The Chicago Bears (4-10) host the Cleveland Browns (0-14) on Sunday at Soldier Field in the penultimate home game of the 2017 season. Will Cleveland get their first win of the year? Will the Bears salvage their disappointing 2017 season? How bad are these teams? Maybe not as bad as their records indicate. Both teams have some solid young talent that just needs time, experience, health, and some positive momentum to build into winning teams. But on Christmas Eve Sunday, we’ll only get a glimpse of the futures of these two down-on-their-luck franchises.
Bears offense vs Browns defense
According to the NFL yardage stats, the Bears offense is 30th (out of 32 teams) in total offense, 31st in passing, 11th in rushing, and 28th in scoring at 16.7 ppg. Aikman’s Efficiency Ratings (AER) has the Bears rated as the 24th best offense. One week after such a promising performance at Cincinnati, the Bears offense took a step back last week at Detroit. Can they right the ship vs Cleveland?
The Browns defense is 16th in total defense, 21st against the pass, 7th against the run, and 30th in scoring defense at 25.9 ppg allowed. AER has the Browns defense rated as the 30th best defense in the NFL. That’s way lower than their NFL ranking of 16th. It means they give up too high a percentage of red zone scores and probably don’t sack the opposing QB’s very much. It also means they probably have a low takeaway rate.
Chicago’s offense is inconsistent at best, but at least sometimes they’ve shown they can run the football. Also, rookie QB #10 Mitch Trubisky keeps developing. He’s put up some decent passing numbers, like his 300+ passing yards last week despite the 3 interceptions. EDGE: Chicago offense
Bears defense vs Browns offense
Bears defense is 8th overall in the NFL yardage rankings, 10th against the pass, 11th against the run, and 12th in points allowed at 21.0 ppg. AER has Chicago’s D as the 6th best! Each week when I look up the Aikman Ratings, I’m always intrigued by where the Bears defense will be rated. There’s a reason I like Aikman’s system. He doesn’t use that old-school NFL rank of base stats. It’s similar to MLB using more advanced analytics rather than relying only on the basics such as batting average, home runs, and runs batted in. So Chicago is now 6th best in the NFL!?! That’s amazing considering the amount of injuries. Bravo to DC Vic Fangio and the effort put forth by these Bears defenders!
Meanwhile, the Browns offense is 26th overall, 26th in passing, 17th in rushing, and 32nd (dead last) in scoring at 14.8 ppg. Cleveland simply stinks on offense. Their best statistic is their 17th rush offense ranking. As you’d guess, AER has the Browns as the 32nd best offense in the NFL. That means Aikman thinks they are the WORST offense in the entire NFL.
The Bears clearly have an advantage on this side of the ball. This is the 6th best defense vs the worst offense. BIG EDGE: Chicago defense
Watch Out For………..
RB #29 Tarik Cohen – Once again, Tarik Cohen only had 6 touches from scrimmage last week in Detroit. This has been a consistent theme this year. OC Dowell Loggains seems to struggle getting the ball in Cohen’s hands consistently every week. Hopefully for the fans sake, Cohen touches the ball closer to 16 times on plays from scrimmage (his season high, which was in Week 3 in the surprising upset of Pittsburgh). We know he’s a rookie but we want to see Cohen use that explosiveness! Give us an early present on Christmas Eve afternoon! I know you’re reading this Dowell, so let me say thank you pre-emptively.
As we mentioned last week, despite the Bears poor record, AER has the Bears in the middle of the pack at 17th overall (despite their 4-10 record) while the Browns are dead last at 32nd (0-14 record). However, Chicago is only favored by 6.5 points as of Wednesday’s Chicago Tribune. This is the last home game of the year for Chicago in Soldier Field. Will they be motivated to put forth a good effort for the Christmas Eve crowd?
The “Dutch Lion” believes Chicago has underachieved this year. You might remember that our predicted Bears record at the start of the year was something like 10-6. Obviously, 4-10 is very disappointing. But looking at several factors will prove that Chicago is INDEED better than their 4-10 record. This is a deceiving 4-10. The strength of schedule has been as hard as anyone’s. The victories over Pittsburgh (11-3), Carolina (10-4), and Baltimore (8-6) have proven that Chicago CAN compete. The close losses to Atlanta (9-5) by six points, to New Orleans (10-4) by eight, twice to Detroit (8-6) by three and 10, twice to Green Bay (7-7) (once by 7), and Minnesota (11-3) by three points show how much improvement these Bears have made. What kills are the losses to San Francisco (4-10) by one, and to Tampa Bay (4-10).
So what will happen this week? Will Chicago fall into that level of playing down to their opponent? Or will they prove that they are in fact a much better team than Cleveland? I’m staying positive on this matchup. So is the “Dutch Lion”. Therefore, the “Dutch Lion” is calling for a Chicago victory on the holiday. Take the Bears to cover the points too. Merry Christmas everybody!
Chicago Bears 24 Cleveland Browns 12