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Bears vs Browns: Behind Enemy Lines with Cleveland Columnist Andy McNamara

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Bears vs Browns: Behind Enemy Lines with Cleveland Columnist Andy McNamara
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The Chicago Bears are coming off of a big win and getting their starting quarterback back as they travel to Cleveland to take on a tough Browns team.

There has been a lot of controversy about the Bears this week, as coach Marc Trestman elected to go back to starting quarterback Jay Cutler after a strong performance by Josh McCown against the Cowboys on Monday Night Football.

That win put the Bears at 7-6 and tied them with the Detroit Lions for the best record in the NFC North. They'll need help making the playoffs, however, as the Lions own the tiebreaker.

The Browns are 4-9 on the season, having lost four straight, including a heartbreaker to New England last week. 

They're a team that makes life difficult on opposing quarterbacks as they have 37 sacks and have held opposing passers to an average rating of just 84.0. 

Cleveland has had issues offensively, where they rank 27th in points per game. They have moved the ball reasonably well, however, as they're 15th in yardage.

For more on this week's game I reached out to Bleacher Report's Featured Columnist Andy McNamara who covers the Browns.

 

What is something you're concerned about with the Browns facing the Bears? 

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Andy McNamara: Three names should cause defensive coordinator Ray Horton a sleepless night or two leading up to Sunday.

Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey and Matt Forte. Marshall and Jeffrey can spread the field, while Cleveland’s front seven has to respect the explosiveness of Forte out of the backfield.

Joe Haden has locked down every top receiver he’s faced this season, but the true test will be how the 5’9" Buster Skrine handles the much bigger bodies of Marshall and or Jeffrey. How Skrine performs could very well decide this game.

 

My Take

Yes, the Bears have been matchup nightmares for just about every defense in 2013. Not only do they have those three skill-position players, but tight end Martellus Bennett is capable of taking over a game. 

It isn't just about Skrine but also his safety help over top, because he will need it. If he's matched up in man coverage with either of the Bears receivers, they'll throw the ball high, and that has worked out very well for them.

The thing they have going for them, however, is a complicated defense that puts pressure on the quarterback. Cutler is playing in his first game in over month, so I wouldn't be surprised to see him struggle early as he reacclimates himself to the speed of the game.

 

What is one area you think the Browns can exploit in the matchup?

Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

AM: If the Browns had any sort of consistent rushing game, this would be the week to go after Chicago’s 32nd-ranked run defense…but they don’t.

The electric receiving combination of Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron was rekindled last Sunday. Gordon is on a record-breaking tear and is nearly unstoppable. Cameron exploiting mismatches over the middle is where the Browns can do some extra damage to Chicago.

 

My Take

With as bad as the Bears' run defense is, I think they'll still run the ball well on the Bears.

Gordon is especially scary against a Bears defense that has struggled in giving up big plays. Chicago has given up the eighth-most passing plays of 20 or more yards this season.

I'd expect them to give help to Gordon over the top, but then what happens with Cameron? Opposing tight ends have killed the Bears this season, and that will likely continue on Sunday.

 

Who do you think wins and why?

Who wins?

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AM: It might be the optimist in me, but this is the Browns last home game of the season, and quarterback Jason Campbell is playing at an all-star level. As long as Campbell stays healthy the Browns have a chance to win.

I see a toe-to-toe shootout taking place with Cleveland finally catching a break from the football gods to take it, 31-27.

Buster Skrine has his best game of the year at cornerback, and Campbell gets hot in attacking a very good Bears secondary.

 

My Take

I guess I haven't heard anyone talk about Campbell as an all-star before, but his numbers are alright. His three interceptions all came against a very good Cincinnati Bengals defense, and in Week 14 he did throw for 391 yards and three touchdowns against the New England Patriots.

This is one that worries me from a Bears perspective. I think Cleveland is a lot better with Campbell at quarterback instead of Brandon Weeden, and I'm wary of Cutler being rusty and wonder how he'll react to getting hit for the first time since Nov. 9.

This Bears season has been one in which anything can happen, but I think Cutler is going to come back dialed in and is going to make some big plays with his arm. He'll throw for around 250 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in a 28-24 Bears win.

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