The fourth preseason game is for the die-hard fan, as teams will mostly be deploying players fighting for roster spots—players you’ll likely not see again this season unless you watch practices.
Cleveland has won two of its three preseason contests to this point but looked dismal last week in the all-important third game. Chicago, also 2-1, aced its big preseason test by building a 27-3 lead before halftime against the lowly Oakland Raiders.
You probably won’t see Jay Cutler or Trent Richardson very much in this one—if at all. But fans of both teams will undoubtedly be tuning in nonetheless. Here’s a look at how to do that and what to expect Thursday night.
When: Thursday, August 29 at 8 p.m. ET
Where: Soldier Field, Chicago, Ill.
TV Coverage: Not nationally televised.
Live Stream: Preseason Live
Betting Line (per Bovada): Over/Under: 38; Spread: Bears (+2)
Injury Report (via CBSSports.com)
Out: LB Barkevious Mingo (lung)
Questionable: TE Jordan Cameron (groin), DB Jamoris Slaughter (groin), DB Josh Aubrey (hand), DB Trevin Wade (shoulder)
Probable: WR David Nelson (knee)
Out: DB Kelvin Hayden (hamstring)
Doubtful: WR Earl Bennett (concussion)
Questionable: RB Armando Allen (hamstring), DL Henry Melton (concussion), DB Zack Bowman (hamstring)
To play their starters or not to play their starters? That is the question.
Every season, teams are faced with determining how long, if at all, to risk their star players in their preseason finales. Sometimes, though, teams need to work on things before everything gets real on opening day.
Chicago’s starters will play sparingly. Per Adam Hoge of CBS Chicago, Bears head coach Marc Trestman implied the teams’ top players will sit out the preseason finale versus Cleveland. “I wouldn’t say all, but it’ll be close to all of the starters,” he said.
The Browns followed suit. After initially planning to play his starters for “10 to 12 reps,” according to Tom Reed of The Plain Dealer, coach Rob Chudzinski changed course. Tom Withers of the Associated Press said Chudzinski will take the safe route, playing only a select few of his top players for a limited amount of time.
Backup quarterback Jason Campbell is expected to get the start in place of Brandon Weeden.
Even if some of Cleveland’s starters see some action, this game is and will always be a final testing ground for teams to trim their rosters to 53. You have to really appreciate that fact to get the most out of each final preseason contest.
Given the Browns' inability to effectively run the ball after Trent Richardson exits the action, their task will not be easy without him, even against the Bears’ reserves.
If they can capitalize with early points, though, the Browns may be able to ride the capable arm of Campbell into a comfortable halftime lead. Both Campbell and Brian Hoyer are competent backups, something Chicago has lacked for quite some time.
The Browns should win as a result, but it’s really anyone’s guess how each team’s fringe players will perform.
Final Score: Cleveland 27, Chicago 20