Well, somebody has to win this thing. The 0-3 Cleveland Browns host the 0-3 Chicago Bears in the final preseason game of the year for both teams. The Bears at least are 0-3 against the three best teams in the AFC a year ago – Denver, New England, and Kansas City. Cleveland is 0-3 against Green Bay and fellow non-good teams Atlanta and Tampa Bay. At least Johnny Manziel is gone, though.
What: Chicago Bears at Cleveland Browns, Thursday, September 1, 8 p.m. ET, FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OH.
Last Week/Next Week
The Chicago Bears were shut down by the Kansas City Chiefs 23-7. They return to action on Sunday, September 11 when they travel to Texas for a 1 p.m. ET game against the Houston Texans. The Cleveland Browns lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30-13 last week. They kick off the regular season on Sunday, September 11 with a 1 p.m. ET game at the Philadephia Eagles.
Chicago Bears Preview
The Bears looked lousy from the opening gun of the loss to Kansas City. Jay Cutler was an uninspiring 6-of-15 for 45 yards. The Bears’ offensive line is battered with injuries. Particularly missed was right guard Kyle Long, who got hurt against the Patriots a week ago. Long is a three-time Pro Bowler.
Cutler tried to keep his head up nevertheless.
“We’re going to have a flux of guys kind of come into the lineup that we’ve been without the last couple weeks,” Cutler said. “That’s is going to help us, make us look a little more dynamic, a little more explosion out there.”
While Cutler and Brian Hoyer have the top two quarterback positions sewn up, the No. 3 job is now up in the air. Connor Shaw suffered a gruesome leg injury that saw him screaming in pain on the field and removed on a cart.
The Bears were shut out until just 5:40 remained in the game and Shaw hit Cameron Meredith for a 16-yard touchdown pass.
The Bears rushed for just 59 yards on 19 carries and passed for 164. The three quarterbacks only completed 50% of their passes. Hoyer followed Cutler and was 8-of-17 for 71 yards.
Jeremy Langford, the heir to Matt Forte at tailback, rushed six times for 17 yards. It did not bode well that quarterbacks Shaw and Cutler were the second and third leading rushers.
Cleveland Browns Preview
Sometimes when you think about the Cleveland Browns, you consider that maybe the international soccer leagues have it right when they demote teams to lesser leagues that don’t maintain a certain level of quality over a few years.
Because let’s face it, the Browns are really pretty awful. They’ve made the playoffs exactly twice since their return to the NFL in 1999. They’ve also lost at least 11 games in every season save one since 2008. A decade in the rear-view mirror, we should probably go ahead and induct Romeo Crennel into the Hall of Fame for getting the Browns to 10-6 in 2007.
There was some good news in the Browns’ loss to the Bucs. Josh Gordon played and played well. He caught two passes for 87 yards, the second a 43-yard touchdown pass from Robert Griffin III.
“I played with Josh before. It’s just good to see him out there making plays, getting an opportunity to get back in the league,” Griffin said. “We’re looking forward to him making the most of that. I’m really excited for him.”
Gordon is still going to miss the first four games of the regular season. After that, the Browns should honestly throw him the ball on every single possession. He’s their most talented offensive player by an enormous margin.
“It was good just to get him out there in a game,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “He did some good things. There are some things we’ll continue to improve on with him, but I thought it was a good start for him.”
Griffin himself has been a pleasant surprise, bringing zero drama or headaches to the Cleveland organization after seeming to do nothing but with the Washington Redskins. He’s thrown five long touchdown passes (40 yards or more) and has pleased Jackson thus far.
“Obviously he continues to find ways to make plays down the field,” Jackson said. “He is putting the ball in the right spots and putting his eyes in the right spots.”
Chicago Bears vs. Cleveland Browns Predictions
The Browns are going to start their starters in this one, probably to get more people to go to the game and watch it on TV. It will be fans’ last chance to see Josh Gordon for a month as he starts his four-game suspension for, you guessed it, drugs.
Score Prediction: Chicago Bears 21, Cleveland Browns 15