Week 8 Preview: Bears (3-3) vs. Browns (1-6)

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After two tough losses on the road, the Chicago Bears will return to Soldier Field this weekend in hopes of getting a much needed win against the hapless Cleveland Browns.  On paper, the Bears will surely be the favorite, but after two straight weeks of not being ready to play football, I'd hesitate to call this game a gimme.

Week 7 Recap:

The Browns got flat out dominated by the Green Bay Packers, losing in Cleveland by a score of 31-3.  Aaron Rodgers and Ryan Grant had their way with the Browns defense, while the Packers defense had no trouble containing the Cleveland passing or rushing attack.  

The Bears played their second road game in as many weeks when they traveled to Cincinnati, and left with their tails tucked between their legs after being pummeled 45-10.  The offense wasn't clicking, and the defense allowed Carson Palmer and Company to roll up and down the field without consequence.

Quick Numbers:

  • 15.1, 51.0, 36.4: Derek Anderson's last 3 passer ratings.
  • 32: Tackles by Nick Roach (3rd best on team).
  • 17.6: Average yards per reception for WR Mohamed Massoquoi.
  • 91.9: Average Passer Rating against Bears defense this year.
  • 5: Passes deflected by SS Al Afalava.
  • 115: Number of combined tackles from Browns LBs D'Qwell Jackson and Eric Barton

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When the Browns Have the Ball:

Even though the Browns rank 31st in the NFL in total offense, you have to think that they are expecting to move the ball against the recently deflated Bears defense.  After starting the season with a good pass rush, the Bears have registered zero sacks over the last two weeks, so Derek Anderson will surely be looking to hookup with rookie WR Mohamed Massoquoi this week.  Running backs Jamal Lewis and Jerome Harrison have been largely ineffective this season, with the only rushing TD scored by the Browns coming from Derek Anderson on a QB sneak from the 1 yard line.

Key Matchup: Oh, why not. Adewale Ogunleye vs John St. Clair

St. Clair gave up 10 sacks for the Bears last year, and Ogunleye has to be salivating at the thought of going against the former Bears offensive lineman.  Said Ogunleye this week: "I'm just going to say that he tries hard."

X-factor for the Browns: WR Mohamed Massoquoi

The speedy rookie hopes to continue the trend of WRs having huge paydays against the Bears.  Leading WRs against the Bears this year are averaging over 100 yards per game, and in just the last two games the Bears have given up 7 TD passes.

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When the Bears Have the Ball:

You've gotta pound the rock baby!  While the Browns manage to rank 24th in passing defense, their rushing defense is, in the words of Sir Charles Barkley, just turrable.  Cleveland gives up over 170 yards rushing per game, allowing almost 5 yards per carry.  Even though Adrian Peterson should be back for the Bears this week, expect a heavy dose of Matt Forte.

Key Matchup: Bears OL vs Browns front 7

We expect to see Josh Beekman replacing Frank Omiyale at LG this week, and there is no reason to expect the Bears not to try and appear like a formidable OL this week.  If the Bears can't handle the Browns front 7, there will be mutiny in Halas Hall next week.

X-factor for the Bears: Ron Turner

Forget adding plays to the playbook, or getting fancy with the playcalling.  Ron Turner will be looking to make a statement this week, and rightly so.  The Bears haven't been able to do anything on the ground this year, and Turner should be shooting for the stars against the Browns.

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Notes From the NFC North:

In possibly the most anticipated game of the year in the NFC, if not all of the NFL, Brett Favre will return to Lambeau Field for the first time since 2007.  The Packers lost in a shoot-out the first time they faced Minnesota this year, and hope to play spoilers to the high-flying Vikings this week

In possibly the most unanticipated game of the year in the NFC, the Lions will play host to the winless Rams Sunday. The Lions hope to see the return of their two offensive stars in QB Matt Stafford and WR Calvin Johnson, who have both been battling injury.

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