense. The Bears defense can be described simply, pre-Montz Sweat and post-Montez Sweat. Prior to Sweat, Chicago allowed 27 points per game and had 10 takeaways. Since trading for Sweat, Chicago has allowed 18 points per game and have 11 takeaways. That’s only a span of five games. He’s had 3.5 sacks in five games and a sack in three straight games. Defensive tackle Justin Jones has five sacks. This is a very solid defense that plays a four-man front. They don’t blitz or apply a lot of pressure. In the secondary, the Bears play a lot of zone (78%) with more cover three.  Their linebackers (T.J. Edwards and Tremaine Edwards) are excellent. Chicago also has the best cover corner in the league, Jaylon Johnson. Expect him to cover wide receiver Amari Cooper. Their only weakness in the secondary is cornerback Tyrique Stevenson who when targeted allows a 70% completion rate and a QBR of 117. The Browns will need to keep quarterback Joe Flacco clean and work the play action to soften up the linebackers. No turnovers and no stupid penalties. Screen passes to the tight ends and running backs would also slow the pass rush and help the run game.

Browns Defense Vs. Bears Offense. The Bears offense is hard to describe. They lead the league in 10-yard plus runs (57), but their leading rusher is quarterback Justin Fields. Chicago’s offensive line is good, but both their tackles (Braxton Jones and Darnell Wright) are young. Fields has been sacked 32 times in nine games. The Bears have offensive weapons, tight end Cole Kmet, wide receivers D.J. Moore and Darnell Mooney and running backs D’Onta Freeman and Roschon Johnson. Chicago is a big-play offense, but when the big plays aren’t there, the offense struggles. The Browns will need to attack the young tackles, contain Fields and force three-and-outs. Because the Browns are thin at safety, linebackers Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Anthony Walker (if he plays) will have to handle the run/pass option. Cleveland’s red zone defense has not been good this year, so they’ll need to force field goals and not give up touchdowns. Continue to get takeaways. It looks like this game will be the season debut of defensive tackle Siaka Ika.

On offense, the Browns will need to control the clock, run the ball and continue to use the short passing game. On defense, they’ll need to try and slow down Justin Fields. Detroit used delayed blitzes and it seemed to confuse Fields.

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